A slew of new TV shows will vie for your attention this spring

04/06/2014 12:00 AM

04/05/2014 7:49 AM

Jack is back. Need we say more?

Many excellent new TV series debut in the coming weeks, including a Fargo spinoff on FX, Turn on AMC, HBO’s Silicon Valley and Hallmark Channel’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered. The highlight of the spring TV season, of course, is the return of Kiefer Sutherland in his Emmy-winning role of Jack Bauer, a one-man counterterrorism army.

We thought we saw the last of 24, the great cliffhanger conspiracy thriller, when its clock ran out in 2010. But Bauer’s work is never done. The reprised series promises to be different yet satisfyingly the same.

Let’s take a look around the dial at the best that spring TV has to offer.

24: Live Another Day

The first thing to know about the new 24 is that the everything-in-real-time, 24-hours-in-24-episodes format is changing. There are only 12 episodes and there will be time skips. But that could be a good thing. It will mean fewer infuriating time-filler subplots. The second thing to know is that the new global threat takes Jack to London. And the third thing to know is that Mary Lynn Rajskub, as sarcastic computer wiz Chloe O’Brian, is back, too. Premieres at 7 p.m. Monday, May 5, on Fox; moves to 8 p.m. Monday beginning May 12.

Fargo

This 10-episode adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1996 Coen brothers classic features an all-new “true” crime story, but it’s the same crazy cocktail of murder, humor and “Minnesota nice.” Billy Bob Thornton is a real scene-stealer as a devilish drifter who kills mainly for money, but sometimes for fun. Martin Freeman of The Hobbit plays a milquetoast insurance salesman who gets pushed over the edge. And Allison Tolman, as a savvy deputy, is breakout-role brilliant. Premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, on FX.

Turn

This Revolutionary War-era spy drama introduces viewers to the Culper Ring, a group of childhood friends who became George Washington’s secret weapon and revolutionized the art of espionage. Jamie Bell (best known for his ballet breakthrough in the 2000 movie Billy Elliot) plays a struggling Long Island farmer who gets recruited to spy on the Redcoats. The primitive but clever espionage tricks (one woman sends secret messages via strategically hung laundry) make the show fun. Premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 6, on AMC.

Silicon Valley

In the computer age, the geeks have inherited the earth. This eight-episode comedy tells the story of a socially awkward programmer (Thomas Middleditch) who comes up with a multimillion-dollar idea. But will he and his misfit colleagues be savvy enough to bring his innovation to market so they can make their dot-com millions? Mike Judge, of Beavis & Butt-head, King of the Hill and Office Space fame, based the show on his experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the late 1980s. Premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 6, on HBO.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Martha Williamson, the writer-producer who turned Touched by an Angel into a family-friendly hit in the 1990s, has returned to television after 10 years away with this sweet, feel-good series. There are no angels in the 10-episode show, just a team of quirky but dedicated postal detectives from the dead-letter office. But their stories are filled with almost as much magic as they deliver undeliverable mail in time to reunite old loves, solve crimes and save lives. Premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 20, on Hallmark Channel.

Salem

WGN’s first original scripted drama takes viewers to the world of 17th-century Massachusetts and an infamous period in American history. A village plagued by unexplained phenomena, fear and suspicion becomes ground zero for witch-hunt hysteria. Contrary to what the history books now say about Salem and the witch trials, this 13-episode series turns the story upside down, suggesting that witches are real. Some may even be in charge of the witch trials. Premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 20, on WGN America.

Penny Dreadful

This eight-episode series, set in Victorian London, follows a team of dangerous heroes in a world populated by monstrous characters from classic literature, from Dr. Frankenstein to Dorian Gray. Many of the show’s key personnel have another classic character in common: James Bond. Skyfall writer John Logan created the series, Skyfall director Sam Mendes produces, and former 007 Timothy Dalton and former Bond girl Eva Green are stars alongside Josh Hartnett. Premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 11, on Showtime.

Deadbeat

Imagine the Ghost Whisperer in a Harold & Kumar stoner comedy. That’s the premise of this 10-episode exercise in supernatural silliness. Tyler Labine (formerly of Reaper) stars as an underachieving medium. He’ll do whatever it takes to help New York City ghosts address unfinished business so they can pass into the light. In the first episode, titled “The Sexorcism,” he helps a ghost lose his virginity. Celebrity medium John Edward probably never had a case like that! Available for streaming beginning Wednesday on Hulu.

Black Box

This medical drama stars Kelly Reilly as Dr. Catherine Black, a brilliant neurologist who unlocks the secrets of the human brain, which doctors call the “black box.” She is a leader in this research, the “Marco Polo of the brain.” She’s also hiding the secret that she is bipolar. There’s an ensemble cast (which includes the great Vanessa Redgrave), but the show is driven by Reilly’s performance. Black Box might not become a hit, but it puts Reilly on the map as a talent to watch. Premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 24, on ABC.

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