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Less binge drinking, more binge watching: A New Year’s resolution guide to midseason TV

Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul

Every day is a new beginning, but that bland platitude feels especially true at the outset of a new year, when the weariness of the last 365 days has been converted into New Year’s Day hangovers and the New Year’s resolutions that accompany them. And while “watch less TV” is a perfectly reasonable personal goal, The A.V. Club thinks your television just might be able to help you stick to the other things you’ve resolved to do in 2015. So put down those cigarettes, hop onto the elliptical machine, and pick up the remote: Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of the new midseason TV series that will make 2015 the year your resolutions actually last (through May, at least).


Galavant (ABC, Sundays at 8 p.m.)

Resolution: “Learn to dance. (And sing. And swordfight. And maybe tell jokes?)”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: With musical sequences (featuring songs by Tangled duo Alan Menken and Glenn Slater) inserted weekly into the medieval adventures of Galavant (Joshua Sasse), a fallen knight looking to reclaim his former glory and reunite with his one true love. But there’s one major complication: That true love, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), is under the sway of a Prince John type (Timothy Omundson) with a mean soft shoe and an even meaner habit of executing his subjects.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Quit quoting Monty Python And The Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, and Robin Hood: Men In Tights”; “Lose enough weight to look good in a tunic”; “Figure out a 30-year career plan à la Galavant guest star “Weird Al” Yankovic.” [Erik Adams]

Marvel’s Agent Carter (ABC, Tuesdays at 8 p.m.)


Resolution: “Become a world-class spy in 1946 America.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter in the latest addition to the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Peggy must balance her life doing routine administrative work for the Strategic Scientific Reserve while also going on secret spy missions on the side; in both worlds, she has to navigate her position as a woman in male-dominated, sexist spaces. Creators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely penned the exceptional Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and hopefully will continue to illuminate the complexities of this breakout character every week on ABC.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Start wearing more matte red lipsticks”; “Stop insisting your friends call you by a secret spy code name”; “Stop obsessing over tiny breaks in continuity and consistency between Marvel Studios properties.” [Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya]

Empire (Fox, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Finally get that rap career going, or at least open a club.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? A family drama set in the recording industry, Lee Daniels and Danny Strong’s Empire (henceforth known as Lee Daniels’ The Blueprint) has a ridiculous amount of talent behind it. The show stars Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul trying to get his affairs (and his children) in order before his imminent death from ALS, and features supporting turns from Taraji P. Henson (as Lyon’s mysterious ex-wife) and Gabourey Sidibe (as his assistant). Brian Grazer is also on board as an executive producer—and, oh, the show features original music by Timbaland. Empire falls squarely in “just might be crazy enough to work” territory; it’s either going to be a surprise classic or a train wreck of Magna Carta Holy Grail proportions.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Find a mistress”; “Get a tailor”; “Be nicer to the rest of the family, if only so they’ll stop undermining you”; “Give Reasonable Doubt another spin.” [Eric Thurm]

Togetherness (HBO, Sundays, debuts January 11 at 9:30 p.m.)

Resolution: “Improve family relationships.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Co-created by Jay and Mark Duplass (along with co-star Steve Zissis), there’s an idealized sibling dynamic at the very heart of Togetherness. That’s less of the case in front of the camera, as the series chronicles the messy personal and professional lives of four grown-ass adults living under the same roof in Los Angeles. Legally, that roof belongs to the Piersons, Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey), who bite off more than they can chew when they allow her flaky sister (Amanda Peet) and his unemployed-actor buddy (Zissis) to crash in their living room on a semi-permanent basis. If they can make that situation work out, maybe you can forgive your sister-in-law for what she said about your childcare choices.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Make living-room furniture more uncomfortable”; “Reconsider West Coast move”; “Figure out how to stop goofing around with your brother and your friends (and start making bankable films and TV with your brother and friends).” [Erik Adams]

Man Seeking Woman (FXX, Wednesdays, debuts January 14 at 10:30 p.m.)

