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Five things to look forward to on TV in 2013

Courtesy photo
The fate of Jesse (Aaron Paul), Walt (Bryan Cranston) and their loved ones will be revealed when the final eight episodes of "Breaking Bad" air on AMC this summer. Although it's sad that this is the end of the show, the return of it is one thing to look forward to in 2013. (Frank Ockenfels | AMC photo)
Courtesy photo Carson Daly hosts NBC's New Year's Eve coverage, which includes performances by Train and Cassadee Pope, who recently won Season 3 of "The Voice." (Diane Bondareff | NBC photo)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The New Year is just around the corner, and instead of looking back on this year, why not look ahead to 2013?

I was originally going to make this a column of 10 things to look forward to, but that was a little hefty, so I've split it into two weeks of five. This week, here are five show-specific things to celebrate when the calendar flips:

1. Return of 'Breaking Bad'

This will be bittersweet because when the show does return this summer it will be for the final eight episodes ever. Still, in those final eight episodes, we'll get to see what I expect could be some of the greatest television ever made.

Creator Vince Gilligan set up a pretty big cliffhanger (which I won't spoil for the sake of those of you not caught up yet) in this year's last episode, and I have full confidence in his plans to resolve it and all the other story lines in play. He hasn't disappointed me yet, and it doesn't sound like he will now. On Nov. 26, Aaron Paul tweeted, "I just finished reading the first episode of the final season of Breaking Bad and words can not express what I just experienced. Holy shit."

The only good thing about the agonizing seven-month wait is that those of you who haven't yet seen this amazing show have more than enough time to get caught up on the 54 episodes to date. (Season five isn't out on DVD yet, but I'm sure it will be with plenty of time before the premiere.)

2. More 'Talking Dead'

When "The Walking Dead" returns from its midseason break on Feb. 10, so too will the live aftershow, "Talking Dead." Except now, it will truly be an aftershow, immediately following each new premiere episode's broadcast instead of the encore broadcast, as has been the case up to this point.

Also, when the show returns, it will expand to a full hour. This will give host Chris Hardwick and his guests more time to discuss the week's episode, take fans' questions and comments, dish on behind-the-scenes happenings and mourn the dead in the week's "In Memoriam" segment.

If you're a "Walking Dead" fan and you're not watching "Talking Dead," you need to start. I was skeptical of it at first and didn't tune in until the penultimate show last season (when "Chuck" star Zachary Levi was one of the guests). I really enjoy it now, though.

Generally, at least one guest each week is directly related to the show, and hearing his or her insider knowledge and perspective on what happened in the week's episode is interesting. Some of my favorite non-show guests have been nerd extraordinaire Wil Wheaton, actress Yvette Nicole Brown ("Community") and TV producer Damon Lindelof ("Lost"). Even if you're not interested in the talk show aspect, it's worth tuning in for the episode trivia and behind-the-scenes features.

3. Longer 'Game of Thrones'

There will be more for "Game of Thrones" fans to love when the show returns for season three on March 31 -- roughly an hour more. It's the first of two seasons that will tackle the gigantic third book in George R.R. Martin's series (the 973-page "A Storm of Swords"), and all 10 episodes in it will have a few minutes extra to them.

Showrunner Dan Weiss told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month that HBO has no set runtime for shows as long as they're no less than 50 and no more than 60 minutes. His co-writer/producer David Benioff added, "Last year we had a lot of 52-minute episodes. This year is a lot of 56, 57."

Also in March, HBO and Brewery Ommegang will release Iron Throne Blonde Ale, the first of four "Game of Thrones"-themed beers. The second is set to go on sale in the fall, and the two others will debut in conjunction with future seasons.

4. Joss Whedon's 'S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Joss Whedon's "The Avengers" was the highest-grossing film of 2012, and ABC hopes to bring some of its superhero superpower to the small screen by tapping him for this Marvel TV series that it hopes to have for the 2013 fall season.

