Between the series set to resume or return with new episodes in the new year and the new comedies and dramas making their debut, there's a lot to keep track of this month. Fortunately, we've been paying close attention to what's on deck to premiere this year, and there are a few shows that are high on our list of anticipated series. Of the new comedies and dramas set to premiere in the next couple of months, these are the shows we're most excited about and hopeful for, ordered by premiere date.


1600 Penn
Created by: Josh Gad, Jon Lovett
Starring: Josh Gad, Jenna Elfman, Martha MacIsaac, Andre Holland, Amara Miller, Bill Pullman
Premiering: Thursday, January 10 on NBC.

1600 Penn has an advantage or a disadvantage over the other shows on this list, depending on how you look at it. NBC released a preview episode in December, to introduce U.S. audiences to the comedic first family. Though a clunky introduction to its characters, the preview episode was full of laughs, capably setting up a strained stepmom trying to cement her place within her new family, a bumbling, awkward twenty-something with a huge heart, and a pregnancy cover-up. There’s a lot going on in the family way.

The preview has introduced us to a family with all the right pieces, and when 1600 Penn snuggles in to NBC’s schedule this month, I really believe the writers have the skill sets to be able to utilize each of these pieces effectively, and with longevity. If anything, the crew couldn’t ask for a better cast to lean on, from Josh Gad to Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman. Here’s hoping that even if 1600 Penn doesn’t give us an intricate view of White House politics, it will give us a unique family with a unique set of problems, and comedic moments that will keep us laughing all the way down the fiscal cliff.

The Following
Created by: Kevin Williamson
Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy
Premiering: Monday, January 21 on Fox.

Fox will be treading into darker territory with serial the killer-focused The Following, which comes from Kevin Williamson and stars Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, an FBI agent who's brought out of retirement to pursue James Purefoy's Joe Carroll, a serial killer who's developed a creepy following with a flare for Edgar Allan Poe.

The Following is brimming with potential, with a set up that could make for some riveting television. What takes the basic cat and mouse concept to the next level is right there in the title. Not only is Joe Carroll a dangerous man with dark intentions (and a murderous history), but he has a devoted following. With that in mind, one becomes many, and that's something that could elevate The Following from intriguing to dark, suspenseful and just the right amount of twisted to keep us on the edge of our seats, if the writing is good and the story doesn't collapse under its own weight as things begin to develop. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. In the meantime, from what we've seen, The Following looks like it could be one of this season's must-watch dramas.

The Americans
Created by: Joe Weisberg
Starring: Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, Noah Emmerich
Premiering: Wednesday, January 30 on FX.

Over the past few years, FX has quietly begun offering one of the more diverse and strangely brilliant line-ups on cable. From acclaimed dramas like Sons Of Anarchy and Justified to acclaimed comedies like Louie and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to utter weirdness like Wilfred and American Horror Story, its programming slate is brimming with originality and more often than not, quality. Later this month, The Americans will throw its hat into the ring alongside that madness, and if the early previews are any indication, we might be in for something nostalgic, perverse and incredible.

The program stars Felicity actress Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys from Brothers and Sisters and underrated character actor Noah Emmerich in a plot about KGB agents embedded in the United States during the 1980s with cover stories in order to spy for the USSR and potentially accomplish larger missions. If done correctly, the premise should offer plenty of nervous intrigue and uncomfortable humor, and with a former CIA agent (Joe Weisberg) and the Justified creator (Graham Yost) steering the ship, there should be plenty of authenticity and reckless aggression along any path the writers choose to go. You never truly know about a series until you see a few episodes, but on paper, The Americans reads like the best new show on television.

House of Cards
Developed by: David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Beau Willimon
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara
Premiering: Friday, February 1 on Netflix.

There are many reasons to look forward to House of Cards, not the least of which is the talent behind it (more on that later), but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new Netflix Original Series, one that distinguishes it from, well, all non-Netflix-related shows, is that the entire first season will be released on a single day. That's right, instead of stringing Season 1 out over three months, the streaming video service will upload all 13 installments of the David Fincher and Beau Willimon adaptation starring Kevin Spacey on February 1.

Joining Spacey in front of the camera are the equally great Robin Wright, Kate Mara and Corey Stoll. And there's that aforementioned talent, not to mention a late Friday night. Will it be good enough to forgo sleep and marathon the entire freshman year? The first trailer says 'yes!' (as do all the ensuing spots) and you'd have a tough time finding a better pair to bring House of Cards to American small screens (Michael Dobbs' novel of the same name has already been adapted for British television by the BBC) than Academy Award nominees Fincher (The Social Network) and Willimon (Ides of March. The series is set in Washington D.C., dealing in the dark and shady underbelly of American politics. The surface of politics is despicable enough, imagine what is going on behind the scenes? Well, the tagline says it all, "Bad, for a greater good."

Golden Boy
Created by: Nicholas Wootton
Starring: Theo James, Chi McBride, Kevin Alejandro, Bonnie Somerville
Premiering: Tuesday, February 26 on CBS.

Admittedly, the premise of this series sounded less than promising when it first came into development, but since casting began on it Golden Boy has shown more promise almost by the day.

The lead role originally had Ryan Philippe attached, which added some big star power. His replacement with British actor Theo James could have impacted the series negatively, but the trailer indicates we have nothing to worry about. In the trailer (which is unfortunately no longer online at present) James has a dark and mysterious quality about him that lends itself well to the role of a young police commissioner whose incredible career may have left some casualties in its wake. Then there’s Chi McBride, who plays a mentor and partner to James’ Walter William Clark, Jr. as we go back in time to witness the progression of his career. McBride rarely makes a misstep on screen and may be the cast member who brings the most to this series.

Cop dramas have been losing their sheen over the past few years, although there are still a few great ones on the air. Golden Boy has the potential to be the next hit in the genre. The concept, looking back on Clark’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the LAPD, allows us to see the future while unraveling the mystery of the past. It gives us both the successful man and the young cop, and learning what he sacrificed to get there promises both laughs and tears along the way.

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