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Vacation Robo-Post: TV to Look Forward to in 2011

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Having spent a lot of time this past couple of weeks looking back on 2010 here, it’s time to look forward. TV doesn’t have the same kind of lead time that, say, movies do: this time last year, we did not know what the broadcast fall schedules would be, or that Conan O’Brien would end the year with a talk show on a different network from NBC. But here are a few of the shows, new and returning, that I’m looking forward to (or at least curious about) in 2011; if I ignored any of your pet projects, let me know in the comments. In no particular order:

Game of Thrones (April) Well, OK, this one is in particular order. I have not seen a pilot of HBO’s fantasy drama yet, and though I loved the books it’s based on, I don’t know if it will be good. But it’s easily the new show I’m most anticipating (so much so that I included it on last year’s list too, just in anticipation of its possible pickup).

Lights Out (January) Early in the new year, FX debuts this drama about a former boxing champ compelled by circumstances to attempt a comeback. I’m currently sitting on screeners of the entire first season, but the pilot, which I watched months ago, was a compelling twist on what sounds like an old story.

The Chicago Code (February) Shawn Ryan (The Shield). Urban police drama. Need I say more?

Luck (Unscheduled) HBO has not yet announced a premiere date, but this horse-racing drama has a Hall of Fame’s worth of names behind it: David Milch writing, Michael Mann directing and a cast including Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon. If it’s half as good as its resume, prepare for chaos in future Emmy acting categories.

Justified (February) There are a lot of returning shows I look forward to, of course, but this FX drama really showed its worth in the second half of its first season, which makes me hope it can hit the next level in season two.

Big Love’s final season (January) Season 4 was a big disappointment, so I’m hoping the fifth and final installment can give the Henricksons and their moral conflicts the resolution they deserve.

The Killing. (March) The Danish original of this murder-investigation series was lavishly praised. The remake is being done by AMC, whose recent record in itself puts this on the must-look-out-for list. (See also the coming post-Civil-War drama Hell on Wheels, which does not have a premiere date yet.)

The Idol wars (January and beyond) This is not so much “looking forward” as curiosity, but this year American Idol debuts two high-profile new judges, while facing competition from a new Mark Burnett singing show on NBC and The X-Factor on Fox itself (airing after Idol in fall, but still). The battle off-screen could be the most interesting Idol showdown.

Terra Nova (sneak preview in May) Dino-mite or Jurassic extinction event? Fox and Steven Spielberg’s ambitious, troubled sci-fi/time-travel/dinosaur drama finally shows itself this year.

Alcatraz (fall?) It’s not even slated for air yet, but as it’s J. J. Abrams taking another shot at TV—with a prison drama starring Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill and Parminder Nagra—one has to assume it’s got a pretty good shot at a pickup. Let’s hope it’s better than Undercovers.

That’s a lot to look out for, and yet I’m sure I’ve left plenty out. What are you anxious to see in 2011?