Spring TV preview: A day-by-day guide
The best shows to watch each night of the week
Dancing With the Stars
ABC, premieres March 22, 8 –10PM
Season 10 could boast the craziest cast yet for ABC’s most bedazzled reality series. ”We really went for people who are going to cause a splash,” says exec producer Conrad Green, who adds that the showrunners had wanted to cast Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson since season 1. (He also reveals that reality TV ”supermom” Kate Gosselin, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, and 90210‘s Shannen Doherty have been ”first choice” for the past few seasons.) As for the surprise inclusion of 80-year-old astronaut Buzz Aldrin, don’t worry about his health, says Green. ”We spoke to his doctor, who said, ‘This is a guy who passed his NASA medical several years ago. He’s got the health of someone 20 years younger.”’ But if a man in his golden years is not enough, there’s also someone who just won gold: Olympic figure skating champion Evan Lysacek. Here’s hoping Lysacek — who will tour with Stars on Ice Wednesdays through Saturdays during the DWTS season — doesn’t confuse his skating and ballroom techniques. ”I’m gonna start doing cha-chas on the ice and axels on the dance floor,” he worries. Relax, Evan — it’s only a short program. Plus, you certainly have plenty of experience performing…liiiiiiiive! — Annie Barrett
United States of Tara
Showtime, premieres March 22, 10:30 — 11PM
If Toni Collette’s repeated efforts to punch John Corbett in the face are any indication, Tara‘s sophomore season should be jolting. The Kansas mom with multiple personalities (Collette) begins this season in a better frame of mind, free of her ”alters” for months and feeling confident — until, of course, they return to wreak havoc. Which brings us back to Collette’s right hook. In one scene shooting on an L.A. soundstage, Tara’s truck-driving alter ego, Buck, wails on her sleeping husband, Max (Corbett), after Max comes between Buck and his girlfriend. ”We don’t usually get to do scenes like that,” says Corbett. ”I have a feeling [shooting] something like that, that I’m probably going to lose a tooth.” Season 2 finds Max wrestling with not only Buck but also Tara’s busybody buddy Lynda (Oscar nominee Viola Davis), a host of family secrets, and his wife’s new alter, Shoshana, who thinks she’s a psychologist. ”Funny enough,” says Corbett, ”I think she’s helping the family out quite a bit, kind of like a live-in therapist.” Well, if any family needed one… — Alynda Wheat
Showtime, premieres March 22, 10 — 10:30PM
She’s already a mother, wife, adulterer, addict, and severed-ear flusher, but things are going to get even more complicated for Nurse Jackie (Edie Falco) in season 2. Below, three reasons you should tune in.
1. This is a health-care mess that’s entertaining.
”You know when you’re at a circus and you see the performer going to a higher ladder to walk the higher tightrope wire? That’s where we are this season with Jackie,” says exec producer Richie Jackson. ”She’s having to deal with the consequences of her actions.”
2. The rest of the All Saints hospital staff is wonderfully twisted too.
Arrogant pretty-boy doctor Coop (Twilight‘s Peter Facinelli) becomes the face of an ad campaign aimed at attracting a better (read: paying) clientele. Jackie’s pharmacist boyfriend, Eddie (Paul Schulze), ”insinuates himself into Jackie and [her husband’s] world,” teases Jackson. Jackie’s bestie, Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best), realizes there might be more to life than fabulous food and clothes, and nurse Sam (Arjun Gupta), who popped up in season 1, ”becomes a full-time nuisance to Jackie,” says Jackson. ”He’s in recovery, and for obvious reasons, Jackie hates him.”
3. God is a costar — and not just in the hospital chapel where Jackie prays.
The crazy loon (Michael Buscemi, brother of Steve) who claims to be God and screams filth from his apartment window turns up as a patient. ”Oh, my God, we love God,” says Jackson, adding, ”The hospital is a bit of an insane asylum, and the God character fulfills that for us.” — Henry Goldblatt
Also on Monday Night
The Bachelor: Jason and Molly’s Wedding
ABC, March 8, 8 — 10PM
The most dramatic (and only) Bachelor TV wedding ever!
