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The Associated Press This undated publicity photo provided by PBS shows Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, left, and Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson from the TV series "Downton Abbey."

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New TV kicks into full swing this month

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - Updated: 5:51 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Where once the post-holiday schedule was a blizzard of chilly reruns, January is aburst with premieres and finales.

Already, the much-adored British miniseries "Downton Abbey" has made its much-awaited season return Sundays on PBS.

On IFC on Fridays, the hilarious "Portlandia" is back for its third season of sketch comedy poking fun at the peculiarities of Portland, Ore., starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

And NBC's mystery melodrama "Deception" has arrived on Mondays. Meagan Good stars as a detective going undercover at the home of a rich family with whom she was once friendly, to investigate a murder within the clan.

On Tuesday, PBS' "American Experience" began a three-week documentary miniseries, "The Abolitionists," spotlighting Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke.

Also on Tuesday, the FX drama "Justified" returned for its fourth season of Kentucky hill-country crime-fighting led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (series star Timothy Olyphant).

On Thursday, comedic action centers at the White House with the premiere of NBC's "1600 Penn." Josh Gad ("The Book of Mormon") stars as the goofball son of the incumbent U.S. president (played by Bill Pullman) who keeps the first family in a stir, yet manages to make everything turn out all right by the final fade-out.

The Gallaghers of "Shameless" are a much different family. In this dark comedy, William H. Macy stars as the boozy single father of a brood of kids who manage their ragtag Chicago homestead in spite of Dad's overindulgences. Also starring Emmy Rossum, it returns Jan. 13 for its third season on Showtime.

Also on Jan. 13, HBO's comedy "Girls" returns for a second season sure to be at least as ballyhooed, discussed and argued about as the first. Lena Dunham (who also writes, produces, directs and created the series) stars as one of a quartet of twentysomething gal pals in New York.

Right after "Girls," HBO launches the second season of "Enlightened," an affecting comedy starring Laura Dern as a confused New Age-y activist who's bent on changing the world.

What was Carrie Bradshaw like before Sarah Jessica Parker and "Sex and the City"? Find out on "The Carrie Diaries," which debuts on the CW on Jan. 14. AnnaSophia Robb stars as the high-school era Carrie in this likable prequel.

"American Idol" returns on Jan. 16 on Fox. Veteran judge Randy Jackson will be joined by Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban. Ryan Seacrest, as always, is the affable host.

After five seasons, Fox's lovably inscrutable sci-fi series "Fringe" concludes its head-scratching run on Jan. 18. Stars include Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and John Noble.

     

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