Preview Capsules

Murray Bartlett, left, Jonathan Groff and Frankie J. Alvarez in "Looking" on HBO. (John P. Johnson / HBO)

In 2013, television got a lot of love from the appreciation societies, amateur and professional — some say it was the best TV year ever! (Notwithstanding the unprepossessing fall season.) Can 2014 do better? Will it be the fulfillment or the end of the medium's New Golden Age? These are the questions the baby year must be asking itself now, with its top hat and rattle and remote control, as it takes the stage of history.

In progress:

"The Assets" (ABC). The story of CIA mole Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys) and his unmasking by colleagues Sandy Grimes (Jodie Whittaker) and Jeanne Vertefeuille (Harriet Walter) is enacted by a mostly British cast to oddly enunciated effect in an eight-part miniseries.

Jan. 7

"Intelligence" (CBS). (Moves to Mondays, Jan. 13.) Josh Holloway, who was Sawyer back on the island, stars as an intelligence op whose brain is jacked in to the Internet, with no roaming fees. Marg Helgenberger is his handler. Those still mourning "Chuck" might find a toehold here.

PHOTOS: Faces to watch 2014 | TV

"Killer Women" (ABC). Cylon 6 Tricia Helfer dons jeans, boots and Stetson to play a Texas Ranger, like Chuck Norris. Must I tell you that as a woman, she has twice as much to prove? Dusty local color a plus.

Jan. 8

"Chicago PD" (NBC). Dick Wolf spins off dirty good cop Jason Beghe and clean good cop Jon Seda from "Chicago Fire" into their own series. "You tell me the truth so I can lie for you," Beghe tells his team. "Let's try it your way," Seda says, when the book he goes by falls short. And thus is a philosophy expressed.

"Chasing Shackleton" (PBS). Three-part documentary follows a pack of modern adventurers who set out to relive the perilous sea-and-land journey undertaken by Antarctic explorer Edward Shackleton to save his stranded crew a century ago. You may see ironies that have escaped them. (Exciting, though!)

Jan. 9

"Spoils of Babylon" (IFC). Elaborately framed mock-'70s family-saga miniseries plays for laughs by playing it straight. With Tobey Maguire as you've never seen him; Kristen Wiig as you have; Will Ferrell as an echo of Orson Welles.

Jan. 10

"Enlisted" (Fox). Old-fashioned stateside military comedy (including a traditional "war games" episode), with Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell and Parker Young as brothers dynamic, cynical and strange. Contains three tablespoons of "The Bad News Bears," the most influential comedy of the last 100 years, seemingly.

Video: Winter TV preview 2014

"Helix" (Syfy). Ron Moore ("Battlestar Galactica") is an executive producer of this satisfyingly slow-paced disease-outbreak thriller, set in an Arctic research facility. Hubris probably had something to do with it. Billy Campbell is the investigator in charge, until the inevitable moment that he isn't.

Jan. 12

"True Detective" (HBO). Deep, unfussy performances by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as partnered policemen — temperamental opposites, wouldn't you know — anchor this assured, Louisiana-set, naturalistic, slow-core murder mystery. Old tropes are freshened here.

Jan. 13

"Don't Trust Andrew Mayne" (A&E). Magician Mayne makes trouble out in the world, using his powers of misdirection to baffle the innocent and bedevil the guilty. You might want to punch him. (See: "Jerks With Cameras," below.)