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10 New Midseason Television Shows

NBC's Smash and HBO's Luck are just a couple of the prospects you'll find good and grownup

The holiday season is over, but some nifty gifts are still ahead to perk up winter nights on our television screens. Unlike past years, when it seemed that midseason shows were hustled into place to fill gaps left by fall failures, this year the networks saved some of their best offerings for now. Here are a few we think worthy of your attention.

NBC show

Smash — NBC, Monday. Called by TV insiders Glee for Grownups, it's the behind-the-scenes saga of the making of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. And plans call for the show-within-a-show actually to be mounted on Broadway if it succeeds. Debra Messing is a lyricist; Anjelica Huston plays a producer. Former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty (Wicked) are the two young talents who desperately want to play Monroe. Premieres Feb. 6

ABC show

G.C.B. — ABC, Sunday. This Texas-sized comedic soap is just a hoot. Former mean girl Leslie Bibb returns home to her large-living mama (Annie Potts) after the scandalous end of her marriage. Now she has to face all those frenemies she treated badly in high school. Kristin Chenoweth is their rhinestone-spangled leader, who at one point declares, "Cleavage makes your cross hang straight." Heavens! Based on Kim Gatlin's roman a clef Good Christian Bitches, which the wealthy Dallas divorcee wrote to poke fun at the backbiting women in her world. Premieres March 4

HBO show

Luck — HBO, Sunday. The beauty and brutality of the thoroughbred horse racing world comes to color-drenched life in this drama from writer-producer David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue) and director Michael Mann. Dustin Hoffman, in his first series role, is a wheeler-dealer fresh out of prison. Nick Nolte is a craggy owner with horse whisperer proclivities. Colorful characters abound. With a pace that sometimes meanders and a cryptic storytelling style, "Luck" contains some very tough stuff, as viewers who caught the December sneak peak are aware, but this inside track view promises to be worth the ride. Begins run Jan. 29

NBC show

The Firm — NBC, Thursday. A series sequel to the book and movie that made John Grisham a literary star? Yes. This fast-paced thriller has definite grownup appeal, with compelling legal issues amid the action and suspense. Grisham himself is its hands-on executive producer. Smoldering "Sweet Home Alabama" star Josh Lucas handles the role of lawyer Mitch McDeere, who has been in the witness protection program with his family for the past decade, since helping the Feds nail a mafioso, and now thinks he is safe to come out. Jump in now; started Jan. 12

Fox show

Alcatraz — Fox, Monday. The premise: 302 inmates simply vanished from San Francisco's notorious Alcatraz island prison in 1963 — and now they're starting to show up again, out on city streets, un-aged and dangerous. Sam Neill, 64, seems to be having a great time nibbling the scenery as a secretive government agent at the heart of things. We enjoy 70-year-old Robert Forster's portrayal of a former Alcatraz guard, assisting his police detective niece (Sarah Jones). Flashbacks to '63 are handled with care. On air now; started Jan. 16.

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