Every September, a crop of new shows comes around; a few are summarily executed, a few become successes, and the vast majority muddle long for a season or three before they make their way into the Museum of TV and Radio archives, never to be seen again. Every January, that process repeats itself; the difference is that these so-called “midseason” shows tend to be more daring, less easily pigeonholed, and overall just better. (And yes, we said much the same thing last year.) So with the dawn of this year’s midseason shows upon us, we’re calling out the 10 most promising ones. Pair these with returning gems like Agent Carter and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and you’ve got a January watchlist that’s more than enough to get you through—at least until June, when the summer series come around and we get to do this all over again. Oh, time, you so crazy!

Colony (USA, January 14)

Between The Strain and Bates Motel, Carlton Cuse already has two shows returning in 2016, but his newest might just be his best. The show takes place in a near-future Los Angeles, in the aftermath of an event known only as The Arrival. The city is under martial law, governed by some sort of external force (“our hosts,” as one character refers to them). A giant wall keeps much of the city isolated; paramilitary officers patrol the streets, and surveillance drones roam the skies. Inside the “green zone,” ex-FBI agent Will Bowman (Josh Holloway) is conscripted to fight against an insurgency that’s plotting to topple the invaders and take the city back—a decision his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) isn’t all that pleased about. There’s some splashy FX, and just enough mystery to make this a nice place-setter for what’s shaping up to be a promising show; from the looks of things, USA is continuing the prestige-genre push it began with the stellar Mr. Robot. —Peter Rubin

Billions (Showtime, January 17)

Is there anything better than Paul Giamatti playing a fast-talking hard-ass? What about Homeland’s Damian Lewis playing a guy whose eyes you just don’t trust? The answer to both of these questions is “no, there is nothing better than that”—and both characters are in Showtime’s new series, Billions. This time around, Giamatti’s fast-talker is US Attorney Chuck Rhodes and the man in the other corner is Lewis’s Bobby “Axe” Axelrod. Watching them fight it out over an entire season of TV, especially one from Rounders/Ocean’s Thirteen writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien (assisted by Too Big to Fail’s Andrew Ross Sorkin), looks like the best Sunday night fight we can think of. —Angela Watercutter

Legends of Tomorrow (The CW, January 21)

Greg Berlanti’s two successful DC series, Arrow and The Flash, spent most of the fall setting up this special super-team series. Nine characters join forces, some familiar friends from the Arrowverse (White Canary, The Atom), others are familiar former villains (Captain Cold), and others are brand new to the television universe (Rip Hunter). It’s a big gamble—and one that’s allegedly so expensive it may turn out to be a special limited series for The CW—but after two successful comics adaptations, it’s time to start trusting Berlanti Productions when they pull out lesser-known characters from the DC vault to form television’s answer to the Avengers. —K.M. McFarland

Baskets (FX, January 21)

One of the lovely side effects of Louis C.K.’s overall deal with FX is that he now develops other shows in addition to writing/shooting/editing/starring in Louie. He co-wrote Baskets with series star Zach Galifianakis, who plays a man who dreams of being a professional clown. That sounds an awful lot like the old “Will Ferrell as a…” film pitches that begat Anchorman and Taladaga Nights, relying on one actor’s unique talents to carry an otherwise ludicrous premise. But this is Galifianakis’ first regular television role since HBO’s underrated Bored to Death, and the comedic pedigree ensures Baskets will at least be compelling, and could prove that C.K.’s auteur television style can be replicated. —K.M. McFarland

Mad Dogs (Amazon, January 22)

Chris Cole created the original British series Mad Dogs back in 2011, and now The Shield creator Shawn Ryan has aided Cole in adapting an American version of the series. Amazon’s 10-episode remake stars Michael Imperioli, Billy Zane, Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, and Ben Chaplin (from the original series) as friends who reunited in Belize only to get caught up in a dark criminal enterprise. Shaw Ryan’s last series with a canine title, Terriers, is much-beloved but only lasted a single season; perhaps with a strong cast and the recent trend of middling but moderately-praised dark series like Ray Donovan, this one will stick. —K.M. McFarland

