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Some new episodes, series to air despite strike

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2008-01-06 Chicago Tribune.jpg


The Writers Guild of America strike has brought television production to a halt. But for the next month or two, fans of scripted TV can check out several new midseason shows. Returning series such as "Lost" also will roll out at least a few new episodes. (By the way, if you're wondering how many fresh episodes of a particular show we'll see in 2008, check out the Futon Critic's helpful list here: .)

Even if the strike ends soon, the real pain will begin in March and April, when fans of quality scripted television will have little to sustain them aside from PBS offerings and a few good cable programs. By then, the networks will be mostly running game shows, reality programs and competitions such as "American Idol." And if you thought Simon Cowell was irritating in previous years, imagine what it'll be like when "Idol" has little or no network competition.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here are a few highlights of the early 2008 TV schedule:

NBC returns three missing series to prime time: I've gotten many e-mails asking where "Medium" and "Law & Order" were this season. NBC saved both programs for mid-season: "Medium" returns 9 p.m. Monday with Anjelica Huston guest starring for several episodes. A revamped "Law & Order" (with new cast members Linus Roache and Jeremy Sisto) returned with a two-hour season premiere 8 p.m. Wednesday, its usual slot will be 9 p.m. Wednesdays. By the way, episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" that aired on USA Network in the fall will be broadcast by NBC starting 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Can TV handle two new "Sex and the City"-esque shows? Both ABC's "Cashmere Mafia," which premiered Thursday, and NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" have ties to that famous HBO show about a single woman in Manhattan. Like "Sex and the City," "Lipstick Jungle" is based on the work of writer Candace Bushnell. But the creator of the TV version of "Sex," Darren Star, is the man behind "Cashmere Mafia." Is there room on the TV schedule for two soaps about the lives of successful, glamorous women? We'll find out in a few weeks, when "Lipstick Jungle" arrives 9 p.m. Feb. 7. (By the way, this week, "Cashmere Mafia" moves to a new time slot at 9 p.m. Wednesdays).

One of TV's greatest dramas prepares to exit: "The Wire," David Simon's masterful drama, begins its last season 8 p.m. Sunday. The fifth and final season still dwells on cops and the drug dealers who usually evade them, but it also focuses on the media's failure to see, let alone report on, the big picture when it comes to crucial urban issues. Simon, who spent 13 years as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, has composed a love letter -- or perhaps an obituary -- for the daily journalism world he feels has been gutted by big corporations.

PBS unveils a highly anticipated new series: There have been plenty of Jane Austen films on PBS over the years, but will you object to another round of adaptations of the peerless novelist's work? I won't. True, I'm an Austen obsessive and, when it comes to filmed entertainment, I'll watch just about anything involving bonnets, corsets and frock jackets. But the "Masterpiece Theatre" series promises to be especially delectable, given that it features performances by Anthony Stewart Head of "Buffy" in "Persuasion" on Jan. 13, Billie Piper of "Doctor Who" in "Mansfield Park" on Jan. 27 and Olivia Williams of "Rushmore" in "Miss Austen Regrets" on Feb. 3. The last film is a fictionalized exploration of the writer's own love life. The series also will rebroadcast previous Austen adaptations, including "Pride & Prejudice" with Colin Firth. For more, go to

Scorcese pays tribute to a master of chills: In "Martin Scorcese Presents: Val Lewton -- the Man in the Shadows," the film director examines the legacy and career of Russian immigrant Lewton, who created the 1940s thriller classics "Cat People" and "The Body Snatcher," among many other RKO films. The 90-minute documentary (8 p.m. Jan. 14, TCM) on this almost-forgotten master of psychological suspense and horror is followed by a 2-day marathon of eight of Lewton's films. For more information, go to

Another bad boy arrives on cable: With "Mad Men," AMC established itself as a destination for first-rate cable fare. The channel's next series, "Breaking Bad," debuts 9 p.m. Jan. 20, and if it's even half as good as "Mad Men," it should be worth watching. It stars the dependably funny Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") as a high school chemistry teacher who, let's just say, has a highly unconventional side job.

The return of sexy space adventures: In its first season, BBC America's "Torchwood" established itself as a smart and cheeky genre series that was often just as good (or even better than) "Doctor Who," the British series that spun it off. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) returns with a new batch of adventures 8 p.m. Jan. 26, and sparks will be flying when James Marsters (Spike on "Buffy") guest stars as rogue Time Agent Captain John Hart. The duo has a history, and also a very strong attraction, despite Hart's psychopathic tendencies. "There's a scene between he and Jack when they first meet, all I'll say is, this scene is so hot," Barrowman said in a 2007 interview. There's also good news for fans of Martha Jones, the Doctor's former sidekick on "Doctor Who": Jones (Freema Agymen) guest stars on three episodes of "Torchwood's" second season.

"Lost," we've missed you. All (OK, some) is forgiven: It was easy to beat up on "Lost" last year -- Season 3 just went on too long. But we may think those were the good old days when "Lost" returns 8 p.m. Jan. 31. There will only be eight episodes in the strike-shortened season (producers had originally planned to run 16 episodes in Season 4). Executive producer Damon Lindelof promises a big change to "Lost's" storytelling style this season -- one that was glimpsed in the show's Season 3 finale. "We're done telling flashback stories that have no relevance to the island," Lindelof said. Those flashbacks, he said, will be largely replaced by flash-forwards that have direct bearing on what's happening to the characters on the island. "Half the fans are going to think this is great, half the people may think, 'This is not the "Lost" I knew and loved,'" Lindelof said.

Time to go nuts as a fan favorite returns: "Jericho" was dead as a doornail last spring, but like the flinty survivors of the town of Jericho, fans weren't about to let themselves be defeated. They organized with lightning speed and, after shipping thousands of pounds of nuts to the network (it's a reference to a defiant cry in the Season 1 finale), they got CBS to bring the show back. It returns with seven new episodes 9 p.m. Feb. 12. "Gray Anderson [Michael Gaston] steps up as the mayor and is helping to coordinate with the Cheyenne government to get [Jericho] up and running again," executive producer Carol Barbee said in a 2007 interview. "Jake [Green] ... is very wary of who they are [in Cheyenne] and he ends up leading the Jericho residents in a different direction at one point."

A stage classic comes to the small screen: Rap impresario Sean Combs stars in "A Raisin in the Sun" alongside Broadway veteran and "Private Practice" star Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad ("The Cosby Show") in this adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the life of an African-American family in Chicago. It airs on ABC 7 p.m. Feb. 25. -- jia

Caption: Photo: Lucy Liu (center) stars in "Cashmere Mafia," one of two shows taking up the "Sex and the City" mantle.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Ryan, Maureen (2008-01-06). Some new episodes, series to air despite strike. Chicago Tribune p. sec. 7, p. 13.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Ryan, Maureen. "Some new episodes, series to air despite strike." Chicago Tribune [add city] 2008-01-06, sec. 7, p. 13. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Ryan, Maureen. "Some new episodes, series to air despite strike." Chicago Tribune, edition, sec., 2008-01-06
  • Turabian: Ryan, Maureen. "Some new episodes, series to air despite strike." Chicago Tribune, 2008-01-06, section, sec. 7, p. 13 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Some new episodes, series to air despite strike | url=,_series_to_air_despite_strike | work=Chicago Tribune | pages=sec. 7, p. 13 | date=2008-01-06 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Some new episodes, series to air despite strike | url=,_series_to_air_despite_strike | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=29 February 2024}}</ref>