IN JUSTICE (ABCFri/9pm): Dead men walking get a new lease on life in this politically charged series starring Kyle MacLachlan as a hotshot corporate lawyer who founds the National Justice Project. Jason OMara is the ex-cop who runs the operation, while Constance Zimmer and Daniel Cosgrove play the obligatory bickering investigators.
THE BOOK OF DANIEL (NBCFri/10 pm): This 7th Heaven-Everwood crossover stars Aidan Quinn as Daniel Webster, a husband, dad, Episcopalian minister, and...Vicodin addict who sees Jesus on a regular basis. But thats just the tip of this dysfunctional iceberg, which also features a gay son and the embezzlement of church funds. Lord have mercy.
SOUTH BEACH (UPNWed/8pm): Babes, bling and organized crime take center stage in this soapy show about two Brooklyn-ites transplanted to Miami. J. Lo. is executive producer; Chris Johnson, Marcus Coloma, Giancarlo Esposito and Vanessa Williams star.
WHAT ABOUT BRIAN (ABCMarch 2006): At 34, Brian (7th Heavens Barry Watson) is the last single guy in his group of friends. His best friend Adam was going to break up with perfect Marjorie, but proposed instead. His sister, Nic (Rosanna Arquette), and her boy-toy husband, Angelo are trying to have kids. And his married pals Dave and Deena have three little girls and cant wait for Brian to join the club, although theyre not exactly sure why. Guess well find out.
FOUR KINGS (NBCThurs/8:30 pm): The masterminds behind Will & Grace bring us the story of four childhood friends who wind up living together when one of them inherits a sprawling Manhattan apartment (hey, it could happen). Sex & the City with testosterone? Well see.
EMILYS REASONS WHY NOT (ABCMon/9 pm): Heather Graham stars in this series based on Carrie Gerlachs novel, which revolves around a list of reasons Emily creates to avoid making bad romantic choices. Its a page out of Bridget Joness diary.
PRISON BREAK (FoxMon/8 pm, returns 3/20): We last left the would-be escapees caught between a welded pipe and a hard place on their way to the infirmary. Will they pull off the big escape? Well know sooner rather than later, since fan uproar is bringing the dynamic duo back in March rather than May. Tense, violent, and entertaining, heres another chance to see what all the fuss is about.
24 (FoxMon/9 pm, 2-hr. premiere 8 pm, Sun 1/15 and Mon 1/16): Jack is back! Or... is he? Another looonnnggg day begins for our hero, as season five opens 18 months after Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) faked his own death. Now hes Frank Flynn, keeping a low profile as an oil digger in Bakersfield, California, where hes shacked up with Spin Citys Connie Britton. Hell once again battle international terrorism, this time in the form of an Eastern Bloc-based cadre of freedom fighters. Tony and Michelle, now remarried and running their own private security firm, help facilitate Jacks re-entry into his old life. Returning are last seasons flame, Audrey, and Jacks daughter, Kim. New kid on the block Sean Astin plays the fresh-faced leader of the CTU unit.
THE SOPRANOS (HBOSun/9 pm, returns 3/12): Tony, Tony, Tony... are you still poppin that Prozac? The mob drama picks up two years after Adriana was whacked, and there will be lots of twists and turns as our anti-hero deals with his two dysfunctional families the biological one and the mob one. No, Christopher wont stay single. Yes, Silvio will finally get a storyline of his own. Thats about all we know, thanks to series creator David Chases mob-like code of silence on any spoilers.
SCRUBS (NBCTues/9 pm): To reward everyones patience (waiting months for a new episode), NBC is running the series in two-episode blocks through January. The new year finds Turk and Carla contemplating parenthood, J.D. and Elliot attempting platonic cohabitation, and Dr. Cox being...himself.
SURFACE (NBCMon/8 pm): When the something-in-the-water mystery returns on Jan. 9, Laura and Rich are fugitives on the run from a posse of secret agents. Meanwhile, Miles and Caitlins friends go missing after a late-night swim at a bonfire party, and the Coast Guard makes a grisly discovery the next day. Will Miles friendship with Nim prove helpful?
INVASION (ABC, Wed/10 pm): Strange doesnt begin to describe the goings-on in the sleepy town of Homestead, Florida. People are seeing lights in the water, then turning into zombie-like creatures whose main goal in life is to go swimming. Mind control, alien abduction, and government conspiracy all spring to mind. Guess well find out as the series returns on Jan. 11. Be afraid...
AMERICAN IDOL (FoxTues/8 pm): Cant wait to see Simon and Paula squabble like an old married couple? Your wish is granted on Jan. 17, as a new crop of William Hung imitators, Fantasia warblers, and Corey Clark troublemakers try to impress viewers with their stage savvy. Ryan Seacrest returns as host in his continuing quest to expand into every arena of the entertainment industry.
DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABCThurs/8 pm): If you missed last seasons sudden-death dance-off between John OHurley and Kelly Monaco, heres your chance to get with the In Crowd. Drew Lachey, Lisa Rinna and seven other celebs pair off with pros for a weekly dance competition in this American Idol wannabe thats surprisingly entertaining.
EVERWOOD (WBThurs/9 pm, returns 3/16): The fall season wrapped with Ephram professing his love for Amy, Bright steaming things up with Hannah, Dr. Hartman falling off the wagon, and Dr. Brown trolling the Internet personals. Bet the conversation around these dinner tables is interesting.
JAKE IN PROGRESS (ABCMon/9:30 pm): John Stamos hits the streets again as a hot-shot publicist to the stars whos not nearly so slick in managing his personal life. The creators are hoping to inject new life into the show with old flame Charlotte Ross and new friend Dondre Whitfield.
THE BACHELOR: PARIS (ABCMon/10 pm): An American doctor romances a bevy of beauties with a boat cruise on the Seine, an overnight date in the Swiss Alps, and a special night atop the Eiffel Tower. Will this series finally see another couple-made-in-heaven? (Ryan and Trista ARE still married, arent they? Its so hard to know.)
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABCSun/9 pm): Still plenty of friction on Wisteria Lane, as the series picked up on Jan. 8 with Gabrielle planting a big one on Lynettes husband, Bree sparring with her blackmailing son, and the mysterious Applewhites making friends with a bounty hunter. Ah, theres no place like home.
Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries. Read her movie and TV reviews on iVillage.com and KidsDomain.com. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.