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11 Midseason TV Shows You Won't Want to Miss

Great actors, series and specials make winter TV-watching worthwhile

Rake, Fox

Thursdays at 9 p.m., begins Jan. 23

Greg Kinnear (pictured in suit, with guest star Peter Stormare) gives a tangy performance as a lawyer as smart as he is disreputable. It's being pitched as a courtroom House, and Kinnear makes the gambling, womanizing, facing-trouble-on-all-fronts title character somehow appealing. Based on a critically lauded Australian series.


True Detective, HBO

Sundays at 10 p.m., currently airing

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are former Louisiana State Police detectives hunting a serial killer over eight star-powered episodes. The reviews are ecstatic, not only for the performances but also for the time-shifting, multilayered mystery — both criminal and personal — that spans 17 years.


Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, BBC America

Wednesdays at 10 p.m., begins Jan. 29

Ian Fleming's larger-than-life life as a playboy-turned-naval intelligence officer in the World War II years takes us time-tripping back to the wilder side of 1940s London in this four-week bio-drama. Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia!, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) stars as the man who created Agent 007.


Intelligence, CBS

Mondays at 10 p.m.

This sci-fi action series stars Josh Holloway (Lost) as a crime-solving super-agent with a chip-enhanced brain that's able to connect to the Internet. Despite its high-tech concept, it's kind of a throwback, and we mean that in the best way — think The Six Trillion Dollar Man. Meghan Ory plays his sidekick/keeper and Marg Helgenberger (CSI) is the boss.


Enlisted, Fox

Fridays at 9:30 p.m.

Reminiscent of the days when military characters were frequent fodder for sitcoms (The Phil Silvers Show, McHale's Navy), Enlisted puts a battle-hardened war veteran (Geoff Stults) on a sleepy, stateside army base in charge of his screw-up brothers (Chris Lowell, Parker Young). The episodes get stronger as the show goes along, as does its charm quotient.


The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, NBC

Weeknights at 11:35 p.m.

We can't wait to see Fallon bring his talents to NBC's 60-year-old late-night institution. From parodies and viral videos to mad musical masquerades with superstar guests, Fallon will bring a fresh spin, all from a fresh coast as Tonight moves back to New York after more than 40 years in L.A. (Jay Leno's Tonight Show finale airs Feb. 6.)


House of Cards Season 2, Netflix

Starts streaming on Feb. 14

The brilliant, game-changing political drama headed by Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and director David Fincher returns on Valentine's Day. That means Netflix subscribers still have time to review, or binge-watch for the first time, that sterling first season.


The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles, CBS

Sunday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m.

This new special marks 50 years, to the day, since the Fab Four's debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Remember where you were? Revel in Beatlemania once again with this special, which includes footage from the landmark event as well as current stars performing Beatles songs in concert.


About a Boy, NBC

Premieres Friday, Feb. 21, after Olympics coverage

Adapted from the Nick Hornby novel about an aimless bachelor whose life is changed by a boy (it also inspired a 2002 feature film starring Hugh Grant), this dramedy is from Parenthood creator Jason Katims. David Walton steps into Grant's role as the manchild mentoring a sad schoolkid (Benjamin Stockman). Minnie Driver stars as the boy's mother.


Wahlburgers, A&E

Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m.

Under the heading Quirky Reality Fare, we have Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, who, along with their nonactor brother, chef Paul Wahlberg, are cooking up real-life hamburger restaurant drama in their old Boston neighborhood. The series will also feature Mrs. Wahlberg, Alma, and assorted Wahlberg childhood pals. Call it their original entourage, with fries.


The 100, CW

Wednesdays at 9 p.m., begins March 19

From the sound of it, this sci-fi drama might be one that older viewers like me would take a pass on: a postapocalyptic tale of a hundred juvenile delinquents jettisoned from their Earth-orbiting ark back down to terra firma three generations after a nuclear holocaust. To my own surprise, I got caught up in it. It's worth a look.


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