Our Most-Anticipated Midseason Shows for 2011

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There are a ton of new shows debuting in early 2011; here are the 12—yes, 12—we're most excited to watch.

Young Justice (premieres January 7 on Cartoon Network)

Notable actors: Danica McKellar (Winnie from The Wonder Years!), Jesse McCartney (Greek)
The premise: The sidekicks to the Justice League's main heroes form their own team after inadvertently working together apart from their mentors. Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad are the first names on a team roster that quickly expands.
Why we're excited about it: The preview episode that recently aired on Cartoon Network showed a return to the storytelling and animation last seen in Justice League Unlimited. Gone are the '60s pop-art styling of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and the exaggerated anime look of Teen Titans and The Batman: Our super heroes are back and looking better than ever (Batman especially!). And despite my initial worries that these younger heroes might have grating personalities and voices, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-written and well-drawn they were. —Walter Morbeck

Bob's Burgers (premieres January 9 on Fox)

Notable actors: Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords), H. Jon Benjamin (Archer)
The premise: An animated comedy about a family who owns a restaurant—it's like if The Simpsons clan was forced to work together and voiced by some of the hottest alternative comics on the planet.
Why we're excited about it: This show has comedy pedigree for days, and is executive produced by the minds behind Dr. Katz and King of the Hill. —Emily Gordon

Shameless (premieres January 9 on Showtime)

Notable actors: William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum
The premise: A family dramedy about a Chicagoan family of misfits—the misfitiest of whom is Frank Gallagher, the alcoholic father.
Why we're excited about it: The British series of the same name on has already won a bunch of awards for adeptly portraying a down-and-out family of six children dealing with their alcoholic father. I’m mostly fascinated by the casting of the American version, with the chameleon-esque Macy (who in this sports a slurred Chicago accent) as well as the stunning Rossum, who plays his oldest daughter and acting head of the family. —Ilana Diamond

Episodes (premieres January 9 on Showtime)

Notable actors: Former Friend Matt LeBlanc (Friends)
The premise: Two British TV producers travel to Los Angeles to develop an American version of their critically acclaimed UK show, on the condition that they can do things "their way," maintain creative control, etc. As you might expect, things start to go downhill as soon as they start working with their American network, and their show—which is supposed to star an elderly British gent as the headmaster of a boys' boarding school—is slowly re-imagined as a series about a hockey coach who's played by Matt LeBlanc.
Why we're excited about it: For one thing, the premise is about as meta as it gets—and trendy or not, I can't get enough of that kind of comedy. Plus, it's got Matt LeBlanc playing himself/the actor formerly known as "Joey" and at least two targets that are ripe with punchline potential: network TV execs and the awful things American reboots can do to excellent British TV. —Jen Trolio

Lights Out (premieres January 11 on FX)

Notable actors: Holt McCallany as Patrick "Lights" Leary, Wire alums Clark Johnson and Pablo Schreiber
The premise: Lights is a former heavyweight boxing champion and current husband and father of three. He’s also struggling financially—and has the opportunity either to win everything back in the ring or take a job as a debt collector.
Why we're excited about it: If there’s one sport that translates well to the screen, it’s boxing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad boxing movie; Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, and Ali were all incredibly powerful films. For that reason, I’m looking forward to seeing what I hope will be a mini boxing movie every week—especially because the series is in the very capable hands of FX. —Stefanie Lee

Being Human (premieres January 17 on Syfy)

Notable actors: Sam Huntington (werewolf Josh) and Sam Witwer (vampire Aidan), two budding stars
The premise: Based on the UK production of the same name, Being Human throws a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost into the same apartment as roommates. But where you would expect a punchline, the drama gets smart and serious.
Why we're excited about it: Ever wonder how a werewolf deals with asking a girl out? Or how a vampire deals with a sex addiction? The original Being Human was conceived without any supernatural elements, meaning all the characters were fleshed out before they were turned into specters or started sleeping in coffins. —Tim Surette

