clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

TV in 2015: Your guide to January’s slew of new shows

Brand spankin’ new shows.

Season premieres.

The beginning of the end for old favorites.

Make room on the DVR: January is shaping up to be a hella busy month for TV.

Here’s a look at what the small screen has in store for the start of 2015:

LET THE MUSIC PLAY

“Spamalot” fans will want to tune in to “Galavant,” ABC’s spoofy musical comedy about a medieval knight (Joshua Sasse) whose fickle lover (Mallory Jansen) gets scooped up by an evil king (Timothy Omundson). Ricky Gervais, Weird Al Yankovic and John Stamos guest star, with the latter playing Galavant rival Sir Jean Hamm. A pair of episodes will air at 7 p.m. every Sunday in January on WLS-Channel 7. Think of it as your fairytale fix until “Once Upon a Time” comes back.

The 14th season of Fox’s “American Idol” kicks off with a two-night, three-hour premiere at 7 p.m. Jan. 7. (Northfield native Cody Fry, 24, is featured in Thursday’s audition rounds.) Wednesday’s hourlong “Idol” is the opening act for Fox’s entertaining, hip-hop-heavy drama “Empire” (8 p.m. Wednesdays on WFLD-Channel 32), starring Terrence Howard as a music mogul and Taraji P. Henson as his ticked-off ex looking to get back into the business she helped build. Filmed in Chicago, the sudsy series is like “King Lear” set to Timbaland tracks.

On Jan. 17, Angela Bassett makes her directorial debut with the Lifetime biopic “Whitney.” Former model Yaya DaCosta (“The Butler”) plays the troubled superstar with Arlen Escarpeta as Bobby Brown. Unlike the network’s recent “Aaliyah” train wreck, this one includes a bunch of the late singer’s hits.

THE BRITISH ARE COMING

The fifth season of PBS’s ratings darling “Downton Abbey” bows at 8 p.m. Jan. 4, followed by a special where the show’s historical advisor, Alistair Bruce, schools us Yanks in the British aristocracy’s early 20th century code of conduct. (Pause to yawn.) If you like “Downton,” I’d bet my last pence you’re going to dig the latest addition to PBS’s ever-expanding “Masterpiece” portfolio: “Grantchester.” Charismatic James Norton (“Happy Valley”) plays a charming vicar with a knack for crime solving in this procedural set in postcard-perfect, post-war Cambridgeshire. Six-part season starts at 9 p.m. Jan. 18 on PBS.

SundanceTV’s new British cop series “Babylon” (9 p.m. Jan. 8) takes place in modern-day London, where a public relations-savvy American (Brit Marling) attempts to rework the image of the city’s police force, led by an iron-fisted James Nesbitt. The plot — and accents — can be difficult to understand, but creator Danny Boyle’s (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Trainspotting”) fast-paced, stylish storytelling is addictive even if you don’t know what the bloody hell is going on.

SWAN SONGS

Raise a glass to the cul-de-sac crew of “Cougar Town,” whose sixth and final season starts at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 6 on TBS.

The fat lady is about to sing on “Glee.” Fox’s musical dramedy begins an abbreviated 13-episode season with a two-hour premiere at 7 p.m. Jan. 9.

NBC can’t seem to get rid of the low-rated but critically adored comedy “Parks and Recreation” fast enough: The network will burn off back-to-back episodes Tuesdays starting at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 and culminating with an hourlong series finale Feb. 24. (Star Amy Poehler is back to co-host the Golden Globes with Tina Fey at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 on WMAQ-Channel 5.)

It’s reckoning time for the long-brewing conflict between Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd (Walton Goggins) on “Justified,” FX’s Elmore Leonard-based drama whose sixth and last season starts at 9 p.m. Jan. 20.

CHEW ON THIS

The ovens are still warm from last season’s pint-sized cooking competition, “MasterChef Junior,” but ratings-starved Fox is wasting no time serving up another helping at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 on WFLD-Channel 32. A couple of Chicago-area kids — 12-year-old Jack and 9-year-old Philly — are among the 19 child chefs looking to wow the judges’ taste buds.

Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” returns at 8 p.m. Jan. 4, when Chicagoan Jason Dixon and Zion’s Christina Oster show the country how inept they are in the kitchen. A Chicago episode of Food Network’s “Pizza Masters” airs at 8 p.m. Jan. 6, featuring pies from Lou Malnati’s, Roots Handmade Pizza and Hoosier Mama.

Because the world needs another culinary competition, Bravo is rolling out “Best New Restaurant” at 9 p.m. Jan. 21 with “Top Chef” host Tom Colicchio.

