10 TV events to look forward to in 2011

Happy new year! And a new year of TV means premieres, specials, returns of favorites, and risky business. Here are 10 TV events to look forward to. Bookmark this list and watch for their start-dates.

1. Game of Thrones (HBO) Of all the new TV projects, this is the one I’m most eager to see, most hoping will be executed with the grand wit it deserves. George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy gets the HBO treatment, which means his dense tale of warring kingdoms, sexy and supernatural hijinks, and neck-snapping plot twists can sprawl with the grandeur it requires. It premieres in April.

2. Fringe (Fox) The return of Fringe on Jan. 21 will find the series in full-power mode, with an episode that will probably feature the Observers prominently, as well as continuing drama over how the relationship between Peter and Olivia will continue now that Olivia has returned from the other side. Oh, and the fate of our universe remains perilous as well, of course.

3. Justified (FX) Timothy Olyphant returns on Feb. 9 as Marshal Raylan Givens in a second season of big-hat, laconic action. The first episode of the season, “The Moonshine War,” is a nod to the title of an Elmore Leonard novel, and Leonard co-authored the story with producer Graham Yost, so you know it’s going to be a lot of hardboiled fun.

4. The Kennedys (History Channel) This miniseries has been controversial from the moment it was announced. Any history of the Kennedy family always stirs partisan passion pro and con, but when you add the fact that one of its executive producers is Joel Surnow (24), an outspoken Hollywood conservative — hoo boy, have defenders of the Kennedy liberal legacy already made their qualms known about this production… without, of course, having seen so much as two seconds of it. Which makes the project all the more intriguing.

5. Lights Out (FX) I’m a sucker for boxing drama, so this new series, premiering Jan. 11, about a one-time contender who’s almost settled into middle age sounded interesting. Then I saw the knock-out pilot episode and I’m ready to root for Holt McCallany as Patrick “Light” Leary, the married father of three who struggles to get ready for a return match that could save his reputation and his sagging economic fortunes. Add Stacey Keach — who starred in one of the best boxing movies ever, Fat City — as Lights’ father, and you’ve got a promising series.

6. Body of Proof (ABC) It takes a lot to make me interested by another crime-solving medical show, but seeing Dana Delany power through the pilot episode of this new series, premiering in March, definitely puts it on this list. Delany plays a bristlingly smart, sour-humored neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner with crisp authority — I’m glad she’s getting a starring role after years of fine ensemble acting.

7. Roger Ebert at the Movies The re-launch of Ebert’s movie-review show is set for January, which is good news. The fact that it’s lost one of its two hosts before it goes on the air is curious but intriguing. Christy Lemire and Elvis Mitchell had been announced as co-hosts, but Mitchell is out of the mix. His replacement is the sharp Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. And any show that will also feature Ebert’s opinions, plus classic-movie commentary by Kim Morgan, is one that will interest anyone with an interest in movies and movie criticism.

8. Mildred Pierce (HBO) Kate Winslet will star in this miniseries based on the James M. Cain novel, and which stands in the long shadow of the 1945 Joan Crawford film directed by Michael Curtiz. This new production, directed by Todd Haynes, has a head-spinning cast that includes Guy Pearce, Evan Rachel Wood as Mildred’s willful daughter Veda, and Melissa Leo. I recently read the novel for the first time, and its Great Depression setting and tense atmosphere lends itself perfectly to the tenor of our own time.

9. James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting the Oscars When these two young stars begin the entertainment world’s biggest trophy hand-out on Feb. 27, there’ll be a lot of anticipation in the air. Whereas most Oscar hosts have traditionally tried for killer laughs, Franco and Hathaway, while by no means people incapable of Funny, cannot help but bring a new atmosphere to the proceedings — perhaps a fresh, invigorating tone.

10. Luck (HBO) This is the wildest of wild cards. Take two brilliant, headstrong creators, Michael Mann and David Milch, one headstrong star, Dustin Hoffman, add Michael Gambon in his first American TV series role, and put them in a racetrack setting (a milieu Milch knows very well first-hand), and you’ve got the potential for either a show with a setting and tone unlike anything else on TV, or a botched wreck that may need putting out of its misery. Either way, it’ll be a helluva lot of fun to watch.

What 2011 TV events are you looking forward to? The post-Super Bowl episode of Glee? The return of Parks and Recreation? Let me know below, please; thanks.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (232 total) Add your comment
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  • JC

    When does the Kennedy series air? I was not aware of it until now! Fringe will be epic…let us hope this is not the last few episodes of the series.

