TV Weekly cover: Five bold premieres to heat up winter

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26 December 2015

NBC, Jan. 7, 10:00 PM ET
By Lori Acken

1. Shades of Blue (NBC, Jan. 7)
Ray Liotta was already contemplating a return to series television when he got a script for NBC’s gritty cop drama “Shades of Blue.” The veteran movie tough guy was intrigued. The material was good. His character, police Lt. Matt “Woz” Wozniak, was a complicated guy. Oscar winner Barry Levinson (“Oz,” “Donnie Brasco”) was aboard to co-executive produce and direct. And pop culture superstar Jennifer Lopez would be making her return to scripted TV — a guaranteed ratings boon. Still, Liotta hesitated. “The one thing I didn’t want was to be in ‘the J.Lo show,’” Liotta admits. “That’s nothing against Jennifer at all. It’s just at this stage of my career, I didn’t want to be the guy behind the desk giving orders and everybody goes out and does them and when they come back, I say, ‘Good job, guys!’ I wanted to be active — and that’s exactly what they wanted, too.” Liotta’s Wozniak leads a close-knit, highly effective group of Brooklyn detectives who unapologetically bend the law to protect their precinct. When the FBI catches Woz’s favorite, Harlee Santos (Lopez), in a compromising situation, they plan to use the savvy single mom to bring down her boss and the unit. “I ?nd out that there’s a rat in my group, and when I ?nd out who it is, it just drives me over the edge,” Liotta says. “There’s things that my character does that are part of his personality that de?nitely come as close to the edge as you can come on network TV. They let us go for it!” And, says Liotta, Lopez more than proved her mettle. “She doesn’t really have an image of being a tough, edgy cop, but boy, she nailed it!” he says. “She’s really good in this. This was a great, smart project for her to be a part of — and for me, it was really smart, too.”

2. Telenovela (NBC, Jan. 4)
Eva Longoria throws herself body and soul into this sidesplitting comedy playing Ana So?a, star of a popular Spanish-language soap who’s ?ummoxed when her sexy ex (Jencarlos Canela) joins the cast. “We didn’t have physical comedy in ‘Housewives’; this time I got to let loose,” says Longoria, who created the series. “I pitch things to the writers all the time … I fully commit myself!”

3. Billions (Showtime, Jan. 17)
Showtime’s timely new drama, examining power politics in New York’s ?nancial district, pits Paul Giamatti’s U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades against Damian Lewis’ shady hedge fund king Bobby “Axe” Axelrod in a high-stakes, big-money game of cat and mouse. In addition to a stellar cast, the show’s themes of income inequality and macho posturing among “the 1 percent” strike a nerve.

4. The X-Files (FOX, Jan. 24)
The groundbreaking sci-fi sensation returns after what creator Chris Carter calls a “13-year commercial break,” reuniting former FBI agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), now a doctor, and the unemployed and off-the-rails Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). “He’s not working, he’s not cutting his hair, he’s not shaving,” Duchovny laughs. “All the hallmarks of a man gone to seed.”

5. Vinyl (HBO, Feb. 14)
We like it, like it, yes we do! Bobby Cannavale gives a tour de force performance as a convicted record label president in this bold and sexy new drama anchored in the music business in 1970s New York. Terence Winter (“Boardwalk Empire,” “The Sopranos”), Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese coexecutive produce and Ray Romano, Olivia Wilde and Jagger’s eldest son James also star.
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