Winter TV Preview: 5 new dramas we can't wait to watch

Fall TV? That’s so last season. These days, winter TV is just as jam-packed as fall, with dozens of new shows hitting the airwaves between now and the end of March. To guide you through the wilderness (and keep you from watching “Buckwild”), we’ve selected five new dramas debuting soon that already have us intrigued… and should be able to tide you over until “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones” come back, at least.

“The Following” (Fox, January 21)

Kevin Bacon becomes the latest movie star to try TV with this grim, gritty new crime drama from Kevin Williamson (who knows all about blood and gore from “The Vampire Diaries” and the “Scream” films). Bacon stars as former federal agent Ryan Hardy, who’s called back into action when the serial killer he helped put away (James Purefoy) escapes from death row. But it’s not the killer Hardy needs to be worried about; it’s his cult of devoted followers willing to carry out his deadly commands. A pulse-pounding mash-up of “Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven” with a darkness not usually seen on network TV, “The Following” feels like a cable drama… and that’s a compliment. Just don’t watch this one alone.

[Photos: All the New and Returning Midseason Shows]

“The Carrie Diaries” (The CW, January 14)

Flash back to Carrie Bradshaw’s teenage years in this totally ‘80s “Sex and the City” prequel. “Soul Surfer’s” AnnaSophia Robb plays a 16-year-old Carrie, who’s coping with the death of her mother and the usual high school drama in suburban Connecticut, circa 1984. But when she lands an internship at a Manhattan law firm, she meets the love of her life: New York City. Robb is winning as a Carrie who’s yet to encounter sex or the city, and “Diaries” does show glimpses of “SATC’s” bittersweet dramatic flair. We couldn’t help but wonder: Might this be the perfect substitute for fans mourning the loss of “Gossip Girl”?

“Bates Motel” (A&E, March)

Another prequel reboot, but with a much deadlier tone, is this latest take on the Hitchcock horror classic “Psycho.” Set in present day, “Bates Motel” takes us inside the formative years of troubled mama’s boy Norman Bates, played by British child star Freddie Highmore (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”). Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga co-stars as his loving mother Norma, the production team includes alums from “Lost” and “Friday Night Lights,” and the trailer has a sinister, “American Horror Story”-type vibe to it (right down to the ominous heavy bass sounds). Save us a room at this motel; we might be staying here a while.

[Photos: 13 for '13: TV We're Most Excited About in 2013]

“Monday Mornings” (TNT, February 4)

We know what you’re thinking: Another doctor show? Yes, another doctor show. But this one caught our eye for the talent behind the scenes (uber-producer David E. Kelley of "Ally McBeal" fame, adapting a book by CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta) and in front of the camera (Ving Rhames, Alfred Molina, and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Jamie Bamber as doctors at a Portland hospital). Plus, the title comes from the hospital’s weekly meetings where the doctors dissect their sometimes fatal mistakes, so these docs aren’t infallible superheroes. As long as Kelley doesn’t try to slip in any dancing babies, count us in.

“The Americans” (FX, January 30)

“Homeland” meets the Cold War in this new thriller, starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as married parents in 1980s suburbia… who also happen to be undercover Soviet spies. (Take that, Sergeant Brody!) “Felicity” made us Keri Russell fans for life (we even watched “Running Wilde,” God help us), and seeing her calmly hold a knife to her husband’s throat proves she’s a long way from Ben and Noel. Throw in Noah Emmerich as the couple’s new FBI agent neighbor and “Justified” showrunner Graham Yost behind the scenes, and it looks like we’ve got our TV spy fix covered while “Homeland” is between seasons.