A Midseason's Night Dream: The Spring TV Preview

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Though the weather might be turning nice, we know that what you still really want to do is stay indoors and sit on the couch. With that in mind, let's take a look at seven new (and three returning) television shows that could occupy your time until the warm embrace of summer comes and forces you out of the house.

Missing (3/15, 8pm, ABC)

What It Is: Liam Neeson puts on a strikingly believable Ashley Judd costume and does a TV version of Taken. (Maggie Grace puts on a slightly less convincing teenage boy costume.) The story is that, ten years after her husband (Sean Bean) is killed in a mysterious car bombing, a retired CIA agent's son goes missing while studying abroad. So she takes to Europe and starts crackin' skulls. Ashley Judd (aka Liam Neeson) isn't exactly the go-to name for action (or anything else these days, really), but we guess the fun is in finding out if she can sell it. 

Should You Watch It: This definitely merits at least a first-episode viewing, we think. Judd's always been oddly appealing, and the potentially globe-trotting, jujitsu-kicking setup seems like a lark. Action serials don't always work on television, but as a more rah-rah and less complex Alias (lady butt-kickers and all), this could do the trick. It's the spring! Who needs moral complexity? Give her back her son!

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Bent (3/21, 9pm, NBC)

What It Is: Amanda Peet stars in this single-camera romantic comedy, about a recently divorced woman and the shabby-cute contractor (Perfect Couples' David Walton) she hires to redo her house. Will they/won't they romantic sparks flare and Jeffery Tambor shows up as Pete's wacky dad.

Should You Watch It: Hm. The premise seems a little thin, and shows with one central romantic question as their engine tend to sputter out awfully quickly. But, Pete has always been a likable actress, even if she's never quite found her niche (and this doesn't seem to be exactly it, but oh well), and obviously Tambor is a constant delight. There seems to be a little undercurrent of darkness or edge to this show, so that could be worth a watch. This is a Sunday OnDemand-er, we're guessing.

Touch (3/22, 9pm, Fox)

What It Is: Those who caught the sneak preview of the first episode last month will already know that this show, from Heroes genius/hack (depending on who you ask) Tim Kring, concerns a single dad (Kiefer Sutherland) whose unspeaking autistic son has magical abilities to see universal causality and the interconnectedness of all people. Like all people, across the globe. So father and son team up to make sure everything happens the way it needs to happen. The fabulously named Gugu Mbatha-Raw (late of the sexy spy dud Undercovers) costars as a concerned social worker who eventually starts to believe in the magic.

Should You Watch It: Ehh. The first episode was pretty sappy. Sure it was nice when all those disparate people made neat connections and all, but the father/son stuff was pure treacle. It's actually a bit uncomfortable watching Sutherland be this soft. We want some of the old Jack Bauer swagger back! But, it doesn't seem likely he'll find it on this show. We're gonna pass on this one, but by all means check it out for yourself. Who knows, maybe it's supposed to happen that way.

Mad Men (3/25, 9pm, AMC)

What It Is: Really? You need to ask? OK... Mad Men is about a 1960s ad agency and the various sad/lost/searching souls who populate it. This is the show's fifth season, so things have gotten pretty complicated by now, but what we do know now about the new season is that our hero Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is recently married to his secretary and that... Well, OK, that's basically all we know. But it doesn't matter. It's going to be good no matter what, probably.

Should You Watch It: Yes! Definitely yes. Well, if you haven't seen any of the show before, do go back and watch the previous four seasons before embarking on this latest existential leg of the Angst Express. We're pretty confident you'll quickly be hooked and salivating for this newest round of episodes. Mad Men is a beautiful show — funny, aching, historically stirring, gorgeous to look at — and something of a cultural touchstone. It's Important TV, but don't let that scare you. It's also deeply entertaining.

The Killing (4/1, 8pm, AMC)

What It Is: Season two of this murder mystery series returns after an uproar over the season one finale. See, they had sorta kinda promised that we'd figure out Who Killed Rosie Larsen by season's end, but we didn't. We thought we did for a sec, but at the very end it was made clear that, nope, we didn't. So we're back to the same old mystery in dreary Seattle, with, one assumes, more stuff about the city's politics and lots more rain.

Should You Watch It: No, probably not. Last season's imminently frustrating, irritating blue balls of a closer turned this from a neat, contained-arc, one-murder-a-season show into simply yet another rambling drama. We've been assured that Rosie's killer will be identified this season, but not right away, which, again, ugh. Look, the acting is good on this show, especially cool cucumber Mireille Enos and scruffy wonder Joel Kinnaman, and it's well-filmed and all that, but the pace is plodding, the story is stuffed to the gills with red herrings (a fish stuffed with fish, we guess), and all the heavy-handed emoting gets a bit tiresome. No one ever said that a show about a murdered teenage girl had to be fun, but this show just feels like work.

