ON WITH THE SHOWS
January. The coldest month of the year. The holidays are over. It’s way too early to even think about spring.
But don’t despair.
January is a great time for watching TV. It’s what the networks call midseason, when an amazing 30 new or returning series will debut.
So grab the remote. These shows will keep you warm.
Wednesday, Jan. 5, 9 p.m., ABC
Poor “Alias” fans have waited eight months to find out what’s up with Jennifer Garner’s superspy character, Sydney Bristow. And on Wednesday, they’ll finally get their fix. This season, watch for Sydney to do some on-screen smooching with fellow spook Michael Vaughn, who’s played by Garner’s real-world ex, Michael Vartan – the guy she threw over for current flame Ben Affleck. Next week, you can check out Garner’s first action-movie star turn at the multiplex, in the superhero flick “Elektra” – although that would require going outside.
Thursday, Jan. 6, 8 p.m., CBS
Martha Stewart won’t be out of jail until March, and who knows when her planned reality show with “Survivor” whiz Mark Burnett will take off. In the meantime, we have “Wickedly Perfect,” in which 12 contestants move into an opulent Greenwich, Conn., mansion and compete in categories like party planning, cooking and flower arranging. For the first show, the contestants were given 24 hours to make a display out of 3,000 apples – and most didn’t sleep till they were done. “I think some of them forgot they were on camera,” recalls host Joan Lunden of “Good Morning America” fame. “The first night, they were hiding pots and pans from each other. I was watching them in the control room, and I was just amazed. The producer said, ‘Joan, the game has begun.'”
Sunday, Jan. 9, 8 p.m., Fox
You won’t see many familiar faces when the fourth season of “24” kicks off next Sunday. In fact, Kiefer Sutherland is the only major star who’s returning. The rest of the characters have been variously killed or arrested, making way for some impressive new faces, including Shohreh Aghdashloo, who got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for last year’s “House of Sand and Fog.” “For the first time in my career, I’m doing action scenes,”Aghdashloo tells the Post. “I’ve been jumping up and down like I’m in a James Bond movie.” Despite all these new characters, the format of the show hasn’t changed. As with the other seasons, each episode takes place over one hour of real time. This year, the adventure begins with the explosion of a commuter train.
The Surreal Life
Sunday, Jan. 9, 9 p.m., VH1
After putting Corey Feldman, Emmanuel Lewis, Flavor Flav and Charo through the wringer in previous seasons, VH1 has put together a wacky new mix of C-list celebs for the third season of “Surreal Life.” This time, Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer, Christopher “Peter Brady” Knight and the pro wrestler Chyna are among the housemates. Rapper Da Brat was also there, and she got in a big fight with former Go-Go Jane Wiedlin toward the end. “Da Brat felt like Jane and Chris Knight were washed-up old people and she didn’t want to be associated with that,” says another houseguest, Swedish model (and Pam Anderson ex) Marcus Schenkenberg. “Jane was upset about that, and she wanted an apology. Which she didn’t get.”
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
Monday, Jan. 17, 9 p.m., PBS
There’s no mistaking a Ken Burns documentary, with those mysterious old photographs and letters read by famous celebrity voices. His gripping programs on the Civil War, baseball and jazz all brought new viewers to PBS. Now Burns is back with a four-hour look at the first great African-American heavyweight boxer, who caused race riots when he knocked out the white champion in a 1910 bout. “This is a story about a black man who beat white men and also married a white woman, flaunting his race in a decade when things were worse than ever for black Americans,” Burns tells the Post. The New Hampshire filmmaker got Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Bob Thornton and Ed Harris to read for this documentary. Wynton Marsalis wrote original music as well.
Thursday, Jan. 20, 10 p.m., NBC
Donald Trump says he can never tell which “Apprentice” characters are going to be popular – or unpopular. “I didn’t even know Omarosa was going to be such a great character until the audience started reacting to her,”Trump tells the Post. “You never know who people are going to love or hate.”That said, The Donald has some favorite contestants of his own for the show’s third season. Keep your eyes on Chris, a self-made real-estate investor from Las Vegas, and on Erin, a Villanova-educated lawyer from Philadelphia. “Erin is tough, abrasive, rude, nasty – and also really good-looking,”Trump says. And as for Chris, “he’s very dynamic – to the point that everyone else was like, ‘Give me a break!’ ”
The Simple Life 3: The Interns
Wednesday, Jan. 26, 8:30 p.m., Fox
Now that the ditzy debutantes Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have thoroughly offended everyone in the South and Midwest with the first two seasons of their reality show, the dynamic duo are set to do the same on the East Coast. For their third season, the girls boarded a Greyhound bus and traveled around the Eastern Seaboard, getting in trouble at a slew of unfortunate businesses, ranging from the airport to a small TV station where they take over as weather girls. Working indoors was something new for Hilton and Richie, who toiled on a farm in the first season. “I’m just over doing manual labor,” Richie told a reporter recently. “We don’t want to get dirty anymore.”
ON WITH THE SHOWS