AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Finally this hour, a new year means new television.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: That's right. We've got a lot of new TV that is really, really good.
CORNISH: That's NPR's TV critic, Eric Deggans, and he's in a position to know, right, Eric? What should we be watching?
DEGGANS: Well, there's a lot of great stuff coming in early January. "Community" returns on Thursdays on NBC. Now this is a show that critics love but it hasn't gotten quite the popular mass audience that maybe we think it should have. And the creator of the show, Dan Harmon, returns to the show this season, so we're going to see a lot of great new episodes that have already started airing on NBC. I've also seen the first few episodes in 2014 of FX's "Justified," this great series starring Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW: "JUSTIFIED")
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: (as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens) I've seen people kill one another, and I learn to be ready in case they came after me to do me harm. In other words, I'll kill for you before you even clear your weapons and I'll take my chances with the other two, and you see this star? That's going to make it legal.
CORNISH: Sounds like a very intense guy. And there are even more intense and, you know, sketchy lawmen on HBO. Did you like their new series, "True Detective?"
DEGGANS: It's a really, really great show starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as detectives hunting a serial killer. Their relationship is really complex. It starts out with McConaughey as kind of the wild card, oddball guy, and Harrelson as a more buttoned down, conventional detective. But as the series progresses, their roles start to switch.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW: "TRUE DETECTIVE")
WOODY HARRELSON: (as Martin Hart) So, what's the point of getting out of bed in the morning?
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: (as Rust Cohle) I tell myself I bear witness. The real answer is that it's obviously my programming. And I lack the constitution for suicide.
HARRELSON: (as Martin Hart) My luck, I pick today to get to know you and, what? Three months, I don't hear a word from you and...
MCCONAUGHEY: (as Rust Cohle) You asked.
HARRELSON: (as Martin Hart) Yeah. And now I'm begging you to shut the (bleep) up.
DEGGANS: Now that show is starting on January 12th, along with a new season of "Girls," and over on Showtime, this great series, "Episodes," with Matthew LeBlanc, formerly of "Friends." They're all great shows and people really should mark their calendars and check them out.
CORNISH: And, of course, January is midseason. A lot of beloved shows come back. Tell us about the next couple of weeks, what are the things we should look out for, the big returns?
DEGGANS: Well, one big return is "Downton Abbey" on PBS, which is coming back with new episodes on Sundays. And if you remember the storyline, we just had the beloved Matthew Crawley die. So we're going to see how everyone in Downton is sort of coping with his death and coping with moving on after the loss of this beloved character.
On Fox, we've got the return of "American Idol," with yet another new slate of judges, including Harry Connick, Jr. and J.Lo is returning, Jennifer Lopez is returning after being off the show for a season, so that's really important for them.
CORNISH: Now, Eric, before I let you go, I got to know the shows that are just bad, right, like, the shows we basically should avoid.
DEGGANS: Sure. Well, there's this show called "Intelligence" on CBS. And it really is a good effort but it's got Josh Holloway as this agent who has a chip implanted in his brain so he can jack into all kinds of GPS and all kinds of computer systems and - boy, it's a good try, but it just sort of feels like sort of half-baked "Six Million Dollar Man."
And, of course, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is back to new episodes on TLC. And it's not my favorite show. I think they make fun of the country folk on that show a little too much. But for people who like their sort of wacky reality TV, I guess, it's back.
CORNISH: That's NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans, who watches this stuff so we don't have to. Eric, thanks so much for this public service.
DEGGANS: Glad to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.