SUNDAY, JAN. 11
8 P.M. | NBC
The celebs will be back; remember the starless '08 show? Ay yi yi! This year Angelina Jolie
and Brad Pitt
(right) are both film nominees.
MONDAY, JAN. 12
8 P.M. | CW
Bart's will is read. Does it punish his untrustworthy widow, Lily (Kelly Rutherford)? Rich dead people are the best!
THE BIG BANG THEORY
8 P.M. | CBS
Depressed over his love life, Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) bails on a fighter-robot competition.
TUESDAY, JAN. 13
8 P.M. | FOX
The superhit, which broke my spirit last season with David Archuleta's loss, is back with a new judge: songwriter Kara DioGuardi (left).
THURSDAY, JAN. 15
8 P.M. | FOX
A new night for the appealing forensics drama with David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel (right), this time working undercover in a circus.
9 P.M. | CBS
Gil (William Petersen) announces he's leaving, giving a permanent spot to Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne).
10 P.M. | DISCOVERY
New series: Shipwreck explorers troll the seas in search of sunken loot. If you find a blue diamond, that's Kate Winslet
A&E, Jan. 15, 10 p.m. ET
PATRICK SWAYZE'S NEW SERIES!
Anticipation for this show has been heightened by hope and concern since the news that its star Patrick Swayze was being treated for pancreatic cancer. Now The Beast has arrived, and it's a beaut: a crime show stamped by a tough, surly intelligence and showcasing Swayze doing fine work in an intriguingly tricky role. He plays Charles Barker, a tough old FBI agent—a weathered, Harrison Ford sort of loner—teaching the ropes to his new partner, a kid named Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel). Ellis isn't sure how much he admires or likes Barker, who doesn't see the need to play by the rules, but he trusts him. Should he? A nicely played twist in the premiere throws that into serious doubt. The first two episodes have the dark, elusive look of good noir, with a sharp cast moving among the shadows. A standout: Lindsay Pulsipher as a law student who can't trust her instincts, either, when it involves romance with Ellis.
MTV, Mondays, 10 p.m. ET
Whitney Port has relocated from Los Angeles and The Hills
to Manhattan and The City
, her own spinoff. It's like a dumbed-down Carrie Bradshaw & Co.: beautiful shoes, playfully sexy clothes and all the girls mumbling into their hair about untrustworthy men.
Whitney herself is pleasant, courteous, maybe a little bland; she doesn't exert the same pull on the camera as The Hills
' Lauren Conrad
, whose girl-next-door prettiness never dilutes a powerful, censorious stare. Whitney really can't hold her own against The City
's answer to Heidi Montag: a beautiful, sometimes cutting socialite named Olivia Palermo. Olivia isn't Gossip Girl
's Blair Waldorf—I'm not sure she's even Blair's maid Dorota—but she'll do.
FOX, Jan. 11, 8 p.m. ET
Season 7 finds Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in the doghouse, snarling. Appearing before a Senate committee, America's hardest-working counterterrorist unapologetically admits that he uses torture to break down suspects. Then in walks the FBI: They need help tracking down a rogue device that could disrupt the whole security grid. Time for some more breakin' down, Jack! The show remains a solid entertainment—the drama quickened by the crosscutting of urgent calls—but it's feeling old. The best thing about the first few hours is Janeane Garofalo as a nervous FBI analyst. She seems too tense to be trusted to cat-sit, let alone prevent terrorism.
ABC, Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET
makes you nervous with its code-red scenarios, ABC's new documentary series is Mommy bringing you a glass of warm milk. It shows the country's enormous hive of security agents as they go about their business: stopping drugs and keeping immigrants from being smuggled in cars across our borders, scrutinizing luggage and visas at airports, and so on. Good, vital work—just not riveting TV.
She scored as a spelling whiz in Akeelah and the Bee
. Now she's a junior fashion exec on Nickelodeon's hit new series True Jackson, VP
ARE YOU A FASHIONISTA?
I like wearing good clothes, but I was not really into fashion before the show. I wanted to buy a L.A.M.B. bag, but it was like $600, and I couldn't do it. Spending that amount is just crazy.
CAUGHT UP WITH AKEELAH
COSTAR LAURENCE FISHBURNE LATELY?
Not since we did Oprah
. It's great news that he's on CSI, but I am more of a Law & Order: SVU
WHAT DREW YOU TO TV?
I've done a lot of movies that kids my age don't get to see. This show is more myself. I joke around. I am not shy at all. People say, "Keke, you are crazy. We didn't know!"
>WEB COMEDY PICK!
• Rob Corddry's 10-webisode Children's Hospital (thewb.com) is an anything-goes hash of Patch Adams, Grey's Anatomy and ER. Eva Longoria
Parker has a fun cameo at the end. Way too vulgar for kids.
• As Sam's friend Dena, the 38-year-old costar of the ABC sitcom won't even let dog slobber dim her cheer.
ARE YOU AS REMOTELY PERKY AS YOUR CHARACTER DENA?
I tend to be spazzy like her. I do a million things at once—to my husband's [actor Ben Falcone] chagrin. It doesn't help that I come home from working 14 hours like I've been pounding coffee all day.
DO YOU BOND WITH THE SHOW'S NEWFOUNDLAND DOGS?
They're the most sweet, lumbering dogs, but they drool like crazy. I have a kid [Vivian, 1], so their slobber is nothing compared to dirty diapers.
HOW IS STAR CHRISTINA APPLEGATE
[WHO BATTLED BREAST CANCER] DOING?
She's a powerhouse and continues to be strong and well. Never did she stop to say, "Poor me." She's a huge inspiration.
• He's everywhere, from FOX's sci-fi series Fringe
to ABC's Lost
, reruns of HBO's The Wire
and those Cadillac ads. But Lance Reddick, 46, known for intense roles (like Mariah Carey
's abusive husband in the upcoming movie Tennessee), does have a softer, sillier self.
1 HE CAN SING
The former Eastman School of Music student croons on his 2007 album Contemplations & Remembrances
. He wrote his first song at 7 but says, "Classmates loved reminding me it was like 'If' by Bread."
2 HE'S A PRANK CALLER
He dialed Fringe
's Anna Torv as Gilbert, a raspy-voiced old man asking for "Niecy." Says the actor, laughing: "She flipped out."
3 ROMAN HOLIDAY
MADE HIM CRY
"It was poignant," he says of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's bittersweet romantic classic.
4 EVERY WOMAN HAS A SHOT
"I love dark, light, tall, petite, Rubenesque and lean women," says the divorced dad of two. But ladies, you'll have to wait: Still raw from a recent breakup, he says he's "single but not available."
5 HE LOVES COMEDY
In the early '90s, he got his funny on performing with Yale School of Drama classmate Paul Giamatti (John Adams
). Judd Apatow and Ben Stiller, take note: Reddick says, "I'm dying to do one!"