Syfy has just announced its programming schedule for Winter 2013, with a number of new and returning shows bowing in January.
Among the most notable premieres: the final season of "Merlin" begins January 4; "Being Human" and Canadian import "Lost Girl" return for their third seasons on Jan. 14; special effects makeup competition "Face Off" returns for Season 4 on Jan. 15, and "Robot Combat League" premieres on Feb. 26. Also making its debut is time-travel police drama "Continuum," premiering on Jan. 14 before "Being Human."
For a full list of Syfy's winter premieres and summaries for their new seasons, read on.
"Merlin" (Friday, January 4 at 10 p.m. EST)
With Queen Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table at his side, Arthur has never felt stronger. But even as Camelot flowers, the seeds of its destruction are being sown. "Merlin" returns for its fifth and final season of 13 all-new episodes with its core cast of Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and John Hurt, along with newest cast member Alexander Vlahos as Mordred. Special guest stars in season five include Lindsay Duncan, Janet Montgomery, Liam Cunningham, Josette Simon, Sophie Rundle and the return of Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon.
"Continuum" (Monday, January 14 at 8 p.m. EST)
The time-traveling police drama "Continuum" stars Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron, a cop from the future who finds herself trapped in the present day. When a group of fanatical terrorists escapes their planned execution in 2077 by vaulting back in time to 2012, they inadvertently sweep along Kiera, a dedicated City Protective Services officer. With unexpected assistance from teen tech genius Alec Sadler, played by Erik Knudsen, Kiera infiltrates the local police department and forms an uneasy alliance with her new partner, detective Carlos Fonnegra, portrayed by Victor Webster. Though desperate to get back to her husband and son, Kiera concentrates on bringing down the terrorists before they change the course of history.
"Being Human" (Monday, January 14 at 9 p.m. EST)
Syfy’s original series "Being Human" stars Sam Witwer as Aidan, Meaghan Rath as Sally and Sam Huntington as Josh with Kristen Hager as Nora, joining this year as a series regular. The season will consist of 13 episodes. In the Season 2 cliffhanger Aidan found himself six feet under after being banished and buried as punishment from vampire leader Mother. Sally became lost in a state of limbo and for Josh, events went horribly wrong when his plot to break the werewolf curse by killing his Maker Ray backfired, endangering Nora. Now, as the new season begins … be careful what you wish for! Season 3 also features a stellar lineup of new and returning guest stars including: Mark Pellegrino as Aidan’s vampire mentor Bishop; Amy Aquino as Donna, a witch whose supernatural spells are sought to help Sally; Xander Berkeley as Liam, the father of purebred werewolf twins who is intent on locating his missing children; Bobby Campo as Max, a young mortician who develops a connection with Sally; and Kyle Schmid returning as Aidan’s vampire protégé/”son” Henry.
"Lost Girl" (Monday, January 14 at 10 p.m. EST)
The victory in the final battle of Season 2 has created new alliances for Bo along with reinvigorating old enemies, like “The Morrigan,” played by Emmanuelle Vaugier, whom Bo crossed in an attempt to bring peace to the Faedom. Now Bo, who until now has refused to pick a side, will be forced to make a deadly decision. Among the guest stars will be Linda Hamilton. Joining the "Lost Girl" cast this season is Rachel Skarsten in a recurring role as Tamsin, a thrill-seeking, sexy new Fae who ruffles many feathers. Returning for season three are Kris Holden-Ried as Dyson; Ksenia Solo as Kenzi; Zoie Palmer as Lauren; Rick Howland as Trick and K.C. Collins as Hale.
"Face Off" (Tuesday, January 15 at 9 p.m. EST)
Hit competition series "Face Off" returns for its fourth season with a special 90-minute premiere episode. The new season features guest appearances from notables including Bryan Singer and Lightstorm’s Jon Landau. Dwight D. Smith, Michael Agbabian and Derek Atherton of Mission Control Media will return as executive producers. Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination that allows them to create amazing works of living art. McKenzie Westmore hosts. Judging the Face Off competition are some of the most renowned names in the SFX world -- three-time Academy Award winner Ve Neill, famed special make-up effects artist Glenn Hetrick and feature film creature designer Neville Page. In a surprising new twist, the contestants will have a mentor. Joining the series this season will be world-renowned Hollywood makeup artist Michael Westmore.
"Total Blackout" (Tuesday, January 15 at 10:30 p.m. EST)
Hosted by Jaleel White, "Total Blackout" resumes its second season at the special time of 10:30 p.m. after the 90-minute, season four premiere of "Face Off." The following Tuesday, January 22, Total Blackout returns to its regular 10 p.m. time slot. In the premiere episode of the half-hour extreme game show. four teams must overcome their imaginations as they attempt to identify four skin-crawling items placed in tanks, using only their sense of touch. Those who survive must move on to the Walk of Terror, where items below their feet aren’t always what they seem. The final two remaining teams are then tasked with collecting mouse traps hidden amongst unknown objects set inside creepy coffins in order to win the $5,000 prize.
"Ghost Hunters" (Wednesday, January 16 at 9 p.m. EST)
Syfy’s longest-running unscripted series returns for a ninth season. To kick off the 16 all-new episodes, TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) –- led by Jason Hawes -– heads out West to investigate some of the most (in)famously haunted locations in California and the Midwest. They’ll continue to travel around the country throughout the season, using their investigative expertise to bring aid and comfort to clients at both public institutions and private homes alike.
