TV Eye: Make Way for Midseason Shows

New Year, New TV

NBC's <i>The Cape</i>
NBC's The Cape

We're nearing the new year, and that means new TV. Here's a sampling of shows I'm looking forward to:

ABC's reboot of V returns for a second season Jan. 4. We learned at the end of the first season that the visitors (the Vs) are not so friendly, but what do they want? The answer comes pretty quickly at the beginning of the second season. A few new characters are introduced, including Dr. Sidney Miller (Reaper's Bret Harrison), a young academic whose research may out the Vs in a way that could threaten his life. I liked the injection of some unexpected and welcome humor into the first episode back; it takes the edge off that whole "evil aliens from outer space here to conquer humans" premise. Morena Baccarin as Anna, the leader of the Vs, is still mesmerizing. And this season, it looks like her frosty facade will be challenged by the unexpected consequences of walking around in human skin. It may even cause insurrection in her ranks.

The Cape (NBC) premieres Jan. 9 in a special two-hour pilot. The network is not giving up much more to me (as a designated reviewer) than it is to the general public, but I like what I see.

Where we start: When he's framed for a crime he didn't commit, a good-hearted dad (played by ER's David Lyons) goes underground and becomes The Cape, the hero of his young son's favorite comic book. I'm drawn in by how our hero, Vince Faraday (aka The Cape), is just a regular guy; it's his determination to make his way back to his family that awakens his superpower. And I'm liking his skills with a cape, which he picks up thanks to a clan of carnies and their knowledge of all things magic. I'm also very happy to see Summer Glau (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) back on the small screen.

Louis C.K.: Hilarious (Comedy Central) debuts Jan. 9. Not to be confused with his very funny and strangely endearing sitcom on FX (Louie, recently renewed for a second season), this stand-up special features the irreverent comedian telling the unvarnished truth about life, love, parenthood, middle-aged sex, and anything else he sets his jaundiced eye on. Louis C.K.: Hilarious was the first stand-up concert film to screen at Sundance – it played at the film festival last January – and it won rave reviews as well as bubbling interest in this comedian who, after several false starts on the small screen, appears to finally be gaining some traction.

David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) returns to prime-time TV with a new dramedy, NBC's Harry's Law (premiering Jan. 17). When she's fired from her high-powered law firm, middle-aged Harriet "Harry" Korn (Kathy Bates) is forced to start anew. Along the way, she picks up some slightly damaged folk and sets up her own law firm. I love that a middle-aged woman who looks like the majority of the world's middle-aged women gets to be the centerpiece of this series. Bates brings substance and significant acting chops to what could be another run-of-the-mill law drama. Feisty, funny, and frank, this may be the best thing Kelley has churned out in his long career. Or not. Do we really need another law drama? Will audiences embrace Bates as a lead character? With her formidable career and her recent, memorable turn on The Office, I'm thinking "yes."

As promised, more on The Calling (PBS): I finally got to see the second half of this two-part, four-hour special about the spiritual journeys of American clergy from different faiths. While part one was compelling, the second half was perhaps too much of a good thing. While intriguing, two new subjects are introduced in part two of the documentary, blurring the original, tight focus and delaying the resolution of the original subjects, specifically Bob Pene, a Samoan minister whose path is detoured when life-changing events force him to confront the push-pull of his Western faith and his Samoan roots. The Calling airs Dec. 20 & 21 at 8pm on PBS.

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winter TV, V, Bret Harrison, Morena Baccarin, The Cape, David Lyons, Louis C.K.: Hilarious, David E. Kelley, Harry's Law, Kathy Bates, The Calling

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