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Originally published Friday, December 26, 2014 at 12:51 PM

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New and returning midseason cable TV shows

The “Breaking Bad” prequel spinoff “Better Call Saul” premieres Feb. 8 and 9, plus other debuts and returns.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

Tonight in Prime Time


Here’s a look ahead to the new year’s series on cable.

Arguably the most anticipated new program is AMC’s “Breaking Bad” prequel spinoff “Better Call Saul” (premieres on two nights, Feb. 8 and 9).

The new series follows attorney Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in the years before he became the lawyer to “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White but at a time he knew “Bad” character Mike Erhmantraut (Jonathan Banks). Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando also star.

At a July news conference for “Saul,” series creator Vince Gilligan acknowledged events in “Breaking Bad” do put parameters on what can happen in the prequel.

“It’s a leap of faith or stupidity into the unknown,” Mr. Gilligan said. “I thought it was going to be kind of easy going forward: ‘Ah, we know who this guy is.’ We don’t really know who this guy is at all when you think about it. ... We know where this guy is going. We can’t, for instance, in the first episode have him lose an arm or an eye or something like that.”

In addition, two new networks launch in January.

On Jan. 14 TV Guide Network will become Pop, a network devoted to fandom of popular culture. Series at or shortly after launch include “Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block” (Jan. 14), where fans take a cruise with the boy band; “The Story Behind” (Jan. 14), beginning with “Everybody Loves Raymond” and also including “ER,” “Home Improvement” and other TV shows; “Schitt’s Creek” (Feb. 11), a scripted comedy about a formerly rich video-store magnate (Eugene Levy), his soap star wife (Catherine O’Hara) and the depressing town they live in that they once bought as a joke.

One day later on Jan. 15, Discovery Health & Fit will be renamed Discovery Life with a new emphasis on the scandalous or bizarre, sort of a merging of the tones of TLC and Investigation Discovery. The shows require little explanation beyond their titles, including “Outrageous Births: Tales From the Crib” (Jan. 15); “NY ER” (Jan. 16); medical anomalies in “Body Bizarre” (Jan. 17) and “Hoarding: Behind Closed Doors” (Jan. 18).

Here’s a look at new and returning cable series. Check local listings for air times:

New cable shows

“Bringing Up Bates” (Jan. 1, Up): Because one cable series about a family with 19 children isn’t enough, there’s now a second one about a family whose kids range from 2 to 25.

“Big Women: Big Love” (Jan. 1, Lifetime): Five plus-size women navigate the dating scene.

“Off the Map With Shannen & Holly” (Jan. 2, Great American Country): Celeb-reality show following actresses Shannen Doherty and Holly Marie Combs on a road trip through the Southeastern United States.

“Million Dollar American Princesses” (Jan. 4, Smithsonian Channel): Stories of American heiresses who wed British nobility at the end of the 19th century, “Downton Abbey”-style.

“Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge” (Jan. 4, CMT): Reality competition with physical and mental challenges.

“Living Different” (Jan. 6, Oxygen): Four-part series with each hour profiling women who don’t conform to traditional social norms, including members of an all-Hasidic rock band.

“Child Genius” (Jan. 6, Lifetime): Smart kids compete for a $100,000 college fund.

“Framework” (Jan. 6, Spike TV): Common hosts a furniture design competition series.

“Wild Transport” (Jan. 6, A&E): Unscripted series that follows a team that rescues, removes and relocates animals.

“Baggage on the Road” (Jan. 7, GSN): Jerry Springer hosts a 20-episode traveling version of GSN’s dating game show “Baggage.”

“Hindsight” (Jan. 7, VH1): Becca (Laura Ramsey) is about to marry for the second time, but she is plagued by doubt when she steps in an elevator and steps out and it’s 1995 again on the morning of her first wedding to a bad boy.

“Donnie Loves Jenny” (Jan. 7, A&E): Celeb-reality series following the wedding and married life of Donnie Wahlberg (“Blue Bloods”) and Jenny McCarthy.

“Expedition Unknown” (Jan. 8, Travel Channel): Explorer Josh Gates inserts himself in different cultures while traveling the globe. First up: Searching for clues in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

“Alaska: Battle on the Bay” (Jan. 8, Animal Planet): “Deadliest Catch” with salmon.

“Babylon” (Jan. 8, SundanceTV): A six-part workplace satire set in the London police force executive produced by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and starring Brit Marling (“Another Earth”) and James Nesbitt (“The Hobbit”).

