Entertainment & Arts

TV Preview: Capsule reviews of midseason shows

Midseason shows
From top left: “Empire,” “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Battle Creek,” “Stone Quackers V,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Galavant,” “Allegiance,” and “Backstrom.”
Los Angeles Times Television Critic

Scarcely have the holidays departed, the last bite of figgy pudding or sip of egg nog cycled through our system, the last present sorted for use or reuse, than the winter television season comes crashing down upon us, laden with gifts of its own. Yes, friends, there are more television shows to watch, and quite a few are shows you will want to watch or feel as a citizen of the culture that you really should watch. Damn you, New Golden Age of Television! Do you think we are made of time?

Here is a look at not even all of it.

Jan. 4



ABC, 8 p.m. Sundays

Medieval-modern musical comedy will recall “Spamalot"/"Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” “The Princess Bride” to anyone who was alive to see them, but songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who have Disney features under their belt (and are working for Disney here) are catchy and some jokes do make it through the briers. Not G-rated, it seems worth pointing out.

Jan. 6

“Child Genius”


Lifetime, 10 p.m. Tuesdays

Like “MasterChef Junior,” for knowing math and history and stuff.

“Living Different”

Oxygen, 9 p.m. Tuesdays

Four-part series profiles women “unrestricted by social norms as they follow their passion whether it be love, spirituality or profession.”


“Agent Carter": In the Calendar section elsewhere in this edition, a photo caption with an article about the upcoming television show “Agent Carter” misidentifies actor Chad Michael Murray as Costa Ronin. The error was discovered after the section went to press. —
“Marvel’s Agent Carter”

ABC, 8 p.m. Tuesdays


“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” prequel/"Captain America” movie sequel finds Hayley Atwell breaking the glass ceiling for fictional women in post-World War II American espionage.

Jan. 7


Fox, 9 p.m. Wednesdays

“What is this? We ‘King Lear’ now?” asks arty gay son Jussie Smollett as music-biz mogul father Terrence Howard announces the impending disposition of his kingdom in this hip-hop family drama from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong (“The Butler”). (Of course, it’s “Dallas” too.) Taraji P. Henson shines as the mother who took the rap — took the rap! — and is back like Sally Brown to get what’s coming to her, to get her fair share.


VH1, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Fictionally embodying the network’s basic pitch, Laura Ramsey is a middle-aged woman transported back into her younger self in an age of innocence — 1995, this year’s TV nostalgia destination (see also: “Fresh Off the Boat”).


Jan. 8


Sundance, 10 p.m. Thursdays

Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) joins with Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (“Peep Show”) in a several-toned yet smoothly complected workplace satire set among the higher and lower reaches of London’s Metropolitan Police. James Nesbitt runs the place; Brit Marling is the American P.R. consultant hired to spin the spin.

Jan. 11


HBO, 9:30 p.m. Sundays

Veteran indie filmmakers (and sometime TV personalities) Mark and Jay Duplass and Steve Zissis bring an intimate, big-screen vibe to a comedy of friends and family living in too-close quarters; Melanie Lynskey and Amanda Peet costar (only Jay is invisible).

Jan. 12

“Eye Candy”

MTV, 10 p.m. Mondays

Victoria Justice is a Web-age Nancy Drew tracking a cyber-stalking serial killer in an adaptation of R.L. Stine’s not-so-young-adult novel.

Jan. 13

“Wrestling With Death”

WGN, 10 p.m. Tuesdays

These Arkansas morticians are also professional wrestlers! You wouldn’t pitch it as a sitcom, but as reality TV, it just sells itself.

Jan. 14

“Man Seeking Woman”

FXX, 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays

Jay Baruchel, still looking for love. Eric André is here too.

“Rock This Boat”

Pop, 8 p.m. Wednesdays

New Kids on the Block takes a cruise! Like the Brady Bunch in Hawaii, or snakes on a plane, but NKOTB, on a boat.

