Sunday, Feb. 6 (Fox)
Post-Super Bowl Episode: Why would Fox waste a prime after-Bowl slot on a show that could use some help (Human Target!) when they can just hand it to one of their already ridiculously successful hits? At least Glee is going for a touchdown—see what I did there?—with an unpredictable, outta-nowhere musical showstopper set to a dance number that hasn’t been totally beaten into the dirt: Ladies and gentlemen (gay, straight, or too drunk to leave the room), here’s … Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”? Never mind.
Monday, Feb. 7 (Fox)
Series Debut: At least Fox will serve up plenty of promos for The Chicago Code on Sunday. Since show creator Shawn Ryan (The Shield and the late, lamented Terriers) has given ’em their most viable cop series since, well, ever, it’s the least they can do. Jennifer Beals (The L Word) is a tough Chicago cop who’s risen to police superintendent through tenacity and resolve; Jason Clarke (Brotherhood—it’s like a Showtime party) is her tougher ex-partner she calls upon to head a task force to take down the city’s crime lords, cut through corrupt law-enforcement bureaucracy and, essentially, Clean Up This Town. The Chicago Code has no moral gray areas or antihero cops, just those old storytelling standbys of well-drawn characters (sometimes a little too well-drawn—everyone gets a voiceover narrative), a clear focus (bad guys are going down, divergent subplots are going out the window) and, best of all, no damned CSI forensics. Not just the best cop show of the year, but one of Fox’s best dramas to date, period.
Tuesday, Feb. 8 (Fox)
Series Debut: Good week for Fox: Not only are they premiering a great drama, but also the network’s best new comedy hope since Raising Hope (sorry, Running Wilde fans, but it’s time to just move on). Sure, it has a terrible title, which is clumsily explained at the pilot’s end, and a familiar young-people-at-various-stages-of-romance setup. But, unlike NBC’s imperfect Perfect Couples, Traffic Light scores every time it shoots. Married Mike (David Denman, Pam’s old Roy from The Office), engaged Adam (Nelson Franklin, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Brit playa Ethan (Kris Marshall) are a trio of longtime buds navigating relationships; predictably, they’re always outsmarted by their women, but in unpredictably hilarious ways. Think a less filthy, less sporty version of FX’s The League—even without the dick jokes and football stats, still funny.
Tuesday, Feb. 8 (MTV)
Season Premiere: Of all the craptastic programming on MTV, last year’s My Life as Liz “reality” show (about a small- town Texas teen who’s “indie,” “quirky,” “nonconformist” and “perfectly MTV-marketable”) was more offensive, and more meticulously scripted, than Skins could ever be: Does the network believe real teenagers are dumb enough to buy this? The answer is in Season 2, wherein Liz moves to New York to attend art school and suffer hipsters even more pretentious than her … oh, wait … I might like this show now.
Wednesday, Feb. 9 (ABC)
Series Debut: The fine cast of Matthew Perry (Friends), Andrea Anders (Better Off Ted), Allison Janney (The West Wing) and Jorge Garcia (Lost) aren’t completely wasted in this no-laugh-track comedy about an uptight corporate sports-stadium manager (Perry) who’s unlucky at love, juggles wacky work situations and … wait a minute. ABC canceled Better Off Ted to make way for Better Off Chandler Bing? Still, Mr. Sunshine is a worthy entry to the net’s established Wednesday comedy block—it’s almost as funny as Off the Map.