Midseason essentials, updated March 17

Hello again chickens! One more update, adding the April 9 start date for Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation and the April 5 and 6 return dates for In Treament Season 2.

Wednesday, March 18

Better Off Ted (8:30 p.m. ET on ABC). I am befuddled by this description, so I will not even try to paraphrase it for you from the original press release: “a satirical office comedy featuring a successful but morally conscious man, Ted, who runs a research and development department at a morally questionable corporation, Veridian Technologies. No achievement is too far fetched and no invention too unorthodox for Veridian. Need a suicidal turkey? Done. Need a metal that is hard as steel but bounces – and is edible? Done and done. Ted loves his seemingly perfect job; he loves his superhuman boss, Veronica, and colleagues Lem, Phil and Linda, but he’s starting to take a closer look at the company’s extremely questionable practices… especially when they try to cryogenically freeze one of Ted’s scientists for testing purposes. Starring Jay Harrington as Ted, Andrea Anders as Linda, Portia de Rossi as Veronica, Jonathan Slavin as Phil and Malcolm Barrett as Lem.”

Thursday, March19

Harper’s Island (online only until April 9) debuts online, described by CBS better than I could ever tart it up: “a 13-episode murder mystery about a group of family and friends who travel to a secluded island for a destination wedding. They’ve come to laugh… to love… and, though they don’t know it… to die.” Now you know. Sign up for the online-online side to this “multimedia event of the season”, via emails, here.

Tuesday, March 24

Saving Grace (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Showcase) returns for the final half of Season 2. (The new eps are on U.S. TNT starting Monday, March 9 so avert your eyes from talk shows, this website and online coverage if you hate surprises about plot and new guest stars.)

Thursday, March 26

In the Motherhood (8 p.m. ET on ABC) Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) star in the mommy sitcom based on the web series that is based on real stories from mom’s “who have lost their kids in a mall… not for very long, but…”.

Tuesday, March 31

Cupid (10 p.m. ET on ABC) debuts, “a romantic dramedy about Trevor Pierce (Bobby Cannavale, Will & Grace), a larger than life character who may or may not be the Roman god of love, Cupid, sent to earth to bring 100 couples together before he is allowed to return to Mt. Olympus.” He is also under the care of a therapist, played by Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

Sunday, March 29

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (8 p.m. ET on HBO Canada) is a new seven-episode series based on Alexander McCall Smith’s crime novels and directed by the late Anthony Minghella. Jill Scott plays the central character, the don’t-mess-with-her agency owner who goes by Precious Ramotswe.

Thursday, April 2

ER (start time tba, on NBC and CTV). The enduring medical drama will end a run that started in September 1994. Get the tissue. Noah Wyle returned Feb. 19 (three more episodes, we are told) and Julianna Margulies and George Clooney will also make brief return appearances for the finale. Note: the finale date has been changed several times, but this date reflects what is expected to be the last adding of episodes.

Friday, April 3

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with … (Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV, repeating on Bravo Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET and Sundays at 6 p.m. ET). This new series, which has been airing on U.S. Sundance Channel since last December, finally comes to Canada: “In the critically-acclaimed, hour-long series, music legend Elvis Costello conjures up eclectic performances and candid conversations about the creative process, the power of music and the impact it has on creators and the world at large. The collaborators featured with Costello in the series reads as one of the best concert line ups ever. He is joined by musical heavyweights The Police (in their final TV performance and interview), Sir Elton John, Tony Bennett, Lou Reed, Kris Kristofferson, Herbie Hancock, Renée Fleming, Rosanne Cash, Smokey Robinson, John Mellencamp and James Taylor, among others.

April 5 & 6 2009

In Treatment (two new back-to-back sessions on two consecutive days starting at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada) returns with new  episodes following a therapist and his sessions with a select group of patients

Monday, April 6

Surviving Suburbia (9:30 p.m. ET on ABC) Bob Saget (Full House, How I Met Your Mother) and Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me, Men in Trees) have two kids, a 20-year-old marriage and plenty of cynicism. Like Southland, below, this series description is awfully familiar but here’s hoping the performances make it worth it.

Wednesday, April 8

The Unusuals (10 p.m. ET on ABC) debuts, a black-comic police drama starring Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia, the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) and Harold Perrineau (Lost).

Thursday, April 9

Southland (10 p.m. ET on NBC) Standing bravely in the void left by ER is this new L.A.-set cop series (which, like ER, comes from John Wells) starring Michael Cudlitz (A River Runs through It) as a vet, Ben Sherman (The O.C.) as the rookie, Regina King (Ray) as the chick cop with a heavy burden at home, Tom Everett Scott (Boiler Room) as her unhappily married partner… Of course it’s ridiculous to critique a show based on a list of cast and characters, but sheesh, I hope the performances rise above their unoriginal characters.

Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m. ET Thursdays on NBC and Citytv) is ex-SNLer Amy Poehler’s new workplace sitcom, if by workplace you’re okay with dumpsite. Here’s the teaser from the Super Bowl, in which her character tries to film a public service ad about turning a town dump into a lovely park. For recreation.

Harper’s Island (10 p.m. ET on CBS) debuts, described by CBS better than I could ever tart it up: “a 13-episode murder mystery about a group of family and friends who travel to a secluded island for a destination wedding. They’ve come to laugh… to love… and, though they don’t know it… to die.” Now you know. The interactive multimedia aspect of the show started March 19. Sign up for emails here.

Sunday, April 19

Sit Down, Shut Up (8:30 p.m. ET on Fox) With producers’ credits coming from Arrested Development and Two and a Half Men, it’s hard to know which way this’ll go, but I’m up for giving it a chance: “an animated comedy that focuses on the lives of staff members at a high school in a small Florida fishing town (Go Baiters!) who never lose sight of the fact that the children must ALWAYS come second.”

Rescue Me (10 p.m. on Showcase) returns for a fifth season (caution in clicking on the site here: S5 debuts April 7 in the U.S. on FX) in which Tommy (Denis Leary) deals with the death of his dad, a review that might affect his career as a firefighter and the arrival of a French documentarian working on a film to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Whot? Franco has a conspiracy theory? Tommy is torn about whether to tear up as is Kleenex or tear up as in broken pool cues?

Monday, April 20

Who Do You Think You Are (8 p.m. ET on NBC) is a series in which celebrities trace their family roots. Names attached so far (but not clear if they’re subjects or hosts) include Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon.

Spring 2009

MADtv (Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Fox) ends its 14-year run on the network, with the variety comedy show’s final date tba.
Still waiting for word on Rescue Me’s return on Showcase and some other stuff. Stay tuned.

Spring, date tba

The Goode Family (ABC) “A new animated series from Mike Judge, creator of “King of the Hill.” “The Goode Family” is obsessed with doing the “right” thing whether it’s environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately their efforts often have unintended comic consequences.”

The Cleveland Show (Fox) Not expected before fall despite hopes to the contrary, this is a spinoff of the Family Guy.

— Denise Duguay

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