Thursday, Jan. 19 (FX)
Season Premiere, Series Debut: H. Jon Benjamin’s other series, Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and Comedy Central’s Jon Benjamin Has a Van, are nice additions to the résumé, but he’s likely never going to top Archer—it’s the funniest, smartest and dirtiest cartoon on TV; who could? Picking up after last fall’s “Heart of Archness” interlude, world’s greatest/dumbest spy Sterling Archer (Benjamin) returns to ISIS HQ to discover that his mother/boss is dating … Burt Reynolds (yes, Burt Reynolds). Hilarity and filthy, filthy mustache innuendos ensue. Meanwhile, FX may think they’re doing the new Unsupervised a favor by giving it an Archer lead-in, but its Beavis & Butt-head via It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (from the producers and writers of the latter) teen-bro humor suffers in comparison. Always keep the adults and the kids separate.
New Series: Geoff Stults (7th Heaven) and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) star in the Bones spin-off about a wily-weird military vet and his large attorney who can find anything or anyone, anywhere or anytime—hence, The Finder. Female sidekick Saffron Burrows was fired after the within-Bones show introduction last year, either due to her over-the-top Cockney accent or her over-the-top height (6 feet). They would have been the tallest cast on TV, Fox! Still, The Finder is as fun as Bones used to be, before it turned into a cloying baby factory.
Sunday, Jan. 22 (NBC)
Series Finale: At least NBC isn’t dumping the final two episodes of Prime Suspect in the graveyard of Saturday night—they’re dumping it in the post-Football Night in America graveyard of Sunday night, way more dignified. This Maria Bello-headlined crime drama had more going for it (the British original’s critical cred, director Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights, Bello herself) than against it (that damned fedora) when it premiered last fall but, like ABC’s doomed Body of Proof and CBS’ doomed-er Unforgettable, it got no love in the alleged Lady TV Takeover of 2011-12. Oh, and NBC’s The Firm is also staffed-up with great actresses, so it’s out next.
Wednesday, Jan. 25 (Fox)
Preview: It doesn’t officially launch until March 19, but Touch (created by Heroes’ Tim Kring and starring Kiefer Sutherland) gets a special post-American Idol advance bump tonight. That, er, special audience may be initially put off by the complexity of the plot (Sutherland’s autistic 11-year-old son, who doesn’t speak, can predict world events through patterns in nature and numbers), but they’ll be sucked right back in by the weepy schmaltz (The kid helps people connect and reach their destinies! Dad’s a widower and a laid-off journalist working 18 blue-collar jobs! Danny Glover is a wise old man in a bathrobe!). Touch has the “global oneness” vibe of Kring’s Heroes, plus those Hallmark movie warm-fuzzies (“I hear you now!” Oh, Jack Bauer), so as long as it airs early before the grandparents doze off, expect Big Hit.
New Series: Batting cleanup after the newly relocated Whitney, it’s the new Are You There, Chelsea? aka The Sitcom Formerly Known as Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. NBC is calling the combo Happy Hour—not Harpy Hour, Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings haters. Then again, after half a season of Whitney (which is quickly running out of ideas) and CBS’ 2 Broke Girls (ditto, vagina jokes), the laugh vacuum of Chelsea seems as redundant as another Save Community! campaign—maybe this isn’t the season of the Female Drama or the Female Comedy. But seriously: When do we get Community back, NBC?