REALITY CHECK

A&E’s new unscripted series “Donnie Loves Jenny” launches at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 7 with an hourlong wedding special sure to feature some familiar footage of St. Charles’ Hotel Baker, where Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy tied the knot this summer.

WGN America, the superstation-turned-cable network that became available to local Comcast customers last month, debuts its first original reality series, “Wrestling With Death,” at 9 p.m. Jan. 13. The show follows an Arkansas family who spend their days as morticians and their nights as — what else? — pro wrestlers.

Returning reality franchises include “The Celebrity Apprentice” at 8 p.m. Jan. 4 on WMAQ-Channel 5. The next night, 30 women — including three from the Chicago area — try to lasso Prince Farming on a new season of “The Bachelor” at 7 p.m. Jan. 5 on WLS-Channel 7.

Despite the obligatory partying, smack-talking and hookups, MTV’s “The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II” (10 p.m. Jan. 6) is bound to feel more somber this season: Two of the cast members, Diem Brown and Ryan Knight, died after filming ended.

NEW KIDS ON THE SCHEDULING BLOCK

“Marvel’s Agent Carter” (Two-hour premiere 7 p.m. Jan. 6, WLS-Channel 7)

The Marvel universe makes way for this 1946-set series starring Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, Captain America’s grieving gal pal whose secret life as a Brit in the States involves doing the bidding for the S.H.I.E.L.D. precursor, Strategic Scientific Reserve. Atwell is fantastic as a resourceful agent battling all sorts of enemies, including the sexist buffoons that populate her workplace (and the local diner). Back-to-back episodes kick off the show’s seven week run before “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” comes back, which is too bad because this bridge series is better.

“Man Seeking Woman” (9:30 p.m. Jan. 14, FXX)

Former “Saturday Night Live” writer Simon Rich turned his bizarro book of short stories, “The Last Girlfriend on Earth,” into this trippy take on dating. Set (but not filmed) in Chicago, the FXX comedy stars Jay Baruchel as an underachieving 20-something looking for love in the wake of a recently ended relationship. Lots of “SNL” fingerprints on this one, from executive producer Lorne Michaels to guest stars Vanessa Bayer and a virtually unrecognizable Bill Hader as a very old Adolf Hitler.

“Backstrom” (8 p.m. Jan. 22, WFLD-Channel 32)

Hey, it’s another protagonist who’s brilliant at his profession but a hot mess at home! Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson, “The Office”) is a politically incorrect, humanity-hating police detective in Portland, Oregon, in this Fox procedural from the creator of “Bones.” His alienating personality traits are occasionally funny but mostly annoying, which is a problem when he’s the only character worth watching.

“Eye Candy” (9 p.m. Jan. 12, MTV)

This “Scream”-like stalker thriller stars Victoria Justice (“Victorious”) as one of TV’s favorite tropes: the beautiful, brilliant, young computer hacker. Based on R.L. Stine’s novel by the same name, the series is suitably creepy but predictably cheesy when it comes to relationships. For a far more sophisticated, adult take on scary stuff, check out “The Fall” on Netflix. Set in Northern Ireland, this chilling cat-and-mouse chase stars Gillian Anderson as a cop and Jamie Dornan (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) as a serial killer. All six episodes of season two become available on the subscription streaming service Jan. 16.

“Togetherness” (8:30 p.m. Jan. 11, HBO)

Funny brothers Jay (“Transparent”) and Mark Duplass (“The League”) teamed up with Steve Zissis to create this midlife-crisis comedy about four adults living under the same roof and grappling with various forms of disappointment as they approach age 40. Mark Duplass and Zissis star in the series, along with Amanda Peet and Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”), who shines as a sexually frustrated mother of two.

Other new shows in January:

“Life Itself” (Jan. 4, CNN)

Highly acclaimed Roger Ebert documentary makes its TV debut.

“Hindsight” (Jan. 7, VH1)

A woman about to get married to husband No. 2 is transported back in time 20 years, giving her the opportunity to make the “right” choices. And listen to a lot of ’90s music.

“12 Monkeys” (Jan. 16, Syfy)

Time-traveling apocalyptic thriller based on Terry Gilliam’s 1995 flick.

“The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” (Jan. 19, Comedy Central)

“The Daily Show’s” senior black correspondent brings some welcome diversity to the late-night landscape.

“Fortitude” (Jan. 29, Pivot)

This Stanley Tucci-starring whodunnit marks the millennial-focused network’s foray into original scripted dramas.