Resolution: “Stop feeling so depressed about your inability to find a mate.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? By serving as a cautionary tale. In an adaptation of Simon Rich’s short story collection The Last Girlfriend On Earth, Jay Baruchel stars as a recently dumped young man who re-enters the dating world and finds it populated by dangerous eccentrics and literal monsters. Eric André co-stars as the hero’s wingman, who encourages him to be more daring in romance, because it’s not his life at stake.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Try harder to make your relationships work”; “Find some new friends”; “Maybe watch some sitcoms where women aren’t depicted as terrifying freaks?” [Noel Murray]

12 Monkeys (Syfy, Fridays, debuting January 16 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Stop living in the past.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Where the original Terry Gilliam film is intensely circular, dark, and concerned with inevitability, this 12 Monkeys seems to take more of its inspiration from Looper, a movie that mostly ignores the wonky philosophical possibilities of time travel. Aaron Stanford fills in for Bruce Willis as time traveler James Cole, who attempts to prevent a viral outbreak that renders humanity nearly extinct in his timeline. In his time-traveling journeys, Cole meets virologist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) and psych-ward patient Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire, in a gender-flipped version of the role memorably originated by Brad Pitt), two figures who’ll factor prominently into his mission.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Develop time machine”; “Destroy time machine”; “Go to medical school”; “Avoid airports”; “Rewatch the original 12 Monkeys.” [Eric Thurm]

Backstrom (Fox, Thursdays, debuts January 22 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Be more brilliant and insufferable and solve a crime per week.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: After playing The Office’s Dwight Schrute, Rainn Wilson essays another type of TV asshole: a slovenly, rude, mentally unstable detective solving rain-soaked Portland’s dampest crimes alongside his straitlaced colleague (Genevieve Angelson), and his other straitlaced colleague (Dennis Haysbert).


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Stop being so considerate”; “Set electric razor permanently to ‘stubble’”; “Finally admit that only brilliant dicks with behavioral disorders are fit to solve crimes/have their own detective series.” [Dennis Perkins]

Sons Of Liberty (History, three-part miniseries, debuting January 25 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Get reacquainted with all the historical figures and events you forgot after high school.”


How will it help you achieve your resolution? Over the course of three nights and six hours, History Channel brings together a top-shelf cast to tell the story of the firebrands who made America possible: George Washington (Jason O’Mara), Sam Adams (Ben Barnes), John Adams (Henry Thomas), Benjamin Franklin (Dean Norris), John Hancock (Rafe Spall), and Paul Revere (Michael Raymond-James). The miniseries is one Nick Fury shy of being a Revolutionary War version of The Avengers.

What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Work on John Adams/Sam Adams slash-fic”; “Re-watch Norris in Breaking Bad and Raymond-James in Terriers”; “Set up a meeting at Marvel Studios and see if they’ve even considered a Minutemen movie.” [Noel Murray]



Fresh Off The Boat (ABC, Tuesdays, debuts February 4 at 8 p.m.)

Resolution: “Represent Asians on TV without 2 Broke Girls-ing it.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Based on celeb chef Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off The Boat is about a young Eddie (Hudson Yang) growing up with his immigrant parents, managing different cultures and nurturing his love for hip-hop. His father (Randall Park) moves the Huangs from Washington, D.C., to Orlando and opens up a steakhouse, fully committing to a sunny “rah-rah America!” ethos; his mother (Constance Wu) does not adapt as well. Don’t Trust The B—— In Apartment 23’s Nahnatchka Khan auspiciously takes the helm, counteracting the saccharine family togetherness with a signature bite.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Finally learn all the words to Biggie’s ‘Hypnotize’”; “Land jokes about race without inciting rage.” [Molly Eichel]

Allegiance (NBC, Thursdays, debuts February 5 at 10 p.m.)