“Snoop & Son: A Dad’s Dream”

ESPN, 7 p.m. Wednesdays

Snoop is Snoop (Dog/Lion/Zilla); son Cordell is a high school football star with hot college prospects. Time is passing.

Jan. 15

“50 Ways to Kill Your Mother”

Discovery Life, 10 p.m. Thursdays

Imported series in which brash Irish media personality Baz Ashmawy takes his 71-year-old mom traveling to fulfill an “extreme bucket list” in the invented hope that she will drop dead. (Reviews from abroad are encouraging.)

“Breaking Point”

ID, 10 p.m. Thursdays

From the producer who brought you “Intervention,” more surprise interventions but with the possibility of jail time added for spice. “Certified interventional professional” Darren Kavinoky has been there.

“Outrageous Births: Tales From the Crib”

Discovery Life, 9 p.m. Thursday (moves to Fridays on Jan. 16)

If these wombs could talk. Horrible/hilarious birth stories to make you put away that story about driving to the wrong hospital forever.

Jan. 16

“12 Monkeys”

Syfy, 9 p.m. Fridays

A televisionication of Terry Gilliam’s 1995 picture about a time traveler from a plague-decimated future (Aaron Stanford), in which there is nevertheless time travel, sent back to change history.

“World’s Funniest Fails”

Fox, 8 p.m. Fridays

YouTube brand brings contemporary cachet to this latest turn on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Terry Crews hosts, though.

Jan. 17

“Bella and the Bulldogs”

Nickelodeon, 8 p.m. Saturdays

“Bad News Bears"-ish football story, with Brec Bassinger as a cheerleader turned quarterback, rocking it Nick tweencom-style.

Jan. 18


PBS, 10 p.m. Sundays

James Norton is a mystery-solving vicar in this ‘50s-set British mystery series.

“Hoarding: Behind Closed Doors”

Discovery Life, 10 p.m. Sundays

This too is set in Britain. Just in case you thought it was strictly an American thing.

“K.C. Undercover”

Disney, 8:30 p.m. Sundays

Zendaya (“Shake It Up”) is the teenage daughter, which is to say person who matters, in a Disneyfied family of spies.

Jan. 19

“The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore”

Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays

“Daily Show” Senior Black Correspondent Wilmore moves in to fill a Colbert-shaped hole. Formerly titled “The Minority Report,” but you can see how that might not have tested well.

Jan. 21

“Best New Restaurant”

Bravo, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

One recently established eatery is judged, somehow, to be the best in America. Money is awarded. Tom Colicchio hosts, Gordon Ramsay produces.

“The Mistress”

Discovery Life, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Speaking of Ramsay, his “self-proclaimed former mistress” (I am reading here) Sarah J. Symonds is here to save other Other Women from having to host a show like this.

Jan. 22


Fox, 9 p.m. Thursdays

Rainn Wilson, only slightly less worked up than on “The Office,” plays a Pacific Northwest police detective of the brilliant yet disheveled, impolitic and amusingly self-destructive sort. “I don’t see the worst in everyone; I see the everyone in everyone,” says he. Colorful partners, subordinates and superiors dance attendance around him. “Rain” puns to come.

“World’s Worst Mom”

Discovery Life, 9 p.m. Thursdays

Ironic title. “Parenting expert” Lenore Skenazy, who caused some sort of public kerfuffle some years back when she let her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway by himself, counsels overanxious parents to just chill.


A&E, 10 p.m. Thursdays

Dick Wolf (“Law & Order” shows, those “Chicago” shows) produces this reality show about late-shift emergency services in New Orleans, where all is not as quiet as you might suspect.

“Million Dollar Critic”

BBC America, 10 p.m. Thursdays

London Times writer Giles Coren (Ramsay’s “The F-Word”) visits North American restaurants, pronounces his doom. The million dollars is merely figurative.

Jan. 23

“This Is Not Happening”

Comedy Central, 12:30 a.m. Fridays (late Thursday nights)

Ari Shaffir imports to big-time TV his online series in which comics, including Rob Corddry, D.L. Hughley, Keegan-Michael Key and Marc Maron, tell tales on themselves, object: hilarity.

