A slew of new shoes are hitting the screen this year, we break down what each series has to offer in our annual midseason preview

January

Deception: When wealthy socialite/party girl Vivian Bowers ODs under suspicious circumstances, Detective Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good) — once Vivian’s best friend — attends the funeral and uses the occasion to slip back into the Bowers family’s good graces and surreptitiously investigate what was going on Vivian’s life immediately prior to her death. Could Vivian’s father (Victor Garber) or brother (Tate Donovan) have had a hand in her demise?
January 7, Global & NBC

The Carrie Diaries: Because 94 episodes and two feature films’ worth of Sex and the City didn’t give audiences all the Carrie Bradshaw they could stand, The CW has decided to delve into Carrie’s back story by flashing back to 1984, when she was 16 years old and just beginning her love affair with Manhattan. AnnaSophia Robb has some pretty substantial pumps to fill, but thankfully no one’s asking her to be the next Sarah Jessica Parker . . . yet.
January 14, Citytv & The CW

The Following: You might think there’s enough darkness in the world already, but Fox would apparently beg to differ, given the incredibly dour, depressing tone of The Following, a new thriller in which former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) returns to duty when serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from prison and inspires a cult of his obsessed followers to begin hunting new victims. There’s little question that the series is gripping, but, man, don’t we already have enough of that stuff going on when the TV sets are off?
January 21, CTV & Fox

The Taste: Given the success that Fox has achieved with Gordon Ramsay, it’s no wonder that ABC has decided to take a shot at trying to reproduce the results. The Taste is taking no chances, however, by bringing in no fewer than four culinary icons (Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey) to coach 16 competitors — four each — and ultimately perform a blind taste test on the dishes prepared by the contestants. Will the results be delicious or unpalatable? And more importantly, how will the food taste?
January 22, CTV & ABC

Do No Harm: Dr. Jason Cole (Steven Pasquale) is a top-notch neurosurgeon, but he’s also got a nasty case of dissociative identity disorder which, whenever it kicks in, transforms him into Ian Price, who’s seductive, devious, and borderline sociopathic . . . or so the press release says, anyway. It’s clear that Do No Harm is borrowing liberally from the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde playbook, but as the show’s cast includes Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks) and the return of Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) to primetime, it’s at least got our attention.
January 31, CTV & NBC

February

TV The Taste, Seed, and Motive

Motive: Not that Canada (or any other country, for that matter) needs another crime procedural, but give Motive credit for going outside the box with its structure. Each episode of the Vancouver-set drama opens with the revelation of both victim and perpetrator, then follows homicide detectives Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman), Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira), and Brian Lucas (Brendan Penny) as they put the pieces together. Earning the post-Super Bowl slot speaks volumes about CTV’s hopes for the series, but only time will tell if Motive will live up to the inevitable hype.
February 3, CTV

Seed: Give the creators of Seed credit — they’ve found a way to offer a new spin on the family sitcom. Adam Korson stars as Harry, a Toronto-born actor living in L.A. who finds out that his donations to the local sperm bank have spawned two kids: a nine-year-old son (William Ainscough) and a 15-year-old daughter (Abby Ross), both of whom are thrilled to have him be a part of their lives. Too bad the sentiment isn’t shared by their families.
February 4, Citytv

The Job: Are there any words more prone to an instant green light than “reality competition series produced by Mark Burnett?” The Job sounds suspiciously similar to The Apprentice, however, in that contestants are competing in various challenges for a chance to win “a dream job at their dream company.” But, hey, Burnett created The Apprentice, too, so at least the only person he’s ripping off is himself.
February 8, CBS

Zero Hour: Anthony Edwards has finally ended his post-ER primetime hiatus, leaving medical drama behind in favour of an adventure thriller. Edwards plays Hank Galliston, a guy who debunks conspiracies as editor of Modern Skeptic magazine, but his knowledge is put to the test when his wife is kidnapped, forcing him onto a quest to find her while also attempting to unravel an elaborate historical mystery. Sounds like an attempt to offer up a weekly version of The Da Vinci Code, if you ask us.
February 14, Global & ABC

Cult: Cult is a TV show that revolves around a TV show called Cult, which is destined to confuse some viewers, so keep your wits about you at all times. Journalist Jeff Sefton (Matt Davis) begins an investigation of Cult when his brother, a fan of the show, disappears. Apparently, viewers have become obsessed with the series to a dangerous degree, and Jeff, ever the dutiful reporter, finds himself digging deeper into the situation.
February 19, CTV & The CW

