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My preview-reviews: Here are the best new January TV shows

Happy almost-new year. I thought during this week of widespread TV reruns, I’d whet your appetite for some of the fresh stuff coming in January. I’ve already written a bit about Chuck, so here are four more new or returning shows I highly recommend. I’ll be writing about these in more detail once they premiere, but here are some shows you can program your DVR to record right now. (Guarantee: No spoilers ahead, other than details these shows’ producers have already made generally available.)

Big Love (premieres Jan. 10, HBO) Can things get any more complicated in the Henrickson houses? Yes! Especially when you have ambitious connivers both at home (Nicki and Margene get on Bill and Barb’s last nerves real fast) and out in the world (two words: Alby Grant – and Matt Ross deserves an Emmy nom for his portrayal this season). Gambling! Corpses! Bill runs for political office!

Archer (premieres Jan. 14, FX) A sneak-preview of the pilot for this cartoon spy show aired in September, and I’ll assert that subsequent episodes only get better. From the makers of Sealab 2021 and my beloved Frisky Dingo, Archer is crass, crammed with verbal and visual gags, and seems to have absorbed every spy genre from the Bond canon to The Man from U.N.C. L.E. to Get Smart. And smart it is.

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24 (premieres Jan. 17, Fox) Jack is in Manhattan. Guess what else is there? You are correct: a terrorist threat. So is Freddie Prinze, Jr. No, that’s not a threat – he’s actually good, at least in the first four hours I’ve seen. And Katee Sackhoff, in the sort of high heels Battlestar Galactica geeks have previously only dreamt of, makes a formidable foe for… Chloe! Under threat of torture, that’s all I’ll say.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (premieres Jan. 22, Starz) I’m telling ya, this slashing take on Roman warfare and lust could very well prove the Not At All Guilty Pleasure of the season. Co-producers include Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess), and creator Steven S. DeKnight (Smallville, Angel). The violence is gleefully appalling (severed limbs, spurting crimson spray), the sex is unapologetically raunchy, the humor is bleakly funny. The glowing visual look of Spartacus is unique. Boy, I had fun – I think you will, too.

Are you looking forward to any of these?

You can follow me on Twitter @kentucker.

Originally posted December 30 2009 — 4:45 PM EST

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