TV to Chase the Winter Doldrums Away

Chase away the winter doldrums with these new and returning shows.

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As the holidays pass, Oscar season at the movies winds down and winter doldrums set in, there's at least one thing to look forward to in the new year: a number of new and returning TV shows see their premieres in January and February. Here are some of the upcoming programs to look out for.

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What's New:

In the race to make a network version of "Homeland" – a race NBC has probably already won with the success of "The Blacklist" this fall – ABC and CBS are both rolling out new espionage dramas. "The Assets" (ABC; Jan. 2) is a limited run series based on the exploits of real life CIA agents in 1985 and "Intelligence" (CBS; Jan. 7) is a futuristic procedural featuring a renegade operative with a microchip implanted in his brain. Other new network dramas include "Chicago PD (NBC; Jan. 8), a Dick Wolf procedural that looks to be a cross between "Chicago Fire" and "NYPD Blue;" "Killer Women" (ABC; Jan. 27), a soap-y female-led thriller in the vein of ABC hits "Scandal" and "Revenge;" and "Rake" (Fox; Jan. 23), which stars Greg Kinnear as a bad boy lawyer with a heart of gold.

Vying for laughs will be new network comedies "Enlisted" (Fox; Jan. 10) – about three brothers on a military base – and "Mixology," (ABC; Feb. 26) in which a single night at a bar occupies the entire season. In the land of premium cable comes "Looking" (HBO, Jan. 19), a very promising comedy about young gay men in San Francisco (and one that will surely draw comparison to its lead-in "Girls"). Joining them on Sunday night is the much anticipated, "True Detective" (HBO; Jan. 12), a crime drama starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan.

Starz, meanwhile, is again trying its hand at racy period drama, this time with "Black Sails" (Jan. 25; Starz), a Michael Bay pirate series that serves as a prequel to the novel "Treasure Island." Syfy has a new, much buzzed about show of its own, the pandemic drama "Helix" (Syfy; Jan. 10).

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What's Returning:

The fifth season of "Community" (NBC; Jan. 2) hails the return of creator Dan Harmon, whose exile last season caused the show all sorts of problems. The critically acclaimed "Justified" (FX; Jan. 7) is back for its fifth season, to be later joined by "The Americans" (FX; Feb. 26), last year's best new drama that was inexplicably snubbed in this year's awards season.

The ever-polarizing "Girls" (HBO; Jan. 12) will give it another go on HBO for a third season, while Showtime welcomes back irreverent family ensemble "Shameless," the white collar satire "House of Lies" and the Matt Leblanc comedy "Episodes." (Showtime; Jan. 12).

The hit British period drama "Downton Abbey" will be crossing the Atlantic for its fourth season (PBS; Jan. 5), which PBS will be later pairing with the mystery mini-series "Sherlock" (PBS; Jan. 19), another beloved BBC transport.

Netflix is giving single people everywhere the perfect Valentine's Day present, a second season of "House of Cards." (Netflix; Feb. 14).

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Special Programming and Events:

Award season gets in full swing next week, first with the People's Choice Awards (CBS; Jan. 8), and then, the rowdy Golden Globes (NBC; Jan. 12), the Oscar-predictor Screen Actors Guild Awards (TNT and TBS; Jan. 18), the always weird Grammys and the Academy Awards, the most stuffy awards show of them all.

The Super Bowl brings television's greatest night of commercials with a football game on the side (Fox; Feb. 2). And sports fans won't have to wait very long for the Sochi Winter Olympics (NBC and affiliated channels; Feb. 7 through Feb. 23), which kick off just a few days later.

And on the other side of the event programming spectrum is the live televised wedding of latest "The Bachelor" duo Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici (ABC; Jan. 26), which comes along with the show's 18th season (ABC; Jan. 5) starring the Latino heart throb Juan Pablo Galavis.