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Among the new series debuting this month are 'United States of Tara,' starring Toni Collette. Among the new series debuting this month are "United States of Tara," starring Toni Collette.
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / January 8, 2009
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What a TV dead zone the past few weeks have been, no? There has not been a lot to watch, to say the least. When you're digging up "Leverage" and "Numb3rs" on demand and scanning Barbra Streisand's expressions on "The Kennedy Center Honors" for subtext, you know you're scraping the bottom. But Happy New Year, friends. A whole bunch of good shows are returning in the next month, after a long absence, so your DVR won't be feeling so lonely and unneeded. Here's a short list of highlights:

"24": Jan. 11 at 8 on Fox.

"American Idol": Jan. 13 at 8 on Fox.

"Friday Night Lights": Jan. 16 at 9 on NBC.

"Battlestar Galactica": Jan. 16 at 10 on Sci Fi.

"Big Love": Jan. 18 at 9 on HBO.

"Flight of the Conchords": Jan. 18 at 10 on HBO.

"Lost": Jan. 21 at 9 on ABC.

"Burn Notice": Jan. 22 at 10 on USA.

"The Closer": Jan. 26 at 9 on TNT, for five episodes.

"Medium": Feb. 2 at 10 on NBC.

And there are promising new series on the way, too, including:

"United States of Tara" is Showtime's strange new comedy (is that phrase becoming redundant?) about a suburban mother with multiple personalities. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Diablo Cody ("Juno"), the series actually works on its own unique terms. Toni Collette steals the show. Jan. 18 at 10 on Showtime.

"Lie to Me" features yet another in a long line of Brits on American TV - Tim Roth - as a crime investigator who is a kind of human lie detector. He can read people's facial tics and body language and determine whether or not they are telling the truth. Based on the premiere, this one has potential. Jan. 21 at 9 on Fox.

"Trust Me" is an advertising drama, but it's not at all like "Mad Men." The series is lighter and contemporary, and it brings back Tom Cavanagh from "Ed" and Eric McCormack from "Will & Grace." It may be a little too cute for its own good; but we'll see. Jan. 26 at 10 on TNT.

Also new and due in the next month: Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" (Feb. 13 on Fox) and Patrick Swayze in "The Beast" (Jan. 15 on A&E).

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