Winter TV: 20 Shows You Might Not Know Already

Thanks partly to the vagaries of Covid-19, there is an unusually large amount of prestige hitting the television schedule over the next three months — critical and audience favorites making triumphant returns after varying lengths of time. The safe and easy thing to do with a winter preview would be to fill it with those known quantities. But that wouldn’t be much fun.

So you’ll have to look elsewhere for “Ozark” (Jan. 21), “Billions” (Jan. 23), “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Feb. 18), “Killing Eve” (Feb. 27), “Better Things” (Feb. 28), “Outlander” (March 6), “Atlanta” (March 24), “Bridgerton” (March 26) or “Better Call Saul” (undated but soon). Instead here are, in chronological order, 20 new shows or slightly lower-profile returning shows that look interesting. Try to fit in one or two.

If you’re looking for a trend, how about notable actresses playing real-life women in some sort of trouble: Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes (“The Dropout”), Lily James as Pamela Anderson (“Pam & Tommy”), Renée Zellweger as the convicted murderer Pam Hupp (“The Thing About Pam”), Julia Garner as the con woman Anna Sorokin (“Inventing Anna”).

Dates subject to change.

The most acclaimed anime series of recent years, about young soldiers fighting to save the human race from mysterious and really creepy humanoid giants, begins its final run of episodes. (Crunchyroll, Funimation, Sunday)

It may not be your show. But if you have teenagers, there’s a very good chance that this dreamy, graphic suburban soap opera is their show, and that they will maintain that nothing else so profoundly captures the turmoil and contingency of their lives. Zendaya, who won an Emmy for the first season, and Hunter Schafer return in Season 2 as the mentally troubled, lovestruck addict Rue and Jules, the transgender girl she adores. (HBO, Sunday)

The actor Michael K. Williams had nearly completed a second season of this documentary series before his death in September. Like an Anthony Bourdain of the hustle, Williams examines “why people do the things they do” when the mainstream economy fails them. His Season 2 subjects include street-level identity thieves and a Baltimore rapper who rose to success on the back of bots. (Vice, Monday)

The CW’s latest DC Comics adaptation stars Kaci Walfall, an engaging and authentically teenage actress. (She was 16 when the pilot was shot.) She plays a nerdy military brat who has a Superman fixation and a mysterious past of her own, in a series developed by Ava DuVernay with the “Arrow” producer Jill Blankenship. (CW, Tuesday)

It’s an Australian rom-com in the novel setting of Adelaide, starring the American actor Josh Gad, in a more toned-down performance than usual, as an immigrant widower who’s been torn apart by his wife’s death and is morbidly overprotective of his young daughter (Ariel Donoghue). Opposite Gad is the Australian actress Isla Fisher as the love interest who has a particular problem with dating, one that’s strongly hinted at in the title. (Peacock, Jan. 13)

Bridget Everett gets the autobiographical you-can-go-home-again-but-it’s-damn-tough treatment in a dramedy set in her real-life hometown, Manhattan, Kan. Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen of the Brooklyn theater company the Debate Society created the show; the veteran improv comedian and musical-theater actor Jeff Hiller stands out as the heartbroken heroine’s unlikely new ally. (HBO, Jan. 16)

Set in the red-light-and-drug-squats district of Amsterdam in 1980, this series is based on the popular novels of A.C. Baantjer, featuring the detective Jurre de Cock, played here as an enthusiastic rookie by Waldemar Torenstra. The buddy-cop formulas play out with energy and wit against the colorful backdrop. (MHz Choice, Jan. 18)

This Spanish series, the first TV project of the director Alejandro Amenábar (“The Others”), combines seagoing adventure and international political intrigue as a young Spanish diplomat (Álvaro Mel) takes on an American treasure hunter who has appropriated the cargo of a sunken galleon. It’s an international, bilingual production with a difference: The major American characters — a buccaneer and a principled lawyer — are played by the high-caliber performers Stanley Tucci and Clarke Peters. (AMC+, Jan. 20)

It’s one thing to make a recovery story that feels authentic to people who have been through it; it’s another to make a recovery story that is, if you’ll excuse the word, entertaining for everyone. Simone Finch, a “Conners” writer, and Jenni Konner of “Girls” try to thread the needle in this melancholy comedy about a young alcoholic (Sofia Black-D’Elia) who comes home to Boston to sober up and cope with her problematic mother (Ally Sheedy). (Freeform, Jan. 20)

