The hunt is on with Clarice, The Equalizer, and more of February’s TV premieres

The hunt is on with Clarice, The Equalizer, and more of February’s TV premieres

Left to right: Uli Latukefu in Young Rock (Photo: Mark Taylor/NBC); Rebecca Breeds in Clarice (Photo: Brooke Palmer/CBS); Bitsie Tulloch and Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois (Photo: Niño Munoz/The CW); the cast of Punky Brewster (photo: Robert Trachtenberg/Peacock); The Snoopy Show (Image: Apple TV Plus); Kevin James in The Crew (Photo: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix)
Left to right: Uli Latukefu in Young Rock (Photo: Mark Taylor/NBC); Rebecca Breeds in Clarice (Photo: Brooke Palmer/CBS); Bitsie Tulloch and Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois (Photo: Niño Munoz/The CW); the cast of Punky Brewster (photo: Robert Trachtenberg/Peacock); The Snoopy Show (Image: Apple TV Plus); Kevin James in The Crew (Photo: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix)
Graphic: Graphic: The A.V. Club

February TV looks, if not wholly impressive, then almost normal. The Super Bowl is scheduled for a CBS broadcast on February 7, the premieres of two CWverse (as the Arrowverse is now known) shows—one returning, one debuting—are on the horizon, and Kenan Thompson is leading a sitcom again. Even Punky Brewster and Katherine Heigl are back. (Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia would have us believe the Gilmore Girls have returned as well, but that’s debatable.) This month’s offerings also tap into our ongoing obsessions with comfort shows and true crime, and the desire to watch Queen Latifah and Clarice Starling hunt bad guys. Like we said, a downright normal month of TV.

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Firefly Lane (Netflix): Premieres February 3

Firefly Lane (Netflix): Premieres February 3

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke head back to the small screen in Netflix’s Firefly Lane, chronicling the adventures of two childhood pals who took the BFF signatures in their yearbooks seriously. The series intercuts three separate timelines of the lifelong friends: as 14-year-olds in the ’70s (played by Ali Skovbye and Roan Curtis), up-and-comers in the ’80s, and fortysomethings at a crossroads in 2003. Firefly Lane is striving for an epic friendship in the Beaches vein, where one pal (guess which one) heads for fame and fortune, while the other follows a more domestic path, and both end up envying the other. Based on the novel by popular women’s fiction writer Kristin Hannah, Firefly Lane is the latest entry in Netflix’s efforts to appeal to fans of female-focused dramedy with Lifetime- and Hallmark-type content, fitting nicely alongside series like Sugar Magnolias and Virgin River, albeit with a bit more star power. [Gwen Ihnat]

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The Snoopy Show (Apple TV+): Premieres February 5

The Snoopy Show (Apple TV+): Premieres February 5

Apple TV+ adds to its kid-friendly lineup with The Snoopy Show, an animated series based on Charles M. Schulz’s comics. The streamer first ventured into Peanuts territory with 2019’s Snoopy In Space (which was nominated for a Daytime Emmy) and the sorta-mockumentary Peanuts In Space: Secrets Of Apollo 10 (which won a Daytime Emmy). Apple TV+ followed those efforts up by becoming the exclusive new home for the adventures of Charlie Brown and the gang in 2020. The Snoopy Show, which draws from Schulz’s comic strips, will offer whimsy, adventure, gentle humor, and a lot of dancing—so you’ll feel comfortable watching with or without your kids. [Danette Chavez]

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Devil May Care (Syfy): Premieres February 6

Devil May Care (Syfy): Premieres February 6

Animated comedies involving demons and other hellish creatures are nothing new (Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans and Adult Swim’s Lucy: The Daughter Of The Devil, just to name a few). But Syfy’s Devil May Care puts a timely spin on the topic by pairing the Devil (Alan Tudyk) with a social media manager named Beans (Asif Ali). Beans’ job: generate some viral buzz for Hell by giving it a brand makeover. That will probably be harder than it sounds, since actively trying to get attention online often doesn’t work, but that might be for the best. The Devil is a bad guy. The series will air as part of Syfy’s TZGZ block (because it comes after Syfy, you see), and also stars Pamela Adlon, Stephanie Beatriz, and Fred Tatasciore. [Sam Barsanti]

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The Equalizer (CBS): Premieres February 7