Game of Thrones (4/1, 9pm, HBO)

What It Is: Based on George R.R. Martin's sprawlingly epic fantasy book series, Game of Thrones tells a tale of an alternate medieval history in some sort of other-Earth. There are knights and peasants and quests and all that stuff, but there's also magic, or at least a slight whiff of it creeping back into the world after a long dormancy. And there are dragons, but only three of them, and they are but wee babies. Season two sees the realm of Westeros besieged by a war between various claimants to the crown, while dark and foreboding mystery awaits in the lands Beyond the Wall to the North and, across the Narrow Sea, our mother of dragons tries to muster an army to return home to Westeros and seize back her family's throne. All very exciting stuff.

Should You Watch It: Yup. Really, you should. We know that fantasy can be a bit daunting, or even straight up unappealing, but this is a far cry from the nerdy paperbacks you might see on a Dungeon Master's bookshelf. (Well, these would be there too, but they'd be the real literature in the group.) GoT has gore, sex (lots of sex), intrigue, espionage, and, this season at least, a bit of romance. Martin's world is vast but thoroughly realized and the magic simply enhances the story instead of overwhelming it. Go back and watch season one OnDemand and see if you like it. We bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Scandal (4/5, 10pm, ABC)

What It Is: Kerry Washington plays a D.C. lawyer who doesn't practice law but rather works as a crisis management consultant. Basically, she fixes sh-t when sh-t goes down. She's joined by Lost's Henry Ian Cusick and the great Jeff Perry (My So-Called Life) as they handle various PR disasters for the Washington D.C. elite. And presumably, this being a Shonda Rhimes show and all, they hop into bed with each other.

Should You Watch It: Eh, why the heck not. Rhimes' shows, especially Grey's Anatomy, might grate on some people's nerves, but there's an undeniably appealing slickness and a verbal dexterity to them that at least keep them entertaining. We're a little tired out by consultant shows in the wake of Showtime's aggressively vulgar House of Lies, but this here is a little different. Think a (way) soapier version of the Eli Gold plotlines on The Good Wife. That could be kind of fun, right? At least after a few glasses of wine, anyway.

Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (4/11, 9:30pm, ABC)

What It Is: The perpetually misused Krysten Ritter plays the titular B in this single-camera sitcom, about a mean and kinda crazy girl and the unsuspecting roommate (Dreama Walker) who suffers at her hands. Dawson's Creek weeper James van der Beek shows up as himself, in a kind of Jennifer Grey in It's Like You Know homage, and, ABC hopes, hilarity ensues.

Should You Watch It: Well... This looks kind of annoying, doesn't it? With all the edgy dirty talk and whatnot? And how the B of course has to be ultimately not such a B at heart? We could eventually warm to this initially irksome-seeming show, like we did to Happy Endings and New Girl (yup, it's true, oops), but we're coming at this one pretty wary. Throw it in the Sunday OnDemand bin with Bent. Or just skip it outright.

Girls (4/15, 10:30pm, HBO)

What It Is: Youthquake indie darling Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) brings her hangdog sensibility to this Judd Apatow-produced show about a group of young post-college women trying to navigate love, life, and working in New York City. Dunham, the daughter of a prominent artist, is joined by Allison Williams, the daughter of NBC newsman Brian Williams, and Zosia Mamet, the daughter of celebrated playwright and filmmaker David Mamet. So... these girls know from hardship, huh?

Should You Watch It: If you at all overlap with this demographic, then probably yes. Just so you'll know what people are talking about. But if early twentysomethings living in Brooklyn seem like a foreign tribe of weirdos with whom you'd never likely interact, we don't think, based the early pilot we saw anyway, that this will teach you anything very authentic about them. The show can be very clever, but also groaningly self-indulgent and surprisingly unaware of itself. We may be a little too close to this one, age-wise and geographically, to assess it fairly, but either way we suspect it will be pretty polarizing. So, hm, yeah, maybe you should watch it no matter what. Just to say you did.

Veep (4/22, 10pm, HBO)

What It Is: Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns to television with this tale of a disgruntled Vice President of the United States from British political satirist Armando Iannucci. Louis-Dreyfus is joined by funny people Tony Hale and Matt Walsh, sexy person Reid Scott, and My Girl person Anna Chlumsky. A different version of this show was in development at ABC a while back, but that got scuttled and so it eventually landed at HBO, which was Iannucci's originally desired network. So, good for him.

Should You Watch It: An empathic yes! We haven't seen any of it, but Iannucci's other work (The Thick of It, In the Loop) is zany, literate, biting stuff. And with this show set in America, it will probably be slightly easier to follow than the ins and outs of whatever parliamentary mess they've got going on over there in the UK. Plus, won't it be fun to see Louis-Dreyfus, always so sharp and a little dark, get to swear and do other bad things that network TV has never really let her do? We're really excited about this one and think you should be too.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.