My preview-reviews: Here are the best new January TV shows

Happy almost-new year. I thought during this week of widespread TV reruns, I’d whet your appetite for some of the fresh stuff coming in January. I’ve already written a bit about Chuck, so here are four more new or returning shows I highly recommend. I’ll be writing about these in more detail once they premiere, but here are some shows you can program your DVR to record right now. (Guarantee: No spoilers ahead, other than details these shows’ producers have already made generally available.)

Big Love (premieres Jan. 10, HBO) Can things get any more complicated in the Henrickson houses? Yes! Especially when you have ambitious connivers both at home (Nicki and Margene get on Bill and Barb’s last nerves real fast) and out in the world (two words: Alby Grant — and Matt Ross deserves an Emmy nom for his portrayal this season). Gambling! Corpses! Bill runs for political office!

Archer (premieres Jan. 14, FX) A sneak-preview of the pilot for this cartoon spy show aired in September, and I’ll assert that subsequent episodes only get better. From the makers of Sealab 2021 and my beloved Frisky Dingo, Archer is crass, crammed with verbal and visual gags, and seems to have absorbed every spy genre from the Bond canon to The Man from U.N.C. L.E. to Get Smart. And smart it is.

24 (premieres Jan. 17, Fox) Jack is in Manhattan. Guess what else is there? You are correct: a terrorist threat. So is Freddie Prinze, Jr. No, that’s not a threat — he’s actually good, at least in the first four hours I’ve seen. And Katee Sackhoff, in the sort of high heels Battlestar Galactica geeks have previously only dreamt of, makes a formidable foe for… Chloe! Under threat of torture, that’s all I’ll say.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (premieres Jan. 22, Starz) I’m telling ya, this slashing take on Roman warfare and lust could very well prove the Not At All Guilty Pleasure of the season. Co-producers include Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess), and creator Steven S. DeKnight (Smallville, Angel). The violence is gleefully appalling (severed limbs, spurting crimson spray), the sex is unapologetically raunchy, the humor is bleakly funny. The glowing visual look of Spartacus is unique. Boy, I had fun — I think you will, too.

Are you looking forward to any of these?

You can follow me on Twitter @kentucker.

Comments (77 total) Add your comment
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  • Auriana

    I cannot wait for Spartacus.

    • harry

      Here here!!!

      • BP

        Uh, yeah. That is def going in my queue.

      • Tego Livi

        Where? Where?

      • matty

        I believe you mean “hear, hear”

    • Lindsay

      It looks like some kind of awesome mix of 300 and Gladiator, with a little bit of Rome thrown in.

      • Your mom

        These are a few of my favorite things…

      • Linda L

        Yes, it does combine Gladiator, Rome and 300 plus it has producers from Xena which was my guilty pleasure. I will definitely check it out.

    • Leigh

      Me, too! It looks awesome!

      • jared4ever

        Woo Hoo! looks tight.

  • jaime

    None of those are on my list!!!

    Im so ready for

    MAKE IT or BREAK IT (say what you want but OMG this show is so GOOD) on ABC FAMILY


    southLAnd on TNT (they are going to get lots of NEW viewers thanks to this show, i know im one)!!!


      OMG Looooooove MAKE IT or BREAK IT!! Can’t WAIT for it’s return.

  • ks

    Where is Caprica?

    • Monique

      Not on Ken Tucker’s list, since these are the shows he is recommending to his readers. I’ve heard so-so things about Caprica so far.

    • Leigh

      I’ve only heard mixed reviews of “Caprica” though I’m still going to watch.

  • bhm1304

    The “Archer” episode that aired was funnier than any cartoon aired Sundays on FOX over the past 10 years. Seth McFarlane should watch this show to see what a funny cartoon looks like.

    • Dustin

      Ill watch Archer because I loved Frisky Dingo like a fat kid loves cake and Archer is basically Frisky Dingo with a different name

  • fresh

    What about Leverage? Can’t wait for it to come back, either!

    • Justin

      absolutely. Love leverage, and love 24! Jack is my boy!

      • Justin

        I’m also looking forward to Burn Notice, Psych, White Collar, and Chuck (of course!).

  • Archer looks hilarious. I really need to get caught up on Big Love, as well.

    I’m also looking forward to Southland, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and High School Reunion’s new season.

  • Stephanie

    I’ve only seen one commercial for Archer, so maybe its just me, but doesn’t this remind anyone of Spy Groove, that amazing cartoon on MTV that lasted like 6 episodes?

  • amj

    I cannot wait for the return of Big Love!

  • Dave

    Spartacus and Archer both look really good, so I’ll definitely be checking those out. And of course I’ll be watching Big Love.

  • Peggy

    Don’t have HBO or Starz, so I guess I will have to settle for any shows on regular cable. Can’t wait for Chuck.

    • Leigh

      I think – and somebody correct me if I’m wrong – that you can watch “Spartacus” online @ STARZ. I know others have already seen the first episode online somehow and LOVED it.

  • Mel

    Katee Sackhoff (not Katie)

  • Daisy

    Yes, I’ll admit to being a BSG nerd (there I said it so nobody else has to), but you spelled Katee Sackhoff’s name wrong.

    • Ken Tucker

      Oh, what a bad speller I am–thanks, Daisy. Fixed.

  • TheTVObsessed


  • Ruth

    I cannot wait for Big Love! Alby is one of the most interesting characters on tv.

  • Allie

    wow spartacus looks pretty voilent… definitely not like xena and hercules. and yes i know the word “blood” is in the title, haha, but the clip is so violent. i think i’ll settle for 24 and burn notice when that returns!!

    • Allie


    • Tego Livi

      Voilent green is people.

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