Jan. 26

“Mud, Sweat and Gears”

BBC America, 10 p.m. Mondays

British car-customizing competition. Just in case you thought that was strictly an American thing.

Jan. 29


Pivot, 10 p.m. Thursdays

Global warming — yes, it’s happening — plays a part in this Arctic murder mystery filmed in Iceland and the U.K. Stanley Tucci, Richard Dormer, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Jessica Raine star.

Jan. 31

“Mel Brooks Live at the Geffen”

HBO, 9 p.m.

It’s not a series, but it is Mel Brooks. Live. At the Geffen.

Feb. 4

“Fresh Off the Boat”

ABC, 8:30 p.m., moving to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Feb. 10

Real-life restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name is the basis of this mid-'90s Asian “Wonder Years"-cum-fish-out-of-water-out-of-water story, with 11-year-old Eddie (Hudson Yang), a Chinese American hip-hop fan relocated from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla. I will be haranguing you to watch this in the weeks ahead.

Feb. 5


NBC, 10 p.m. Thursdays

Gavin Stenhouse is a CIA analyst who learns that his parents (Hope Davis, Scott Cohen) are Russian spies reactivated by the Kremlin as part of some plot to finally stick it to America once and for all. Not satire, surprisingly. Adapts Israeli series “The Gordin Cell.

Feb. 8

“Better Call Saul”

AMC, 10 p.m. Sundays

The only “Breaking Bad” spinoff any sane person would care to see, with Bob Odenkirk’s legal beagle at the center, six years before that other stuff happened; Jonathan Banks is happily back as sensible fixer Mike Erhmantraut, with Michael McKean newly on board as someone I know nothing about.

Feb. 11

“Schitt’s Creek”

Pop, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Canadian-import sitcom teams SCTV alums Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara with Chris Elliott — what else do you need to know?

Feb. 12

“The Slap”

NBC, 8 p.m. Thursdays

“Event series,” remaking an Australian original, begins with a person slapping a child not his own, goes on from there. Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton, Melissa George and Zachary Quinto elevate the tone in front of the camera; writer Jon Robin Baitz, director Lisa Cholodenko, behind.

Feb. 16

“The Book of Negroes”

BET, 8 p.m. for three consecutive nights

Aunjanue Ellis stars in a six-part, Colonial-era historical drama from a novel by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill, following one black woman’s odyssey in Africa, America (the Colonies and Canada), Africa again, and England. Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr., Lyriq Bent, Jane Alexander also star.

Feb. 19

“The Odd Couple”

CBS, 8:30 p.m. Thursdays

Neil Simon’s influential trope, as it was in the beginning, with Matthew Perry as the Oscar and Thomas Lennon as the Felix.

Feb. 24

“Outlaw Country”

WGN, 10 p.m. Tuesdays

Sets of brothers on the right and the wrong sides of the law face off in far Buckner, Mo., without a script.

Feb. 28

“Good Witch”

Hallmark, 8 p.m. Saturdays

As Pinocchio was made a real boy, the likable Catherine Bell TV movie franchise — small-town Wicca, safe for handling, Hallmark style — goes to series.

March 1

“Battle Creek”

CBS, 10 p.m. Sundays

The Eye’s other Odd Couple series, with Dean Winters and Josh Duhamel as colorfully mismatched crime fighters cleaning up the makes-a-good-title town of Battle Creek, Mich. (They have crime, along with the corn flakes.) A Vince Gilligan creation dormant since long before “Breaking Bad” broke, awakened by the sweet smell of success.

“Secrets and Lies”

ABC, 9 p.m. Sundays

Ryan Phillippe is an innocent man accused of murder, like in a Hitchcock film, and Juliette Lewis the detective on the case, in a suburban mystery miniseries, based on an Australian original.

“The Last Man on Earth”

Fox, 9 p.m. Sundays, moves to 9:30 p.m. March 8

Will Forte is the last man on Earth. It had to be somebody.

