January is a tricky time. We’re burnt out from the holiday season, making and breaking our New Year’s resolutions, and suffering through the mid-season hiatuses of our primetime TV favorites. Yet many cable offerings return in the new year, and 2013 already boasts a slew of programming that will surely get you through your winter doldrums.
There’s a returning PBS favorite, a fast-talking dose of twee, a new look at Carrie Bradshaw and more zombies than you can count. Oh, and Timothy Olyphant in all his Stetson-wearing glory. So before you spend January blowing through your entire Netflix queue, brush up on these mid-season TV arrivals.
January 6, PBS: 8 p.m.
After all the war and tragedy that befell season 2 of this UK import, it seems that happiness may be on the horizon for season 3. But if we’ve learned anything from this period drama, the whole happiness thing doesn’t always work out. At season 2’s end, Sybil settled with Chauffer Branson, Lavinnia became a non-issue, Anna had some brief wedded bliss with her Mistah Bates, and poor William is no longer. The cast has hinted that a wedding will take place, but will cousins Matthew and Mary be the ones walking down the aisle? Also, Free Bates.
January 7, ABC Family: 8 p.m.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this quirky comedy reeled me in with its offbeat first season. Penned by Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, this tale of a small town dance studio is back for more, picking up just months after Sutton Foster’s Michelle left her Vegas showgirl gig to marry the ill-fated Hubble. With her status at the dance studio uncertain, will the witty banter go by the wayside? Methinks not.
January 8, FX: 9 p.m.
Timothy Olyphant is back for another season of perfectly tailored jeans and derailing vigilantes. When we left the cowboy hat-wearing U.S. Marshall, he and ex-wife Winona called it quits once again, Boyd Crowder is more or less behind all nefarious goings-on in Harlan, and Dickie Bennett is mad as hell. This season, Olyphant’s Raylan Givens tackles a 30-year-old cold case and a riddle that echoes all the way back to his boyhood and his father.
January 13, HBO: 8 p.m.
Lena Dunham’s polarizing comedy returns for season 2, with a whole new batch of first-world problems presenting themselves in the lives of Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna. When we left the twentysomethings, Adam was giving Hannah a dose of some serious real talk, Jessa married guest star Chris O’Dowd rather hastily, Marnie continued to be whiny and Shoshanna finally got some. Season 2 finds Hannah on her own, ready to meet a man who isn’t a total creep. Will she find him? Probably not. But it’s funnier that way.
The Carrie Diaries
January 14, The CW: 7 p.m.
Sex and the City fans, rejoice! This highly-anticipated prequel series is right up your alley. Following the life and times of a one Carrie Bradshaw at the tender age of 16 — bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and eager to start her life in The Big Apple. Now that Gossip Girl is no longer, look for Carrie to fill the sharply dressed void left by Blair, Serena and the gang.
January 30, FX: 9 p.m.
Felicity is back! Keri Russell returns to TV in this drama set in the 1980s portraying one-half of a married couple of KGB spies posing as Americans. The parents of two get their world rocked when an FBI agent moves in next door, as they covertly collaborate with a network of spies and informants under their control. Complicating their relationship even further is Phillip's (Brothers and Sisters star Matthew Rhys) growing sense of affinity for America's values and way of life.
February 7, NBC: 7 p.m.
The band of Greendale misfits returns for another semester, minus Chevy Chase, and under new creative direction. Will the new season promise as much cult fare as the previous? With a show that’s gone 8-bit, explored the darkest timelines and introduced us to Inspector Spacetime, it’s hard to say. Regardless of its seemingly doomed Friday night timeslot, there are sure to be plenty of quirks in store for this NBC fave.
The Walking Dead
February 10, AMC: 8 p.m.
After a season 2 that moved at a snail’s pace, The Walking Dead finally kicked things up a notch in season 3. And by the end of the show’s winter finale, the governor’s daughter and prisoner Oscar died at the siege on Woodbury and brothers Daryl and Meryl Dixon were reunited but had to face off in a death match. With a ton of new characters afoot, and fresh new alliances starting to form, the conclusion to last season’s cliffhanger is sure to bring more apocalyptic zombie doom. And, sans Lori, which is upsetting to no one.
There you have it, folks. The early part of 2013 surely won’t bore you in terms of television. So in between your increased gym visits and your constant vows not to eat out as much, you’ll at least be entertained.