The new year brings with it new changes, new resolutions, and new epsiodes of our favorite television shows. There's so many major premieres heading our way in the coming months, promising the resolutions to some insane cliffhangers, highly-anticipated follow-ups to beloved plotlines, and one significant attempt to recover after a terrible previous season. We've gathered together all of the most exciting winter premieres into one handy guide, plus all quick recaps of all of the most gasp-indcing cliffhangers and what to expect from the upcoming seasons. (Spoilers below, obviously.)
Community - January 2After the firing and then re-hiring of show creator Dan Harmon and a widely panned fourth season, Community fans have been waiting desperately to see what the new season will bring. So far, we know that Jeff and the gang will be back at Greendale, along with more guest stars than we could possibly hope to remember, and that Donald Glover will only appear in six episodes. What we don’t know? How or why he’ll leave, and if the show can possibly hope to return to its glory days. The new season has a lot to live up to, but we're hoping it manages to recapture some of that early Community magic.
Downton Abbey - January 5After a season that included births, deaths, and secret affairs, it's hard to imagine what the residents of Downton Abbey will have to endure next. This year, there's been a huge cast overhaul, including a few new love interests for Lady Mary, a shake-up in the household staff, and a visit from Cora's brother, played by Paul Giamatti. Meanwhile, there's still plenty of drama headed for Bates and Anna, including a new storyline that caused a great deal of outrage when it aired earlier in the UK. For a show about an inhertance dispute, there's always something insane going on, so there's no telling what to expect when we return to the estate.
Parks and Recreation - January 9It may not have ended on a cliffhanger, but there's still plenty about the midseason finale of Parks and Rec for us to look forward to. It's the last hundred days of Leslie's term on city council, and she still has some grand plans for the city. Ann and Chris are not only getting ready to welcome a new baby, but also to move away from Pawnee for good. Ron's also about to become a father, and Andy's hopefully heading home from London soon. After the weird way that NBC decided to air the most recent episodes, we're really looking forward to finding out what's happening next in Pawnee, hopefully on a steadier schedule.
Shameless - January 12When last we left the Gallagher clan, Jimmy had disappeared onto a boat with the Brazilian mob, Fiona still had no idea he was in any kind of trouble, Ian stole his brother’s identity and enlisted in the army, Lip was starting college, V is pregnant… and V’s mom is a lot more pregnant than she let on. Oh, and Frank has to stop drinking and doing drugs cold turkey or else he’ll die. Even though the producers have revealed the answer to Season 3’s biggest cliffhanger, there’s still no telling what could happen next with the Gallaghers. And since anything goes with this show, we'll be glued to our televisions to find out.
Sherlock - January 19The world’s most famous consulting detective, BBC edition, returns to the small screens after a two-year hiatus in which we were all left with one very important question: How did Sherlock manage to fake his own death? Season 3 promises to answer this question, as well as focusing on the resulting tension between Sherlock and John, a surprise wedding, and a brand new bad guy. Plus, we’ll finally learn what possessed Anderson to both dye his hair and grow a beard, when he knew full well that they would both look terrible on him. (Don’t even get us started on John’s grief-induced moustache.)
Hannibal - February 28When last we left the team at Quantico, Will had been arrested under suspicion of being the copycat killer, although he has finally started to understand that Hannibal Lecter is not as friendly as he had appeared. Meanwhile, Jack and Alanna are trying to deal with the fact that their good friend might be a serial killer, and Bella's only getting sicker. This season, we'll find out whether anyone will be able to prove Will's innocence - or if anyone even wants to - and how much more Hannibal will be able to get away with before people start getting suspicious.
Orphan Black - April 19When it comes to cliffhangers, no season finale did it better than the end of Orphan Black. There were surprise deaths, new clones, and possible betrayals, all in one compact hour. We're not quite sure what to expect from the new season just yet, as they've only just wrapped filming, but we're sure that for every question they'll actually answer, they'll raise at least three more. However, the clones are finally starting to fight back against their makers, and Sarah is still fighting to get Kira back, so there's bound to be plenty of drama, action, and surprises come April.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.