2012 TV Season Preview

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Which Mid-Season Replacements Have the Stuff to Make It?

Well, it's Act 2 for the 2011-2012 TV season, a year that's seen the launch of successful series like New Girl, acclaimed ones like Homeland, and the demise of others like Free Agents. Which new ones have a shot, and which are not so hot? I survey a few upcoming debut series below:

Alcatraz: J.J. Abrams created this show starring Lost alum Jorge Garcia (best known as Hurley) as an PhD in criminal justice who must investigate when prison guards and inmates who disappeared 50 years ago suddenly turn up. Sam Neill co-stars.

Why it might work: Abrams has yet to create a show as buzzy as Lost, but his more recent entries (Fringe, Person of Interest) stay on the air.

Why it won't: Remember that scene in Ghostbusters II when they raise the Titanic? Didn't think so.

G.C.B.: The title stands for "Good Christian Belles," which is a sanitized version of the Kim Gatlin novel Good Christian Bitches, on which it is based. Leslie Bibb, Annie Potts and show poster girl Kristin Chenoweth star as a bunch of Southern mean girls. Created by Steel Magnolias writer Robert Harling, who knows a thing or two about Southern women.

Why it might work: Catty soaps like Desperate Housewives and Revenge are cheap to do and strike a chord with audiences. This could easily whet the appetite for those anticipating this summer's Dallas reboot.

Why it won't: I don't know anyone anticipating that Dallas reboot.

Missing: Ashley Judd makes a TV comeback (Sisters, anyone?) in this Taken knock-off as a retired CIA operative who goes to Italy to recover her missing son (Nick Eversman).

Why it might work: Taken was a huge hit that spawned a sequel.

Why it won't: That movie had a clear end and only 90 minutes to fill. Can the same story be told in a satisfactory way over 10 episodes? And can it possibly have room for future seasons?

The River: A missing explorer's son and wife (Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope) set out to find him (Bruce Greenwood) in the Amazon, filming their journey with the help of several cohorts. Oren Peli, the man who created the Paranormal Activity craze, brings the "found footage" faux docu-style to the small screen.

Why it might work: The Paranormal Activity movies did scare up big box office grosses.

Why it won't: The thrill of such storytelling is significantly diminished on the small screen, spread out over weeks. Plus, the novelty is so 2009.

Smash: NBC tries to out-Glee Glee with this look at the backstage antics of a fake Broadway-bound musical, based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The cast includes Emmy-winner Debra Messing, Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston, American Idol alum Katharine McPhee, and Broadway performers like Christian Borle, Brian D'arcy James, and Megan Hilty. Steven Spielberg is a producer.

Why it might work: the right combo of catchy tunes and melodrama works for Glee, and the storytelling here looks much tighter and sensible.

Why it won't: Many of the songs are new, not covers of Top 40 hits and classics. Theater purists may cleave to the show, but there aren't enough of them watching television.

Are there any shows you guys are anticipating?

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