Resolution: “Take a look at Mommy and Daddy’s dossier.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? By showing how Alex O’Connor, a fledgling CIA analyst, discovers the shocking truth about his mother Katya (Hope Davis) and father Mark (Scott Cohen). Turns out they’re former covert Russian spies who have been reactivated to help execute a domestic terror plot, which is a lot of trouble to go just to embarrass your son in front of his colleagues.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Google ‘can adults be adopted’”; “Ironically sing ‘Back In The U.S.S.R.’ at karaoke night”; “Binge-watch The Americans.” [Joshua Alston]

Better Call Saul (AMC, Sundays, debuts February 8 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Figure out how it all went bad.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Through the example of Saul Goodman, Esquire, whose origins as some poor schmuck named Jimmy McGill form the basis of this Breaking Bad prequel. Reprising the roles that made them darlings of the prestige-TV set, Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks go back to a time before Heisenberg, before Los Pollos Hermanos, and before Odenkirk’s ethically compromised attorney had a first name that was easily so slotted into a catchy, rhyming ad tagline.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Adopt a new identity”; “Move on from a past love”; “Consult a medical professional about regular Better Call Saul binges.” [Erik Adams]

The Odd Couple (CBS, Thursdays, debuts February 19 at 8:30 p.m.)


Resolution: “Find originality in a remake of a TV adaptation of a movie based on a play.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Neil Simon’s 1965 comedy gets another go on television, after two previous iterations, the most famous being the Tony Randall-Jack Klugman classic. Matthew Perry takes over as the slovenly Oscar, with Thomas Lennon as his fastidious pal Felix. The title pair meet in college and reunite when their wives (Lindsay Sloane and Lauren Graham) throw them out. For a television season full of romantic comedies, it’s apt that one of the medium’s best love stories (albeit a platonic one) is being revisited, premiering as the lead-in to the final episode of Two And A Half Men.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Teach two men to live together without the half man”; “Get therapy for undiagnosed OCD.” [Molly Eichel]


Secrets And Lies (ABC, Sundays, debuts March 1 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Stop exercising.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? There’s no other logical choice after seeing the plight of Ben Garner (Ryan Phillippe), who discovers the body of a young boy while out for a jog. Ben is named the prime suspect in the murder, placing him in the cross hairs of Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis), a situation that could have been avoided had Ben lounged in a hammock instead of engaging in all that cardiovascular nonsense.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Perfect your model pout for a sexy mug shot”; “Practice saying ‘I couldn’t have killed anyone if I was on the toilet all day due to the dysentery,’ which ought to deflect further questions”; “Strike up a friendship with Nancy Grace, because you never know.” [Joshua Alston]

The Last Man On Earth (Fox, Sundays, debuts March 1 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Stock up on canned goods and weird props in case of apocalypse.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte is seemingly the last surviving human, struggling to hold onto his sanity as he travels the deserted U.S. in search of anyone to talk to. The fact that the likes of January Jones, Kristen Schaal, and Mel Rodriguez are listed on the show’s IMDB page suggests the title may turn out to be a big, fat lie.


What resolution might it lead to in 2016?: “Update list of celebrities you’re allowed to sleep with if you’re the last people on Earth”; “Start writing one-man show to perform in weird voices through a hypothetical blasted wasteland”; “Cardio, so you’ll look good wandering half-crazed in a pair of tighty-whities.” [Dennis Perkins]

Battle Creek (CBS, Sundays, debuts March 1 at 10 p.m.)


Resolution: “Improve relationship with roommates.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Milton (Josh Duhamel) and Russ (Dean Winters) are the Felix and Oscar of Great Lakes-region law enforcement, with Russ, the weathered cynic, trying to make his new partnership work with Milton, a tech-savvy sex symbol with no clue of how police work is done in small, cash-trapped towns like Battle Creek. If they can work through their differences, surely you can forgive Carl for eating your yogurt.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Be more like Josh Duhamel in every way”; “See if you, like co-creator Vince Gilligan, have any old pilot scripts laying around”; “If not, write your own Michigan-set cop drama called Kalamazoo.” [Joshua Alston]

CSI: Cyber (CBS, Wednesdays, debuts March 4 at 10 p.m.)


