What new shows are on your radar this mid-season? As cancellations make way for new offerings, we take a look at seven brand new prime-time dramas coming your way from January 7th on ABC, NBC, FOX and the CW.
From ambitious new conspiracy theory dramas to psychological thrillers and soapy whodunnits, there’s a whole lot of new TV on the horizon.
Our reviewers have been busily taking notes and watching pilots and have come up with a selection of seven new buzz-worthy shows you should definitely hear more about.
Check out our selections below and tell us what’s on your must-see list.
Red Widow (ABC, March 3 2013)
The Details: Based on the Dutch series Penoza, Red Widow is written by Melissa Rosenberg of Dexter fame, and executive produced by both Rosenberg and Howard Klein (The Office, Parks & Recreation).
Radha Mitchell stars as Marta Walraven, daughter of a semi-retired Russian mafioso and wife to Evan (Anson Mount) a San Francisco fisherman and reluctant small-time marijuana exporter. The mother of three children, Marta largely shuns her gangster heritage in favor of a normal family life.
However when Marta’s idiot brother Irwin (Wil Traval) steals 75 kilos of cocaine from Schiller (Goran Visnjic of ER fame), a dangerous local gangster whose very name strikes Keyser Söze-esque fear into the hearts of the most hardened criminal, the repercussions are swift and brutal. Marta finds herself suddenly thrust into a world she hoped never to have to revisit, as she negotiates a settlement with Schiller. However, once the door is open, Marta finds it harder and harder to extricate herself.
We Liked: Red Widow is shaping up to be a serious adult drama with great performances from its strong cast. It has a lot of potential.
We Had Reservations About: Red Widow is similar in theme to Missing, another 2012 failed ABC drama featuring a strong woman who takes desperate measures to protect her family from a world she fears but is more than capable of traversing. Despite its fast pace, weekly exotic European locations and a strong cast (Ashley Judd, Sean Bean) Missing failed to draw the numbers and was cancelled after 10 episodes. What can Red Widow learn from its predecessor and why will it succeed where Missing failed?
Zero Hour (ABC, February 14 2013)
The Details: Anthony Edwards (ER) makes a return to TV in this adventure thriller, written and executive produced by Paul Scheuring (Prison Break), Zack Estrin, Lorenzo di Bonaventura (The Transformers, GI: Joe franchise, Salt, Red) and Dan McDermott (Human Target).
As the publisher of “Modern Skeptic” Magazine, Hank Galliston (Edwards) has spent his career following clues, debunking myths and cracking conspiracies. But when his beautiful wife, Laila (Jacinda Barrett), is abducted from her antique clock shop, Hank gets pulled into one of the most compelling mysteries in human history, stretching around the world and back centuries.
Contained in one of his wife’s clocks is a treasure map, etched onto a tiny flawed diamond, and what it leads to could be cataclysmic. It’s up to Hank to decipher the symbols and unlock the secrets of the map, while ensuring the answers don’t fall into the wrong hands — hands that belong to a sinister, mysterious man known only as White Vincent (Michael Nyqvist).
Now Hank, along with his two young associates, Rachel (Addison Timlin) and Arron (Scott Michael Foster), as well as alluring and intelligent FBI agent Rebecca “Beck” Riley (Carmen Ejogo), must embark on a breathless race against the clock to not only find his wife, but save humanity.
We Liked: Zero Hour is an ambitious drama which kicks off proceedings in Nazi occupied Germany in 1938 before whisking the audience to modern day Brooklyn and to the Artic circle in the pilot’s closing moments. The stakes are clearly defined and the episode we saw was both pacy and imaginative.
We Had Reservations About: After seven seasons of Lost, are audiences ready for another show with a perplexing mystery at its core? We also feel the whole Dan Brown’s “DaVinci Code” theme may be well played out at this point.
We Disliked: Wince-worthy dialogue and lazy plot developments (a local priest can decipher a centuries dead language by virtue of the fact that he is a priest; an obscure map with almost indecipherable symbols pinpoints the next stage in the adventure to within a radius of 20 feet) drag Zero Hour down to the level of a Syfy original movie in places.
Mistresses (ABC, Coming Soon 2013)
The Details: Those seeking lighter fare may enjoy Mistresses, which makes its way to screens this mid-season. (ABC has yet to announce a premiere date). Based on the UK television series of the same name, the show is executive-produced by Rina Mimoun (Privileged, Gilmore Girls), K.J. Steinberg (Gossip Girl), Robert Sertner (Revenge) and Douglas Rae (Wuthering Heights, Camelot).
The show centers on “the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery” from successful career woman Savannah, to her free-spirited, capricious and single baby sister, Josslyn to their mutual best friend, April, a recent widow and mother of a ten-year-old daughter, and Karen a therapist with her own thriving practice, reconnecting with the girls after her involvement in a complicated relationship with a wealthy, married patient goes too far (read having an affair with a terminally ill man).
We Liked: Mistresses is Sex and the City meets Desperate Housewives.
We had Reservations About: The theme of four sassy girlfriends is not new. We just hope that in episodes to come Mistresses evolves sufficiently to stand apart creatively from what has gone before.
Deception (NBC, January 7th 2013)
The Details: Those of you who like a few suds in your drama (read Revenge fans!) may want to check out NBC’s Deception, which kicks off tonight and is written and produced by Liz Heldens (Friday Night Lights).
