24

FOX, Jan. 17, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA

After two flabby seasons, the FOX action series is back in bang-up shape—at least for its first four hours, airing on two consecutive nights. Now in New York City, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is preparing to take up retirement in L.A., where he'll presumably get all the adrenaline he needs taking his granddaughter on Space Mountain. But first he's sucked into fresh counterterrorist work: An assassination threat at the U.N. could scuttle historic negotiations between America and a (fictional) Islamic country. And that's just the tip of a highly explosive iceberg. Things take an extreme turn at the end of hour 4 when an agent displays a sickening enthusiasm for torture. The brutal bloodiness of it all stuns even Bauer, who ordinarily wouldn't think twice about waterboarding a kitten. Looks like a good 24 this time.

The Deep End

ABC, Jan. 21, 8 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA

Five young associates start work at a high-powered law firm in Los Angeles. They're smart, driven, flirty, ethically troubled and well-groomed: in other words, legal-eagle versions of the young doctors on Grey's Anatomy. The premiere delivers a show that's more winkingly cute than it really needs to be—these attorneys wouldn't survive Damage's Glenn Close, or Judge Judy. Billy Zane is fun as Cliff Huddle, a partner who's as sleek and mean as a panther. "Now leave," he commands one associate, "before I set you on fire."

Life Unexpected

CW, Jan. 18, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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DRAMA

After rolling out shows high on camp and cattiness, the CW introduces a series that has an unfiltered warmth reminiscent of Gilmore Girls. Britt Robertson plays a Portland, Ore., teen named Lux (the name refers to her blonde hair, not her clothing allowance). After years in foster care, she establishes contact with her birth mother (Shiri Appleby), a radio personality, and father (Kristoffer Polaha), owner of a bar. Both parents, estranged since high school, are extremely ambivalent about raising this acerbic kid. The tenuousness of the situation, and the underlying hope for emotional growth by all, makes for a touching hour.

>1 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

SUN. 1/17 8 P.M.

NBC

Will Julianna Margulies win for The Good Wife?

2 HUMAN TARGET

SUN. 1/17 8 P.M.

FOX

Square-jawed Mark Valley plays a super security expert in a new action series.

3 THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER

TUES. 1/19 10 P.M.

BRAVO

Patti Stanger is back for a third season of her mating game.

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND

FRI. 1/22 10 P.M.

STARZ

Lucy Lawless appears in this new series, which looks mucho 300.

5 SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS

SAT. 1/23 8 P.M.

TNT/TBS

After the 7:30 p.m. preshow 30 Rock vies for the comedy-ensemble trophy.

>• The actor, 32, who plays it cool as a reformed con man on the USA drama (it returns Jan. 19), reveals his role models.

PATRICK JANE (THE MENTALIST)

He has charisma and he's mischievous; he can pull anything off. He could sell you oceanfront property in Arizona.

ALEXANDER MUNDY (IT TAKES A THIEF)

He just had charm to spare and became a true TV icon. He was one of the original smooth-talkers on television.

MICHAEL SCOTT (THE OFFICE)

He's so self-assured—in all the wrong ways. I just love his general social awkwardness. It's cringe-inducing but fascinating.

JACK DONAGHY & LIZ LEMON (30 ROCK)

She's incredibly flawed; his priorities are completely askew. There's nothing like them—it's the smartest relationship on TV. It's like a big piece of candy I get to eat for a half-hour every week.

>• The actor, 29, (who also stars in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel) plays a geeky spy on the NBC series.

ARE YOU AS NERDY AS CHUCK?

Between his love for comic books and video games, he and I share so many similarities. When I first read the script, I said, "This guy is me!"

HE'S NOT SO LUCKY WITH WOMEN. YOU?

I've definitely had awkward moments. I was a theater spazz growing up, but I've bloomed since high school. I'm seeing [singer Caitlin Crosby], so thankfully I don't go through the awkwardness of dating.

IF A WOMAN OBJECTS TO VIDEO GAMES, IS THAT A DEAL BREAKER?

It can be. I am entertaining her with not only my video gaming prowess, but the opportunity to watch my prowess interacting with such a fine game. It's like going to a movie, but better. I get to control it!

WHAT ARE YOUR OFFBEAT QUIRKS?

I'm an incredibly symmetrical person! My shoelaces have to be mirror images of each other. But I don't know how to tie shoes like an adult. I use the bunny-ear method.

>1 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

SUN. 1/17 8 P.M.

NBC

Will Julianna Margulies win for The Good Wife?

2 HUMAN TARGET

SUN. 1/17 8 P.M.

FOX

Square-jawed Mark Valley plays a super security expert in a new action series.

3 THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER

TUES. 1/19 10 P.M.

BRAVO

Patti Stanger is back for a third season of her mating game.

SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND

FRI. 1/22 10 P.M.

STARZ

Lucy Lawless appears in this new series, which looks mucho 300.

5 SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS

SAT. 1/23 8 P.M.

TNT/TBS

After the 7:30 p.m. preshow 30 Rock vies for the comedy-ensemble trophy.

>• The actor, 32, who plays it cool as a reformed con man on the USA drama (it returns Jan. 19), reveals his role models.

PATRICK JANE (THE MENTALIST)

He has charisma and he's mischievous; he can pull anything off. He could sell you oceanfront property in Arizona.

ALEXANDER MUNDY (IT TAKES A THIEF)

He just had charm to spare and became a true TV icon. He was one of the original smooth-talkers on television.

MICHAEL SCOTT (THE OFFICE)

He's so self-assured—in all the wrong ways. I just love his general social awkwardness. It's cringe-inducing but fascinating.

JACK DONAGHY & LIZ LEMON (30 ROCK)

She's incredibly flawed; his priorities are completely askew. There's nothing like them—it's the smartest relationship on TV. It's like a big piece of candy I get to eat for a half-hour every week.

>• The actor, 29, (who also stars in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel) plays a geeky spy on the NBC series.

ARE YOU AS NERDY AS CHUCK?

Between his love for comic books and video games, he and I share so many similarities. When I first read the script, I said, "This guy is me!"

HE'S NOT SO LUCKY WITH WOMEN. YOU?

I've definitely had awkward moments. I was a theater spazz growing up, but I've bloomed since high school. I'm seeing [singer Caitlin Crosby], so thankfully I don't go through the awkwardness of dating.

IF A WOMAN OBJECTS TO VIDEO GAMES, IS THAT A DEAL BREAKER?

It can be. I am entertaining her with not only my video gaming prowess, but the opportunity to watch my prowess interacting with such a fine game. It's like going to a movie, but better. I get to control it!

WHAT ARE YOUR OFFBEAT QUIRKS?

I'm an incredibly symmetrical person! My shoelaces have to be mirror images of each other. But I don't know how to tie shoes like an adult. I use the bunny-ear method.