“Love thy Sister” (Jan. 8, WEtv): Docusoap about three high society Southern belles.

“All About Sex” (Jan. 10, TLC): Hosts Margaret Cho, Heather McDonald, Marissa Jaret Winokur and therapist Tiffanie Davis Henry have conversations about sex and love.

“Togetherness” (Jan. 11, HBO): Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (“The Puffy Chair”) created this comedy about a married couple trying to reignite the spark in their relationship.

“Eye Candy” (Jan. 12, MTV): Victoria Justice stars as a hacker who teams with a cyber crimes unit to find a potential serial killer in this scripted drama with a high body count.

“Friends to Lovers?” (Jan. 12, Bravo): This docuseries follows people who try to date a longtime friend.

“Married at First Sight: The First Year” (Jan. 13, FYI): Spinoff from “Married at First Sight” that follows two couples over their first year of marriage to see if their union will last.

“Big Giant Swords” (Jan. 13, Discovery Channel): Irishman Michael Craughwell designs and builds swords of steel.

“Mike Saves the Date” (Jan. 13, FYI): Docuseries about a celebrity wedding planner.

“My Big Fat Fabulous Life” (Jan. 13, TLC): Woman who posted video of herself dancing on YouTube gets followed by cameras for a reality show.

“Troy: Street Magic” (Jan. 13, Syfy): Another magician show, this one featuring 25-year-old Brit Troy Von Scheibner.

“Wrestling With Death” (Jan. 13, WGN America): Docudrama about an Arkansas family that runs a funeral home by day and work as professional wrestlers at night.

“Man Seeking Woman” (Jan. 14, FXX): A naive twenty-something (Jay Baruchel, “She’s Out of My League”) tries to find love in this comedy based on Simon Rich’s book “The Last Girlfriend on Earth.”

“Breaking Point” (Jan. 15, Investigation Discovery): “Intervention” for criminals.

“12 Monkeys” (Jan. 16, Syfy): A remake of the 1995 Brad Pitt movie, this series follows a time traveler (Aaron Stanford, “X-Men”) from 2043 who returns to the present to eradicate the source of a plague that will nearly annihilate the human race in the future.

“Bella and the Bulldogs” (Jan. 17, Nickelodeon): The head cheerleader (Brec Bassinger) becomes the starting quarterback of her middle school football team.

“Smartest Animals in America” (Jan. 17, Great American Country): Animal advocate Betty White (“Hot in Cleveland”) talks to the animals, walks with the animals.

“Rugged Justice” (Jan. 18, Animal Planet): Docuseries following Washington State’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Program as they police mountain terrain and rain forest roads.

“Christina Milian Turned Up” (Jan. 18, E!): Docuseries follows the Grammy-nominated singer.

“Open Heart” (Jan. 20, TeenNick): The rebellious daughter (Karis Cameron) from a family of doctors volunteers at a hospital while investigating the disappearance of her father.

“Best New Restaurant” (Jan. 21, Bravo): Tom Colicchio hosts and judges restaurants before declaring one of them the winner.

“Million Dollar Critic” (Jan. 22, BBC America): In each episode The London Times restaurant critic Giles Coren samples meals from five North American restaurants and proclaims one lucky winner.

“Nightwatch” (Jan. 22, A&E): Docuseries follows first responders in New Orleans.

“Sons of Liberty” (Jan. 25-27, History): Radicals Sam Adams (Ben Barnes), John Adams (Henry Thomas), Paul Revere (Michael Raymond-James) and John Hancock (Rafe Spall) join forces to change the course of history.

“Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations” (Jan. 26, Travel Channel): Andrew Zimmern explores not-to-miss dishes in cities around the world.

“Mud, Sweat and Gears” (Jan. 26, BBC America): Competitive car show where two gear heads transform everyday vehicles for extreme missions.

“Fortitude” (Jan. 29, Pivot): The first scripted drama for Pivot is set in the melting Arctic in the small town of Fortitude, where a murder shocks residents. Stanley Tucci, Richard Dormer and Michael Gambon star.

“Breaking Greenville” (Jan. 29, truTV): A comedic docusoap set behind the scenes of two rival Greenville, Miss., TV news operations.

“Duff Till Dawn” (Jan. 29, Food Network): Duff Goldman hosts this reality competition among cake decorators.

“Unwrapped 2.0” (Feb. 2, Cooking Channel): Alfonso Ribeiro hosts an updated look behind the scenes of classic American treats.

