Things looking up for 2009 with new shows on way

We’re only four days into 2009 and already colors look brighter, music sounds sweeter and Tyra Banks seems less full of herself.

OK, I made that last part up. But you get the idea: Strike-ravaged 2008, during which the networks barely could muster a fall season and countless series were derailed, is over, and all things tubular are looking up.

“24” is coming back after sitting out last season. “Big Love” is coming back after skipping last year. And “Friday Night Lights” is coming back to good ol’ free TV after a run on DirecTV.

Fox looks to have a clever new hit in “Lie to Me.” And Showtime is getting into business with both Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning “Juno” writer Diablo Cody on “United States of Tara.”

Of course, it’s not all good news. “Battlestar Galactica” and “The L Word” are beginning their final batch of episodes. And VH1 is still making reality shows.

Here’s a look at some of what’s coming this month:

NEW SERIES

On the scripted side, Tim Roth stars as a sort of human polygraph, someone who uses people’s facial expressions and body language to find deception, in “Lie to Me” (9 p.m. Jan. 21, KVVU-TV, Channel 5). This shouldn’t be confused with “Trust Me” (10 p.m. Jan. 26, TNT), a comedy-drama about advertising executives played by Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh.

Elsewhere, Patrick Swayze stars as an FBI agent specializing in undercover work who may have gone rogue in “The Beast” (10 p.m. Jan. 15, A&E). Toni Collette portrays a suburban mom with multiple personalities in “United States of Tara” (10 p.m. Jan. 18, Showtime). And Tyler Perry spins off characters from his play and movie of the same name, as well as his sitcom “House of Payne,” in “Meet the Browns” (10 p.m. Wednesday, TBS).

And on the reality side, plenty of Las Vegas magicians — including The Amazing Johnathan, Mac King and Nathan Burton — will appear on “Masters of Illusion” (9 p.m. Monday, KVMY-TV, Channel 21).

NBC is adding the international dancing competition “Superstars of Dance” (9 p.m. today, KVBC-TV, Channel 3) and the Howie Mandel-hosted hidden-camera show “Howie Do It” (8 p.m. Friday, Channel 3).

ABC is going highbrow with “Homeland Security USA” (8 p.m. Tuesday, KTNV-TV, Channel 13), which promises an unprecedented look at the government agency, and lowbrow with “True Beauty” (10 p.m. Monday, Channel 13), which puts 10 hot men and women in a competition they think is all about their looks but really puts more emphasis on their inner beauty.

Speaking of lowbrow, leave it to VH1 to introduce “Tool Academy” (10 p.m. Jan. 11), in which women send their lying, cheating, spray-tanning boyfriends to seek professional help in becoming husband material. The channel also is introducing the “Celebrity Rehab” spinoff “Sober House” (10 p.m. Jan. 15).

And Sam Raimi of “Spider-Man” and “Evil Dead” fame is combining horror and reality with “13 — Fear Is Real” (8 p.m. Wednesday), in which 13 contestants will face all sorts of ghoulish terror for a chance to win, you guessed it, $66,666.

RETURNING SERIES

“Rock of Love Bus” — 9 p.m. today, VH1

“The Bachelor” — 8 p.m. Monday, Channel 13

“The Secret Life of the American Teenager” — 8 p.m. Monday, ABC Family

“The Biggest Loser: Couples” — 8 p.m. Tuesday, Channel 3

“Scrubs” — 9 p.m. Tuesday, Channel 13

“10 Items or Less” — 10 p.m. Tuesday, TBS

“Nip/Tuck” — 10 p.m. Tuesday, FX

“Damages” — 10 p.m. Wednesday, FX

“The Real World: Brooklyn” — 10 p.m. Wednesday, MTV

“Flashpoint” — 9 p.m. Friday, KLAS-TV, Channel 8

“Monk” — 9 p.m. Friday, USA

“Psych” — 10 p.m. Friday, USA

“24” — 8 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12, Channel 5

“Kyle XY” — 9 p.m. Jan. 12, ABC Family

“American Idol” — 8 p.m. Jan. 13 and 14, Channel 5

“Friday Night Lights” — 9 p.m. Jan. 16, Channel 3

“Battlestar Galactica” — 10 p.m. Jan. 16, Sci Fi

“Big Love” — 9 p.m. Jan. 18, HBO

“The L Word” — 9 p.m. Jan. 18, Showtime

“Flight of the Conchords” — 10 p.m. Jan. 18, HBO

“Secret Diary of a Call Girl” — 10:30 p.m. Jan. 18, Showtime

“Lost” — 9 p.m. Jan. 21, Channel 13

“Burn Notice” — 10 p.m. Jan. 22, USA

“The Closer” — 9 p.m. Jan. 26, TNT

“Hell’s Kitchen” — 9 p.m. Jan. 29, Channel 5

Christopher Lawrence’s Life on the Couch column appears on Sundays. E-mail him at clawrence@reviewjournal.com.

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