Once upon a time, in a time long ago and a 13-channel TV universe far, far away, there used to be something called "mid-season" -- a quiet, sleepy time when a few new television series would be added to the prime-time lineup to replace the small number of shows that had been cancelled during the fall months.

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Opinion

Donald Sutherland stars in CBC miniseries The Pillars of the Earth.

Donald Sutherland stars in CBC miniseries The Pillars of the Earth.

Once upon a time, in a time long ago and a 13-channel TV universe far, far away, there used to be something called "mid-season" -- a quiet, sleepy time when a few new television series would be added to the prime-time lineup to replace the small number of shows that had been cancelled during the fall months.

That was then. This is now -- full-bore, new-show-cluttered, scheduled-upheaved, crazy 21st-century mid-season now.

The first few weeks of 2011 bring a dizzying array of new and returning shows, in the sort of counterproductive scheduling crush that used to be reserved for just one week of every September. By the time the new year is 14 days old, more than three dozen titles will have been added to the prime-time lineup, with seven of those arrivals on CBC alone.

In the interest of helping you navigate your way through the busiest TV January ever, here's a partial rundown of what's about to be unleashed this week:

 

SATURDAY

Hollywood Treasure (Bravo!) -- The latest entry in the increasingly popular scavenger/reality genre focuses on the profit-minded pickers who seek out Hollywood and pop-culture collectibles.

 

MONDAY

Village on a Diet (CBC) -- An inspirational series that follows the residents of a rural B.C. town as they attempt to lose (literally) a ton of weight in three months.

18 to Life (CBC) -- The gentle family comedy about a pair of teen newlyweds returns for a second season.

Glutton for Punishment (Food) -- Gastronomic adventurer Bob Blumer turns the farewell season of his series into a quest for Guinness book immortality.

 

TUESDAY

InSecurity (CBC) -- An "action comedy" series about the inner workings of a fictional (but rather CSIS-ish) federal intelligence agency.

Flashpoint (CTV) -- The Gemini Award-winning homegrown drama returns with a storyline involving an escaped prisoner who claims he's been wrongfully convicted.

Live to Dance (CBS/CTV) -- Former Idol regular Paula Abdul returns as part of the judging panel for this new dance-competition series.

The Pillars of the Earth (CBC) -- This new historical miniseries, based on Ken Follett's like-titled novel, features an international cast led by Gordon Pinsent, Donald Sutherland and Ian McShane.

Sarah 101 (HGTV) -- Design goddess Sarah Richardson returns with a new series filled with real-life case studies that will help DIY-ers solve any renovation problem.

Rodeo: Life on the Circuit (History) -- A docu/reality series that follows 14 men and women who make their living on the professional ridin' and ropin' tour.

 

WEDNESDAY

IRT: Deadliest Roads (History) -- This Ice Road Truckers spinoff follows the show's familiar group of Far North drivers as they apply their hard-learned skills to navigating the ancient highways of the Himalayas.

Downsized (TVtropolis) -- A fascinating and very-real reality series about members of an American family forced to rethink their affluent lifestyle after the financial crash leaves them flat broke.

Swamp People (History) -- A documentary series that examines the lives of people living in one of the most unique regions of the U.S. -- the swamplands of Louisiana.

 

THURSDAY

Candice Tells All (W) -- Design expert Candice Olsen (Divine Design) launches a new series that reveals the inspirations and techniques behind her home-makeover successes.

Holmes Inspection (HGTV) -- "Make It Right" guy Mike Holmes returns for a second season of his latest series, which follows his crew as it identifies big problems in real-life homes and then offers up-to-code solutions.

By the Rapids (APTN) -- The homegrown cartoon comedy about an aboriginal family that moves from the big city to the rural reserve returns for a third season.

 

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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