The Equalizer (CBS): Premieres February 7

A Super Bowl lead-in for your new show? Now that’s an introduction fit for a queen. Whether or not CBS’s reboot of The Equalizer, an ’80s crime drama series from Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, actually proves worthy of Queen Latifah’s presence is another matter. But the broadcaster is clearly banking on co-creators Andrew Marlowe’s and Terri Miller’s vision for the series, which stars Queen Latifah as Robyn McCall, a vigilante by night and a single mother by day (and night, because that’s parenthood). Edward Woodward originated the role of Robert McCall in 1985, and was succeeded by Denzel Washington, who helped bring The Equalizer to the big screen in 2014 and 2018. Though she follows in their footsteps a bit—she’s also a retired intelligence agent with a mysterious past—Robyn has her own very particular set of skills that make her a refuge for those in need. Naturally, she’ll also have her own business (or grudges) to settle. Lorraine Toussaint, Chris Noth, and Adam Goldberg co-star. [Danette Chavez]

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Fright Club (Discovery+): Premieres February 9

Fright Club (Discovery+): Premieres February 9

Compared to your average paranormal show, the concept for Fright Club is convoluted: It’s part reality competition, part clip show, and part one of those series where comedians sit on couches and discuss what you just watched, only that itself is the show. Does that make sense? Regardless, Dalen Spratt, Marcus Harvey, and Juwan Mass—a.k.a. the Ghost Brothers—make for entertaining guides through Fright Club’s weekly lineup of creepy dolls, Bigfoot ephemera, and inexplicable floating orbs that are definitely not just smudges on the camera lens, playing off of skeptical co-host Jack Osbourne to spirited comedic effect. Sure, it’s not the most scientific of paranormal investigations. But when the alternative is a guy with a flashlight under his chin jumping at the sound of a PA slamming a door offscreen, that distinction is, of course, relative. [Katie Rife]

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Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel (Netflix): Premieres February 10

Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel (Netflix): Premieres February 10

The Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles has long been a site for violent deaths and creepy coincidences, possibly due to its popularity as a temporary shelter for the disreputable and down-and-out. Or maybe it’s demons, one of the multiple theories posited in director Joe Berlinger’s (Conversations With A Killer) latest true-crime docuseries for Netflix. Although there are many Cecil Hotel stories to choose from, Crime Scene chooses to focus on the chilling story of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian college student who vanished while staying at the Cecil in 2013. Security footage of Lam’s bizarre behavior in a hotel elevator has long been the subject of fascination for YouTube sleuths, and it’s supplemented here with interviews breaking down what we know—and don’t know—about the day Lam disappeared. [Katie Rife]

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Clarice (CBS): Premieres February 11

Clarice (CBS): Premieres February 11

Set a year after the conclusion of The Silence Of The Lambs, CBS’s new drama sees Rebecca Breeds step into the famed “cheap shoes” of FBI agent Clarice Starling, attempting to parlay her success on the Buffalo Bill case into a career catching ever more serial killers and other assorted creeps. Clarice is inevitably going to have to toil, at least for a time, in the shadow of Hannibal—both the celebrated NBC series, and the Thomas Harris cannibal mascot, who this new show, for legal reasons, isn’t allowed to mention or feature. But it remains to be seen whether Breeds and series creators Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet can chart an identity for the character outside that of her most famous frenemy, instead facing off against a rotating set of obsessive new antagonists, her own haunted memories, and, as always, the institutional sexism of the FBI. [William Hughes]

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Nadiya Bakes (Netflix): Premieres February 12

Nadiya Bakes (Netflix): Premieres February 12

Nadiya Hussain knows all about high-pressure cooking. No, we’re not talking about the many wonders of the InstaPot (though we wouldn’t doubt her abilities there, either), but rather her winning turn on the sixth season of The Great British Bake Off. That’s part of what makes her newest foray into the televised baking world so lovely: The eight-episode Netflix series Nadiya Bakes trades the heat of competition for an easygoing reminder of the joys of baking, courtesy of a professional who seems to genuinely enjoy what she does. There’s something truly encouraging about watching a proven ace in their culinary field prioritize satisfaction over technique, or at least understand that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Brimming with both joy and impressive colleagues ready to share some of their expertise, Nadiya Bakes is ready to inspire many of us to actually use some of that cookware that has been collecting dust since the early days of quarantine. [Shannon Miller]

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The Great North (Fox): Timeslot premiere, February 14

The Great North (Fox): Timeslot premiere, February 14

After making a name for themselves as two of the most beloved (and Emmy-winning) writers on Fox’s Bob’s Burgers, sisters Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin are setting out on their own, teaming up with Regular Show writer Minty Lewis for a new series that, well… looks a lot like Bob’s Burgers. (Loren Bouchard’s still producing, natch.) Not that that’s a bad thing, though, especially with a cast that includes Will Forte, Jenny Slate, Nick Offerman, Dulcé Sloan, Paul Rust, and Aparna Nancherla on hand to star as a family of weirdos living in small town Alaska while working out their various personal issues/mall-based dreams. Plus: Imaginary Alanis Morissette, played by real Alanis Morissette! What more could you want? [William Hughes]

