Winter is always a great time for TV, and 2016 is no exception.
Plenty of old favorites are reappearing, some for the very last time, while new series are premiering with aplomb. January is offering a lot of costume drama, with setting diverse as 19th century Russia and the 18th century Caribbean.
Viewers looking for more contemporary fare also have their pick of comedies and thrillers, making the season a win for everybody.
Taking place in very un-fabulous Bakersfield, CA, “Baskets” follows the trials and travails of a rodeo clown with Cirque du Soleil ambitions. While seemingly a stretch, the show features people already on FX: Louis C.K., John Kristel, and Zach Galifianakis all add their talents, with the latter also starring.
Heavy on the absurd and prone to grueling punch lines, “Baskets” is less of a trip than the popular Louie. With that show on indefinite hiatus, however, “Baskets” and similar fare with have to suffice.
Watch a sad clown survive brutal situations Thursdays on FX.
9. Black Sails
Now into its third season, “Black Sails” remains compelling as ever. Premised off the classic Treasure Island, the Michael Bay-produced series offers a gritty, if not overdone, dose of nautical drama. Rowdy shipmen continue to hold onto their pirate base, just recovered from the British, as Captain Flint goes a murderous campaign against any port that executes pirates. Captured characters turn cloak while Long John Silver gets a peg leg and Blackbeard makes a bloody entrance.
Watch pirates be pirates Saturdays on STARZ.
8. Better Call Saul
“Better Call Saul” will continue making audiences laugh and gasp in February. The “Breaking Bad” spinoff is receiving plenty of buzz too, in small part thanks to several Emmy nominations and other accolades.
Saul continues to plot cons and work his smarm, but viewers also get a glimpse into some areas of Saul’s life that are noticeably absent in the original series. Among other things, Season 2 explores how Saul’s passion for a safe payoff entwines with a love interest.
Watch white-collar crime and more starting February 15th on AMC.
7. The Magicians
Two worthwhile Syfy dramas in the same season is rare, if not unheard of. Still, one of the goofiest stations on television strikes again with “The Magicians,” based off the best-selling Lev Grossman book. Taking place in NYC and an upstate, secret, school of magic, the narrative splits between a character gains acceptance into the school and one who is not. A Mothman from an alternate dimension wrecks havoc, young people act sad and confused, and children’s books come alive in “The Magicians.”
Watch it Mondays on Syfy.
The sixth, and final, season of “Shameless” lands with a soft thud and lots of inattention. The long running vehicle for William H. Macy’s talents continues to alarm and entertain, but offers an altogether sanitized view of living below the poverty line in Chicago, Murder Capital U.S.A. Macy’s character flirts with the terminally ill while his kids remain a mess and the local bar deals with an invasion of well-moneyed hipsters.
Watch the Gallagher‘s trials and travails Sundays on Showtime.