Welcome to the start of a brand-new year, 2012 A.D. Or as we in the television biz call it: midseason. It’s time to put all the traumatic memories of the fall 2011 season out of our brains (“Charlie’s Angels” reboot? What “Charlie’s Angels” reboot?) and start pinning our hopes on a whole new crop of replacements. Let’s take a gander at what’s in store for us.
FOX is doing just fine with the shows it’s got. Once “American Idol” and baseball disappear in the fall, however, FOX is left with a schedule that looks like Swiss cheese. Hence, there are a bunch of new shows on the way, including “The Finder” (Thursday, Jan. 12). It’s a spin-off of “Bones” and features a brain-damaged Iraq war vet who can find anyone or anything. “Napoleon Dynamite” (Sunday, Jan. 15) arrives seven years after the hit film but transforms the entire original cast into cartoons—which seems somehow fitting. “Touch” (Wednesday, Jan. 25) comes from creator Tim Kring (“Heroes”) and stars Kiefer Sutherland as a dad whose autistic son can predict the future. Naturally, he takes a cue from the guys on “Person of Interest” and uses the info to fight crime. Finally, the network is keeping a tight lid on “Alcatraz” (Monday, Jan. 16), the new time-traveling mystery from J.J. Abrams (“Lost”). Unfortunately, the show is starting to look less like the mind-bending sci-fi series we were hoping for and more like a generic cop show—except that the criminals have all been teleported from the ’60s.
NBC is tanking in the ratings and has plenty of holes to plug on its schedule. As a result, there will soon be plenty of new shows for the network to cancel. “The Firm” (Thursday, Jan. 5) is a continuation of John Grisham’s hit novel and comes a mere 19 years after the Tom Cruise film of the same name. “Are You There, Chelsea?” (Wednesday, Jan 11) gives Chelsea Handler a chance to show off her comedy chops in sitcom form. “Smash” (Monday, Feb. 6) takes the “Glee” formula and applies it to Broadway. “Awake” (March) doesn’t have a firm premiere date yet. But it does have Jason Isaacs (the Harry Potter films) as a detective flip-flopping between two worlds—one in which his wife is dead and one in which his son is dead. These alternate reality stories are so popular now that Archie comics spent the last year doing one. Honestly.
ABC is solid in the ratings and is only unveiling two new shows. In “Missing” (Thursday, March 15), Ashley Judd plays a mom (and former CIA agent) whose son goes missing in France. So, basically, she’s Liam Neeson in Taken. “The River” (Tuesday, Feb. 7) is brought to us by Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli—meaning it employs lots of shaky, handheld camerawork in its supernatural story of a documentary filmmaker who disappears in the Amazon.
CBS is so confident in its No. 1 position, it’s adding “¡Rob!” (Thursday, Jan. 12) and nothing else. Rob Schneider plays a guy who marries a sexy Latina. Cheech Marin is in it. It’s described as “autobiographical.” Yeah. They’re that confident.