Justified, Timothy Olyphant, Jennifer Lopez, American Idol, Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation

Prashant Gupta / FX; Mark Davis/Fox; Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Winter is a highly underrated season. Sure, it's blustery and brisk and all that, but man, the TV shows premiering this time of year just plain rock. American Idol returns with two new superstar judges, one of our favorite comedies is finally back on the air,  the sexiest U.S. marshal in all the land is back for 13 more shoot-'em-up stories, and oh yeah, Glee is getting "Super"-sized. Check out part one of our winter TV preview, and then get in here to find out which shows we're celebrating in our top five!

Kimberly Wyatt, Paula Abdul, Travis Payne, Live To Dance

Monty Brinton/CBS

5. Paula Abdul's Live to Dance (CBS): At first we were just jazzed about this show strictly for the trainwreck value—Paula Abdul does tend to get loopy now and then—but then we watched the trailer and, wow, tears. Paula's passion for the art of dance really does shine through on this show (which premieres Jan. 4), and without Simon Cowell's big personality crowding out everyone else at the judges' table, Paula's storied gentle nature just seems kind, rather than weak. Unlike Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, this show doesn't have an age limit, so the really young kids bring an old-school Star Search flair to the series, while the oldsters bring a lot of heart.

Justified, Timothy Olyphant

Prashant Gupta / FX

4. Justified (FX): Is there a sexier man on television these days than Timothy Olyphant's Marshal Raylan Givens? We'd probably watch the show (and love it) even if Raylan just spent the whole hour shooting beer cans off of fence posts, but lucky for us, there's more than that in store this season. Raylan faces off with a family of murderous marijuana growers—by the way, we count at least two Lost alums (Jeremy Davies, Brad William Henkes) in the family tree, so hallelujah for that—while trying to figure out what Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) is really up to, even though he claims to have gone straight. Meanwhile, Raylan and his beloved ex-wife Winona (flinty beauty Natalie Zea) are trying to figure out if they can make a relationship work. (Come on, guys! You can do it!) Justified is just about everything we fans dream of finding in a scripted series (smart, funny, specific), so do your part to reward FX's good choices and watch when Justified returns Feb. 9, won't you?

Parks and Recreation

Byron Cohen/NBC

3. Parks and Recreation (NBC): How far this little show has come! They say that great stories come from great characters, and thankfully, this show now has a veritable surplus of that valuable comic resource. For starters, Chris Pratt's Andy, Aubrey Plaza's April, Adam Scott's Ben and Jim O'Heir's perpetually put-upon Jerry have all come into their own as dense, fully drawn personalities. But it's Leslie Knope and her work husband Ron Swanson who really make the show so irresistible. For example, in one of the first six upcoming episodes, Leslie gets the flu (all the better to hide Amy Poehler's second pregnancy, of course) and as you watch the usually Hillary Clinton-esque bureaucrat try to do her job through delirium and lots of drugs, you will realize, as we did, that Poehler's comic timing is impeccable. How did this woman not have her own half-hour comedy a decade ago? Similarly, when Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson reconnects with his succubus ex-wife (real-life bride Megan Mullally), their unbridled passionate excess is nothing less than delightfully out of character for the otherwise self-possessed alpha male. (Imagine if Jack Donaghy suddenly became a porny True Blood-style vampire-groupie—it's that outrageous, strange and funny.) And did we mention that the always dreamy Rob Lowe is now part of the cast? If you opted out of Parks and Recreation at any point, this season's Jan. 20 premiere is the time to jump back in. You will not regret it!

Glee Cast

Justin Lubin/Fox

2. Glee (Fox): Come Feb. 6, 2011, Fox airs what will very possibly be the year's biggest single episode of scripted television: the Glee Super Bowl episode. Producers are stuffing the episode, which Jane Lynch calls a "huge extravaganza," with everything from the USC Marching Band to a "Thriller" mashup to a guest appearance byKatie Couric. Would you expect anything less when the most flamboyant show on TV meets the highest-rated TV event of the year? Storywise, Lea Michele revealed to us exclusively that the ep features some major Finchel relationship developments. Sounds like a "Thriller" indeed!

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, America Idol Press Conference

Frank Micelotta / PictureGroup for FOX

1. American Idol (Fox): As it turns out, Idol fans, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are brilliant additions to the judges' lineup. We were worried that Lopez's and Tyler's celebrity would be valued over their musical expertise, but heck, we should have just trusted the producers. We've seen a few "selected auditions"  before the Jan. 19 premiere, and Jennifer Lopez's crackling intelligence and shrewd critical instincts instantly make her the show's new thought leader, while fuzzy-wuzzy Steven Tyler is the fun uncle who makes everyone in the room feel welcome and appreciated. (He even jams with contestants who inspire him musically!) But it's Lopez who comes out the biggest winner here. When a contestant's story or sound cracks the star's shell, we all get to see her soft gooey center—and those moments are going to do wonders for J.Lo's own reputation and career. All in all, if the early previews are any indication, this might just be the best season of American Idol in years.

Want more winter TV? Don't miss our calendar of premiere dates, and be sure to check out our first five picks if you missed them yesterday. 

Now, what winter shows are you looking forward to most? Hit the comments with your picks!

TWITTER: Follow @KristinDSantos and @JenniferArrow 

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