    • Jank

      FRINGE will be around for a while
      Game of Thrones looks interesting
      “body of proof” looks laughably bad – a neurosurgeon turned ME (I rolled my eyes at that lousy premise)
      And as far as Anne Hathaway, I don’t get the gushing about her and don’t like the idea of her portraying Judy Garland in a biopic

      • Tarc

        Sure, that bit of the backstory in Body Of Proof sounds unlikely, but that tidbit probably has little impact on the series. Delaney has played a couple similar characters recently, all exceptionally well done and interesting. I’m sure Body Of Proof will be worth a try.

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      • chad

        Body of Proof is really bad. The pilot made her look like House MD on steroids. ABC waited so long to air it because it was not good. Dana was great on Housewives though.

      • S.

        Don’t get excited about Game of Thrones – the author, GRRM, has been ‘working’ on the fifth book of the series for FIVE years now (at this point it is still a seven book series). He has managed to publish only 1 book (book 4) of the series in the past ten years. Stop promoting a series that will (at the rate George writes) never have a proper conclusion!

      • @S.

        Chances are, HBO has the TV rights to the series and can do whatever they want with the content. Meaning, if the final books have not been written, they will continue (or end) the story themselves.

      • Mary

        Fringe better stick around or my 100lb TV set is gonna be catapulted toward a certain network.

    • Rush

      Unfortunately, most of Ken’s picks are on pay cable.

      • Rush

        Could it be that HBO and EW are both owned by Time Warner? Nah, Ken Tucker has more journalistic integrity than to shill without a disclosure warning, right?

      • calistoga

        I would not survice solely on broadcast TV, but I will survive nicely without HBO & SHO!
        “Justified” FX is one of my top must-see faves for all the right reasons. Olyphant et al are supurb.

        “Body of Proof” sounds good to me. Delany supurb in most efforts i.e. “China Beach”, but… Will ABC give it time? Or yank it?
        HST Channel has been making some gutsy calls recently. We will definitely watch The Kennedys.
        Agree with his reviews or not, Ebert’s opinions are only ones that matter to me.
        Franco and Hathaway are NOT known for silliness on any level, but highly respected by most everyone for their talent and work ethic. I’m looking forward to seeing the Oscar’s get a makeover, and leave the silliness for some other “reality” show.
        Last, and not least, we are also looking forward to The Glades, Covert Affairs, White Collar.

      • Rush

        And some people don’t want to be raped by the man. Cable companies got you by the short and curlies if you sign on with pay cable channels. DVD and Netflix are much better options.

      • SP

        Just do what the cool kids do – ditch your cable TV and download everything you want. You know, the free way that is making premium channels and production companies bleed money.

      • Rush

        All these HBO shows, but no mention of the return of Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, or Sons of Anarchy. No mention of returning Showtime shows like Dexter.

    • Ryan

      Yeah and poor Jeri Ryan dumped in a lousy supporting role. She’s a great actress if allowed to shine. She was just really getting equal billing to James Woods in season 2 of Shark before her maternity leave. The show got axed before her return. I also found her far more believable and entertaining when she filled in for Gina Bellman on Leverage during her maternity leave.

      A series about the character Delaney played on Castle would be good. It wouldn’t be anything we hadn’t seen before per se, but that two parter was pretty good for a hit and miss show like Castle

    • Anonymous

      fringe will kick royale butt

  • David

    There is NOTHING I am looking forward to on tv more than the return of Parks & Rec.

    Hands down the strongest of NBC’s Thursday night comedies, this show has what The Office used to do so well- characters you love and are invested in who can still bring the funny.

    • DTO

      I’m looking forward to PARKS & REC for comedy and JUSTIFIED for drama/action, as well as the return of MAD MEN much later in the year.

    • Barry

      Mr. Tucker was writing about good quality shows not garbage like the Nothing But Crap network has on most nights.

      • calistoga

        Stopped here to agree about the Nothing But Crap network, but mainly to note that I just viewed the JUSTIFIED trailer. It is definitely a teaser! I’m still salivating!!

      • Artrell

        jF0moR That’s not just the best answer. It’s the bestest answer!

    • Alex

      YESS! Can’t wait for my favorite thursday night comedy to come back!

  • Jane

    Definitely can’t wait for Parks and Recreation. I love Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza. Also looking forward to a strong backend to Bones with the sniper story line.

    • AltDave

      Don’t forget Ron Swanson!!

  • Jennie

    SHERLOCK will be back – if only for 3 more episodes.
    All for you folks who have never watched it. Rent or buy the DVD -you will not be sorry. One of the greatest actors you will see as Sherlock.

    • Jose

      Yeah, in the UK, I though we didn’t get it here until the Summer?

      • Cristiano

        This sounds great. I wish I could see sotihmeng like it one day. The closest thing we have is our ethnic festivals that are held in the city each year, but this sounds much bigger than those.