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Men In Kilts (Starz): Premieres February 14

Men In Kilts (Starz): Premieres February 14

We hope you’re not already burnt out on travelogue shows, because this February, Outlander co-stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish set out on the “greatest road trip ever attempted without pants,” otherwise known as Men In Kilts. (Although, based on the series trailer, Starz will need to add an asterisk to that tagline, because both actors appear in pants and some great knits, in addition to their tartans.) Heughan and McTavish roam the high- and lowlands, charming locals and being charmed by them in equal measure. They’re also clearly invested in learning about the history of their homeland—not to mention the true legacy of their Outlander characters. This is the second such collaboration between the two, as Heughan and McTavish co-wrote 2020’s Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, And A Scottish Adventure Like No Other. But it’s probably the first time they’ve herded sheep. [Danette Chavez]

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The Luminaries (Starz): Premieres February 14

The Luminaries (Starz): Premieres February 14

Putting Eva Green in a velvet Victorian gown and handing her some tarot cards is arguably enough to sustain a historical limited series all on its own. But The Luminaries further stacks the deck (so to speak) with a novel frontier setting—1860s New Zealand, referred to here as “the end of the world”—a cast that also includes Tenet’s Himesh Patel and The Knick’s Eve Hewson, and a plot stuffed with murder, mystery, and mediumship. Based on the novel by Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries premiered in New Zealand and the U.K. last summer, and arrives on American shores courtesy of Starz, a network practically built on torrid period romance. [Katie Rife]

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The Crew (Netflix): Premieres February 15

The Crew (Netflix): Premieres February 15

Kevin James plays yet another Kevin in Netflix’s The Crew, a new comedy about a tight-knit NASCAR crew weathering a change in leadership. When Bobby Spencer (Bruce McGill) hands over his racing team to his daughter Catherine (Jillian Mueller), Kevin (James) balks at the idea of working for someone he presumes has little knowledge of racing. The rest of the crew, including Sarah Stiles as Beth, seems a bit more capable of rolling with the punches—though the fact that they’re described as a “tech-reliant millennial” bunch suggests cars, not jokes, will be the only things zipping around in this comedy. Series creator Jeff Lowell, late of the now-defunct The Ranch, executive produces along with James. [Danette Chavez]

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Young Rock (NBC): Premieres February 16

Young Rock (NBC): Premieres February 16

Having already published a memoir, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is now bringing his “origin story” to NBC in Young Rock (not affiliated with Young Sheldon). The sitcom, which Johnson co-created with Nahnatchka Khan, will follow the Rock from pebble to wrestler to presidential candidate. (That last one is just within the world of the show, for now.) Johnson and Khan have assembled a whole team of personable actors to portray The Rock at ages 10, 15, and 20: Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant, and Uli Latukefu, respectively. This coming-of-age sitcom is a tad more involved than most; the framing device sees Randall Park (as himself, now a journalist) interviewing the presidential hopeful, which will trigger all kinds of flashbacks to his fanny-packed, mustachioed adolescence. But with Khan, fresh off Fresh Off The Boat, helping to lead the way, Young Rock should offer more than just more ’80s-fashions-based humor. [Danette Chavez]

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Kenan (NBC): Premieres February 16

Kenan (NBC): Premieres February 16

It’s been 20 years since Kenan Thompson starred on Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel, but after some movie roles and 17 seasons on Saturday Night Live, he’s finally getting another live-action sitcom. On Kenan, Thompson plays a widowed father who hosts a morning talk show, with the stress of his life forcing him to begrudgingly accept help from his sax-loving father-in-law (Don Johnson) who is desperate to spend time with his granddaughters. SNL’s Chris Redd also stops by as Thompson’s brother, presumably offering some of the same kind of chaotic energy that Thompson played so well off of in his Nickelodeon days. It’s hard to get much of a read on the show from this short clip, but come on, Kenan Thompson is finally doing a sitcom again—and it’s about time. [Sam Barsanti]

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It’s A Sin (HBO Max): Premieres February 18

