Midseason TV preview: What’s new, what’s back

Chuck Barney

How will “Downton Abbey” end?

Will “American Idol” give birth to one last superstar?

Can Mulder and Scully capture our hearts again?

Are we ready to revisit O.J. Simpson’s murder trial?

These are among the key questions being batted around as television’s winter season ramps up. Old favorites such as “Downton,” “Idol” and “MythBusters” are launching their farewell seasons, but in some cases the old is new again. “The X-Files,” for example, returns for a six-episode “event series,” and some of the stars of “Full House” are back in a revival called “Fuller House.”

Meanwhile, plenty of familiar faces are popping up in fresh places: Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Damian Lewis and Jane Lynch, among others, headline new shows. And then there’s “Sesame Street,” which relocates to HBO, and the cable network ABC Family, which takes on a brand new name: Freeform.

Of course, we also need to carve out some time for several marquee events, including the Golden Globes (Jan. 10, NBC), Super Bowl (Feb. 7, CBS), Grammys (Feb. 15, CBS) and the Academy Awards (Feb. 28, ABC).

Here are the notable highlights of TV’s winter season, starting with new shows listed in the order of their premiere dates.

New dramas

“The Shannara Chronicles” — This epic fantasy series is based on the books by Terry Brooks and set in a world called the Four Lands. (10 p.m. Tuesday, MTV).

“Shades of Blue” — Jennifer Lopez plays a member of a Brooklyn detective unit. Ray Liotta is her rule-bending boss. (10 p.m. Thursday, NBC).

“Shadowhunters” — A young woman learns that she comes from a long line of human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. (9 p.m. Jan. 12, Freeform).

“Second Chance” — Rob Kazinsky plays an ex-sheriff who is killed by corrupt police but is brought back to life by tech scientists. (9 p.m. Jan. 13, Fox).

“Colony” — A former FBI agent (Josh Holloway) struggles to keep his family together in the aftermath of an alien invasion. (10 p.m. Jan. 14, USA).

“Mercy Street” — This Civil War story follows two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict — a staunch New England abolitionist and a naive Confederate belle. (10 p.m. Jan. 17, PBS).

“Billions” — High finance and low morals mix as a savvy U.S. attorney (Paul Giamatti) collides with a hedge fund king (Damian Lewis). (10 p.m. Jan. 17, Showtime).

“War & Peace” — Paul Dano, Lily James, Jim Broadbent, Gillian Anderson and more tackle Leo Tolstoy’s epic over four weeks. (9 p.m. Jan. 18, Lifetime, A&E and History).

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” — Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), a time-traveling rogue, recruits a ragtag team of heroes and villains to save the planet. (8 p.m. Jan. 21, The CW).

“London Spy” — This five-part mystery is about an innocent young romantic who is drawn into a web of espionage. The cast includes Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling. (10 p.m. Jan. 21, BBC America).

“Mad Dogs” — A group of longtime, 40-something friends reunite in Belize, where dark secrets are exposed. (Jan. 22, Amazon).

“The X-Files” — Paranormal investigators Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) reunite 13 years after the original series ended. (7 p.m. Jan. 24, Fox).

“Lucifer” — A drama about the “Lord of Hell” (Tom Ellis), who, during his retirement in L.A., teams up with a female homicide detective. (9 p.m. Jan. 25, Fox).

“Recovery Road” — A teen party girl is forced to choose between expulsion from school and rehab. (9 p.m. Jan. 25, Freeform).

“The Magicians” — College students at a university specializing in magic discover that a fantasy world they read about as children is all too real and poses a grave danger to humanity. (9 p.m. Jan. 25, Syfy).

“Outsiders” — An off-the-grid family fights to defend its land and way of life in the hills of Appalachia. (9 p.m. Jan. 26, WGN).

“Grease Live!” — Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, Keke Palmer and more enroll in Rydell High School for a revival of the popular musical. (7 p.m. Jan. 31, Fox).

“American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” — This limited series recalls the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the chaotic behind-the-scenes maneuvering by lawyers. The cast includes Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, John Travolta and David Schwimmer. (10 p.m. Feb. 2, FX).

“Madoff” — Richard Dreyfuss plays the infamous con man in a two-night miniseries. Blythe Danner plays his wife. (8 p.m. Feb. 3, ABC).

“Vinyl” — A record label executive (Bobby Cannavale) struggles to keep his company afloat in 1970s-era New York. (9 p.m. Feb. 14, HBO).

“11/22/63” — In this show based on the novel by Stephen King, an ordinary high school teacher (James Franco) has a chance to travel back in time and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Feb. 15, Hulu).

“About the Business” — This docuseries follows a group of friends in urban Hollywood with big dreams. (10 p.m. Feb. 24, BET).

“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” — Gary Sinise heads the cast of this spinoff drama about the International Division of the FBI. (10 p.m. March 2, CBS).

“The Family” — A politician’s son who disappeared more than 10 years ago and was presumed dead suddenly resurfaces under a cloud of suspicion. (9 p.m. March 3, ABC)

“Of Kings and Prophets” — This Biblical epic is pegged to King Saul, the prophet Samuel and the young shepherd David (10 p.m. March 8, ABC).

“The Catch” — A private detective (Mireille Enos) vows payback after her fiance (Peter Krause) cons her out of millions and disappears. (10 p.m. March 24, ABC).

“The Path” — A family at the center of a controversial cult struggles with relationships, faith and power. Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul star. (March 30, Hulu).

New comedies

“Superstore” — America Ferrera and Ben Feldman lead this workplace series about employees at a Walmart-like megastore. (8 p.m. Jan. 4, NBC).

“Telenovela” — Eva Longoria plays the diva-ish star of a big, flashy Spanish-language soap opera. (8:30 p.m. Jan. 4, NBC).

“Zoe Ever After” — A newly single mom (Brandy Norwood) dreams of starting a cosmetics line. (10:30 p.m. Jan. 5, BET).

“Angel From Hell” — Jane Lynch wants to be the protective wing woman for a young doctor (Maggie Lawson). But is she really a guardian angel — or just mentally ill? (9:30 p.m. Jan. 7, CBS).

“Teachers” — Six elementary school instructors struggle to mold young minds. (11 p.m. Jan. 13, TV Land).

“Idiotsitter” — A cash-strapped Ivy League grad becomes the guardian for an heiress who is under house arrest. (10:30 p.m. Jan. 14, Comedy Central).

“Angie Tribeca” — Rashida Jones plays a veteran LAPD detective in this spoof of TV crime procedurals. (9 p.m. Jan. 17, TBS).

“Baskets” — A Bakersfield man (Zach Galifianakis) works as a rodeo clown. (10 p.m. Jan. 21, FX).

“Fuller House” — John Stamos and company return in a series that picks up 21 years after the last episode of “Full House.” (Feb. 26, Netflix).

“The Real O’Neals” — The lives of a close-knit family take an unexpected turn when some surprising truths are revealed. The cast includes Martha Plimpton. (8:30 p.m. March 2, ABC).

New unscripted shows

“Killing Fields”: A true-crime series takes viewers inside an active murder investigation as it unfolds. (10 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery).

“Pitch Slapped” — A look at the intensely competitive world of high school a cappella. (10 p.m. Tuesday, Lifetime).

“My Diet Is Better Than Yours” — Celebrity trainers coach average folks to get in shape. (8 p.m. Thursday, ABC).

“Growing Up Hip Hop” — The kids of famous rappers attempt to step out of their parents’ shadows. (10 p.m. Thursday, WEtv).

“Fit to Fat to Fit” — Professional fitness trainers force themselves to gain weight to better understand the struggles of their obese clients, then work together to get in shape. (10 p.m. Jan. 12, A&E).

“The Real Housewives of Potomac” — The venerable franchise heads to Maryland for more back-stabbing and trash talking. (9 p.m. Jan. 17, Bravo).

“Like a Boss” — Cameras follow four assistants of big-time power players as they learn how to get to the top. (9 p.m. Jan. 19, Oxygen).

“Recipe for Deception” — Competing chefs use mystery ingredients in this culinary throw-down. (10 p.m. Jan. 21, Bravo).

“Chelsea Does” — For this documentary film series, Chelsea Handler delves into four topics that fascinate her: marriage, racism, Silicon Valley and drugs. (Jan. 22, Netflix).

“Not Safe w/Nikki Glaser” — In this talk show, comics share their personal stories about sex and relationships. (10:30 p.m. Feb. 9, Comedy Central).

Returning shows

Monday: “The Bachelor” (8 p.m., ABC); “Antiques Roadshow” (8 p.m., PBS); “The Biggest Loser: Temptation Nation” (9 p.m., NBC)

Tuesday: “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox); “Hollywood Game Night” (8 p.m., NBC); “Finding Your Roots” (8 p.m., PBS); “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (10 p.m., BET); “Teen Wolf” (9 p.m., MTV)

Wednesday: “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox); “Mike & Molly” (8:30 p.m., CBS); “American Crime” (10 p.m., ABC); “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (10 p.m., FXX); “Restaurant Startup” (10 p.m., CNBC); “Man Seeking Woman” (10:30 p.m., FXX)

Thursday: “WWE Smackdown” (8 p.m., USA); “Child Genius: Battle of the Brightest” (8 p.m., Lifetime); “Bringing Up Bates” (9 p.m., UPtv); “Beyond the Tank” (10 p.m., ABC); “Lip Sync Battle” (10 p.m., Spike)

Saturday: “MythBusters” (8 p.m., Discovery)

Sunday: “Shameless” (9 p.m., Showtime)

Jan. 11: “Cake Wars” (9 p.m., Food Network)

Jan. 12: “Pretty Little Liars” (8 p.m., Freeform)

Jan. 13: “Mob Wives” (8 p.m., VH1); “Younger” (10 p.m., TV Land)

Jan. 14: “Workaholics” (10 p.m., Comedy Central); “Todd Margaret” (10 p.m., IFC)

Jan. 15: “Degrassi: Next Class” (Netflix); “Hell’s Kitchen” (9 p.m., Fox)

Jan. 16: “Sesame Street” (9 a.m., HBO)

Jan. 18: “Ellen’s Design Challenge” (9 p.m., HGTV); “Hit the Floor” (10 p.m., VH1)

Jan. 19: “Marvel’s Agent Carter” (9 p.m., ABC); “Friday Night Tykes” (9 p.m., Esquire)

Jan. 21: “The 100” (9 p.m., The CW); “Portlandia” (10 p.m., IFC)

Jan. 22: “Children’s Hospital” (11 p.m., Adult Swim)

Jan. 23: “Black Sails” (9 p.m., Starz)

Jan. 25: “The Fosters” (8 p.m., Freeform)

Jan. 27: “Lucha Underground” (8 p.m., El Rey Network); “Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan” (10 p.m., Travel Channel); “Suits” (10 p.m., USA)

Jan. 29: “Banshee” (10 p.m., Cinemax)

Feb. 3: “Young & Hungry” (8 p.m., Freeform); “Baby Daddy” (8:30 p.m., Freeform)

Feb. 9: “Tosh.0” (10 p.m., Comedy Central)

Feb. 12: “The Amazing Race” (8 p.m., CBS)

Feb. 14: “The Walking Dead” (9 p.m., AMC)

Feb. 15: “Major Crimes” (9 p.m., TNT); “Better Call Saul” (10 p.m., AMC)

Feb. 16: “Rizzoli & Isles” (9 p.m., TNT)

Feb. 17: “Survivor” (8 p.m., CBS); “Broad City” (10 p.m., Comedy Central)

Feb. 18: “Vikings” (10 p.m., History Channel)

Feb. 21: “Girls” (10 p.m., HBO); “Togetherness” (10:30 p.m., HBO)

Feb. 23: “It’s a Mann’s World” (10 p.m., BET)

Feb. 29: “The Voice” (8 p.m., NBC)

March 4: “House of Cards” (Netflix)

March 9: “Schitt’s Creek,” 8 p.m., POP

March 21: “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC)

March 30: “Empire” (9 p.m., Fox)

“The Americans” returns to FX in March, date TBA.