15 Midseason TV Shows Worth Watching

VIDEO: Gary Busey and Ted Haggard will swap wives on ABC show.

It's midseason, that time of year when a slew of new series will make their premieres, or, in some cases, continue after a lengthy hiatus.

Already up on ABC is "Celebrity Wife Swap," which premiered Monday with Carnie Wilson switching places with "Growing Pains" star Tracey Gold. Tuesday, the wives of bad boy actor Gary Busey and evangelical pastor Ted Haggard switched places.

Other stars who will be featured this season include Dee Snider, Flavor Flav, Niecey Nash, Tina Yothers and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Click through to see more of our picks for shows to catch in the new year.

PHOTO: The FOX drama "Alcatraz" follows Sarah Jones (C), Sam Neill (R) and Jorge Garcia (L) as they investigate the shocking reappearance of Alcatraz's most notorious prisoners, 50 years after they vanished.
Justin Stephens/FOX
For something new.

"Alcatraz" and "Luck." "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams returns to television with another island mystery, this time set on Alcatraz. The Fox drama begins with the prison's 1963 closing and the real reason behind it: 302 prisoners and guards mysteriously vanished, only to reappear in our time without having aged. An historian, comic book writer, police detective and federal agent join forces to hunt down the inmates. Premieres Jan. 16.

HBO is betting on "Luck," a new horse-racing drama starring Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman in his first TV series role. This series by "Deadwood" creator David Milch and famed director Michael Mann follows the owners, gamblers, jockeys and industry players in the world of horse racing. Though the show doesn't officially debut until Jan. 29, the network offered a preview of the first episode to much fanfare in December following the season finale of "Boardwalk Empire."

PHOTO: Chaz Bono, one of the seven couples performing their second dance of the night on "Dancing with the Stars," Oct. 24, 2011.
Adam Taylor/ABC
For a taste of the familiar.

"American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars." Both ABC and Fox have reason to rejoice at midseason with the return of two ratings juggernauts, "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars," which go head-to-head one night a week. Both will get competition this year from NBC's new musical sensation, "The Voice," which begins its sophomore season right after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. "American Idol" is back Jan. 18 and "Dancing with the Stars" starts up Mar. 19.

PHOTO: An unwelcome and unstable visitor makes a nightmare of Daniel's intimate birthday celebration with family and friends on "Revenge," on the ABC Television Network.
For a fun, guilty pleasure.

"Revenge" and "Pretty Little Liars." No new drama on broadcast TV has corralled as much of a fan following as "Revenge," ABC's show about an innocent-looking schemer trying to avenge her father's tarnished name and death by wiping out just about everyone in the Hamptons. Critics are loving it too -- Madeline Stowe, pictured at right, who plays the nemesis of a bitter Emily Thorne, scored a Golden Globe nomination. They get back to plotting on Jan. 4.

Over on ABC Family, "Pretty Little Liars" begins the second half of season two on Jan. 2. Part "Gossip Girl," part "Beverly Hills, 90210," the series about a group of genetically blessed high school girls and the mysterious text messages they receive draws you in but doesn't take itself too seriously. It's frothy fun for the whole family.

PHOTO: The cast of 30 Rock poses for a portrait.
For all-out laughs.

"30 Rock" and "Eastbound and Down." After a longer-than-usual break (owing to star, creator and executive producer Tina Fey's new baby), "30 Rock" comes back to TV on Jan. 12. The sixth season of the NBC cult favorite features a new boyfriend (James Mardsen) for the unlucky-in-love Liz Lemon and per usual, a roster of A-list guest stars, including Kelsey Grammer and Denise Richards.

"Eastbound and Down," the hilariously dark series about a washed-up MLB pitcher and his questionable cast of characters, returns to HBO for its third (and final) season on Feb. 19. Season two saw Danny McBride's Kenny Powers hustling up cockfights for money in Mexico. Expect similar ridiculousness with the upcoming batch of episodes.

PHOTO: ITV's new costume drama series, Downton Abbey, written and created by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes will star Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham and Elizabeth McGovern as Robert'
For critically acclaimed fare.

"Downton Abbey" and "Justified." The Emmy-winning period drama "Downton Abbey" is back for its sophomore season. The show takes place in England around the time of the first World War, where matters of the heart, threat of financial ruin and Jane Austen-esque family entanglements dominate. If you like your wit dry and served with a British accent, this one's for you. Season two starts Jan. 8 on PBS.

FX's "Justified" also scored an Emmy (best supporting actress, Margo Martindale). The updated take on a cops-and-robbers western with Timothy Olyphant as a stone-faced, Southern-bred, sometimes above-the-law enforcer earned a heap of praise last season. The gang comes back for "Justified's" third installment on Jan. 17.

PHOTO: Anthony Bourdain stars in his new show, "The Layover" on the Travel Channel.
Travel Channel
For a foodie fix.

"The Layover" and "Bizarre Foods America." Gawk at awesome food while actually (gasp) learning something. In the case of Anthony Bourdain's "Layover," you'll find answers to questions like, "Where should I grab lunch when I find myself in Miami for three hours?" Each show finds the "No Reservations" host in a new city for a day or so, and he always manages to have an enviable time while eating some drollworthy local grub. (We cheated a little here -- you can actually see new episodes through the holidays and into the new year, a welcome break from the yule log you're probably watching right now.)

Andrew Zimmern's leaving the exotic insects alone for the latest season of "Bizarre Foods" and hitting the road in the good old US of A to uncover little known eccentricities of the American diet. We may not eat crickets but we're pretty interesting in our own right. Series premieres Jan. 23.

PHOTO: The cast of the Jersey Shore poses for a portrait.
For a dose of reality TV drama.

"The Bachelor" and "The Jersey Shore." When you want to revel in someone else's drama instead of your own (and who doesn't after the holidays?) tune into these reality TV staples. The 16th season of "The Bachelor" premieres Jan. 2 on ABC. Expect hopeful eyes, glittery dresses, tearful rose ceremonies and maybe, possibly, love.

Love's not likely to be found on MTV's "Jersey Shore," which starts its fifth season on Jan. 5. But glass-throwing, high-pitched shrieking, and GTL-ing? Check, check and check.

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