Tube Talk: New and improved

By Paula Hendrickson

Mid-season is finally here, folks, and it’s about time. While you’re probably busy catching up with returning series like Scandal – which kicked off its sixth season last week – or Syfy’s The Expanse, there are several new shows debuting this week that deserve a chance, too.

On the comedy side, two promising shows just happen to air opposite each other. Powerless will settle into NBC’s post-Superstore timeslot recently held by The Good Place (which thankfully was just renewed for another season!), while CBS is launching Superior Donuts in the prime spot immediately following The Big Bang Theory before moving it to its Monday night slot.

Thank goodness for DVRs, streaming, and OnDemand.

Why? As someone who’s not heavily into superhero shows, I really love the question behind the concept of Powerless: who protects the public from the literal fallout caused by superheroes and the villains they battle?

The fact that Powerless stars Danny Pudi (Community), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Suburgatory and a billion other projects), and Vanessa Hudgens (who gave a knock-out performance as Rizzo in last year’s Grease Live!) sure doesn’t hurt, either.

On the other hand – or channel, to be precise – Superior Donuts is based on a play by Chicago’s legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Tracy Letts, who is also one of the show’s writers. (Side note, Elementary’s Jon Michael Hill originated the role of Franco in Chicago and was nominated for a Tony when they took the play to Broadway.)

Did I mention Superior Donuts stars two icons of American sitcoms? Judd Hirsch (Taxi) and Katey Sagal (Married With Children). Those two alone should make the show worth watching.

As for dramas, it seems everything old is new again.

CBS’s series Training Day is set 15 years after the events in Denzel Washington’s 2001 movie of the same name, only without Washington. The TV series centers on a wildcard detective (Bill Paxton, Big Love) and the by-the-book cop (Justin Cornwell) embedded as a trainee to spy on his unconventional methods. While it’s not my kind of show, it will probably appeal to action fans.

Speaking of action, FOX is bringing 24 back. Again. This time as the Jack Bauer-less 24: Legacy, starring Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) as Eric Carter, the new guy running against the real-time clock. Co-stars include Miranda Otto (Homeland), Jimmy Smits (LA Law), and Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal).

While original 24 lead Kiefer Sutherland is busy starring on Designated Survivor, he’s also an executive producer of 24: Legacy, meaning fans will be hoping for a cameo that may or may not happen. Instead, the one thread linking the two series is Carlos Bernard reprising his role of former CTU agent Tony Almeida.

Whether you prefer comedy or drama, at least one of these new series should appeal to you.

Programming Notes:

Powerless premieres at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 2 on NBC

Superior Donuts premieres at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 2 on CBS, then moves to its regular time Mondays at 8 p.m. on February 6.

Training Day premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday, February 2 on CBS

24: Legacy (part 1) premieres after the Super Bowl (approximately 9:30 p.m.), Sunday, February 5 on FOX; part two airs at 7 p.m. on Monday.

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