Tube Talk: Midseason madness

By Paula Hendrickson
Television Columnist

It’s been a sad week for fans of shows like “Sleepy Hollow,” “Downton Abbey” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” all of which recently aired season finales.

But when one season ends another begins, which means new shows and a lot of old favorites will be returning with all new midseason episodes.

Season two of BBC America’s gut wrenching mystery “Broadchurch” will explore the aftermath — and court case — surrounding the murder of young Danny Lattimer, which last season unearthed devastating secrets and shattered lives in the small English seaside town of Broadchurch.

The cast, led by former “Doctor Who” star David Tennant as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Olivia Coleman as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, is joined by a few new faces this year, including Eve Myles, best known as Gwen Cooper on the “Doctor Who” spinoff “Torchwood,” and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who you’ll probably recognize from “Without A Trace,” only here she’ll get to use her real-life British accent.

If you’ve only seen FOX’s American remake, “Gracepoint” (and also starring Tennant), don’t let that stop you from getting drawn into the far better “Broadchurch.”

You can get up to speed by watching a four minute season one recap on the BBC website:

Do you prefer something a little lighter, but full of historic information and a different cast each week? Tune into TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” and watch celebrities discover their family histories.

Sure, they have a cadre of real-life genealogists and historians helping research their ancestors, but “Who Do You Think You Are?” proves that every family tree is bound to have at least one fascinating or controversial character hidden somewhere in its branches.

In the one episode “Rizzoli & Isles” star Angie Harmon — who knew her mother’s family was Greek through-and-through but had no idea where her father’s family came from — discovers that one ancestor survived a horrific event she’d learned about in history class.  In another episode “Will & Grace’s” Sean Hayes gains insight into a behavior pattern that has plagued several generations of his family.

Other celebrities exploring their ancestry this season include: Julie Chen, Josh Groban, Tony Goldwyn, American Ferrera, Bill Paxton, and Melissa Etheridge.

Speaking of families, one of the most dysfunctional  —and perhaps over-lovingly — families is back for a third season of “Bates Motel.”

How far down the (no doubt taxidermied) rabbit hole will Norman fall this year?

Since the show’s brilliant premier, young Norman (Freddie Highmore, “Finding Neverland”) has inched closer and closer to becoming the creepy killer we all remember from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

His devolution likely won’t be complete as long as his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga, Oscar nominee for “Up In The Air”) is still alive.

But “Bates Motel” is one case where knowing how it all ends only makes the journey that much more fascinating.

All three of these shows might not appeal to you, but I’m betting at least one does.

Programming notes:

“Broadchurch” returns Wednesday, March 4 at 9:00 PM CT on BBC America.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” returns Sunday, March 8 at 9:00 PM CT on TLC.

“Bates Motel” returns Monday, March 9 at 8:00 PM CT on A&E.

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