“Street Art Throwdown” (Feb. 3, Oxygen): 10 street artists vie for a $100,000 grand prize.

“Style by Jury” (Feb. 13, TLC): “Fashion felons” get schooled by self-styled experts.

“Preachers of Detroit” (Feb. 18, Oxygen): Reality show about Michigan pastors.

“Outlaw Country” (Feb. 24, WGN America): Docuseries about brothers who act as sheriff in a Missouri town.

“Dig” (March 5, USA): A Jerusalem-set murder mystery about an FBI agent (Jason Isaacs, “Awake”), his boss and occasional lover (Anne Heche) and their investigation into the murder of a young American.

“The Royals” (March 15, E!): E! gets into the scripted series business with this soapy drama about a fictional modern monarchy starring Elizabeth Hurley as the queen.

“Younger” (March 31, TV Land): Sutton Foster (“Bunheads”) returns to prime time in this single-camera comedy from Darren Star (“Sex and the City,” “Beverly Hills, 90210”). Foster plays a 40-year-old suddenly single mother who returns to work and tries to pass herself off as a 20-something.

Returning cable series

Not every returning cable series has gotten a premiere date — AMC’s “Mad Men” is one notable exception — but here’s what’s been announced so far:

Jan. 1: “Little Women: L.A.” (Lifetime), “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory” (MTV), “Ridiculousness” (MTV).

Jan. 2: “Whale Wars” (Animal Planet), “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” (TLC)

Jan. 3: “Raising Whitley” (OWN), “Rev Run’s Renovation” (DIY).

Jan. 4: “Thicker Than Water” (Bravo), “Ultimate Survival Alaska” (National Geographic Channel), “Worst Cooks in America” (Food Network), “Total Divas” (E!).

Jan. 5: “Fatal Attraction” (TV One).

Jan. 6: “Pretty Little Liars” (ABC Family), “Dance Moms” (Lifetime), “The Haves and the Have Nots” (OWN), “Switched at Birth” (ABC Family), “Cougar Town” (TBS).

Jan. 7: “Extra Virgin” (Cooking Channel), “Impact Wrestling” (Destination America), “Love Thy Neighbor” (OWN), “My 600-lb Life” (TLC), “Duck Dynasty” (A&E), “SWV Reunited” (WEtv), “Wahlburgers” (A&E).

Jan. 8: “Archer,” (FX), “Portlandia” (IFC).

Jan. 9: “Cold Justice” (TNT), “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars” (WEtv), “Banshee” (Cinemax), “David Tutera’s Celebrations” (WEtv), “Treehouse Masters” (Animal Planet).

Jan. 11: “Girls” (HBO), “Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters” (Animal Planet), “Shameless” (Showtime), “House of Lies” (Showtime), “Looking” (HBO), “Episodes” (Showtime), “Comedy Bang! Bang!” (IFC).

Jan. 13: “Face Off” (Syfy), “Kate Plus Eight” (TLC), “Restaurant Startup” (CNBC).

Jan. 14: “Melissa & Joey” (ABC Family), “Baby Daddy” (ABC Family), “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FXX).

Jan. 15: “SmackDown” (Syfy), “Amazing America With Sarah Palin” (Sportsman Channel).

Jan. 16: “The Fall” (Netflix), “Helix” (Syfy).

Jan. 17: “Beverly Hills Pawn” (ReelzChannel), “My Big Redneck Family” (CMT).

Jan. 19: “The Fosters” (ABC Family), “Chasing Life” (ABC Family), “The Venture Bros. Special” (Adult Swim).

Jan. 20: “Friday Night Tykes” (Esquire), “Justified” (FX).

Jan. 23: “Bring It” (Lifetime), “Preachers’ Daughters” (Lifetime).

Jan. 24: “Black Sails” (Jan. 24, Starz).

Jan. 27: “Sirens” (USA).

Jan. 28: “The Americans” (FX), “Suits” (USA).

Feb. 8: “The Walking Dead” (AMC), “Talking Dead” (AMC), “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO), “Comic Book Men” (AMC).

Feb. 17: “Rizzoli & Isles” (TNT), “Perception” (TNT).

Feb. 19: “Vikings” (History).

Feb. 24: “Who Do You Think You Are?” (TLC).

Feb. 25: “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” (Fuse).

Feb. 27: “House of Cards” (Netflix).

March 4: “Broadchurch” (BBC America).

March 9: “Bates Motel” (A&E).

April 18: “Orphan Black” (BBC America).

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