And so it begins: networks used to launch shows during the winter months because it was easier for them to get attention away from the hustle and competition of the fall. Now January is nearly as busy as September, as you can see from everything that’s premiering or returning this week. And next week is just as busy.
Monday, January 5
Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom (8-9 pm, CNBC)
Generally it’s at least a little amusing when business-focused channels start to examine drugs from a financial point of view (see this channel’s earlier Cocaine Cowboys). Tonight’s program looks at the changes that have taken place in Colorado since marijuana was legalized a year ago.
(Also, a reminder that for the next two weeks @Midnight will air @ 11:30, right after The Daily Show.)
Tuesday, January 6
Marvel’s Agent Carter (8-10 pm, ABC)
SSR Agent Peggy Carter was never going to get her own Marvel movie, but the character certainly merits further exploration, so Marvel and ABC are offering this eight-episode series to fill the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. time slot until it returns in (I think) early March. Hayley Atwell is terrific as always, Dominic Cooper makes a guest appearance as Howard Stark, and they are joined by Enver Gjokaj, Chad Michael Murray, James D’Arcy, and Shea Whigham. (Two-episode premiere)
Also tonight: Frontline looks at the lobbying influence of the NRA (10-11 pm, PBS/WGBH); the sixth and final season of Cougar Town premieres (10:30-11 pm, TBS).
Wednesday, January 7
Empire (9:01-10 pm, Fox)
Prime time has been lacking a really juicy soap for a while now (sorry, Nashville and Revenge just don’t make the cut), and I think Fox has exactly what we need: from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, the director and writer of The Butler, comes a loose adaptation of King Lear, set in the realm of a record company run by a former hip-hop artist (Terrence Howard) who learns he’s ill and wants to pass on the business to one of his three sons. Complicating matters is his ex-wife (Taraji P. Henson, ready and willing to chew scenery with abandon), just out of prison after 17 years and claiming half the company belongs to her.
Thursday, January 8
Babylon (10-11 pm, Sundance)
Director Danny Boyle is behind this workplace satire in which an American PR whiz (Brit Marling) learns how government really works when she is hired by the London police department.
Also tonight: Archer returns for its sixth season (they’re back to spying again; 10-10:30 pm, FX) and Portlandia for its fifth (a Candace and Toni flashback; also 10-10:30, IFC, but this episode repeats right afterward at 10:30 so you can watch both!).
Friday, January 9
Glee (8-10 pm, Fox)
Premiere of the sixth and final season, two episodes. That is all. (I’ve never watched the show so I feel it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.)
Saturday, January 10
Sugar Daddies (8-10:02 pm, Lifetime)
Trashy Lifetime movies: a Saturday night tradition (for some). Hm, what could this one be about? Cash-strapped college students prostituting themselves, perhaps? Well, it’s definitely not a documentary about the caramel candy on a stick…
Sunday, January 11
Premium Cable Onslaught
Both HBO and Showtime have full lineups of returning and new shows (well, one new show) tonight. The lineups: on HBO, Girls begins its fourth season (9-9:30 pm), followed by the premiere of Togetherness, from the Duplass brothers, about a couple that finds itself with housemates when the husband’s friend and the wife’s sister move in (9:30-10 pm), and the second season premiere of Looking (10-10:30 pm). Showtime has the fifth season premiere of Shameless (9-10 pm) followed by the fourth season premieres of House of Lies (10-10:30 pm) and Episodes (10:30-11 pm).
Also tonight: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the Golden Globe Awards for the third and final time (8-11 pm, NBC). Remember, this is the awards show where the celebs can drink all evening, adding an element of unpredictability to the proceedings.
Rescue Me (2004-2011)
Denis Leary was the driving force behind this FX series, co-creating, writing or co-writing many episodes, and starring as the very damaged FDNY firefighter Tommy Gavin. Recently divorced and carrying guilt about the death of his cousin, also a firefighter, Tommy struggles with his job and life. His family and coworkers are all fully realized and deeply human, and the show’s wonderfully dark humor counteracts the often somber stories. (Seven seasons, 93 episodes total)
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)