Happy New TV Year! With the Winter Olympics only a little more than a month away, the networks are wasting no time premiering new and returning shows through January, making this almost as busy a month for programming as the heights of September. Let the winter midseason begin.
BACK TO SCHOOL: Some underdogs adopt a never-say-die mentality. In the fringe world of wackiness known as NBC's Community, it's more like never say graduate, as the cult comedy returns for an against-the-odds fifth season with back-to-back episodes (Thursday, 8/7c) once again under the warped tutelage of mercurial series creator Dan Harmon. (For more on his and the show's comeback, go here.)
Da Vinci's Demons
Let's hope he's packing some garlic. Friday's episode of Starz's historical-fantasy series Da Vinci's Demons will feature a face-off between Leonardo Da Vinci (Tom Riley) and Vlad the Impaler (Paul Rhys), the notorious inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. It's not that crazy a notion: Da Vinci and Vlad were Renaissance contemporaries and close enough neighbors. And Vlad, despite his lust for horrific torture, was hailed as a savior by the Catholic church because he kept the Ottoman Empire from conquering the Italian states.