Resolution: “Add more Cyber to your diet.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Likely Oscar nominee Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) returns to television crime-solving, trading the paranormal cases of Medium for the new “cyber-normal” of today’s criminal element. Whereas previous iterations of the CSI franchise have been distinguished by location, CSI: Cyber tracks Dr. Avery Ryan (Arquette) and her team of colleagues with amazing names—including James Van Der Beek as Elijah Mundo and Peter MacNicol as Stavros Sifter—confronting the criminal complications that come with our increasingly connected lives.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Stop being surprised when there’s no Lil’ in front of Bow Wow’s name, since he’s a serious (cyber)actor in TV shows now”; “Throw things at anyone who tries to claim a CBS crime procedural is Patricia Arquette’s Norbit if she loses the (cyber)Oscar”; “Quit (cyber)throwing the word cyber into every (cyber)sentence as if it were your (cyber)job.” [Myles McNutt]

American Crime (ABC, Thursdays, debuts March 5 at 10 p.m.)

Resolution: “Have dialogues about race and the criminal justice system.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Some subjects are too sensitive to approach comfortably, especially given the current zeitgeist, but a show like American Crime could provide an opportunity to engage on race and class disparities within a fictional context that’s easier to discuss than real-life tragedy. Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton star as the parents of a young man whose murder creates fault lines throughout his community.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Stop dodging jury duty”; “Hug a stranger”; “Don’t make racist Obama jokes in work emails.” [Joshua Alston]

Dig (USA, Thursdays, debuts March 5th at 10 p.m.)

Resolution: “Stop procrastinating, stop prolonging the inevitable.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Originally intended as a six-episode miniseries shot on location in Jerusalem, Dig is executive-produced in part by Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Prisoners Of War, adapted in the U.S. as Homeland). Beginning with the murder of an American archaeologist that reveals a conspiracy of literally biblical proportions, it promised a burst of revelations and a speedy resolution amid breathtaking scenery. The delay of Dig’s premiere from fall 2014 to spring 2015, the production’s move from Israel to Croatia and Albuquerque, and the addition of four episodes to make a 10-episode order doesn’t bode well for that promise of immediacy, authenticity, and urgency.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016: “Brush up on your Bible studies”; “Be more diplomatic with religious splinter groups”; “Stock an emergency kit in case of earthquake or end times.” [Emily L. Stephens]

Weird Loners (Fox, Tuesdays, debuts March 31 at 9:30 p.m.)


Resolution: “Learn how to stop being polite, and start getting weird.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: Four relationship-damaged thirtysomethings are thrust into a Queens townhouse to give each of these archetypes a legitimate reason to hang out. There’s Caryn (Ugly Betty’s Becki Newton), a pushover for anything tall, dark, and handsome; Eric (Hello Ladies’ Nate Torrence), a toll collector thrust into independence when his elderly father dies; Eric’s cousin Stosh (Happy Endings’ Zachary Knighton), and bisexual free spirit/commitment-phobe artist Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani).


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Correctly follow the chore chart”; “Learn how to love.” [Molly Eichel]

Younger (TV Land, Tuesdays, debuts March 31 at 10 p.m.)

Resolution: “Fill the Bunheads-sized hole in your heart come hell or TV Land.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: There may be no way to replace Bunheads, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s gone-too-soon ABC Family series, but this half-hour comedy from Sex And The City creator Darren Star at least acknowledges that Bunheads’ lead Sutton Foster is a television star capable of elevating even saggy material. The notion of a 40-year-old woman posing as a millennial and navigating the wacky world of hashtags and Instagram filters while bedding younger men sounds kind of horrific until you realize that it’s exactly the kind of role Foster could salvage, paired here with Debi Mazar and Hilary Duff.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Work ‘Honey, you’re no Sutton Foster’ into any conversations with friends who lie about their age”; “Make blood pact with friends to see Sutton Foster on Broadway as soon as possible”’; “Actively campaign for Younger to fail so Sutton Foster returns to Broadway—or Bunheads—sooner.” [Myles McNutt]


Wayward Pines (Fox, debuts May 14 at 9 p.m.)

