Ten TV Shows to Watch this Winter

"Lost" and "24" lead the list of midseason premieres you won't want to miss.

Jan. 11, 2010— -- It's cold outside. Thank goodness, television offers plenty of good reasons to stay inside this winter.

The Midseason, as it's known in the industry, has officially begun and with it some of the most anticipated series premieres, some new twists to reality show favorites and a couple of promising new entries.

The biggest of all of these promises to be ABC's "Lost."

"Hands down it's the most anticipated season premiere of the winter season," said E! television columnist Kristin Dos Santos. "It's the beginning of the end. It's huge for 'Lost' fans who have been waiting to finally get some real answers to questions they've been asking since season one."

It's so huge that "Lost" fans took to Twitter to protest when their favorite show's final season was threatened with being pre-empted by President Obama's State of the Union address.

Well, they can relax. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday: "I don't foresee a scenario in which millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in 'Lost' are preempted by the president."

The Internet storm brewing over the "Lost" finale and the president's response are indicative of how important the Midseason has become. It still can't compete with the more established Fall season in terms of the sheers numbers of new shows, but in terms of popularity and the number of original compelling programs vying for people's attention, the Midseason is edging up on Fall.

"The Midseason used to be the time of year when networks put out their second string candidates, but as developing shows has become a more year-round process, that has changed," James Hibberd, senior online editor at The Hollywood Reporter, told ABCNews.com.

Hibberd said the FOX network, home of "American Idol," has shown that shows premiering after January can actually do well. Serialized shows, like "Lost" and "24" do especially well when they can be run without interruptions from holidays or repeats. And, of course, this is a particularly good time for the cable networks that can compete with fewer offerings from the networks.

Here's a quick guide to what premieres you'll want to catch:

Lost: 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2 on ABC

"Those who fell out of 'Lost' will tune in for the end," said Dos Santos. "I would not be surprised if there will be an up-tick in the ratings."

"This is a good time to tune in again," said Hibberd. "Everyone is talking about how the show will end."

Fans have been searching for clues to the ending within two photos released by the producers that feature the show's remaining characters posed in a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper."

Executive Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof told The Hollywood Reporter fans can expect to see some characters who exited the show, including Dominic Monaghan, who was killed off earlier in the series, to make a return.

"We're hoping to achieve a circularity of the entire journey so the ending is reminiscent of the beginning," Cuse said.

Burning questions will also be answered. Dos Santos, who has seen the first episode, said there are more answers in the premiere than the last three seasons combined.

As for the final ending, she says there's isn't a definitive one, but producers had better deliver. "If they do something like the cut to black in 'The Sopranos,' there will be rioting in the street."

If you need a quick primer on what came before, Hibberd, on his blog, has condensed all the previous "Lost" seasons down to an eight-minute recap.

Chuck: 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10 on NBC

Dos Santos calls "Chuck" the "perennial underdog."

"Every season fans are waiting to see if it will be picked up for another season," she said.

Well, it's back for season 3 and this time Chuck, a computer geek who had been planted with government secrets, actually has new "kick-butt spy abilities," Dos Santos said.

"Now he can do Kung Fu and crazy stunts," she said. "It will be fun to see more action than before."

Chuck is one of those fun, feel-good shows that can hopefully give NBC ratings a boost.

Big Love: 10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10 on HBO

Dos Santos calls this cable series about a Mormon family in Utah "the gold standard for cable dramas."

On a slow burn since season one, the show is positively hot right now. The show, along with star Bill Paxton, are up for Golden Globes. This season expect more pandemonium, though Dos Santos said HBO has been tight-lipped about giving away any plotlines.

"People don't just watch this show, they obsess over it," she said. "It's just such a well done series."

Damages: 10 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 on FX

Another show people obsess over is FX's "Damages."

"I think Glenn Close is the most talented actress on television," Dos Santos said.

Expect some unexpected twists in the third season, Dos Santos said, with the addition of Martin Short and Campbell Scott to the cast and Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine guest starring.

24: 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17 on FOX

Like "Lost," the return of this FOX drama has been highly anticipated.

Fans will get plenty to chew on with the four-hour two-night premiere when Jack Bauer, played by Keifer Sutherland, will be transferred to New York.

Hibberd said the show sticks to its tried-and-true formula, but it's "executed really well."

Dos Santos added, "Even in season 8, it still manages to surprise viewers."

One of those surprises is the addition of Freddy Prinze Jr. to the cast. He'll play a young CTU agent.

"Prinze is actually fantastic," Dos Santos said. "It might take fans a little time to warm up to him. But if he really comes into his own, he has the potential to hold his own spinoff someday."

American Idol: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 on FOXThere's no bigger show on television and yet this season could mark the beginning of the end, Dos Santos said.

Viewers will no doubt tune in to see Paula Abdul's replacement Ellen DeGeneres. "I think Ellen will be nice like Paula, but perhaps a bit more comical," Dos Santos said. "I'll be interested to see if she and Simon will spar as much."

Speaking of Simon Cowell, there's growing speculation that this season could be his last. "For my money, there's no 'Idol' without Simon. It wouldn't have that wit and edge."

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains: 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11 on CBS

In its 20th season, "Survivor" had to find a way to lure back fans who have strayed over the years.

This season, Dos Santos believes, they have found a way. The reality show is bringing back the most memorable cast members, the ones fans absolutely loved and hated, from previous seasons and pitting them against each other in a heroes and villains showdown.

"It's shaping up to be the most dramatic season," Dos Santos said. "I myself will be tuning in every single episode.

Life Unexpected: 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18 on CW

This brand new series on the CW harks back to the good old days of the WB when shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dawson's Creek" ruled the airwaves for younger viewers.

Dos Santos said teens should be able to relate to the show's main character, a teenager named Lux, who has spent her life in foster care and finally meets her birth parents, a radio talk show host and a bar owner.

With an attractive cast the show is sure to draw new fans, especially among those turned off by the network's recent emphasis on spoiled rich kids.

Parenthood: 9 p.m. Monday, Mar. 1 on NBCAnother new series, "Parenthood" has also been eagerly awaited.

The premiere was pushed back from the fall when Maura Tierney, who starred in the pilot, had to drop out to have surgery to remove a breast tumor. She was replaced by Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" fame.

Based on the 1989 movie with Steve Martin, "Parenthood," which also stars Peter Krause, has the potential to turn NBC's programming schedule around, Dos Santos said.

"It would represent a huge sigh of relief for a network that has had a tough year/years," Hibberd said.

Showtime shows: Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Jan. 25), Nurse Jackie (Mar. 22) and United States of Tara (Mar. 22)

Showtime is the new HBO.

"I think it has actually overtaken HBO as far as quality drama that so many people can respond to," said Dos Santos.

With shows like "Nurse Jackie," a critical favorite, along with its star Edie Falco, and "United States of Tara," which has picked up awards for its star Toni Collette, Showtime has become a source for drama.

Dos Santos said the third season of "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" is even better than the first two. And with only eight 25-minute episodes, it's a "low commitment" show but, like a favorite chick lit book, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Collette's show is also dark but with plenty of comic moments as she plays five completely different characters. "She is the hardest working actress on television," Dos Santos said.

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