“Shades of Blue”
Thursday, Jan. 7 (NBC)
Series Debut: A gritty cop drama pitting Jennifer Lopez against Ray Liotta? Sounds like a forgotten ’90s flick you’d run across on TNT at 3 a.m., but “Shades of Blue” is more like “The Shield” with bigger hair: NYPD detective Harlee Santos (Lopez), having spent most of her career skirting legalities with “creative” police work, is busted by the FBI and forced to take a deal to secretly inform on her equally sketchy colleagues (including Liotta and Drea de Matteo) or risk never seeing her moppet daughter again.What follows is mucho capital-A Acting!, few twists you didn’t fully expect and the nagging truth that “Well, it’s not the worst show NBC’s thrown at us this season.”
“Angel From Hell”
Thursday, Jan. 7 (CBS)
Series Debut: At least CBS is still trying to break out of its tired sitcom mold, first this season with “Life in Pieces” and now, the ultimately doomed “Angel From Hell.” Like “Life in Pieces,” “Angel From Hell” follows the single-camera format sans canned laughs, and features a solid cast. But then it goes weird, if not “Wilfred”: Is the crazy lady (Jane Lynch) who’s forced her way into Allison’s (Maggie Lawson) stable-if-dull life actually a guardian angel, or a stalker, or a figment of her imagination? One more question: Who thought they could stretch a Hallmark Christmas movie trope into a series?
Wednesday, Jan. 13 (Fox)
Series Debut: First it was “The Frankenstein Code,” then “Lookinglass,” and finally, “Second Chance” — the show still sucks, but at least it went through a drawn-out, committee-think, network-nightmare process to arrive at the dullest title possible. The setup: A 75-year-old disgraced ex-sheriff (Phillip Baker Hall) is gunned down by corrupt cops, but then “brought back to life” as a 35-year-old version of himself (Rob Kazinsky) by a pair of rich twins (Adhir Kalyan and Dilshad Vadsara) who made their millions with a social-networking site but are now totally into bioengineering. Also, New Guy (a way better show title, BTW) has super-strength, as well as scores to settle. As stoopid as all this sounds, it was actually done better and smarter by CBS’ plot-identical “Now & Again” in 1999. Look up that show instead.
Wednesday, Jan. 13 (TV Land)
Season Premiere: Sutton Foster charmed critics and a handful of fans on ABC Family’s long-canceled “Bunheads,” but the new-ish, Darren Star-produced “Younger,” now kicking off Season 2, should finally be her Big Break (or at least as big as you can get on TV Land if you’re not Jim Gaffigan). For the uninitiated, Foster stars as a 40-year-old woman posing as 26 to break into the cutthroat world of … book publishing? Just go with it: Foster is fantastic, the writing has an edge new to TV Land (and no laugh track!), and the show’s Politics of Ageism are far sharper and less heavy-handed than you’d expect — oh, and Hilary Duff is finally not annoying in something. Major victory, right there. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast, and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.