March 4

“CSI: Cyber”

CBS, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Knit brows and banter — it’s a new CSI! Patricia Arquette, Peter MacNicol, James Van Der Beek (in action-hero mode) and Bow Wow take on those who would pervert the wired world to nefarious ends. Sample lines: “Evolutionary survival skills will instinctively take them to higher ground.” “A baby’s life is at stake: focus.” “It’s binary” (not referring to code).

“American Crime”

ABC, 10 p.m. Wednesdays

Broadcast TV in a cable mood, with John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) writing and directing this mostly down-to-earth, multithread, multicultural, not-what-it-seems, Modesto-set murder mystery, devilishly well played by Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Benito Martinez, W. Earl Brown, Penelope Ann Miller, others.

March 5


USA, 10 p.m., Thursdays

Jason Isaacs is an American agent investigating a murder in Israel, opening in the bargain a can of worms thousands of years old — those are some old worms. It’s Gideon Raff (“Homeland”) and Tim Kring (“Heroes”) in a Dan Brown mood. Anne Heche, Lauren Ambrose, Richard E. Grant costar.

March 15

“The Royals”

E!, 10 p.m. Sundays

Elizabeth Hurley, William Moseley, Alexandra Park and Vincent Regan are the alternate-reality British royal family of a tabloid editor’s dreams. Joan Collins toddles along at some point in the season.

March 17

“One Big Happy”

NBC, 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays

Elisha Cuthbert is a lesbian pregnant by straight best friend Nick Zano; Kelly Brook is his suddenly acquired new bride, with whom Cuthbert doth not click. Ellen DeGeneres executive produces.

March 24

“The Late Show With James Corden”

CBS, 12:30 a.m. weeknights

English comic actor Corden (currently on view in “The Wrong Mans” and “Into the Woods”) takes over Craig Ferguson’s chair. (Probably, it’s a different chair.) Reggie Watts is in for the robot skeleton, with music.

March 25

“Big Time in Hollywood, FL”

Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays

Alex Anfanger and Lenny Jacobson are aspiring filmmakers of perhaps no talent in a well-provisioned comedy series, by which I mean that Kathy Baker, Stephen Tobolowsky, Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Madsen and David Keith are also in it.

March 31

“The Dovekeepers”

CBS, 9 p.m. for two consecutive nights

Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (see “A.D.” below) adapt Alice Hoffman’s novel of Masada and 1st-century Israel.


TV Land, 10 p.m. Tuesdays

Sutton Foster, who has not retired from television merely because it didn’t fully appreciate “Bunheads,” returns as a 40-year-old trying to pass as 26 to get back into the working world. Debi Mazar and Hilary Duff costar; Darren Star created it.

“Weird Loners”

Fox, 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays

Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton and Nate Torrence are in the town house as sudden roommates in Queens, N.Y. (It’s the new old Brooklyn.) Created by Michael J. Weithorn (“The King of Queens”), sticking close to home.

April 5


NBC, 9 p.m.

Easter-premiering 12-hour miniseries about post-Crucifixion Christianity, the Early Days. From Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who have a line going in these things.


NBC, 10 p.m. Sundays

Big old international limited-series thriller, with an Al Qaeda theme.

May 14

“Wayward Pines”

Fox, 9 p.m. Thursdays

Spooky-town series directed by M. Night Shyamalan is a little bit “Lost,” a little bit “Twin Peaks,” a little bit “Truman Show,” a little bit “Under the Dome,” a little bit “The Lottery,” a little bit the director’s own “The Village” and a whole lotta “The Twilight Zone.” Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Juliette Lewis, Terrence Howard and Carla Gugino keep it real, if not exactly fresh.

To be determined

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Netflix, March

Tina Fey and “30 Rock” partner Robert Carlock created it, NBC passed on it, Netflix wanted it, and Ellie Kemper stars in it, as a woman who leaves a cult after 15 years for a new life in New York City; Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane are there waiting.

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