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January brings a ton of new Canadian series and Fox revives a much hated reality show

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From right: Andrew Phung, Rakhee Morzaria, Zoriah Wong and Roman Pesino in CBC's Run the Burbs.Photo Credit: Jackie Brown/Courtesy of CBC

January is never a quiet time in television.

In Canada, it’s when CBC and CTV launch most of their new Canadian series, although in 2022 some may come a bit later because of pandemic-related delays. Often promoted heavily during the holiday period, both Canadian and U.S. midseason shows hope to reach the large midwinter audience. And if you’re hungry for homemade drama, comedy and something new, it’s all there.

Impossible to tell in advance if everything is exceptional, nuanced or madly escapist, but here’s a shortlist of the coming standouts.

Catch up on the best streaming TV of 2021 with our holiday guide

The top 10 TV series of 2021 dazzle with quality, originality and heft

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Ibrahim Koma, David Tennant and Leonie Benesch in Around the World in 80 Days.PBS Masterpiece

Around the World in 80 Days (PBS Masterpiece, starts Jan. 2)

First, some razzle-dazzle and fun from PBS. Around the World in 80 Days is a gloriously cheerful and smart update of the much loved and much filmed story by Jules Verne. Here, David Tennant stars as explorer Phileas Fogg who sets out to visit many countries in 80 days for his own mysterious reason, not on a wager. He’s accompanied by a young woman, a journalist (Leonie Benesch, who is stellar), rather than followed by a detective, as in the original novel. And his valet is an irascible Black man (Ibrahim Koma) who wisecracks and mocks Fogg with glee. A delightful miniseries.

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SON OF A CRITCH (TV Series) is the story of 11-year-old Mark coming of age in St. John’s, Newfoundland in the 80s. It’s a window into the life of a child - much older inside than his 11 years - using comedy and self-deprecation to win friends and connect with the small collection of people in his limited world. Filmed in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the comedy stars Mark Critch as his father; Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as young Mark; Malcolm McDowell as Pop. Additional cast members include Claire Rankin as Mark’s mother, Mary, alongside newcomers Sophia Powers and Mark Rivera, classmates of young Mark. Credit: Derek Heisler / CBC

Mark Critch, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Malcolm McDowell and Claire Rankin in Son of a Critch.Derek Heisler/CBC

Son of a Critch (CBC, CBC Gem, starts Jan. 4)

Son of a Critch is based on bestselling memoir of Mark Critch from This Hour Has 22 Minutes and stars Critch, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and Malcolm McDowell. Hard to define this half-hour comedy, but think Young Sheldon with much Newfoundland humour and the strangeness of McDowell as an elderly local who is a connoisseur of funerals.

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Andrew Phung as Andrew Pham and Zoriah Wong as Khia Pham in CBC's Run the Burbs.Courtesy of CBC

Run The Burbs (CBC, CBC Gem, starts Jan. 5)

Run The Burbs stars Andrew Phung, who played the most-fun character on Kim’s Convenience. It’s summarized as “A young, bold Canadian family taking a different approach to living life to the fullest in the suburbs.” And it will take some time to get its groove, but the pilot is an interestingly offbeat satire of life in a Canadian multicultural suburb. It seems the standout star is not Phung but Rakhee Morzaria as a decidedly zany suburban wife and mom.

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Mikayla SwamiNathan and Aaron Abrams in Children Ruin Everything.Courtesy of CTV

Children Ruin Everything

CTV, starts Jan. 12

In a not dissimilar vein comes Children Ruin Everything, a comedy from a writer on Schitt’s Creek and Kim’s Convenience, and the producers of Letterkenny. Parents, kids and suburbia again, and this time it follows the “harried parents of two young children as they struggle to hold on to their pre-kid life.” The pedigree of the writers and producers suggests rude fun.

Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer

Fox, starts Jan. 6

On the attention-grabbing reality-TV front, there’s Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer, a revisit to the much hated, much watched series from 2003. Two bachelors compete to woo 20 single women, and while one is secretly a millionaire, the other is not. And you thought The Bachelorette involved ignominy.

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Julia Garner as Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna.Aaron Epstein/Netflix

Inventing Anna

(Netflix, streams from Feb. 11)

Meanwhile, what is the most truly anticipated drama arrives later. Inventing Anna is the first original series by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix. It’s based on the true story of how one Anna Sorokin (Julia Garner from Ozark) created the persona of Anna Delvey, a wealthy heiress, and conned her way into an extravagant lifestyle, among New York’s elite. Mostly it’s about how a reporter (Anna Chlumsky from Veep) became beguiled by Delvey and found herself revealing the elaborate fraud.

Finally, note that the much delayed fourth season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is coming soon (Amazon Prime Video, streams from Feb. 18).

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