Series Debut: A British/American production that may or may not be the prequel to “The Last Man on Earth,” “You, Me and the Apocalypse” is a 10-episode limited series that promises to conclude with the literal end of the world in May — if NBC’s patience lasts that long. The faces you’ll recognize in the far-flung international dramedy belong to Rob Lowe (as bad-boy Vatican priest Father Jude), Jenna Fischer (Rhonda, a mousey librarian wrongly imprisoned in New Mexico) and Megan Mullally (Leanne, Rhonda’s white-supremacist prison mate), all frantically coping with the fact that a comet will wipe out the planet in 34 days. “YMA” is fast-paced and (mostly) funny, but probably too smart/weird for primetime American TV — if you get hooked, you might have to watch the end on Hulu after NBC pulls the plug.
“Zombie House Flipping”
Saturday, Jan. 30 (FYI)
Series Debut: Misleading title alert! There are no undead walkers here; a “zombie house” is an abandoned and/or foreclosed dump that Florida flipper Justin Stamper and his renovation team attempt to rehab and resell — just like every other series on HGTV, DIY, et al. As ubiquitous and repetitive as these shows are, at least they’re preferable to the previous wave of house-hunting bores that clogged up cable. You know the ones: A heavily-medicated realtor drags a delusional 20-something couple around generic Canadian neighborhoods while they prattle on about “We want to be downtown, and we’ll need four bathrooms, at least 12,000 square feet of space, a BPA-free nursery and a separate office for Britnee’s Etsy business — oh, and our budget is $20,000.”
“American Crime Story”
Tuesday, Feb. 2 (FX)
Series Debut: Whether you loved, loathed or merely tolerated the recently-concluded “American Horror Story: Hotel,” we can all agree on this: Ryan Murphy knows how to make a splashy grab for attention. His “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” takes on one of the most sensational, divisive cultural events in this country’s history and packs in more star-power than all five seasons of “American Horror Story” combined. Get this: Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Selma Blair as Kris Jenner, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran — and that’s only a quarter of the cast. Much like the initial “Murder House” season of “American Horror Story,” “American Crime Story” is going to be hard-pressed going forward with this anthology series to top the most famed/defamed legal case ever. And pity any non-Murphy, true-crime dramatization that has to follow it.
Wednesday, Feb. 3 (ABC)
Miniseries Debut: Financial fail-whale Bernie Madoff (played here by Richard Dreyfus) may have impacted your life more directly when he tanked the American economy in 2008 than O.J. did in 1994, but who cares? 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.