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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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).
Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.