Meet the Bowers, one of America’s wealthiest – and most scandalous – families. From patriarch Robert Bowers (Victor Garber) whose multi-million pharmaceutical company is involved in illegal testing in third world countries, to eldest son Edward (Tate Donovan) who recently beat a rape and murder rap despite the evidence piled against him, the Bowers are never out of the tabloid headlines for long.
When renowned party girl Vivian Bowers is found dead under suspicious circumstances, it falls to San Francisco Police Detective Joanna Padget Locasto (Meagan Good) to infiltrate the Bowers family and find out what exactly happened to her former childhood friend. Hiding her identity as a police officer, Joanna concocts a story which will see her received into the Bower’s family home as a guest following Vivian’s funeral. But as Joanna starts to dig into Vivian’s past, how long will her presence be tolerated?
Also starring are Victor Garber (Argo), Tate Donovan (Damages), Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign), Wes Brown (Scandal), Ella Rae Peck (Gossip Girl), and Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men).
We Liked: The Bowers make the Graysons look like Person of the Year award winners. While other shows are attempting to reproduce the successful format of ABC’s Revenge, Deception ditches the Revegenda and cuts straight to the juiciest bits – scandal, excess, lies and secrets from the rich and famous. Deception is full of soapy goodness.
We Had Reservations About: Although the juicy revelations, eaves-dropped conversations and secretly observed clandestine meetings between the Bowers and their associates are a source of guilty pleasure, we’re not sure how long Joanna can continue to spy on these guys unquestioned. How long would you allow a nosy house-guest to stay at your secret-filled mansion?
Do No Harm (NBC, January 31st 2013)
The Details: Renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) has it all – including two unique personalities. By night the conscientious and mild-mannered Dr Cole becomes Ian Price (also Steven Pasquale), a dangerous and violent alter ego. For years, Cole has been able to restrain Price with the help of an intense pharmaceutical cocktail – that is, until today when he discovers he has become immune to the drug which keeps Price suppressed. Now Price is free and hell-bent on seeking revenge, which could jeopardize Cole’s life, career, and budding romance with Dr. Lena Solis (Alana De La Garza).
We Liked: Steven Pasquale excels at portraying two completely different personas in one show. He even manages to look different as Ian Price. In addition, despite the ominous Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde theme, Do No Harm contains lighthearted moments peppered throughout each episode which stop the show sliding into what could make for some unpleasant territory.
The show is at its best when we are watching Cole and Price setting each other up for a fall while the other personality is ‘sleeping.’ For example, in an attempt to contain Price, Cole ditches his cell phone, credit cards and car, and hires a taxi to take him to the remotest motel he can find. Price awakens to find himself in the middle of nowhere and with no means to wreak havoc on Cole’s life. His solution? To steal a drug dealer’s flashy sports car (with a trunk full of cocaine) and drive home, leaving Cole to face the consequences – and the dealer’s wrath – the following day.
We Had Reservations About: Despite the ‘two sides to the same coin’ appeal of this show, Price is simply more fun to watch than Cole. Do No Harm also packs a good dollop of weekly Medical Drama material, which is great if this is your thing, but not so great if you don’t like looking at a medical case of the week a la Grey’s Anatomy.
The Following (FOX, January 21st 2013)
The Details: From writer creator Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, the Scream franchise) comes The Following, a psychological thriller which follows a former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) who is called from an alcohol-infused retirement by the FBI to track down vicious serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) and his cult of followers.
We Liked: The Following is an ambitious foray into the sort of darker material until now only found on cable channels such as AMC, Showtime and HBO.
Additionally, The Following should be commended as the project which successfully lured the talented and versatile Kevin Bacon back to TV. In a recent interview, Bacon described his first impression of the pilot script as ‘an absolute page turner, anchored with a character I could really sink my teeth into.‘
We Had Reservations About: We’re hoping the tense psychological drama and visceral violence coupled with pitch perfect performances from both Bacon and Purefoy will detract from the show’s weakest element, which is its ‘cult of serial killers’ premise.
Cult (The CW, February 19th)
The Details: Cult comes to the CW this February. From Fake Empire and Rockne S. O’Bannon Television, the series is executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, V), Josh Schwartz (Chuck, Gossip Girl), Stephanie Savage (Hart of Dixie, Gossip Girl), Len Goldstein (Hart of Dixie) and Jason Ensler (Franklin & Bash, Hart of Dixie).
The series stars Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries) as Jeff Sefton, Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place, Cloverfield) as Skye Yarrow, Alona Tal (Supernatural, The Killing) as Kelly Collins and Robert Knepper (Prison Break, Shameless) as Roger Reeves and Billy Grimm.
The story follows a journalist who discovers there may be more to a popular cult TV show than meets the eye when his own brother goes missing, leaving behind a message that the makers of the show, including its charismatic lead Roger Reeves (Knepper), were out to get him.
We Liked: How far would you go for the TV show you love? Cult carries a quirky and timely premise which puts a face (or in this case faces) to the cult of fanaticism surrounding TV shows and their most rabid fans. If you’ve ever found yourself on the wrong end of a fandom then this one might be for you.
We Have Reservations About: The CW consistently turns out moderately successful dramas aimed at a teen audience. Viewing figures are bolstered by large ensemble casts of attractive young, up and coming actors and a good dollop of teen angst. Cult deviates from that norm. Is there enough here to keep an average CW fan coming back for more?