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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Shows to see in 2013

1. Downton Abbey (PBS, Jan. 6)
British viewers have already completed Downton Abbey's third season, which premiered overseas on ITV in September. But American viewers who have managed to avoid spoilers can finally settle in for the costume drama's third season on PBS, which follows the Crawley family and their household staff as they scheme their way through the early 1920s.

2. Justified (FX, Jan. 8)
FX's crime drama picks up again after a third season that saw U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) squaring off against a series of charismatic criminals in Harlan County. As the fourth season begins, Raylan faces the impending birth of his child with ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), and confronts villains both old and new as he stretches the law to do what he thinks is right.
3. Girls (HBO, Jan. 13)
Coming off of its buzzed-about, critically beloved freshman season, HBO's dramedy Girls arrives with protagonist Hannah (series creator Lena Dunham) newly resolved to get both her professional life and her love life in order. In addition to the first season's returning cast members, newcomers include guest stars like Donald Glover and Rita Wilson.
4. Shameless (Showtime, Jan. 13)
Showtime's Shameless isn't a perfect show, but there's plenty of charm to be found in the warped adventures of the blue-collar Gallagher family — particularly in the exploits of eldest child and makeshift matriarch Fiona (Emmy Rossum). The third season follows the clan into the rabbit hole of the latest moneymaking scheme by Frank (William H. Macy) as Fiona attempts to hold it all together.
5. The Carrie Diaries (The CW, Jan. 14)
There's every chance that The CW's attempt to squeeze more story — and more money — out of HBO's Sex and the City with this Carrie-focused prequel will go up in flames. But there's hope in the casting of talented young actress AnnaSophia Robb in the title role, and in the presence of The O.C. and Gossip Girl producer Josh Schwartz, who knows how to make this kind of material as frothy and self-aware as it should be.
6. Archer (FX, Jan. 17)
There's no shortage of James Bond parodies, but FX broke the mold with its weird, hilarious animated comedy Archer, which begins its fourth season later this month. H. Jon Benjamin leads a stellar cast of voice actors, including Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, and Jessica Walter, as they chronicle the missions of the inept team at the International Secret Intelligence Service.
7. Parks and Recreation (NBC, Jan. 17)
After a break over the winter holidays, Parks and Recreation returns to complete a strong fifth season that has seen series protagonist Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) take office as a city councilwoman and get engaged to boyfriend Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott). For the second half of the season, fans can expect more politics, more hijinks, and the big wedding promised in the season's first half.
8. The Following (Fox, Jan. 21)
Kevin Bacon makes his series TV debut as former FBI agent Ryan Carroll, who squares off against a Hannibal Lecter-esque serial killer inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe (James Purefoy). The premise is fairly ludicrous, but no more so than the average network police procedural, and there's always the possibility that the very strong cast will find a way to elevate some of the more ridiculous material.
9. Spartacus: War of the Damned (Starz, Jan. 25)
Starz's small-screen take on the story of Thracian gladiator Spartacus has been marred by off-screen tragedy; first season star Andy Whitfield died of cancer in September 2011, necessitating his replacement by Liam McIntyre. But on-camera, the series' third and final season, which Starz has dubbed Spartacus: War of the Damned, has retained the distinct blend of action and visual splendor that has made it Starz' longest running original series.
10. The Americans (FX, Jan. 30)
Keri Russell returns to the small screen opposite Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich in this ambitious new period drama, which follows two deeply embedded Soviet sleeper agents during the Cold War. And on top of the intriguing cast and premise, the series has a secret weapon: Executive producer Graham Yost, who made FX's Justified such a sharp, nervy success. 
11. Community (NBC, Feb. 7)
At this point, there's more drama off camera than on camera for the troubled NBC sitcom, which begins its fourth season after the very public departure of creator and former showrunner Dan Harmon. But a last-minute delay that saw Community's fourth season premiere pushed from the fall until February has left the show's diehard fans clamoring for new episodes — and crossing their fingers that they'll be able to live up to the ultra-distinctive quirkiness of the old ones.
12. The Walking Dead (AMC, Feb. 10)
AMC's zombie drama took a midseason break in the middle of its highest-rated and most critically acclaimed season ever, and based on early buzz, The Walking Dead's third season shows no signs of slowing down. All indications seem to herald a major clash between the groups led by series protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who's still reeling from the death of his wife, and the followers of the sinister Governor (David Morrissey).
13. Game of Thrones (HBO, March 31)
Fans of the buzzed-about fantasy series still have a long wait until Game of Thrones returns to the small screen, but anticipation seems to rev up even more with each piece of news that trickles out from HBO. The series' third season, which is reportedly based on the first half of fan-favorite book A Storm of Swords, sees the war between Westeros' would-be kings continue after the second season's epic Battle of Blackwater.

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