Spring Preview 2014: Television

The Philadelphia InquirerMarch 20, 2014 

"TV is going to offer fresh entertainment year-round from now on." That promise had been made and broken to viewers so many times that we were beginning to feel like an American Indian tribe. Well, guess what? It might finally be true. Why the sudden proliferation? Look no further than the streaming service Netflix. More chefs in the kitchen results in more entrees.

Midseason offerings have already started in earnest with the return of soapy Dallas, the smart The Americans, oddball Portlandia, and creepy Hannibal and Bates Motel, and the debut of the funny About a Boy, the uber-dark Those Who Kill, and the science-fiction of Resurrection and Believe. But there's more on tap.

SPRING HIGHLIGHTS

Here are some of the main dishes coming to your TV this spring.

Surviving Jack (Fox, 9:30 p.m. March 27). Justin Halperin, who turned tweets about his irascible Kentucky-born father into CBS' short-lived $#*! My Dad Says, dips into his childhood for this new comedy, in which a smart, stern father, Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU), takes over parenting duties when his wife goes back to school.

Game of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m. April 6). Season 4 is shaping up to be epic as the Lannisters, the Starks and the Baratheons continue their dance of swords and death. Don't forget Daenerys, the Dragon Queen. New additions to the pageant include Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), a dangerous man known as the Red Viper. He has sworn vengeance on the Lannisters. Then there is Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), "the lord oaf of Highgarden." Presumably it will fall to him to give away his daughter Margaery (Natalie Dormer) when she marries King Joffrey at King's Landing. A quiet ceremony, no doubt.

Fargo (FX, April 15). This intriguing project is based on the Coen Brothers' 1996 film and set in the tundra of North Dakota. Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. Watson on PBS's Sherlock and Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, is a small-town businessman in a squeeze. A stranger (Billy Bob Thornton) offers Freeman a way out that goes terribly wrong. Newcomer Allison Tolman plays the deputy sent in to clear things up. Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Glenn Howerton, Kate Walsh, Keith Carradine and Adam Goldberg round out the cast. This is projected as an anthology series. After 10 episodes, the Badlands setting will stay, but the cast and the crime will be flipped.

Orphan Black (BBC America, 9 p.m. April 19). This Canadian genetics thriller about clones became a hit last year largely based on rabid word of mouth. Most of that talk was about the stunning performance of Tatiana Maslany. She played at least seven characters, one of whom committed suicide in the first scene of the first episode, setting this wild roller coaster in motion, because Sarah (Maslany), a bad girl with drug issues, tried to assume her identity. Then there's Cosima (Maslany), the eccentric doctoral student; Alison (Maslany), the tightly wrapped soccer mom; corporate clone Rachel (Maslany); and more. There's a new villainess this season and, surprise, she's played by The Killing's Michelle Forbes, not Maslany.

24: Live Another Day (Fox, 9 p.m. May 4). Jack Bauer is back. Kiefer Sutherland, left, returns as the take-no-prisoners CTU agent. Only it's four years later and he's something of a free agent, being a federal fugitive in London. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) has been helping him hide, but some CIA agents (Benjamin Bratt and Yvonne Strahovski) are hot on his tail. Michael Wincott (Alien: Resurrection) brings the terrorist threat, but the real miracle here is that Audrey (Kim Raver) — remember her from Season 6? — has regained consciousness. You've got 24 hours, but only 12 episodes. Make them count, Jack.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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