Portlandia (premieres January 21 on IFC)

Notable actors: SNL's Fred Armisen, and Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater-Kinney (yes, seriously)
The premise: A sketch/improvised linear comedy set in the very real world of Portland, Ore. Kind of like Twin Peaks, but a comedy.
Why we're excited about it: Armisen and Brownstein have been friends for years, and this project apparently grew out of their friendship; they each play both themselves and other characters in Portland-based storylines with loose parameters like, "our heroes are asked to write a theme song for the city." The show is filmed entirely on-location and mostly improvised. —Emily Gordon

Traffic Light (premieres February 8 on Fox)

Notable actors: Nelson Franklin, who has great glasses and stole scenes as Comeau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and as Nick the IT guy on The Office
The premise: Traffic Light is yet another "several couples in different stages of their love lives" comedy. It's like Perfect Couples or Happy Endings or—ok, so there are quite a few of these—but this one is told from the guys' points-of-view.
Why we're excited about it: This show has an interesting tone that might set it apart from the crowd; it seems a little darker and hipper than the other rom-coms coming to the primetime schedule. The guys appear to believably be friends, and the female characters also seem like real people. —Emily Gordon

Mr. Sunshine (premieres February 9 on ABC)

Notable actors: Former Friend Matthew Perry, former West Wing Allison Janney
The premise: A mid-life crisis workplace comedy in which Perry plays Ben Donovan, the manager of "a second-rate San Diego sports arena who begins to re-evaluate his life on his 40th birthday."
Why we're excited about it: I never really got into Friends, but in the few episodes I've watched, I've always sympathized the most with Chandler. And Mr. Sunshine looks like a decent attempt at a Sorkin-esque re-imagining of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I'm rooting for both the show and for Perry, who I hope will finally break free of his Chandler Bing past. —Ilana Diamond

Game of Thrones (premieres "in 2011" on HBO)

Notable actors: Aidan Gillen, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster Waldau, Sean Bean, Mark Addy
The premise: In this fantasy series, the royal families of the Seven Kingdoms deal with power struggles, back-stabbing, and impending war. Told from the perspective of several different characters, we'll get a peek at the world through the eyes of the king's right-hand man, his princess-to-be teenage daughter, among others. And no matter where each character falls in the chain of command, their actions and decisions greatly influence the world.
Why we're excited about it: Are you kidding me? This is the event of the year! George R.R. Martin's books (the series' source material) don't follow the rules of normal storytelling, and neither will Game of Thrones. Popular characters will die. Stunning twists will come out of nowhere. Limbs will be hacked off. If you're tired of seeing fantasy stories weighed down by magic, destiny, and good vs. evil, Game of Thrones—described as The Sopranos with swords—is for you. —Tim Surette

The Borgias (premieres "in 2011" on Showtime)

Notable actors: Jeremy Irons, David Oakes, Holly Grainger and Colm Feore
The premise: The corrupt, conniving, incestuous Borgia family schemes its way to the top in 15th-century Italy as patriarch Rodrigo becomes pope. Wacky hijinks ensue.
Why we're excited about it: The real-life story behind the Borgias is vile enough to make most people blush, and now it's getting the Showtime treatment. Imagine lots of sex, violence, and period costumes. While The Borgias may not turn out to be a quality series along the lines of Dexter, it's almost certain to be a guilty pleasure. —Louis Peitzman

Luck (premieres "in 2011" on HBO)

Notable actors: Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Michael Gambon
The premise: Luck explores the world of horse racing, as told through the eyes of horse owners, gamblers, handicappers, and anyone else involved with the ponies.
Why we're excited about it: Like a good Triple Crown winner, Luck is all about its pedigree. David Milch, who created NYPD Blue and Deadwood, and Michael Mann, the director of Heat and Manhunter, are behind the project. Add to that a cast that includes Dustin Hoffman as the lead, and this bet is a sure thing. —Tim Surette


See anything here that looks good to you? Which new midseason shows are you most excited about?

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