Dave on Demand: Murder at the Abbey

...and other plot twists to watch for on the winter wave of new and returning TV.

Posted: January 06, 2013

This is exciting, isn't it? I can't remember a year when there was this much to look forward to on TV in January.

Ready? Here's a rundown of some of the most enticing prospects. As a bonus I will provide a running commentary, based on the wisdom acquired through a lifetime of TV watching, on what plot twists may be in store.

First up this weekend is the third-season return of Downton Abbey. You may recall that last year climaxed with the snow-globe engagement of Matthew and Mary.

Boring! They're the most tedious characters on the show (along with Matthew's sanctimonious mother, Isobel). So let's knock them off in the first episode. Have a distressed Daisy discover their bodies floating in a fountain.

This way we can turn the season into a classic British country-house murder mystery. Was it the nefarious footman Thomas in the music room with arsenic-dusted oysters? Or did Lady Edith do away with them in the study, furious at the realization that she would soon be the only unmarried sister?

Moving on (no, not the 1970s series about long-haul truckers that had a theme song by Merle Haggard). I mean let's consider our next show.

Justified has had Raylan battling all manner of villains - greedy coal-mining companies, pot dealers, the Dixie mafia, Evangelical hoaxsters. But it's time he took on the South's most pernicious element: the artery-cloggers at Waffle House. In the finale, Raylan could face off against the company's evil CEO (played by Ron White) in the syrup factory.

We'll save the moonshiners for next year.

When Girls returns, we'll add a sorely missing note of realism. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna can do what everyone else in Brooklyn does: Start a band. Musical ability is optional.

American Idol seems to be headed in the right direction. All it needs to do now is jettison that tired, old singing component. Let the kids compete at a different activity - say, fashion design. The last 10 minutes of every show could feature new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj using their talons to tear out the stitches on all the winning garments.

The most hotly anticipated new series is The Following. Just ask Fox. It's a show so gory, twisted, and dark, it's almost like watching cable! The Following features Kevin Bacon as a damaged former FBI profiler called back into service to hunt the nation's most dangerous serial killer. He catches him, too, but the twist is that every week Bacon secretly releases this monster back into society. Why? Job security. Hey, with The Closer off the air, somebody in the Bacon family has got to work.

Fringe ends this month with a two-hour finale. After countless red-herring episodes spent pursuing one weapon after another to defeat the Observers, only to find they do not work, Walter, Peter, and Olivia ultimately find a solution. They overthrow those evil, cueball emissaries from the future by employing advanced Chia technology.

Smash gets its second wind when Julia, Derek, Tom, and Eileen finally come to the conclusion that a musical based on Marilyn Monroe may be the most hackneyed, creatively bankrupt project in the history of Broadway. The Producers' team of Bialystock and Bloom considered the Marilyn concept 30 years ago, rejecting it as too trite. So our theater troupers come up with a fresh, new idea: a musical based on the life of Charlie Chaplin! Karen and Ivy immediately get mustache transplants so they can wrangle for the lead.

No event has TV viewers as excited as the series finale of Breaking Bad. I don't want to give too much away, but it turns out that nothing in the last six seasons was real. Walter White is actually still a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher killing time before a follow-up appointment with his doctor. He eats an overspiced chicken sandwich at El Pollo Loco and stops for a car wash where he has this incredibly vivid, violent dream about drug dealing. The episode ends with the doctor, a frown on his face, saying, "Got your results back, Walt . . ." Fade to black.

Contact David Hiltbrand

at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@ phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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