First announced as an NBC project in 2012, this drama set among the upper crust of 1880s New York was going to be Julian Fellowes’s follow-up to “Downton Abbey.” It finally arrives with a newcomer, Louisa Jacobson (a daughter of Meryl Streep), starring as a country cousin who comes to the city to live with her old-money aunts, played by Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon. Carrie Coon plays an arriviste neighbor, and the Broadway-centric cast includes Denée Benton, Michael Cerveris, Linda Emond, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Audra McDonald, Debra Monk, Donna Murphy, Kelli O’Hara and John Douglas Thompson. (HBO, Jan. 24)

Alan Tudyk looks to be having a blast playing a crotchety alien in this shaggy, likable science-fiction dramedy. In Season 1, he came to earth to destroy the human race for the good of the planet, but his ship crashed in the Rockies and he was forced to live among us, killing and assuming the form of the first person he came across. Since then, he’s been slowly mellowing, though the destruction of humanity remains on the table in Season 2. (Syfy, Jan. 26)

The title would lead you to expect an over-the-top satire of an already over-the-top genre, but this sendup of psycho-thrillers is, in its early episodes, surprisingly understated. It is also promising that it stars Kristen Bell, who, while she has experience in this area (“Scream 4”), is generally one of our most down-to-earth performers. (Netflix, Jan. 28)

W. Kamau Bell directed this four-part documentary about Bill Cosby, re-examining his public record and conducting a wide range of interviews, many with people who grew up idolizing the comedian and now wrestle with their feelings about him. (Showtime, Jan. 30)

The wonderful Lily James, perhaps still best known for playing Lady Rose on “Downton Abbey,” goes in a different direction in this comic mini-series from Seth Rogen’s production company about the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape. Sebastian Stan, best known as the cyborg Bucky Barnes in the Marvel universe, plays Lee. (Hulu, Feb. 2)

Shonda Rhimes takes a creator’s credit for the first time in her Netflix tenure, with a glossy mini-series that fictionalizes the story of the socialite scam artist Anna Sorokin a.k.a. Anna Delvey (Julia Garner) and her Boswell, a writer for a glossy New York magazine called Manhattan (Anna Chlumsky). (Netflix, Feb. 11)

Into the techno-thriller microclimate that includes “Homecoming,” “Mr. Robot,” “Counterpart” and “Black Mirror” comes this series starring Adam Scott as an employee of a company that has developed an extreme approach to the work-life balance. The dark and quiet tale also features Patricia Arquette, John Turturro and, in a rare series appearance, Christopher Walken. (Another Walken show, the BBC series “The Outlaws,” is due later this spring on Amazon Prime Video.) (Apple TV+, Feb. 18)

A lot of good TV shows don’t win awards, but it’s particularly galling that this sharp and compelling drama about the crack cocaine trade in Los Angeles has not been nominated for a single prime-time Emmy across its four seasons. In Season 5, set in 1986, the self-made drug kingpin Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) encounters ever greater obstacles. (FX, Feb. 23)

This one isn’t low profile, obviously, but a 12-year gap between seasons gets you special consideration. Returning from the original are Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson; the half cops, half prosecutors structure; and, presumably, that sound effect. (NBC, Feb. 24)

Amanda Seyfried plays the Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and Naveen Andrews plays her former subordinate and boyfriend, Sunny Balwani, in a dramatization whose timing, two months after Holmes’s fraud conviction, makes you wonder what last-minute tweaks the filmmakers will be able to get in. Speaking of the filmmakers, it’s striking that of the eight executive producers listed in press materials, seven are women, including the showrunner, Elizabeth Meriwether, the creator of “Single Parents” and “New Girl.” (Hulu, March 3)

This mini-series came about after the true-crime story it tells, about a Missouri woman implicated in several murders, proved popular on NBC’s “Dateline” and in a subsequent podcast. Normally, that lineage might determine whether or not you would be interested, but in this case there’s an added wrinkle: The central character is played by Renée Zellweger, in just her second significant TV role (after “What/If” on Netflix). (NBC, March 8).

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