The CW, March 8, 9 — 10PM
William Baldwin shows up as Serena’s dad, and Michelle Trachtenberg’s Georgina returns.
The Price of Beauty
VH1, March 15, 10 — 10:30PM
Jessica Simpson travels the globe trying out multicultural beauty regimes.
10 Things I Hate About You
ABC Family, March 29, 8 — 8:30PM
A new character threatens the blooming relationship between Kat and Patrick.
ABC, returns March 30, 10 — 11PM
When the Visitors come back after a four-month absence, they’ll have one mission: packing as much as possible into the show’s eight-episode return. ”I don’t want to make the audience wait,” says exec producer Scott Rosenbaum. ”Every episode is going to have two or three reveals, at least.” It will all lead up to a showdown between flustered resistance leader Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell) and controlling alien leader Anna (Morena Baccarin), which Rosenbaum describes as ”like Ripley versus the alien mother.” Though the series will hit the ground running, the first hour back will also aim to hook new viewers. ”If you’ve never seen the show, you should be able to jump right in,” Rosenbaum says. ”In some ways [the first new episode] acts as a new pilot.” Returning fans, however, will be rewarded with loads of backstory about the sprawling cast of characters. ”As their worlds get bigger and bigger,” Rosenbaum says, ”we’ll start to learn all of the secrets they hold.” Expect plenty of callbacks to the ’80s miniseries as well, including ”more lizard skin,” the birth of an alien/human baby, and a revelation akin to the original’s watercooler moment?V leader Diana unhinging her jaw to swallow a guinea pig. ”There’s a scene I hope will be as talked about, if not more,” Rosenbaum hints. ”I promise you it’s something you’ve never seen.” — Jennifer Armstrong
The CW, returns March 9, 8 — 9PM
What’s high school without a sexual-harassment accusation (from AnnaLynne McCord’s Naomi), a sports-gambling addiction (for Tristan Wilds’ Dixon), a relationship based on murder-related blackmail (for Shenae Grimes’ Annie), or a surfer girl (Gillian Zinser’s Ivy, who’s been promoted to full-time cast member) who gets into an awesome catfight (with Naomi, natch) on the beach? Of course, the story line that scared the CW suits most was the lesbian relationship between Gia (guest star Rumer Willis) and Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes). ”The network was wary,” says exec producer Rebecca Sinclair. ”There are still conservative factors in what they think they can do and should do, but everyone was pleased with how it went.” Crossing our fingers for a double-prom-queen spring dance! — Jessica Shaw
Also on Tuesday Night
The CW, March 9, 9 — 10PM
Ella and Amanda butt heads. Plus, dead Sydney returns! (Yes, again.)
Oxygen, March 16, 11PM — 12AM
Three former members of the Bad Girls Club try to find love from a pool of 13 men.
Tiny & Tonya
BET, April 13, 10 — 10:30PM
The girlfriend and ex-wife of rappers T.I. and Lil Wayne, respectively, are back.
Beauty & The Briefcase
ABC Family, April 18, 8 — 10PM
Hilary Duff stars as a fashion journalist out to land dates in this new telepic.
