To every season there is a midseason -- turn, turn, turn that dial -- and a time for every series, subject immediately to change. At this special moment not even halfway through the television year, we ring out the old and the hardly begun and ring in some new: There is a nursery full of baby shows squalling for your love. This latest litter presents a pleasantly wide range of not entirely predictable premises, and though the ones available for preview vary in quality, the effort is nonetheless appreciated.
The United States of Tara
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Midseason TV preview: In the listings of new shows in Calendar's midseason TV preview on Sunday, both "Better Off Ted" and "The Goode Family" had incorrect dates and times. "Better Off Ted" was listed as premiering in January or February, and "The Goode Family" was listed as airing at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Neither show has a premiere date or time slot yet.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, January 18, 2009 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Midseason TV preview: In the listings of new shows in last Sunday's midseason TV preview, "Better Off Ted" and "The Goode Family" had incorrect dates and times. "Better Off Ted" was listed as premiering in January or February, and "The Goode Family" was listed as airing at 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Neither show has a premiere date or time slot.
As a suburban mom with a split personality, talented Toni Collette plays four roles (none of them, like her, Australian), in this cable-style family comedy -- i.e., it's weird but, in its way, heartwarming. Created by Steven Spielberg, of all people, and developed by Diablo "Juno" Cody, once again endorsing the oddball. Reliable John Corbett, as solid husband/dad, makes it seem workable. (Jan. 18, 10 p.m.)
"Mad Men" 2009, with Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh as respectively responsible and irresponsible creative laborers in a Chicago ad agency. A smart workplace buddy comedy with an aroma of "Sports Night" and perhaps a faint aftertaste of "Nip/Tuck." Monica Potter is funny as a difficult copywriter. And Griffin Dunne fans, your man is here too. (Jan. 26, 10 p.m.)
Nathan Fillion (cult-adored in "Firefly") plays a party-boy mystery novelist who teams with Stana Katic's NYPD detective to solve crimes and banter electrically; trailers do not exactly suggest "Murder, He Wrote" ("Moonlighting" is the obvious template). Sparks will fly is the idea. (March 9, 10 p.m)
Straight-ahead remake of less-than-successful 1998 comedy, with Sarah Paulson and Bobby Cannavale (in for the original's Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven) as a psychiatrist/self-help author and her patient who may or may not be the Boy With the Arrows. Creator Rob Thomas hopes to find that love is lovelier the second time around. Some of us liked the first one. (March 24, 10 p.m.)
Lie to Me
Fox gets its "Mentalist," with Tim Roth -- who, unlike most British leads in American series gets to keep his accent -- as a freelance "human lie detector," conversant with the thousand ways that our twitchy lips and raised eyebrows tell all. Kelli Williams from "The Practice" -- it seems like a lifetime ago, "The Practice" -- is his only marginally less perceptive partner. (Jan. 21, 9 p.m.)
Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia") is a vice cop transferred suddenly to an NYPD homicide bureau where everyone seems (see title) strange. (Odd behaviors, dark secrets.) Terry Kinney is among the people she finds there, and late "Lost" survivor Harold Perrineau, off that island for good. (April 8, 10 p.m.)
The Goode Family
With the Earth warming faster than was predicted the last time the Earth was predicted to be warming faster than predicted, it seems like an odd time to make fun of people who recycle and drive hybrid cars, but that appears to be what's up with this new cartoon from Mike Judge (who also voices dad). Linda Cardellini plays the contrary daughter. There is a dog. (8:30 p.m, premiere date to be announced)
Pumped-up, dark-hearted cop show lunges into the psychic space emptied by "The Shield," with growly Patrick Swayze -- the rumors of his demise much exaggerated -- as a rule-breaking, tough-talking, crazy-brilliant undercover FBI agent himself under undercover scrutiny. Rookie partner Travis Fimmel tries to keep it all straight. (Jan. 15, 10 p.m.)
Old Testament intrigue in modern dress, and certainly the weirdest series to be mounted by a broadcast network this cycle. Phenomenally pokey alternate-world retelling of the King Saul/little David tale with Ian McShane splendidly orotund as a potentate whose realm looks a lot like now, but different. (March 19, 9 p.m.; 10 p.m. after March 26)
Serial-murder horror-soap set around a wedding on an island off the popular television city of "Seattle," which means it shoots in Canada. Rewritten and mostly recast between pilot and premiere, Harry Hamlin plays Uncle Marty, a name that promises trouble if I've ever heard one. (April 9, 10 p.m.)
Good-looking young men and women with their memories scientifically erased wait like empty suits to be filled with new temporary personalities, thence to be rented out for this job or that: It's the temp agency from hell. "Buffy" man Joss Whedon thought it up. Eliza Dushku (you knew her as Faith) plays temp Echo, who is starting inconveniently to remember. (Feb. 13, 9 p.m.)
Better Off Ted
Jay Harrington plays the eponymous protagonist, who works in R&D at a company whose aims and methods he begins to question. It's a comedy. Stylistic touchstones: "Office Space" and "Arrested Development." Portia de Rossi plays his boss. (Late Jan. or early Feb.)
In the Motherhood