By Chuck Barney Contra Costa Times
Can a newly widowed Lady Mary learn to love again on “Downton Abbey”? Will Jennifer Lopez bring back the sizzle to “American Idol”? Are the zombies ever going to back the heck off on “The Walking Dead”?
These are among the pertinent questions as television’s winter season brings a blizzard of fresh programming to our TVs and laptops.
And while there will be the usual emphasis on cops and lawyers, the offerings also include mangy pirates (“Black Sails” on Starz), a female werewolf (“Bitten” on Syfy), reanimated corpses (“Resurrection” on ABC) and a dude with a supercomputer microchip implanted in his brain (“Intelligence” on CBS).
Here are some highlights of TV’s winter season:
“The Assets”: An eight-part limited series set in 1985 and based on the real-life exploits of a CIA counterintelligence officer. (10 p.m. Thursdays, ABC).
“Chicago P.D.”: A crime series from the people behind “Chicago Fire” about cops in the Windy City. (10 p.m. Wednesdays, NBC).
“Helix: A thriller following a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who find themselves in a life-and-death struggle while investigating a case in the Arctic. (10 p.m. Fridays, Syfy).
“Intelligence”: Josh Holloway (“Lost”) plays a high-tech intelligence operative enhanced with a supercomputer microchip in his brain. (9 p.m. Tuesday, CBS; moves to its regular Monday time slot, 10 p.m. Jan. 13).
“Bitten”: A supernatural thriller about a female werewolf (Laura Vandervoort) who has abandoned her pack and taken refuge in a new city. (10 p.m. Mondays beginning Jan. 13, Syfy).
“Killer Women”: Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”) plays the only female among an elite group of crime-fighting Texas Rangers. (10 p.m. Tuesdays, ABC).
“Rake”: Think “House” as a legal series. Greg Kinnear plays a brilliant, but self-destructive defense attorney. (9 p.m. Jan. 23, Fox).
“Black Sails”: Producer Michael Bay takes to the high seas for an adventure series set in the golden age of piracy. (9 p.m. Jan. 25, Starz).
“Star Crossed”: A teen sci-fi saga about aliens who have assimilated into the human school system. (8 p.m. Feb. 17, The CW).
“Resurrection”: Supernatural shenanigans are happening in a small Missouri town, where loved ones return from the dead. (9 p.m. March 9, ABC).
“Mind Games”: Two brothers (Steve Zahn, Christian Slater) run a unique agency that solves clients’ problems via the science of psychological manipulation. (10 p.m. March 11, ABC).
Look for more newcomers on Tuesday’s TV page.