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January 3, 2013

The mid-season shuffle Ten to watch

TV shows to whet your winter viewing appetite


7. But can it be a smash?

The ambitious musical drama “Smash” burst into prime time last winter with a great pilot and even greater expectations. Some even saw it as the show that would save beleaguered NBC. But it became a creative mess — one that viewers loved to hate. Now comes a major reboot, complete with a new executive producer, new faces (hello, Jennifer Hudson), and new, supposedly “cooler” music. Best of all, the supporting characters that annoyed us most are gone: Good riddance, Ellis. (“Smash” returns at 9 p.m. Feb. 5, NBC).

8. Felicity becomes

a spy

Several familiar stars will pop up in new roles, including Anthony Edwards, Jenna Elfman, Sarah Chalke and Brad Garrett. But we’re mainly excited to see Keri Russell in “The Americans.” Boasting one of the winter’s most intriguing premises, it’s a Cold War-era saga about two KGB agents (Russell and Matthew Rhys) posing as an American couple in suburban Washington D.C. Let’s just hope viewers pay more attention to Russell’s spy work than her hairstyle. (Premieres at 10 p.m. Jan. 30, FX).

9. A fresh start for “Cougar Town”

Pop open a big bottle of red wine. “Cougar Town” lives. Over three seasons, Courteney Cox’s hilariously offbeat sitcom survived a dumb name and some shabby treatment by its network. But can it survive basic cable? After ABC axed the show, TBS swooped in for a dramatic rescue. Now the cul-de-sac crew attempts to become one of those rare shows that can thrive in a new setting. (“Cougar Town” returns at 10 p.m. Jan. 8, TBS).

10. Southern-fried controversy

Brace yourself for MTV’s “Buckwild.” A reality series about nine young adult pals in West Virginia, it’s the latest example of TV’s newfound love for country folk (See: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Duck Dynasty,” etc.). It also figures to raise the ire of those who believe it trades in regional stereotypes. Labeled the “Redneck Jersey Shore,” “Buckwild” has been condemned by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Surely, MTV is secretly thankful for the free publicity. (Premiered at 10 p.m. Jan. 3, MTV).

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