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Midseason Television

Scene Staff Report | Sunday, January 22, 2012

It’s been a long winter, and while spring isn’t peeking around the corner just yet, your days will look a little brighter thanks to the return of your favorite TV shows. From new shows to returning favorites, January and February spell a whole new television landscape. Check out Scene’s guide to what’s worth watching when the snow starts falling and you just can’t bear to leave your room.

Once Upon a Time

Of the several fairy tale-inspired television shows that have sprung up this season, “Once Upon a Time” is the most creative. The writers, who previously worked for a little show called “Lost,” intertwine old tales and give them new life with detailed backstories, making the fairy tale world far more interesting than its real world parallel. With a stand out performance by Robert Carlyle as the ever-creepy Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, “Once Upon A Time” is something unique, something entertaining and something more worthy of your time than anything else in the Sunday night line up.

 

The Vampire Diaries

If you still consider “The Vampire Diaries” in the same league as Twilight, stop it. Now. In its 3rd season, the CW’s Vampire Diaries has had an incredible season of twists and turns and fantastic story lines that have made almost every episode seem like it should be the season finale. “The Vampire Diaries” has a soap opera’s ability to bring people back from the dead and just enough teenaged sass to remind you that you are, after all, watching a show on the CW. It’s got something for everyone, even if you don’t like vampire stories. If that’s the case, you can always mute the TV and just stare at Ian Somerhalder for 42 minutes. You’ll thank us.

Pretty Little Liars

The Pretty Little Liars are back! ABC Family’s hit drama made its winter premiere on Jan. 2, to a fan base eagerly anticipating the Season 2 reveal of A’s identity. “Pretty Little Liars” is based on Sara Shepard’s book series, which details the unusual harassment of four teenage girls following the murder of their best friend. Throughout the series, the identity of the seemingly omniscient “A” has been a central mystery — one that ABC Family promises to solve before the season is over.

Smash

One of the most anticipated shows to air this year, “Smash” follows the production a new Broadway musical, and with creator/writer/ND alumna Theresa Rebeck’s Broadway experiences informing her script, it is also one of the best. American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and Broadway star Megan Hilty play starry-eyed hopefuls vying for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a show written by a popular Broadway writer played by Debra Messing. “Smash” combines all of the things that made “Glee” popular when it first premiered, but with a grown-up edge, Broadway-caliber original songs and the mega-watt star power that makes this show shine above the rest.

Parks and Recreation

Everyone’s favorite parks department is back! Leslie Knope is in the midst of her run for city councilman and after some lackluster attempts to gain support from her constituents, she seems on the right track thanks to the aid of her ex-politician boyfriend and now campaign manager, Ben. Ron Swanson, Tom, Andy, April and the whole Pawnee Parks Department crew are as lively as ever and 2012 has already started a string of great cameos thanks to a star turn by Paul Rudd.

 

Downton Abbey

This British sensation, which became a surprise hit on this side of the Atlantic when PBS aired the first series last year, is back with a dramatic second series. World War I has broken out and everyone at Downton Abbey, from the aristocratic family who call it home to the maids and servants who wait on them, are feeling the major changes that war brings. Expect even more drama, from the will-they-won’t-they Matthew and Mary to the power struggles between Lady Grantham and Mrs. Crawley, set against the backdrop of war.

 

Parenthood

“Parenthood” is the best little show on TV that no one seems to be watching. The second half of its third season is as heartwarming, hilarious, poignant and charming as ever. New jobs, new relationships and new possibilities on the horizon all spell major changes for the Braveman claim, who seem poised as ever to take them on as a family.

Gossip Girl

After leaving us shocked and wondering if Chuck, Blair and her baby had survived a mysterious car accident, Gossip Girl is back with a whole lot of drama. It has been a couple of months after the accident. Chuck and Blair are fully recuperated from their injuries but they haven’t spoken since. So, why is she now determined to marry Prince Louis having previously confessed her love to Chuck? Blair did not want to lose the person she loves the most and made a vow to marry Louis in exchange for Chuck’s health and recuperation. Will Chuck fight for Blair and convince her not to marry Louis? We’ll have to keep watching…

 

Revenge

This riveting drama on ABC still has lots of twists left in its first season. The show follows Amanda Clarke, who has switched identities with her friend Emily Thorne, in order to exact revenge on the people who wrongly accused her father and put him in jail years ago, especially the queen of the Hamptons Victoria Grayson. Her plans are ruthless and unremorseful, including dating Victoria’s son Daniel to get to her. Emily almost had a change of heart when she realized how many other innocent people she could hurt, but her plans are back on track. Do not miss a minute of the rest of this season.

 

Modern Family

The zany sitcom about the Pritchett and Dunphy families is back with all the laughs of the first half of the season. After the dude ranch, punkin chunkin and express Christmas festivities of the early episodes, the series returned with the controversial episode, “Little Bo Bleep,” involving adorable Lilly (Aubry Anderson-Emmons) swearing like a sailor. But “Modern Family” still shone, even through the controversy. The second half of the seasons promises to bring more laughs at the expense of the highly competitive, almost dysfunctional families.

 

Psych

The fall season ended with quite a cliffhanger. Shawn bought an engagement ring for his girlfriend Juliet, and though he didn’t pop the question, Gus discovered the hidden ring. When the show returns Feb. 29, will the commitment-phobic Shawn take their relationship to the next level? Either way, “Psych” will still bring back all the laughs when it returns with new guest stars like The Miz and Wayne Brady, and the return of William Shatner as Juliet’s father. Just remember to keep looking for the pineapples.

Archer

The funniest animated show on television today, “Archer,” returned Jan. 19 for its third season. Described by its creator as “James Bond meets ‘Arrested Development,'” the show revolves around Sterling Archer, a spy and womanizer, and his dysfunctional cast of coworkers. The show airs Thursday nights on FX at 11 p.m. Don’t watch it with your parents.

Justified

Timothy Olyphant returned Jan. 19 as Deputy U.S. Marshall Rayland Givens in one of television’s most underrated shows, “Justified.” Deputy Givens delivers justice in the style of a 19th century gunman, because in Hickville, USA, where the show is set (actually Lexington, KY., and surrounding areas), that seems to be about where the general development of the society seems to have progressed. “Justified” airs Tuesday nights on FX at 10 p.m.

 

30 Rock

30 Rock is back. After a long hiatus, due to creator/star Tina Fey’s pregnancy, the show returns in NBC’s Thursday night lineup at 8 p.m. Rejoin the zany world of Liz Lemon’s show-within-a-show, and get ready for a season that deals with Kim Jong-Il’s death, star Tracy Morgan’s real life rants and a new boyfriend for Liz.

Unsupervised

Unsupervised is a new animated series on Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on FX, following Archer. Masterminded by David Hornsby, who is best known for the role of Cricket on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the show follows two adolescents run amok. Featuring the vocals talents of Justin Long and Kristen Bell, this show has great potential.