One Tree Hill by Andrew Eccles/The CW One Tree Hill by Andrew Eccles/The CW
The when: Tuesdays at 9pm/ET, with a two-hour season premiere airing Jan. 8

Why watch?: This fun soap follows the lives of two basketball-loving half brothers and their group of friends in the town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. But the negative press the show often gets from critics is undeserved. OK, so it's not the most subtle show, and you're not going to find complicated plot twists. But the dialogue and the plots move along at a snappy pace - the characters are engaging and the show's never boring. Sure, there are some unbelievable elements (too-cool jobs, dating members of real bands), but that's typical of any soap. For the most part,

OTH doesn't take itself too seriously and the focus is primarily on relationships and friendships. When it does tackle a meaningful topic (such as a school shooting), it does so really well, and it carries the ramifications through several episodes. Who's who: Soulful Lucas narrates the beginning and ending of each episode. A heart condition put an end to his basketball days, so he's turned to writing. His half brother Nathan is a reformed bad boy who was the star of his high school's basketball team. He's married to Lucas' best friend Haley, a straight-A good girl who left a promising singing career. Lucas' ex-girlfriend Peyton also has a love for music, but her expertise is behind the scenes. Her best friend is Brooke, a former party girl who had the ingenuity to start her own clothing line while still in high school. What's next: As the fourth season ended last June, the gang graduated from high school. This season picks up four years later, skipping the college years. The "kids" are now all in their early twenties, and we'll find out if they continued down the paths they headed. Did Lucas get his novel published? Was Nathan able to shine brightly despite playing basketball at a very small school? Did his marriage to Haley survive the pressures of college and young parenthood? Did Peyton find success in the L.A. music biz? Did Brooke grow as a designer through her fashion studies? Is Dan still in jail? Say what?!: The show is filmed on location in North Carolina, with Wilmington standing in for the titular town. The name One Tree Hill is borrowed from the U2 song "One Tree Hill." What do you say? Tree Hill fans, tell others why this show should be bragged about instead of bashed! - Jennifer Sankowski Use our Online Video Guide to find full episodes of One Tree Hill, the latest clips and cast interviews. More Strike Survival guidance: " One Tree Hill Preview: A Little Older, a Little Wiser? " NBC's Medium: Why You Should Size It Up " Movies on TV: Ken Fox's Picks for This Week! " What to Watch: Your Guide to January Premieres