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Avalanche of new fare coming to tube this January as TV's second season launches

Canadians can look forward to toasting the New Year with some familiar friends. After that, an avalanche of new fare kicks off TV’s second season in January.

CBC repeats the “22 Minutes” holiday special on Monday, New Year’s Eve, at 8 p.m. ET, worth a second look if just for that animated parody of the classic National Film Board of Canada short “The Sweater.” In the original version, based on the Roch Carrier short story, a young Quebec lad dreams of a new Canadiens hockey jersey. In the new, a child of the lockout era receives the modern equivalent — a Gary Bettman business suit.

Taped in Toronto earlier this month, the 20th annual “Air Farce New Year’s Eve” special (8 p.m. ET, CBC) features a real hockey hero — Team Canada goal scorer Paul Henderson — plus guest stars George Stroumboulopoulos, Yannick Bisson (“Murdoch Mysteries”) and Olympic trampoline champion Rosie MacLennan. A slimmed-down Craig Lauzon goes “Gangnam Style” as Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a “Farce Films” sketch. Plus there are the annual F-Bomb targets, with Toronto’s in-and-out mayor Rob Ford sure to be in range.

At 9 p.m., Cape Breton native Ron James returns with another New Year’s Eve dose of stand up and satire. His Friday night CBC series returns for a fourth season Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m.

James’ series is one of several returning to the CBC line-up in January. “Dragons’ Den” and “Republic of Doyle” are moving to Sundays (starting Jan. 6) as CBC positions its highest-rated reality show and drama into TV’s most-watched night. They’ll face stiff competition, especially in January and February as CTV rolls out the red carpets for “The 70th Annual Golden Globes” (Jan. 13), Super Bowl XLVII (Feb. 3) and “The 85th Academy Awards” (Feb. 24). “The Amazing Race” will also be back Feb. 17.

Also opposite “Doyle” that first night Jan. 6 — the third season premiere of PBS’s “Masterpiece” hit “Downton Abbey.”

January also brings one of the most-watched shows of the year in Canada, the final game of the world junior hockey championship. TSN has it Saturday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m.

If Canadian network programmers made any New Year’s resolutions it may have been to provide more original scripted Canadian content.

CBC premieres the new psychological police drama “Cracked” Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. ET. David Sutcliffe (“Gilmore Girls”) stars as a cop coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Halifax-based comedy “Mr. D” also returns to the CBC schedule Jan. 7, with comedian Gerry Dee back as the teacher you hope your kids never get. “Murdoch Mysteries” premieres its brand new sixth season on CBC the same night. “Arctic Air” also takes off for a second CBC season (Jan. 9).

Jan. 2 is the start date for one of the most expensive dramas ever shot in Canada: “Transporter.” The HBO Canada thriller stars Chris Vance (“Prison Break”) as a driver-for-hire who can deliver any package. Shot in Toronto and Europe, the series promises plenty of action with stunt drivers flown in from France for the tricky road work.

HBO Canada also picks up the crime drama “Banshee” starting Jan. 11. FX has two new scripted shows starting in January, the comedy “Legit” (Jan. 17) and Graham Yost’s new Cold War drama “The Americans” starring Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell (Jan. 30).

Citytv is premiering a pair of home-grown comedies in 2013: “Seed” stars Toronto native Adam Korson as a bartender and regular sperm-bank donor who suddenly starts meeting his extended family. The Halifax-based comedy premieres Mon., Jan. 28 on City. “Package Deal,” shot in Vancouver (and premiering later in the year), is a Canadian rarity — a four camera comedy shot with a studio audience. Harland Williams is among three zany brothers who come as a “package deal.”

CTV launches the new hour-long police drama “Motive” Feb. 3 in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. Kristin Lehman (“The Killing”) and Louis Ferreira (“SGU Stargate Universe”) star in this Vancouver-based “how-dunnit.”

“Bomb Girls” is back for a second season on Global starting Jan. 2. Look for Rosie O’Donnell to guest as a reporter. Global also picks up the frothy drama “Deception” Jan. 7, with Meagan Good and Tate Donovan joining Victor Garber in the “Revenge”-like tale from NBC. Later on Feb. 14, Global has NBC’s “Zero Hour,” a new thriller that brings Anthony Edwards (“ER”) back to series TV as a myth-busting magazine editor.

Among the other big imports scheduled for the New Year is “The Following,” launching Jan. 21 on Fox and CTV. Kevin Bacon stars as an ex-FBI agent back on the trail of a serial killer in this dark, edgy crime drama seen as one of the best new shows of the season.

“Touch,” Kiefer Sutherland’s new thriller, returns for a delayed second season Feb. 8 to Fox and Global. “Lost Girl” gets found again on Showcase starting Jan. 6. HBO Canada brings a second helping of “Enlightened” starting Jan. 13.

Other returning network shows include “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (Jan. 8) and “Smash” (Feb. 5). The long-awaited return of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” bows Feb. 7.

Shows coming back for final runs are “Fringe” (starting Jan. 11 on Fox and City) and the Winnipeg-based comedy “Less Than Kind” (HBO Canada).

A late night favourite, “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” gets bumped ahead to a new time, 11:35, starting Jan. 7 on ABC. (City will continue to show it at midnight).

And the highest-rated TV series of the past decade, “American Idol,” launches its 12th season Jan. 16 with new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban joining old dawg Randy Jackson.


Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.