As holiday hiatuses come to an end and new seasons/series are picked up, here are a few picks on what to watch in early 2013.
Portlandia (10 p.m. Fridays, IFC; Season Three Premiere Jan. 4) – Co-creators, writers and stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein return for more riffing of odd niche/too-cool trends that we can all somehow recognize. The duo is spot-on with what’s trending right now, highlighting everything from handmade-yet-impractical products to spoiler alert etiquette and always plenty of excellent guest stars. Check out two back-to-back new episodes Friday.
1600 Penn (10 p.m. Thursdays, NBC; Series Premiere Jan. 10) – This humorous look at a “real” family in the White House follows Bill Pullman as the prez; his grown-but-still-home son, Skip (Josh Gad); overachieving teen daughter, Becca (Martha MacIsaac, Superbad, same name!); a couple of younger kids; and Jenna Elfman as First Lady and stepmom.
Girls (9 p.m. Sundays, HBO; Season Two Premiere Jan. 13) – This time around, we’ll see Lena Dunham’s Hannah as she moves in with gay ex-boyfriend Elijah, moves on from crazy ex-boyfriend Adam and moves up the economic ladder (or, hopefully, at least finds a paying gig). New faces include Community’s Donald Glover and Jon Glaser of Delocated.
Shameless (9 p.m. Sundays, Showtime; Season Three Premiere Jan. 13.) – After a season of soap opera-grade drama — secret identities, a Brazilian love triangle and an evil grandmother — The Gallaghers and friends are back to their old hijinks. Frank awakes from a long-term blackout in Mexico as the kids are making it work back in Chicago, thanks to Jimmy’s new Mr. Mom persona.
The Following (9 p.m. Mondays, Fox; Series Premiere Jan. 21) – Kevin Bacon comes to the small screen with this drama about an escaped serial killer who develops a network of cult-like followers who carry out his twisted, “artistic” murders.
RuPaul’s Drag Race (9 p.m. Mondays, Logo; Season Five Premiere Jan. 28) – If drag queen drama isn’t enough to reel you in, tune in to see Cincinnati’s own Penny Tration, voted onto the show as Facebook Fan Favorite.
The Americans (10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX; Series Premiere Jan. 30) – Perhaps FX’s answer to Homeland, this new drama follows two KGB spies posing as a picket-fence American family (complete with two children who have no idea about their parents’ Russian identities) in Regan-era D.C. With all the 20th century period pieces on TV today, it will be interesting to see how the show handles the ‘80s.
Looking Ahead: 30 Rock series finale Jan. 31; Walking Dead midseason premiere Feb. 10; Game of Thrones Season Three premiere March 31.
THURSDAY JAN. 3
Project Runway All Stars (9 p.m., Lifetime) – The designers pay tribute to the troops by creating ensembles for female veterans to wear on a special night out.
Buckwild (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., MTV) – Move over, meatballs! The hard partying, hookups and brawls we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on Jersey Shore move to the foothills of West Virginia with MTV’s latest reality series.
SUNDAY JAN. 6
Downton Abbey (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., PBS) -– Masterpiece Classic brings back America’s favorite British drama. Mary and Matthew prepare to wed; Shirley MacLaine guest stars as Cora’s mother visiting from the States.
Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., Food Network) – The two most annoying names in cooking television assemble a team of, ahem, “celebrities” to compete in the kitchen. Contestants include Chilli from TLC, ice princess Johnny Weir and famewhore supreme Dean McDermott (aka Mr. Tori Spelling).
Best Funeral Ever (10 p.m., TLC) – Apparently the title Pimp My Casket violated copyright laws.
MONDAY JAN. 7
Deception (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., NBC) – Meagan Good stars as Joanna Locasto, a detective who returns to her hometown to discover the truth about her childhood friend — an heiress found dead at 32 from an apparent overdose. After lying about her involvement in the investigation and being welcomed again into her former friend’s high-society family, Locasto believes the death was a murder.
TUESDAY JAN. 8
Justified (Season Premiere, FX) – Season Four finds Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) tracking down a dangerous fugitive, when he discovers his own family is involved in an infamous unsolved case.
Parenthood (10 p.m., NBC) – Amy tells Drew she is pregnant; Mark learns the news at school, tying him up with Braverman drama once again.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern