By Chuck Barney
Thanks to the writers strike, winter is the new fall.
Are you ready for a prime-time “do-over”? Network programmers certainly hope so.
Thanks to the writers strike, television’s annual fall rollout featured a paucity of fresh fare. And what did make it into our living rooms was mostly met with groans and yawns.
Now, as the new year unfolds, the networks are bringing out some of their big guns — “American Idol,” “Lost” and “24” — along with a vast array of new shows.
In addition, over the next few months their cable competitors will offer an ambitious slate of new and established shows, including the final episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” and “The L Word.”
Suddenly, winter is the new fall.
Here’s a rundown of the midseason madness coming our way:
The heavy hitters
“Damages” (10 p.m. Wednesday, FX): What can Glenn Close and this spooky, suspenseful legal drama do for an encore?
“24” (8 p.m. Sunday, Fox): Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is back on the clock and terrorists everywhere start to tremble.
“American Idol” (8 p.m. Jan. 13, Fox): With a new judge and a few tweaks, TV’s No. 1 show attempts to hit the high notes again.
“Battlestar Galactica” (10 p.m. Jan. 16, Sci Fi): What the frak! We’ve got only 10 episodes left of this sci-fi spectacular.
“Lost” (9 p.m. Jan. 21, ABC): We can hardly wait to get back to that blasted island ... Now, if we can only find it.
“Scrubs” (9 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): Prime time’s zaniest medics take their act to a new network.
“The Closer” (9 p.m. Jan. 26, TNT): Kyra Sedgwick and the gang return for a string of five new episodes.
“Big Love” (9 p.m. Jan. 18, HBO): Things promise to get even weirder for television’s polygamous family.
“Medium” (10 p.m. Feb. 2, NBC): Allison (Patricia Arquette) is back to take on more strange cases.
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9 p.m. Feb. 5, USA): Jeff Goldblum steps in for Chris Noth, but can he ever be Mr. Big?
“The Beast” (10 p.m. Jan. 15, A&E): Dirty dancer Patrick Swayze takes on some dirty dealers as an “unorthodox” FBI agent.
“Lie to Me” (9 p.m. Jan. 21, Fox): A scientist (Tim Roth) reads body language and voices to solve criminal cases.
“Trust Me” (10 p.m. Jan. 26, TNT): Eric McCormack (”Will & Grace”) and Tom Cavanagh (”Ed”) return to prime time as best pals working in a Chicago ad agency.
“Dollhouse” (9 p.m. Feb. 13, Fox): Joss Whedon (”Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) spins a tale about a secret band of operatives who have had their memories and personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with new ones.
“Castle” (10 p.m. March 9, ABC): Bored mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), investigates murders.
“Kings” (10 p.m. March 12, NBC): Ian McShane (”Deadwood”) stars in a modern David-vs.-Goliath saga.
“Harper’s Island” (10 p.m., April 9, CBS): A murder mystery about a wedding on a secluded island that goes horribly awry.
“The Unusuals” (10 p.m. April 8, ABC): Amber Tamblyn (”Joan of Arcadia”) plays a rookie homicide detective in New York.
JUST FOR LAUGHS
“Meet the Browns” (10 p.m. Wednesday, TBS): A Tyler Perry-produced sitcom about the owner of a raucous retirement home (David Mann).
“Howie Do It” (8 p.m. Friday, NBC): Howie Mandel plays pranks on unsuspecting citizens.
“United States of Tara” (10 p.m. Jan. 18, Showtime): Toni Collette (”Little Miss Sunshine”) plays a woman with multiple personalities.
“Cupid (10 p.m. March 24, ABC): A romantic dramedy about a quirky guy (Bobby Cannavale) who thinks he’s the Roman god of love.
A DOSE OF REALITY
“True Beauty” (10 p.m. tonight, ABC): A group of babes and hunks compete to see what makes a person “truly beautiful.” Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher are executive producers.
“Daddy’s Girls” (10:30 p.m. tonight, MTV): Sisters Vanessa and Angela Simmons (”Run’s House”) move to LA and get their own series.
“Homeland Security USA” (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC): A behind-the-scenes look at the agents assigned to safeguard America.
“Wreckreation Nation” (10 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery): Weekend warriors compete in weird events like lawn mower racing and catfish wrangling.
“13 — Fear Is Real” (8 p.m. Wednesday, The CW): It’s a scare-fest as contestants compete to “stay alive” while facing their deepest fears.
“The Exterminators” (10:30 p.m. Feb. 4, A&E): On-the-job series chronicles the creepy adventures of pest-removal specialists.