What to Watch: 10 Most Exciting Winter TV Premieres

Find out which 10 winter shows are most intriguing, plus several other returning highlights

By Kristin Dos Santos, Jennifer Godwin Jan 02, 2009 9:15 PMTags
Ryan Seacrest, Amy Poehler, Tahmoh PenikettGregg DeGuire/Getty Images, Jim Spellman/Getty Images, Jean-Paul Aussenard/Getty Images

Winter TV starts next week, and there's such an embarrassment of riches this season that it's hard to know where to start. Lucky for you, we've got a countdown of the top 10 winter series most worth your attention. Is your favorite show included? Find out...

10. Dollhouse (Feb. 13): Joss Whedon returns to television! The wizard himself has created a new series in which the mindfrak is built in to the premise: Young men and women are deprogrammed of their own personalities in order to make room for fabulous new personas ranging from perfect girlfriend to hostage negotiator. Of course, when the so-called "Dolls" start reestablishing personal identities, all heck breaks loose, and the drama begins. Eliza Dushku stars.

9. American Idol (Jan. 13): American Idol is America's favorite television series, and it's back for season eight with a new full-time judge Kara DioGuardi. Producers are promising fewer goofball auditions this year (although some fans think that's the best part) and a renewed focus on the art of music.

8. Reaper (March 17): The CW's Reaper may be the best show you've never seen, and it returns in March for a 13-episode second season. Look for further exploration of Sam's past and his true connection with the Devil, plus a dangerous romance for Ben.

7. Friday Night Lights (Jan. 16): They're going to put Friday Night Lights in the Smithsonian some day, because few artistic endeavors—much less commercial TV series—have ever rendered Americana so faithfully. Plus, Kyle Chandler is way hot. DirecTV subscribers have already seen season three, but if you've only got regular TV, you can finally catch up with the Dillon Panthers again beginning Jan. 16 on NBC.

6. Battlestar Galactica (Jan. 16): The ragtag fleet found Earth—but now what?! The future of the human race remains unknown, but let's face it—Cylonic secrets are the true mystery of Battlestar Galactica's final 10 episodes. Which Cylons are at risk for permanent extinction now that the Resurrection Ship has been destroyed? What do they want with Earth? And most fascinating of all, which familiar human is the last Cylon?

5. Big Love (Jan. 18): The Henricksons are back in town, and season three of Big Love is guaranteed to be a doozy: Look for a shocking pregnancy, a dire illness and the return of Ana, who rapidly becomes a potential fourth wife.

4. Kings (March 19): The next great epic serial is here! Created by Michael Green (Everwood, Heroes), Kings is the biblical story of David, Goliath and King Saul, retold in an alternate universe that looks somewhat like our world but is visibly unique and different. It's New York City—but...off. Ian McShane returns to television as the imperious King Saul; newcomer Christopher Egan stars as golden boy David.

3. The Untitled Amy Poehler Show (April TBD): No one knows what this show is about, but that's OK, we're excited anyway, since it's produced by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur of The Office and stars at least three actors we love: Amy Poehler (host of Smart Girls at the Party), Aziz Ansari (Scrubs) and Rashida Jones (The Office, Unhitched). Also, it apparently features cage fighting. (In our dreams.)

2. 24 (Jan. 11): In the looong-awaited "Day Seven" of 24, Tony Almeida is back and literally badder than ever—he's gone to the dark side! Jack, meanwhile, is on a dark journey of his own, coming to terms with his literally torturous past all while trying to bring down evil Jon Voight and preventing Senegalese rebels from invading the White House. (Yes, you read that right—invading the White House—and this is why season seven is due to rock.)

1. Lost (Jan. 21): Lost returns in less than three weeks, and the world will be a better place for it. Season five means it's time to go back to the Island, but there's more than a little gridlock on the road back: The nature of time and space itself is an obstacle (the Island is missing!), not to mention Charles Widmore's diabolical schemes and the internal strife between the Oceanic Six members. The good news is that for the first hour of the premiere, Sawyer is shirtless. If you haven't seen it yet, check out our past Lost season-five coverage, including two fascinating sneak peek videos with Kate and Aaron and Jack and Ben!

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/Getty Images; Michael Tran/Getty Images

Other Notable Winter Premieres:

Burn Notice (Jan. 22): Creator Matt Nix tells us exclusively, "In the second half of the season, Michael and Fiona do their best to keep things professional...but find that in their line of work, that's a lot harder than it sounds." Holler!

Castle (March 9): Captain Sexypants himself, Nathan Fillion, returns to television in this witty ABC supernatural-investigation series.

Cupid (March 24): Rob Thomas' 1990s series Cupid is recreated with Bobby Cannavale as a man who thinks he is Cupid and Sarah Paulson as his love, Psyche. OK, his psychiatrist, but close enough.

Damages (Jan. 7): Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) is back for another struggle to the death with Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne).

Gossip Girl (Jan. 5): Aaron is gone, Chuck is crazy, Dan has a new girlfriend and oh, yeah, Lily and Rufus have a long-lost kid! You know you love it!

Lie To Me (Jan. 14): The deeply talented Tim Roth (aka Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs) leads this intriguing Fox series about the science of visual lie detection.

Life (Feb. 4): OMG they shot Crews! Find out what that means for Dani Reese and the future of their partnership when the funnest—and funniest—cop show on TV returns from its winter break.

Medium (Feb. 2): Allison DuBois finally returns. Look for lots of extended family adventures this season, including the arrival of Joe's troublesome younger sister.

Nip/Tuck (Jan. 6): It's still impossible to ignore this shocking plastic surgery series, no matter how excessive it's become in recent years.

Rules of Engagement (Spring TBD): Watch this for Megyn Price and Patrick Warburton's pitch-perfect comic timing and for Brian Dennehy's guest gig as Patrick's father.

Scrubs (Jan. 6): Be sure to tell your TiVo that Scrubs moved from NBC to ABC or you might miss the first two hours of season eight and the introduction of Courteney Cox Arquette as the new chief of medicine. (First order of business? Firing the janitor!)

Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Jan. 18): The writing for this series remains excellent, but the real interest in season two of Secret Diary is in watching Billie Piper's poorly hidden pregnancy clash with her role as a high-class hooker. What were they thinking?

Secret Life of the American Teenager (Jan. 5): As Secret Life director Jason Priestley said earlier this year, "Ben and Amy go through with the wedding and then Amy and Ricky sort of—I'm going to get in trouble. Things don't go as planned [and it involves Amy and Ricky], let me put it to you that way."

The Tudors (March TBD): Crazy King Henry VIII is back, and this year he plows through (tee-hee!) Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis) and poor Anne of Cleves (Joss Stone).

United States of Tara (Jan. 18): Toni Collette gets the role of a lifetime as a suburban mom with disassociative identity disorder whose long-suffering family alternately enjoys and endures her three other personalities: T (the slutty teen), Alice (the controlling and perfect housewife) and Buck (the redneck male trucker).

Check out our premiere TV dates calendar for the full rundown of launch dates in a handy dandy printable format. Now, what are your notable premieres? Did we miss something important? Post in the comments!