    • MCS

      I have watched it and I was sorry.

      • AT

        Then I seriously wonder about your taste in good TV.

    • MaryUtah

      Great to hear that Sherlock will be back. Found it a wonderful re-imagining of the stories.
      Looking forward to Game of Thrones. Don’t have HBO, but I will, come April

    • LaurieZ

      I’m very excited about this! It was SO good!

    • calistoga

      I saw the first 3 new Sherlock’s and thought all aspects of the productions were outstanding. I’m an ‘old’ Sherlock fan, but liked the differences. IMHO, writing for the two leads is more finely tuned and the two actors give outstanding characterizations. Anxious to see next 3 episodes (PBS?).

    • anne

      Thank you for bringing this up! I had to stop thinking about it soon after it aired so I wouldn’t lose my mind while waiting. But now, it’s so much closer to returning! A bright spot for 2011. :-) Also, looking forward to Downton Abby.

      • Demarlo

        Glad I’ve fanilly found something I agree with!

  • JC

    There are a ton of shows I look forward to coming back sometime in 2011 (True Blood, Entourage, Mad Men, Justified, Southland, Walking Dead…) but the P&R is #1! Can’t wait!

  • Sarah

    I am intrigued by much of this list,if not all of it And I’m so very excited for the return of Fringe the most! Glad to see it’s #2 on here!

    • Ruby

      Me too! Fringe is the best show on TV by far!!!

      • Gary

        Fringe is a bad rip off of X-files. The main characters have no chemistry.

      • Jeff

        Gary is a troll.

      • Rush

        Gary: missed X-Files on its original run but am watching it on Netflix. I enjoy it but I have to say that Fringe is better. Fringe has a more balanced tone between the deep, dark, surreal sci-fi and the lightness of tone that John Noble brings to his role and Josh Jackson brings with his sarcastic side remarks.

      • aes74

        Love Fringe. Can’t wait for its return.

  • Talor Madison

    I think this list sounds intriguing but seeing as how I don’t have cable I can’t watch most of the shows. Haha. That being said the only things I am looking forward to are Smallville when it comes back on January 28th and also Grey’s Anatomy when it comes back on Thursday. If I had cable I would also but Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on this list because I just saw a preview of it and it looks pretty darn good. That and Spartacus: Blood and Sand was pretty awesome. I mostly just want to see the end of Smallville because it is my favorite show and I would like to see how it ends.

    • aaa

      I’m also looking forward to the end of Smallville. I’m also hoping that EW does a tribute to the show by putting Tom, Allison and Erica on the cover of the magazine.

      • Hardline Feminist

        They won’t; I’m sure that week someone from “Glee” or “Twilight” will fart and get a cover for it.

      • Jenkol

        Sue Your new blog looks pretty cool! Ah, the warm days of suemmr, viewed from your sail boat Sure miss those days already! I had quite a wet commute this morning to work, but I’m all dry now and feeling warm and toasty now as I type this.Have a great week and fun with your new blog. I’ll have to read your posts, categories, and archives when I get a chance on my break. ) Jenny

    • Miah

      James Gray + Jacques Tati + Free Darko = a great Links For the Day. When I read the FD post ydsreteay, I thought it would be fun to make up similar charts for filmmakers… maybe I’ll get on that and send one (for James Gray, maybe) down HND Way.

  • Melissa

    I am actually interested in seeing the Amazing Race when it comes back in February. Hopefully we will see some Cowboys rocking it.

    • anne

      Rocking and winning this time! Go Cowboys!! :-)

    • Gerry

      I’m really reittergng not buying the Aztec print blazer I found at the Salvation Army a couple of months ago. I think this trend is awesome, especially the bags & the bracelets.

  • fredgavaria

    The return of Breaking Bad!

    • Russ

      Yes!!!
      …considering season 3 of Breaking Bad was Ken’s favorite “TV event” of 2010, I’m surprised he isn’t excited about season 4.

      • Mary

        I agree, Russ. He totally dropped the ball on that.

      • Mindy

        He probably meant this as a list of Winter/Spring shows. Breaking Bad doesn’t come back until the middle of Summer.

  • John

    Being Human, the British version and maybe the American one.

    • Kelly

      Really looking forward to the british version’s return

      • steve

        well if we’re talking British shows, Hustle comes back in a week… best show on TV if you ask me.

      • Tyla

        So am I. Not so sure about the American version, though, as it most likely will suffer by comparison.

      • Cerridwin

        Love the British version, dunno about the American version yet. Love BBC America… Anyone know if Dr. Who is coming back? I also heard that new episodes of Primeval will be airing soon.

    • Laurie

      Looking forward to the return of Being Human as well! Reserving judgment on the American version for now.