The X-Files (Fox, January 24)

Fans have been wanting more X-Files for nearly a decade—longer if you don’t count the 2008 movie The X Files: I Want to Believe. That’s a long time to build up anticipation. Will the new rebooted series, which re-teams Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), fulfill their needs and answer all of those lingering questions? That’s a tall order—and the answer is likely “no,” simply because it’s a six-episode series and even 500 hours of television couldn’t do that—but, man, it’s going to be fun to watch them try. Based on the teasers, this new X chapter has Mulder dredging up old clues to see if he can finally find the truth out there. Scully, ever the skeptic, is also back in action—and telling Mulder he’s losing his grip. Unlike the original series, though, this is X-Files comes in the age of drones and hardcore surveillance, so there’s a whole new layer of conspiracy to consider. It’ll be tough to recapture everything that made X-Files fantastic, but we want to believe. —Angela Watercutter

The Magicians (Syfy, January 25)

Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy was met with high praise as an adult literary fiction companion to Harry Potter. But Syfy’s series adaptation didn’t want to focus on younger kids, so creators Sera Gamble and John McNamara aged up the story to center on graduate students at mysterious Brakebills University. In this world, magic isn’t something commonplace and easily used around the house for chores to make life effortless. It’s hard-won knowledge that can be incredibly impressive, but drains the user and takes painstaking practice to perfect. It likely won’t inspire a theme park devoted to the school or Halloween costumes, but it’s a compelling look at a pressure-cooker for the uniquely gifted. —K.M. McFarland

American Crime Story (FX, February 2)

As much as the O.J. Simpson murder trial captivated the nation for 1o months in 1995, it’s remarkable that there’s been no solid adaptation of it. (And no, we’re not counting Tina Fey as Marcia Clark on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or Seinfeld‘s Johnny Cochrane-spoofing yet supremely unfunny Jackie Chiles, or the Dancing Itos.) So we’re glad its getting the reasonably-prestige treatment as the first season of FX’s new true-crime anthology series. While executive producer Ryan Murphy (Scream Queens, American Horror Story) is the most recognizable name attached, the ones you need to know are creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski; while it’s their first show, they’re the screenwriting team behind Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, and The People vs. Larry Flynt, so the chops are clearly there. Throw in Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Murphy ensemble favorite Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, and long-off-tv David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, and we’re looking at something that’s either going to be remarkably compelling or compellingly batshit. Either way, count us in. —Peter Rubin

Vinyl (HBO, February 14)

The last Terence Winter-created HBO series with a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese was Boardwalk Empire, which made Steve Buscemi a big-time awards contender even as it gradually slipped down critics’ lists throughout its five seasons. Vinyl looks to do the same with Bobby Cannavale, trading Prohibition-era Atlantic City for CBGB’s-era New York City, following a music executive attempting to save his label from going bust. Mick Jagger has an executive producer credit, which along with a cast including Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano (rejuvenated as a dramatic actor on Men of a Certain Age and Parenthood), and Birgitte Hjorth Sørensen (of the highly-acclaimed Danish series Borgen), means everyone should at least give it a shot. —K.M. McFarland

11/22/63 (Hulu, February 15)

11/22/63 would be insanely watchable even if it didn’t have a pedigree that included Stephen King, J.J. Abrams, and Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald. But it does. It has all those things and the latest surprising turn from James Franco. (That guy…) Set in the present day and 1963, the eight-part Hulu original series—based on King’s book—traces what happens when an English teacher (Franco) goes back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. If previous adaptations of King’s work—and the complexities of time-travel paradoxes—are any indication, this one will be a helluva ride. —Angela Watercutter

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The 10 New Midseason Shows Worth Watching