TV Critics are just coming off two weeks at The Television Critics Association Press Tour, where all the networks present panels for their new shows, featuring Q&A's with the stars and creators. The content of these conversations has the power to turn critics into swoony-eyed lovers or fang-baring haters, so I postponed selecting my favorite new shows until I'd digested everything the powers that be had to say.
So take a gander at 2013's Six Best New Shows, and their trailers, to see what stood up to scrutiny and left this critic breathless for more.
The Americans, FX
While some shows simply feel like a network's attempt to rip off the success of another (I'm looking at you NBC's Deception, which puts the "eh" in Revenge), FX's The Americans will simply appeal to everyone who enjoys Homeland, while serving up an entirely original story.
Well, not entirely original as the hypnotic story of two Russian sleeper spies living in Washington, D.C. circa 1980 is actually based on countless real couples whose marriage was just one masquerade they were forced to maintain in order to keep their cover.
The Americans premieres January 30.
The Carrie Diaries, The CW
This Sex and the City prequel may focus on a teen Carrie Bradshaw, but the drama she faces in 1984 is just as topical, touching and tough as her contemporary HBO incarnation. And by embracing what Carrie Diaries EP Amy B. Harris has dubbed "Aspirational Authenticity" when it comes to the clothes, style-savvy viewers won't be forced to endure one neon scrunchie after another.
But the show's biggest asset is star AnnaSophia Robb, who does a phenomenal job of playing Carrie Bradshaw without imitating Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Carrie Diaries premieres January 14.
Bates Motel, A&E
A&E's reimagining of Norman and Norma Bates' story is modern in setting (cell phones, internet, Taylor Swift songs) but classic in execution, ensuring Hitchcock fans won't be the only ones peeping this pre-Psycho story.
Vera Farmiga is nothing short of a revelation as a pre-skeleton Norma Bates, while casting cherubic Freddie Highmore as Norman ensures his decent into madness will be a fascinating one. And with EP's Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) running the show, you can count on the family horrors being well-matched by the terrorizing townsfolk surrounding the iconic resting place.
Bates Motel premieres March 18.
USA is known -- and celebrated -- for their "Blue Skies" shows, but with the network's second series from Jeff Eastin (he previously created White Collar), the skies have gotten a little cloudy and and the darker drama that emerges is a refreshing change of pace, while still being totally on-brand for USA.
Starring Aaron Tveit (hot off Les Miserables) and Daniel Sunjata (just plan hot), Graceland tells the recently declassified true story of a beach-side mansion that is transformed into housing for a diverse group of undercover agents from The DEA, The FBI and U.S. Customs. Watching these officers work and live together while collaborating on cases and grocery makes for excellent drama, while the charismatic cast dazzles, proving USA is the most consistent network when it comes to cultivating chemistry.
Graceland premieres this summer.
Ray Donovan, Showtime
When Liev Schreiber comes to television, you pay attention -- especially when the star-vehicle is as complex and powerful as this drama, which not only examines the cult of celebrity, but also the long-lasting effects sexual abuse has on the devout.
Ray Donovan premieres June 30.
The Following, Fox
Kevin Williamson has been terrifying audiences since 1996, but the brain behind Scream has never delivered a dose of fear quite like this as The Following is far and away the most terrifying show in television history.
Stars Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy bring to life a breathless game of cat and mouse as their characters match wits in an attempt to permanently put the other down. But the true standouts here are Nico Tortorella, Adan Canto and Valorie Curry, who play three of Carroll's disciples. I won't ruin what's to come in their eye-popping and jaw-dropping storyline, but it makes for the year's most compulsively watchable storytelling.
The Following premieres January 21.
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