Resolution: “Temper expectations for the return of Twin Peaks.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Fox’s latest limited series event is about as derivative of Twin Peaks as you can get: a small town setting where nothing is as it seems, an outsider federal agent (Matt Dillon) coming to investigate a crime, and a series of aggressively quirky residents (Terrence Howard as the ice-cream-obsessed sheriff, Melissa Leo as an overly cheerful nurse, Toby Jones as a creepy psychiatrist). More ominously, the project is produced by M. Night Shyamalan, foraying into TV after a string of disastrously reviewed films, and he brings to the project a reputation for botched endings far worse than any flak David Lynch or Mark Frost caught for Twin Peaks season two.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Check to see if the towns you’re visiting are surrounded by electric fences before you visit them”; “Be skeptical of rum raisin ice cream and its fans”; “Renew your mistrust of all that appears wholesome.” [Les Chappell]


iZombie (The CW)


Resolution: “Improve diet with more brain food (that may or may not feature actual brains).”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? In a narrative that’s equal parts Pushing Daisies and The Walking Dead, Liv Moore (Rose McIver) is a young med student who becomes a half-zombie after a disastrous party. The brains she’s now forced to consume turn out to imbue her with the memories of their previous owners, memories she can take advantage of in her new position as a mystery-solving coroner’s assistant. The few pieces of promotional art released prominently feature Liv using chopsticks and ramen to liven up her cerebral lunch, which raises the welcome possibility that the show might not be a procedural but instead a stealth cooking show where every week she tries out a new recipe to make her meals less grisly.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Be more selective about which party invitations you accept”; “Try to take a job that lets you eat for free so long as no one knows what you eat”; “Realize there are worse, more restrictive diets than going vegan.” [Les Chappell]

The Messengers (The CW)


Resolution: “Embrace your new genre television overlords.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? A year after The 100 grew into a solid science-fiction success story, and in a season when The Flash has extended The CW’s stable of superhero shows, the network continues its claim on genre television with The Messengers. The story: Five strangers—including J.D. Pardo as an undercover cop and Sofia Black-D’Elia as a single mother—develop superpowers after an asteroid crash lands on Earth. Unfortunately, these superpowers are more burden than blessing, and come with talk of destiny and a sinister figure who emerges from the asteroid to threaten humanity, leaving the five Messengers to come together to save the planet.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Work up the courage to admit to friends and family that you watch multiple shows on The CW, which is nothing to be ashamed of”; “Assure the superpower gods that you don’t think superpowers are a burden, in case that’s what’s holding you back”; “Find a way to appreciate Sofia Black-D’Elia as an actress without reminding yourself of the horrible MTV version of Skins.” [Myles McNutt]

The Whispers (ABC)

Resolution: “Find out what Milo Ventimiglia is up to.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution? Look, there’s the former Gilmore Girls/Heroes/Mob City star right there, playing an amnesiac who becomes entangled in an alien plot to conquer the Earth by destroying its children! Noted alien-lover Steven Spielberg serves as the The Whispers’ executive producer, while Barry Sloane plays a government specialist in the paranormal. The show is based on Ray Bradbury’s “Zero Hour,” a short story that’s presumably about a mysterious TV series that undergoes last-minute casting changes and can’t settle on a premiere date.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Hug the kids more”; “Petition the networks for a proper X-Files reboot”; “Find out what Masi Oka is up to.” [Noel Murray]

Powers (PSN)

Resolution: “Take a chance on a corporate experiment.”

How will it help you achieve your resolution: By being the first original scripted TV series on the Playstation Network, Sony’s attempt to enter the new media territory currently occupied by Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. This adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s creator-owned crime comic follows police officers in a superhero universe, focusing on the partnership of young hothead Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward) and former superhero Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley, whose American accent in the trailer leaves much to be desired). The comics are characterized by Bendis’ quick, darkly humorous dialogue and Oeming’s animated artwork, and it will be interesting to see if this concept plays as well without the cartoonish exaggeration of the source material’s visual flair.


What resolutions might it lead to in 2016?: “Start reading more creator-owned comic books”; “Learn how to speak in Copley’s American dialect”; “Fit into a skin-tight red leather costume like Powers regular Michelle Forbes.” [Oliver Sava]

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