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Shows to Look Forward To In The New Year

English: Singer Katherine McPhee and pianist L...

Katharine McPhee of NBC's "Smash"


I’m back. I’ve always found Jan.2 to be the toughest work day of the year.

That’s partly because during my days as the Buffalo News TV critic, I found mid-to-late December the best time of the year and didn’t want to go back to real work..

With nothing really on TV except for holiday specials, I usually took the last two weeks of the year off. When I got bored, I watched or re-watched the pilots of the upcoming midseason shows at night when prime time reruns were mostly the order of the night.

I didn’t re-watch every series. I ignored the midseason pilots that were available to watch in August before the TV season officially started and made an indelible impression on me of being a complete waste of time.

This midseason is especially intriguing because the fall was so disappointing. Even my favorite new show, Fox’s ”New Girl” with Zooey Deschanel, seems to have lost its legs by repeating itself. I was never a fan of CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” and now find it unwatchable.

Which brings me to tonight’s ABC comedy premiere, “Work It,” which is trying to channel “Bosom Buddies.” I don’t remember much about the series about an unemployed man who dressed up like a woman for a job interview because it gave him a better chance of success during a “man-cession.”

I do recall I couldn’t get those 22 minutes of my life back. It was so unfunny and forced that I suspected it would never air. Wrong. It airs tonight. My advice: Ignore It.

If you’ve watched any NBC series in the past few weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen a promo for the new NBC series “Smash,” which premieres the Monday after the Super Bowl.

I watched it three times over the holidays. Needless to say, I love the pilot of the series about the making of a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. It stars Debra Messing of “Will & Grace” as part of the creative time involved in the musical. But former “American Idol” star Katharine McPhee is a revelation as one of the waitress-actresses vying for the lead role. I knew she could sing, but I hadn’t realized she could act. And she looks — as Simon Cowell might say — fantastic.

It is easy to criticize “Smash” since it features just about every Broadway cliché there is. But I still can’t wait to see it a fourth time. Watch it when it arrives.

Then there is “Alcatraz,” the Fox series from J.J. Abrams about missing criminals and guards who were in the maximum security facility in California years ago and suddenly have come alive along with their stories. I watched it in August and loved the series, which has a cast that includes Sam Neill of “Jurassic Park” fame and Jorge Garcia of “Lost.” The first hour was intriguing, mysterious and tense. Fox just sent along the second hour and I can’t wait to use some of the time I used to spend watching Buffalo Sabres game to watch it. It premieres Jan. 16.

I also used late December to watch the final two episodes of “Homeland,” the Showtime series starring Damian Lewis, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin about an American terrorist who has come back from the Middle East masquerading as a war hero.

I won’t give up too much of the plot because so many people came to the series late and haven’t caught up to the final. I will saw this series from the producers of “24” gave the writers the same problem they had with that Kiefer Sutherland series: They couldn’t make the ending as powerful or as believable as the previous episodes after painting themselves into a corner and needing to save the stars for another season.

The finale was disappointing and unfulfilling on multiple levels. I did like the symbolism of the final tortuous scene and still can’t wait to see season two.

Finally, I spent nine hours watching the entire first season of “Luck,” HBO’s horse racing series from Buffalo’s David Milch of “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blues” and “Deadwood” fame. HBO gave it a sneak preview last month and repeats that episode on Jan. 29 before it airs the second episode on Feb.5.

I didn’t love the pilot of the series that stars Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, Jason Gedrick, Nick Nolte and several other recognizable faces and is directed by Michael Mann. I found it a little difficult to hear and understand some of the dialogue. But I understand that Milch was treating the subject like a novel, which typically starts slowly by establishing the setting.

By the third episode, I could practically smell the track and the horses and gradually fell in love with the degenerate characters that are the heart of Milch’s view of the world he knows so well.

By the end, I was as hooked on “Luck” as a bettor is on a beautiful colt ridden by an incredible jockey. Enjoy it.

More on “Smash,” “Alcatraz’”and “Luck” as their premieres near. Consider this an early shout out to them all.


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2 responses to "Shows to Look Forward To In The New Year"

  1. Tina says:

    Any word on the new game show “Who’s Still Standing” as far as rating are concerned? I didn’t think I was going to like it but I end up watching the entire hour when it is on. I know you thought it would be canceled fairly early on so I was wondering how the ratings have been for it.

  2. Pergy's friend says:

    Someone should nick-name local TV News (at least Ch 4) “Snow Chasers”. It’s like they’re begging the snow gods to drop 8 feet of snow on us.

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