It’s A Sin (HBO Max): Premieres February 18

It’s A Sin is already a hit in the U.K.: The affecting new series from Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies is reportedly on track to have the biggest-ever launch for a drama on Channel 4. Now the period drama is coming to co-producer HBO Max. Set in 1981, It’s A Sin follows a group of friends—Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas), and Colin (Callum Scott Howells)—as they navigate new lives in London. Their coming-of-age stories are shaped as much by first loves and jobs as the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a public health crisis that’s killed more than 32 million people since its outset. Davies’ series is, in part, a tribute to the lives lost, but though It’s A Sin confronts the harsh, homophobic realities faced by young men like Ritchie, it’s also a celebration of their resilience. (And yes, the soundtrack is fabulous.) [Danette Chavez]

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Tell Me Your Secrets (Prime Video): Premieres February 19

Tell Me Your Secrets (Prime Video): Premieres February 19

In Harriet Warner’s (Call The Midwife) new series, three disparate lives intersect: those of a mother (Amy Brenneman) who won’t stop looking for her missing daughter, the girlfriend (Lily Rabe) of the serial killer who apparently abducted her, and a former predator (Hamish Linklater) that the mother enlists to find the girlfriend. Tell Me Your Secrets is a murky series, and not just because Rabe’s Emma is stuck in a swampy Louisiana town. The show seeks out the cruel underbelly of humanity, where discovering the ugly truth still trumps staying in a safe but unenlightened bubble. This makes Tell Me Your Secrets not the easiest series to watch, but the performances by the main trio make it worth it. Brenneman is all maternal ferocity and anguish; as Emma, Rabe grapples toward some semblance of a normal life; and Linklater’s character fights his natural but evil tendencies on a possibly fruitless search for absolution as a newly minted investigator. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Superman & Lois (The CW): Premieres February 23

Superman & Lois (The CW): Premieres February 23

The newest addition to the CWverse has one of the most storied superheroes at its center: Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). Instead of charting his adolescence, à la Smallville, Superman & Lois will see Clark Kent navigating parenthood with Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch). It’s actually got a hint of Stargirl, as Lois and Clark return to his hometown to raise their twin teenage sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin), who, wouldn’t you know it, also begin to develop superpowers of their own. There are plenty of familiar names, if not faces (at least, in this context)—Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui) regularly comes over to the Kents’ for barbecue. But even though he’s ventured far from Metropolis, Superman still has to contend with a rich egomaniac (Adam Rayner as Morgan Edge), and someone called The Stranger (Wolé Parks), who’s “hellbent on proving to the world that it no longer needs Superman.” [Danette Chavez]

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Ginny & Georgia (Netflix): Premieres February 24

Ginny & Georgia (Netflix): Premieres February 24

Ginny & Georgia is like Gilmore Girls in an alternative universe, one where Lorelai is on the lam and sports a Foghorn Leghorn-like Southern accent. Like that 2000s dramedy, Ginny & Georgia features a bright high-schooler (Antonia Gentry as Ginny) hanging with her less-responsible mother (Brianne Howey as Georgia), who gave birth to her when she was a teenager. In a close-knit New England town. And both the mother and daughter have two suitors. And the one the mom has more chemistry with the one who runs a restaurant. And the mom often spars with her cranky gay coworker. Honestly, the line between Ginny & Georgia being the most devoted Gilmore Girls homage imaginable and a plain ripoff is pretty thin. Unfortunately, despite the cast’s finest efforts (especially Schitt’s Creeks Jennifer Robertson as a fun neighbor), it seems unlikely that G&G will come close to the charm of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s series—but at least it’s a lot more inclusive. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Punky Brewster (Peacock): Premieres February 25

Punky Brewster (Peacock): Premieres February 25

Very rarely does a reboot inspire real excitement. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that news of a modernized Saved By The Bell, a Peacock original, caused us to scratch our own heads in confusion. Imagining the ’80s-era, rainbow-tinted audaciousness of Punky Brewster in today’s more grounded climate feels similarly out-of-place. However, there’s a chance this revival—which follows Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) as a single mother of three (hey, it worked for That’s So Raven)—will have some of the same magic that its streaming-mate found, making it another surprise hit for the NBCUniversal team. With Punky learning how to reclaim her “Punky Power” in the face of adversity and adulthood, the new sitcom could serve as a complex story bolstered by charisma and a can-do spirit. And if the old Punky Brewster taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible. [Shannon Miller]

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Returning

Returning

Left: Cress Williams stars in Black Lightning (Photo: The CW); Right: Joel Kinnaman stars in For All Mankind
Left: Cress Williams stars in Black Lightning (Photo: The CW); Right: Joel Kinnaman stars in For All Mankind
Photo: Apple TV+

Black Lightning, season two (February 8); Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, season eight (February 14); For All Mankind, season two (February 19); Snowfall, season two (February 24)

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