Top Chef Masters
Bravo, premieres April 7, 11PM — 12AM
Expect two major changes for season 2 of Masters: Not only has Gail Simmons signed on as a regular judge, but audiences will see four preliminary rounds instead of six. Hence more time spent with the master-chef wannabes, including David Burke and Rick Tramonto, and returning contenders Wylie Dufresne and Rick Moonen. ”We get to know the chefs better, which is great,” says host Kelly Choi. ”That’s what people love. They love getting to know what makes them tick.” Of course, it isn’t all about the drama; Choi says audiences will see some taste-bud-tingling food as well. ”I did come back a few pounds heavier,” admits the host, who judges a Quickfire Challenge solo for the first time this season. ”But I don’t care. It’s worth every freaking ounce. It could be because of the nature of the challenges, but we have pretty breathtaking food this season.” She’s not the only person lucky enough to sample the seasoned chefs’ creations: Bizarre Foods‘ Andrew Zimmern, the cast of Modern Family, and The Simpsons‘ Matt Groening and Hank Azaria are among the guest judges who will bring their delicate palates along for Masters‘ second season. ”The challenges are custom-made for them,” Choi says. Does that mean we’ll see the chefs’ take on the Krusty Burger? ”I want to tell you,” insists Choi, ”but I can’t!” D’oh! — Kate Ward
ABC, debuts April 28, 10 — 11PM
Things are peachy keen in Haplin, Minn., aptly nicknamed Happy Town. That is, until the elusive Magic Man — who plagued the hamlet with a series of cat-burglarlike kidnappings five years ago before disappearing — returns, thrusting inexperienced deputy Tommy Conroy (October Road‘s Geoff Stults) into a complicated crime investigation. Mysteries abound among the townsfolk, who include Frances Conroy, Steven Weber, and Sam Neill as a peculiar English transplant who opens a movie memorabilia shop. But in an effort to limit viewer confusion, exec producer Josh Appelbaum insists that at least one big question will be answered in each of the eight episodes. Plus, he promises that the identity of the Magic Man will definitely be revealed at some point. ”Once the audience finds out, it doesn’t necessarily mean the other characters know,” says Appelbaum. Once they do, however, the reveal ”will have a cataclysmic effect on the characters.” — Archana Ram
Also on Wednesday Night
America’s Next Top Model
The CW, March 10, 8 — 9:30PM
Vogue‘s André Leon Talley joins the judges’ panel.
The CW, March 10, 9:30 — 10PM
Cameras follow socialite Tinsley Mortimer through good (parties) and bad (divorce).
Syfy, March 17, 10 — 11PM
The crew travels to Ireland to find out the real deal behind the legendary leprechaun.
Idol Gives Back
Fox, April 21, 8 — 10PM
The star-studded fund-raiser is back raising cash for worthwhile causes.
ABC, returns March 18, 8 — 10PM
If only TV shows could be produced with knowledge of the future, then they could avoid the kind of tricky, perilous road FlashForward has traveled during its rookie season. Last December, ABC decided to bench the ratings-challenged sci-fi drama until March — both to save it from Olympic competition and to give the writers time to rethink the season’s final 12 episodes. ”It’s been for the better,” says star Joseph Fiennes, whose FBI agent Mark Benford is at the forefront of investigating the show’s high-concept mystery premise: What caused a catastrophic global blackout that gave nearly everyone a brief peek into their futures? ”It was all about everyone getting on the same page.” The plan: more answers and more character development, says exec producer Jessika Borsiczky, part of a trio of showrunners replacing recently departed co-creator David S. Goyer (he’s now penning the next Superman flick). Viewers will quickly learn the identity of Suspect Zero and discover that another global blackout is looming, while Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) — who has been told he’ll be killed with Benford’s gun — will scramble to avert his fate. Also on tap: intensifying marital tension between Benford and Olivia (Sonya Walger), and the introduction of James Callis (a.k.a. Battlestar Galactica‘s Gaius Baltar) to the cast. ”I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel trepidation” about the show’s ratings and prospects for the future, says Borsiczky. ”But I’m hopeful. We have a lot more stories we want to tell.” — Jeff Jensen
Also on Thursday Night
ABC, March 4, 9 — 10PM
Callie and Arizona take in a lovesick Teddy, and we learn more about Owen’s past.
NBC, March 11, 9:30 — 10PM
Elizabeth Banks and Julianne Moore both return for more. Lucky Jack!
Fox, April 1, 8 — 9PM
When the show flashes back six years, we learn how Booth and Brennan met.