Although S.H.I.E.L.D. (or the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) was in "The Avengers," the series isn't a spin-off of that, so don't expect to see Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson on your TV every week. Instead, according to Disney, which owns ABC and Marvel, "Any connection between the TV project and the feature film would be loose, using some of its themes and feel, but not necessarily the same characters."

One "Avengers" star you will see, though, is Clark Gregg. He'll reprise his role as Phil Coulson, which he's also played in the "Iron Man" films and "Thor" and voiced on the animated "Ultimate Spider-Man" series. 

5. New 'Arrested Development'

There are still a few months to go, but the wait is almost over for "Arrested Development" fans. This spring, seven years after Fox canceled the cult comedy, Netflix will revive it with a new season of up to 15 episodes.

The original order was for 10 episodes, as a sort of "where are they now?" catch-up on the lives of the Bluth clan prior to the "AD" movie. Creator Mitch Hurwitz came up with so much material, though, that he got the green light for between two and five more episodes. (No official count has been released yet.) However many episodes there end up being, they will all hit Netflix at once when released.

•••

New Year's Eve specials

ABC: "New Year's Rockin' Eve Celebrates Dick Clark," 8-10 p.m., "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," 10-11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. Hosts: Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy in New York and Fergie in L.A.; performers: Psy, Justin Bieber, The Wanted, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees, Karmin, Pitbull, OneRepublic, Brandy and Flo Rida.

NBC: "New Year's Eve with Carson Daly," 10-11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. With performances by Train and "Voice" winner Cassadee Pope, a retrospective of 2012 musical performances from around the globe and interviews and segments with numerous NBC stars.

Fox: "New Year's Eve Live," 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. With Lifehouse, Phillip Phillips, Carmen Electra and more. From Las Vegas, but will cut to NYC ball drop.

PBS2: "Live! Beale Street on New Year's Eve," midnight to 1:30 a.m. Live reports from the street, a look at acts currently performing, interviews, a history of the street and countdown to midnight with the Giant Guitar Drop.

•••

Series premieres: "Incredible Crew," 8 p.m. Monday, Cartoon Network (sketch comedy); "Totally T-Boz," 8 p.m. Tuesday, TLC (the former TLC singer launches a solo career); "The Sisterhood," 9 p.m. Tuesday, TLC (Atlanta preachers' wives); "Hardcore Pawn: Chicago," 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Tru TV; "Storage Wars New York," 10 p.m. Tuesday, A&E.

Season premieres: "Say Yes to the Dress," 9 p.m. Friday, TLC; "Dual Survival," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery (season preview at 8 p.m.).

Returning: "The Mob Doctor," 9 p.m. Saturday and Monday, Fox (first two of final four episodes; others are Jan. 5 and 7); "Parenthood," 10 p.m. Tuesday and "Guys With Kids," 8:30 p.m. and "Law & Order: SVU," 9 p.m. Wednesday, NBC.

Season finales: "Sister Wives," 9 p.m. Saturday, TLC; "Chainsaw Gang," 10:30 p.m. Saturday, CMT.

Series finale: "Made in Jersey," 8 p.m. Saturday, CBS.

Network specials: "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown," 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC; "Back to the Beginning with Christiane Amanpour," 9 p.m. Friday, ABC (conclusion); "Mobbed," 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Fox (a woman honors her family and a co-worker professes her love); "Nashville: The Whole Story," 10 p.m. Wednesday, ABC (recapping the season to date).

Cable specials: "Heroes of Hell's Highway," 8 p.m. Saturday, Discovery (follows platoons that clear IEDs in Afghanistan; three hours); "TeenNick Top 10: Best of 2012," 8 p.m. Monday, Nickelodeon (music videos and interviews from year's top performers, hosted by Nick Cannon); "Dance Moms" season preview, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Lifetime; "How Hollywood Helps," 8 p.m. Wednesday, E! (celebrities talk about their charitable causes).

PBS specials: "American Masters: Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance," 9 p.m. Friday; "Call the Midwife Holiday Special," 7:30 p.m. Sunday; "Great Performances: Magical Mystery Tour Revisited," 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS2; "Great Performances: Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy," 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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