Golden Boy: You’ve got to hand it to CBS; the Tiffany Network knows its viewers love cop dramas, and they’re not afraid to keep filling the holes in their schedule with ’em. Their latest offering focuses on Walter William Clark Jr. (Theo James), the youngest police commissioner in the history of New York City, as he considers his history in law enforcement and how he got to be where he is today.
February 26, CTV & CBS

March

Celebrity Diving: Sometimes networks give you a show that’s just too darned ridiculous to ignore. Apparently, celebrity-diving shows are successful worldwide — who knew? — so obviously North America had to take the plunge. Details are still emerging, but it’s at least been confirmed that five-time Olympic medallist Greg Louganis will be one of the three judges. “Doing a celebrity diving show without Greg Louganis would be like producing a celebrity basketball show without Michael Jordan,” said executive producer J.D. Roth. Somewhere, Mark Spitz is crying.
March 19, ABC

Ready for Love: In 1988, Giant Steps sang, “The world don’t need another lover.” Sadly, networks don’t feel the same way regarding reality shows about people seeking another lover. Ready for Love, executive produced by Eva Longoria, is described as “an innovative and dramatic new relationship show about making real connections” by the NBC press department, taking three men — hand-selected by Longoria, she’ll have you know — and tries to find them love. So, wait, how is this not like every other primetime dating show? Oh, right: there are three guys. Groundbreaking television, indeed.
March 31, NBC

Mr. Selfridge: After spending eight seasons playing über-agent Ari Gold on Entourage, it’s damned near impossible to imagine Jeremy Piven not only appearing on PBS’s Masterpiece but, indeed, in a period drama. Yet here he is, headlining Mr. Selfridge, where he plays the title character, an American chap who came over to the U.K. in the early 1900s and founded the Selfridges department store.
March 31, KCTS & WTVS

April, May, TBD

Save Me

How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life): Given the current economic climate, it’s not as crazy as it used to be for a grown woman to find herself in a position where she’s forced to move back in with her parents. When the woman is Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), and her parents are Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds) and Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), expect plenty of awkward laughter and all the generation-gap jokes you can possibly handle.
April 3, Citytv & ABC

Family Tools: Jack Shea (Kyle Bornheimer) is the least-likely member of his family to take over the handyman business started by his father, Tony (J.K. Simmons), but when the old man’s ticker lands him in the hospital, options are limited. Cue the crazy shenanigans when Jack takes his utter lack of aptitude for manual labour and tries to keep his dad’s business afloat.

May 1, CTV & ABC

Hannibal: Thomas Harris’s novels featuring Hannibal Lecter have offered declining returns since The Silence of the Lambs, so it’s hard to accept that this prequel, which reveals the heretofore-untold story of how Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) first began his cat-and-mouse game with FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) will change the status quo. Still, the inclusion of Gillian Anderson and Laurence Fishburne in the cast is intriguing, as is knowing that the series is being helmed by Bryan Fuller, late of Pushing Daisies. Keep your fingers crossed, Lecter lovers.
CITYTV & NBC

Mistresses: It’s always a dicey proposition to bring a drama from the U.K. across the pond and attempt to Americanize it, but when you’ve got a premise like Mistresses, the chances of U.S. success would seem to be pretty decent. The series focuses on four women — played by Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes and Jes Macallan — who are each dealing with adultery in some fashion or other. Sounds like the potential for soapy goodness is strong with this one.
ABC

Save Me: Anne Heche has a long, tabloid-documented history of eccentricity, so don’t be surprised to see a lot of articles about how she’s been typecast in NBC’s Save Me, where she plays Beth, a woman whose near-death experience opens a direct line between her and the man upstairs. Her husband is understandably skeptical (as is his mistress, for that matter), but when strange things start to happen in the wake of her supposedly having the ear of the Almighty, everyone begins wondering if Beth might be telling the truth after all.
GLOBAL & NBC

Returning Series

Rules of Engagement: February 4, CBS

Smash: February 5, CTV & NBC

Body of Proof: February 5, Citytv & ABC

Community: February 7, Citytv & NBC

Touch: February 8, Global & Fox

Survivor: February 13, Global & CBS

The Amazing Race: February 17, CTV & CBS

The Celebrity Apprentice: March 3, Global & NBC

Fashion Star: March 8, NBC

Dancing With the Stars: March 18, CTV & ABC

The Voice: March 25, CTV & NBC

Call the Midwife: March 31, KCTS & WTVS

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.