Get ready for new episodes of ''The Sopranos,'' ''American Idol,'' and other shows coming back for midseason

By Tim Stack
January 06, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
The Sopranos: Barry Wetcher

The L Word (Showtime, Jan. 8)
Alan Cumming joins the sapphic soap in its third season as the new manager of the Planet. Plus, Bette (Jennifer Beals) and Tina (Laurel Holloman) handle new motherhood, and one of the ladies deals with a cancer scare.

The Bachelor in Paris (ABC, Jan. 9)
Attempting to renew interest in this fading franchise, ABC has sent the Bachelor, Dr. Travis Stork, and 25 rose-hungry ladies to the City of Light. How do you say hot tub in French?

Jake in Progress (ABC, Jan. 9) Ever-lovable John Stamos and his gorgeous mane of hair are back for the sitcom’s second season, in which we’ll meet Jake’s former fiancée (NYPD Blue‘s Charlotte Ross).

The Shield (FX, Jan. 10)
Glenn Close may have left the precinct, but Forest Whitaker is filling the void: He’ll play an internal affairs investigator in the fifth season of FX’s acclaimed hit. And yes — Michael Chiklis is still bald and angry.

American Idol (Fox, Jan. 17)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: TV’s 800-pound gorilla is back for its fifth season. Now, get ready to mark your calendars: The top 24 will be revealed on Feb. 15, the first live results show is Feb. 23, and the top 12 perform for the first time on March 14. Excited yet?

Survivor: Panama — Exile Island (CBS, February)
In the show’s 12th season, castaways will encounter a whole new wrinkle called Exile Island, where they’ll be forced to spend time marooned alone.

America’s Next Top Model (UPN, March)
We’re still mad about losing Janice, but at least we have dreamy Nigel Barker. He makes the show worth watching. As do Tyra’s weaves.

The Sopranos (HBO, March 12)
Given the omerta that applies to HBO’s megahit, we have to be stingy with info: The action picks up about a year and a half later, Johnny Sack’s in prison, and the characters have (mostly) moved on from last season’s bloody chain of events.

Prison Break (Fox, March 20)
They’re trapped in that tiny room! Are they gonna break out like the producers promised? What if someone needs to use the bathroom?

Mind of Mencia (Comedy Central, March 22)
Comedian Carlos Mencia returns for man-on-the-street gags and commercial parodies galore.

Huff (Showtime, April 2)
Fresh off a slew of Emmy nominations (and a win for Blythe Danner), the Hank Azaria dramedy returns for season 2 with guest stars Sharon Stone (as a PR exec) and Anjelica Huston (as Huff‘s therapist confidante).

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