CBS, debuts April 2, 10 — 11PM
When it comes to picking a sexy backdrop for a TV drama, Miami is hot stuff, so EP Jerry Bruckheimer is returning to the city of vice and mojitos with a series about a hospital trauma unit that specializes in the ”golden hour” (translation: the critical first 60 minutes after an injury). ”Miami has a sex appeal to it,” says star Mike Vogel, who plays a ”genius cowboy” trauma doctor under the command of Jeremy Northam’s unorthodox chief surgeon. And with all the medical shows out there, Vogel adds, it’s important to stand out. ”After a while, people start to feel like you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a million. But they haven’t really seen something like this before.” — Keith Staskiewicz
Also on Friday Night
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
ABC, March 26, 9 — 10PM
The celeb chef teaches an entire town how to eat better.
HBO, debuts March 14, 9 — 10PM
When Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg decided to do for the Pacific campaign of World War II what their 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers did for the fight in Europe, the longtime friends knew they were staring down a seriously massive undertaking. ”I think the reality was the undertaking stared us down,” says Spielberg with a laugh. Unlike Band of Brothers, which followed a single Army company, The Pacific trails three real-life Marines — aspiring writer Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), idealist Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello), and war hero John Basilone (Jon Seda) — whose lives happen to intersect during key island battles like Guadalcanal.
Re-creating those battles during a nine-month shooting schedule in Australia, on top of 20 months of postproduction, added up to a mammoth $200 million price tag for the 10-part miniseries. ”We had a lot of meetings at HBO’s headquarters, and they were all saying, ‘Whaaa? Hooow?”’ chuckles Hanks. ”It’s very deceptive,” adds Spielberg. ”You see a lot of jungle [and] palm trees, and you say, ‘Well, what did they build?”’ Hanks jumps in with the answer: ”Jungle and palm trees!” He’s also quick to note that once HBO said yes, ”they never hesitated about the cash. They’re looking for something that will actually get a couple hundred people to subscribe for the first time.” With a wry smile, Spielberg adds, ”A couple hundred people subscribing for the first time pays for the wrap party.” — Adam B. Vary
The Celebrity Apprentice
NBC, premieres March 14, 9 — 11PM
For the third season in a row, the cutthroat boardroom competition is going with Hollywood over Harvard. Reality TV stalwarts like Bret Michaels and Sharon Osbourne will join a disgraced politician, a displaced comedian, two professional wrestlers, a puckish ’80s icon, and seven others to raise money for their individual charities while avoiding the wrath of Donald Trump. Here are four celebs to keep an eye on, along with their thoughts on staying fire-proof.
Sinbad: The Smiling Assassin
”You talk about competitive? Because comics — you ever been backstage? That’s the nastiest thing you’ll ever see…. It’s Hollywood, baby.”
Cyndi Lauper: The Local Legend
”I was born here. I know the streets. I know where to go for things, and most New Yorkers, we know how to get around. I’d call the mayor if I had to.”
Sharon Osbourne: The Foul-Mouthed Manager
”I love doing TV. It’s not a stretch to do reality TV — it’s a gift. If somebody says it’s really hard work, they’re full of crap.”
Rod Blagojevich: The Walking Scandal
”Sharon Osbourne said, ‘Oh, you naughty boy.’ And then I quickly said, ‘None of those things are true and I’ll prove it.”’ — KS
Also on Sunday Night
Sons of Tuscon
Fox, March 14, 9:30 — 10PM
Three boys hire a slacker (Reaper’s Tyler Labine) to pretend to be their father.
Discovery, March 21, 8 — 10PM
Oprah Winfrey narrates this nature series from the team behind Planet Earth.
Showtime, April 11, 9 — 10PM
Joely Richardson joins for the final season as Henry’s latest conquest…er, wife.
Lifetime, April 11, 10 — 11PM
Wynonna Judd is so happy about guest-starring, she’s gonna sing! Twice, in fact.