    • Sammi

      Hey Lis, the Fringe is the best month of the year here….well apart from Hogmanay.Hi Naq, there are so many performers here I don’t know where to start.Hi Erna, don’t be hoicemsk. You’ll be visiting home soon I’m sure, this is just a little something for you to look forward to.

  • jes1

    Definitely agree on Game of Thrones. I don’t have HBO but I’ll pony up and get it through itunes. I’m looking forward to Sherlock as well, and Fringe and Smallville.

    • thin

      I’m really excited about it as well, but iTunes is probably not going to have it until some time well after the season finishes airing. True Blood season 3, for example, still is not available there, despite having finished months ago.

    • Janderson

      Before I say anything else, let me state this. I love the show. I am eeobsssd with it. Ok on to my issues. I think at this point, my biggest complaint with the show is their handling of Daenerys. She is NOTHING like in the books. Every definitive scene that we experience her in how she grows, how her relationship with Drogo develops, how she begins to believe and know she is Khaleesi, have been completely destroyed. Where she is in the show right now, by this point in the books, we know Dany is a force to be reckoned with, and her growth and development make sense. In the show, she is still this unsure little girl who is victimized at every turn. This is not Daenerys. Like the scene in this week s episode for example. In the books this is the first time we see her stand up to Viserys. There were two instances in that scene that were changed that drastically change the tone of the scene, and their relevance to Dany’s development. Why the writers are choosing to do this, only they know but I sure hope that we start seeing Dany come into her own because she is one of the main characters of these books, and she just doesn t feel that important to me in the TV show, even though she is getting the screen time. Another big beef I have is Drogo. In the TV show he is nothing more than a rapist barbarian, and in the books, he is so much more. He is actually one of my favorite characters, and it makes me very sad that he is not getting the treatment he deserves. The lack of importance given to the relationship between the Stark children and the dire wolves is also bothering me a lot, but I understand that there is only so much you can do here. Now -this week s episode. For a third episode I thought it did its job. It wasn t as fast paced or intense as the first two, but we were introduced to some of the major players at King’s Landing. I think one of my favorite scenes was Arya and Syrio. It felt very authentic though I disliked the fact that the scene with Ned and Arya that eventually leads up to Arya and Syrio was completely changed. Maybe I m being overly critical but for me, it is these nuances that the TV show seems to be skipping, that make these books so fantastic. Catelyn s arrival to King s Landing comes to mind. One scene that I loved but again, had issues with (I m such a complainer lol) was Tyrion and Jon Snow when the boys are putting their swords away. It wasn t a big deal to me that they removed the black smith all together, and gave Tyrion the lines instead, but this scene was important because it made Jon realize that though he is a bastard, he still has it better than most, if not all of the boys at the Wall and this was not as potent in the speech that Tyrion gives Jon. I have so much more to say, but I will keep the rest simple. The casting for Petyr Baelish is perfect. Renly left me a bit unsatisfied, Varys is perfect and I will leave off with the question I have been asking myself in each episode WHERE IS GHOST?????? (sorry if this is all over the place. wrote this at work. don’t tell on me)

  • reb

    I also can’t wait for Mildred Pierce. I’m a long time fan of the movie, and just read the book in preparation for the series, which is supposed to stick more closely with it than the film did. I was amazed at how great it was, and am now on tenterhooks waiting for it to start on HBO.

  • K

    SOOOO excited for Game of Thrones.

    • SciyuFiyu

      Finally, someone interested in Game of Thrones. The lack of interest and excitement in the comments for that series makes me sick.

    • Kelly

      me too!!!

      • Lucy

        I heard he was a pro inline-skater and blew his sinigng bonus on drugs and alcohol. It all started with marijuana .a gateway drug. I think all inline-skaters can learn from his mistakes.

  • MaryJane

    Would I be a total geek girl if I said I was dying to see “THE CAPE”?????

    • thin

      I’m kind of interested in it, too, but I’m keeping my expectations low because of NBC’s long-running pattern of doing great promotional work for shows that end up being underwhelming.

    • Erin

      No way – The Cape is what I have been waiting for since it was announced and promoted aaaaaages ago.

      To tell you the truth it better kick ass consering the frustrating delay. Though I suspect it many very well do this – The premise with that cast? Shall be awesome!

      • pretzelgirl

        I’m really looking forward to this one, too–though I admit to doubting that TV will do it justice….

      • Buddy

        Great thinking! That rellya breaks the mold!

    • Tia

      I am too. The Cape looks good.

      • Alex

        Looking forward to Summer Glau’s return. She’s brilliant in all her shows, but they all tend to get cancelled.TSCC, Dollhouse, FIREFLY…too many painful memories :(

  • Jaded

    The return of Southland is something to look forward to!

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