Pat Clark

The lineup in winter: TV has returned

The winter of our TV discontent nearly is over.

OK, so it hasn’t been that bad, but there’s been a dearth of fresh television fare for several weeks since most shows offered their “fall finales.”

When did they start fall finales, anyway? It seems like just another way of saying “long break before we show you anything worth watching.”

Still, the winter premieres are upon us, with a bevy of shows picking up where they left off in the fall and several more having their season premieres.

It gets started with the long-awaited return of “Downton Abbey” set for Jan. 4 on PBS. Forgive my lack of decorum, dowager countess, but now we do our happy dance.

The coming three months will bring a host of returning and new shows to get us through the cold winter nights. Here are some I’ll be looking forward to – the quality programming, a couple of new shows to watch for and one guilty pleasure:

DARN FINE TV

“Downton Abbey” – The aforementioned PBS Masterpiece Classic recommences Sunday when we find out if Lady Mary will give her heart to another, whether Tom will stay or go and what George Clooney does when he pops by the manor. Clooney and “Downton?” Even the dowager might be forced to do a happy dance for that one.

“Justified” – Modesto native Timothy Olyphant’s star turn in this stellar FX drama begins its final season on Jan. 20. Olyphant’s Raylan Givens no doubt will work to repair his relationship with his boss, while undoubtedly facing a new batch of low-lifes in his neck of the Kentucky woods.

“The Americans” – Our favorite KGB spies living in America will have to contend with the biggest threat to their cover in the new season – their own daughter. This FX show, returning Jan. 28, is shockingly ignored when TV award nominations come out despite a superb cast and gripping storyline.

Other popular returning shows (I don’t watch them, but a lot of folks do): Jan. 7, “American Idol” (Fox); Jan. 9, “Glee” (Fox); Jan. 11, “Girls” (HBO); Jan. 13, “Parks and Recreation” (NBC); Feb. 8, “The Walking Dead” (AMC); “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO); Feb. 27, “House of Cards” (Netflix)

Back from hiatus: Finally, new episodes after a long winter’s nap from “Sleepy Hollow,” Jan. 5 (Fox); “Gotham,” Jan. 5 (Fox); “The Good Wife,” Jan. 4 (CBS); “Grey’s Anatomy,” Jan. 29 (ABC).

NEW WINTER WONDERS

“Best New Restaurant” – Come on, of course I have to tune into this reality/food competition show as chef Tom Colicchio travels the country in search of new eateries. The “Top Chef” judge without Padma, though? Hard to digest. Hopefully this will be a fine addition to my food-TV addiction. More importantly, hopefully this isn’t going to replace my beloved “Top Chef” – don’t wander off too far, Chef Tom. Debuts Jan. 21 on Bravo.

“Better Call Saul” – “Breaking Bad” has left forever, but criminal lawyer Saul Goodman’s backstory will be told in this prequel on AMC, debuting Feb. 8. “Bad” fans are waiting for this story of Saul before he met up with Walter White. I’m on the fence.

“The Odd Couple” – I wouldn’t even consider this remake of the classic Jack Klugman-Tony Randall sitcom if it didn’t star Matthew Perry as Oscar. Poor Perry can’t find his footing in TV land since “Friends” signed off and it would be nice to see him score another win. Still, a remake of a classic like this? It’s going to be a very hard sell for CBS. Debuts. Feb. 19.

“American Crime” – I am almost painfully curious as to what this drama set in Modesto will hold. The show, premiering March 5 on ABC, will delve into race relations as it chronicles the impact of a brutal home-invasion attack. Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton star.

DON’T HATE ME FOR WATCHING IT

“Celebrity Apprentice” – Oh, come on. Who doesn’t like to see C-list celebrities act like big, bratty babies and battle it out in front of The Donald? Returning Jan. 4 on NBC, the show has a cast of contestants that includes a few people I don’t know anything about and a few we’d all rather not see again (sorry, Kate Gosselin, but your 15 minutes ran out years ago). Still, I can’t stop myself from watching this reality competition every year.

I can’t be the only one, since the show keeps coming back, year after year, right?

Right?

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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