Nine Shows to Watch in 2009
January 28, 2009
24 is back from a year off due to the TV writers' strike, but it's lucked into being more relevant than ever. This time, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is having to save D.C.—and by extension, the nation—from a series of terrorist attacks. Moving the show from Los Angeles gives the show a much-needed shot of freshness and urgency, and an especially relevant angle is that Jack Bauer is now on trial with the U.S. Senate over whether his torture tactics against terrorists violated the rule of law, or were necessary measures to save innocent lives. This moral dilemma is one that the nation is facing right now, and shows that the series' producers have adapted cannily with the times. —Carl Kozlowski
One of the most noteworthy and provocative shows that hasn't yet picked up mass appeal is Damages. The first season of this serial crime/mystery/drama unraveled its simple "whodunnit?" storyline with plenty of twists and unrevealed secrets to keep me coming back. Season two has more than enough promise to make this a weekly ritual. Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne) will attempt to tie Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) to the death of her fiancée, while working with the FBI to topple her boss, Patty Hewes (Glenn Close). This series is so well written that it can turn on numerous points, making it as entertaining to guess what will happen next as it is to simply watch it. And the superb acting just puts it over the top. —Travis Persaud
When it began as a low budget television show for HBO, no one knew that Flight of the Conchords would end up being a hit series with a top-selling original soundtrack. However, if you watched Grammy award winning New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement in the first episode, you may not be all that surprised. Flight of the Conchords is an outrageously dry comedy about a New Zealand-come-America folk band trying to assimilate into the cutthroat entertainment industry that will have you laughing for hours and unknowingly humming tunes for days. The unique plot line is just one of many reasons that the Kiwi duo drew a cult following following last season. Combine that with intelligent writing and catchy folk tunes, and you don't want to miss the new season. —Jonathan Merritt
This excellent new drama is loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Jax Teller is the vice president of the "Sons of Anarchy" motorcycle club, and a new dad. Torn between his fatherly instincts, loyalty to the club and the desire for justice over the murder of a close friend, Jax discovers that his "motorcycle family" is not what it appears to be. In trying to make sense of his violent surroundings, he sets out searching for redemption. Though set against the backdrop of a turbulent outlaw lifestyle, Jax is asking the same questions of existence and ethics that everyone must answer sooner or later. —Seth Hurd
It’s still tentatively scheduled for a March premiere, but since Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill) has a hand in the show, you know it’s going to be good. The Goode Family is a comedy about modern day, American do-gooders. All of the bicyclists, recyclers and social justice advocates in this country are about to endure a ruthless satire on living green. The show comes after the sad news of King of the Hill’s cancellation, and gives Judge fans something to be excited about. —Dylan Peterson
Power, war and romance. What more could you want in a TV series? From the director of the blockbuster movie I Am Legend and hit TV series Heroes comes NBC’s Kings, a modern-day twist on the story of King David.
The show is set in a city that is being plagued by a war that has been waging for years. David Shepherd, actor Christopher Egan (Resident Evil: Extinction), ends up rescuing the king’s, actor Ian McShane, son from enemy attacks. As a result of his heroic actions, he is promoted to captain and is pushed into the limelight, where everyone seems to be plotting against David. The new drama is scheduled for a two-hour premiere on March 15 (8-10 p.m. ET). —LeeAnn Marcel
JJ Abrams is making science fiction cool again. Between TV successes LOST and Alias, and the big screen hit Cloverfield (and soon-to-be released Star Trek) Abrams has done it again. His new show Fringe is where X-Files meets CSI, and delivers the unexpected plot twists only he can offer. Here, the FBI enlists the mad ramblings of a research scientist and his son to help investigate unexplained aspects of fringe science. Joshua Jackson returns to TV to star in Fringe, which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. —Beth Alexandroff
... Because when you stand around the water-cooler discussing this show, you get to say things like, "quantum physics," "smoke monsters" and "space/time continuum." The show, at its core, is a commentary on the conflict of faith vs. fact with a science fiction flair. Seriously, if you've never watched this show, or you gave up on it during season three, you are missing out. Set your recorder for the rest of the season, and in the meantime go out and rent the last four seasons. You won't regret it. The mythology of LOST is alive and well at the opening of season five as those who have left the island are trying to get back while those left behind ... well, they really are lost now ... in time. —Roxanne Wieman
It’s the show that launched a thousand “That’s what she said” moments. It’s the reason so many people know facts about the three b’s: bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica. It’s The Office. I fell in love with the show a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. Although the first half of this season started a little shaky—Jim and Pam together, but not in the same city?! Toby’s gone?! Michael finds his perfect half, but now she’s gone, too?!—the new episode last week proved that the show is back and better than ever. Michael was clueless, Dwight displayed a scarily impressive array of obscure weapons and Jim’s facial expressions were top-notch. I can’t wait to see what’s next. (That’s what she said.) —Ashley Emert