Thursday, Jan. 3 (MTV)
Series Debut: Remember when MTV set television trends? Those days are gone-er than the “Why don’t they play music no more?” argument (ICYMI, the answer was “Because you’re old and music is dead”). Buck Wild is a lazy, inbred mashup of Jersey Shore, Jackass and every redneck-reality series on every other cable network; getting a West Virginia senator to denounce the series before it even airs was an inspired PR move, but the “innovation” stops there. Will ’Merica fall in love with these painstakingly nicknamed hillbillies? You know it.
Friday, Jan. 4 (IFC)
Season Premiere: Last year, Portlandia seemed to be running out of ways to tweak we-dare-not-call-them-“hipster” urbanites (a whole episode about brunch … c’mon), December’s Winter in Portlandia sneak-preview was more miss than hit (and only contained one “winter” gag), and a recent Simpsons Portland-themed episode was as funny as the first two seasons of Portlandia combined (with an assist from stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, no less). Maybe they can turn it around this year, but it’s not promising that one of tonight’s Season 3 premiere themes is “Take Back MTV” (we just went over this).
Sunday, Jan. 6 (PBS)
Season Premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ only knows Downton Abbey through clips and parodies—never seen an actual episode. True TV is honest with its dozens of readers; you’re welcome. In another strange twist of events, True TV and Brewvies Cinema Pub (677 S. 200 West, 21+) will be presenting Downton Abbey for free on the big screen Sundays, 8 p.m. Not sure how the hell that happened, but you’re welcome, again.
Sunday, Jan. 7 (NBC)
Series Debut: It was originally titled Infamous, but NBC wised up and went with something more Revenge-y. In Deception (see? Better already), a police detective (Meagan Good) goes undercover to solve the mysterious death of her former BFF, a socialite heiress—even if she has to risk being seduced by Hamptons high society, which she totally will. Deception doesn’t nail the spicy soapiness of Revenge, and doesn’t even come close to the forensic grimness of The Killing (whew!), but since Revolution won’t return to this timeslot until March(!), you could do worse.
Tuesday, Jan. 9 (TBS)
Season Premiere: The only difference between the old Cougar Town on ABC and the new version on TBS: more wine guzzling and saltier language—advantage, cable! Courteney Cox & the Cul de Sac Crew are still a crack comedy ensemble saddled with a crap show title (how about More Wine Guzzling & Saltier Language? Or Infamous?), and the six episodes sent out to media types easily stand up to anything from the previous three seasons back in broadcastville. Any takers to save Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 from ABC next? Comedy Central? Netflix? HGTV?
Tuesday, Jan. 9 (FX)
Season Premiere: On the downside, Winona (Natalie Zea) is gone, but Season 4 of Justified is packing in the guest stars—including cable drama’s unexpected new go-to guy, comedian Patton Oswalt. This time around, U.S. Marshal Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) works a three-decade-old Kentucky cold case tied to his crook father, while Boyd (Walton Goggins) runs up against a snake-handling preacher even more adept at separating folks from their money than he is—of course, this will not stand. What will stand: True TV and Brewvies are once again bringing cable-less beer enthusiasts Justified, every Tuesday at 8 p.m.