"Ghost Mine" (Wednesday, January 16 at 10 p.m. EST)
Forgotten in the remote woods of Oregon is one of the richest gold mines in the United States that was abandoned 80 years ago when a series of tragedies gave it an infamous reputation for being haunted. Now, a new owner has decided to take on the notorious legend and reopen the mine, assembling a rag-tag group of miners -– both seasoned and new –- to battle the elements in hopes of finding their fortune, teaming them with a pair of experienced paranormal investigators. In each of the six hour-long episodes, this strong-willed and historically superstitious group of miners will face the day-to-day challenges of mining, aided by the paranormal investigators who unravel the mysteries surrounding the mine, including historic Masonic connections and a spirit who has been known to haunt the area for generations.
"Robot Combat League" (Tuesday, February 26 at 10 p.m. EST)
Now, through ground-breaking engineering, the fusion of a human’s fighting spirit with a powerful machine built for destruction has become reality in "Robot Combat League." This new high-octane unscripted series puts a 21st century spin on gladiatorial combat with tournament-style battle between eight-feet tall, state-of-the-art humanoid robots whose movements are controlled by exo-suit clad human “robo-jockeys.” Twelve teams of two contestants -– a fighter (the “robo-jockey”) and a robotics engineer (the “robo-tech”) -– are paired with unique robots that clash in the ring for three rounds of intense action, with the winning team advancing in the tournament. Hosted by WWE wrestler Chris Jericho.
"Stranded" (Wednesday, February 27 at 10 p.m. EST)
An all-new six-episode reality series that documents an unconventional –- and terrifying -– paranormal and psychological experiment. Each hour-long episode features the self-recorded footage of a diverse group of every-day paranormal enthusiasts -- from newlyweds and a brother-in-law to a trio of roommates. Each team of three will be stranded at one of the most haunted locations in America and record the entire experience with hand-held cameras. The footage from the subjects’ cameras will be supplemented by strategically-placed security cameras at each location, creating a suspenseful, completely unscripted first-hand account of each group’s stay. Over the course of the confinement, the subjects contend with increasingly pervasive feelings of fear and desolation, resulting in an experiment that represents a unique combination of psychology and the paranormal.
"Haunted Collector" (Wednesday, March 6 at 9 p.m. EST)
Eminent paranormal collector John Zaffis and his team of investigators respond to SOS calls from around the country by individuals and businesses who’ve been terrorized by items that have been taken over by paranormal spirits and/or energy. Through careful research, Zaffis works with the owner to find the best solution to the ghostly problem, such as returning the item to its owner, burying the object in its place of origin or storing it in his paranormal museum in Stratford, Connecticut.
Which new or returning Syfy shows are you most looking forward to? Weigh in below!
Original UK Series: "Till Death Us Do Part" The show that introduced the world to "lovable bigot" Archie Bunker, "All in the Family" was the first series to spend five consecutive years on top of the Nielsen ratings. Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin (who also adapted "Sanford and Son" from its UK predecessor) the sitcom was notable for its decision to tackle social issues that other network comedies of the time had never touched, such as homosexuality, racism, rape, abortion, breast cancer and the Vietnam war.
Original UK Series: "Steptoe and Son" This iconic NBC sitcom, which aired from 1972 until 1977, was one of the highest rated shows of its time, peaking at number 2 in the ratings behind only "All in the Family." It is considered groundbreaking for its portrayal of race, and is thought to have paved the way for "The Cosby Show" and other sitcoms centered around African American families. (Although the British original was groundbreaking in different ways, notably for its elements of social realism, it featured Caucasian leads.)
Original UK Series: "Dragon's Den" A hit in both the UK and Canada, "Dragon's Den" embodies all the elements of a hit reality show: Judges with attitude, random wackiness, and average Joes who either make money or fools of themselves. "Shark Tank" works because it didn't meddle with the winning formula -- it's harsh, cruel and blunt; it even uses two of the same "Sharks" that appear on the Canadian version.
Original UK Series: "Hell's Kitchen" The thread that ties these two together is Gordon Ramsay. Without his acerbic, curse-laden diatribes, this show would not work on either continent. There's something almost cathartic about watching "Hell's Kitchen," which might be why it works so well -- you instantly feel better about your own cooking, and you can release a bit of anger every time Ramsay yells at one of the contestants.
Original UK Series: "Shameless" Showtime's American adaptation of "Shameless" has worked for a few reasons. Most importantly, its central story of a dysfunctional family struggling to make ends meet resonated with audiences during the recession. The show also hit home runs with its casting: William H. Macy plays a great drunk, and Emmy Rossum has emerged as the show's tough, sexy breakout star.
Original UK Series: "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" There are a two very simple reasons "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" took off in the US. Number one: Every single American TV viewer would like to be a millionaire. Number two: Regis Philbin and his monochromatic shirt/tie combinations were awesome.
Original UK Series: "The Office" Ricky Gervais' British sitcom "The Office" premiered in 2001 and followed the employees of the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company. Though it only lasted two seasons in the UK, it lives on in the US. The American version starred Steve Carell and made him a highly-coveted film actor, and did the same for John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and more of its stars. Now going into its ninth season, the dry humor and mockumentary-style series about the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company employees set the tone for many more comedies to come (i.e. "Modern Family").
Original UK Series: "What Not to Wear" The BAFTA-nominated original UK series "What Not To Wear" had Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine makeover some of the UK's most awfully dressed Brits for five seasons (before they left and Lisa Butcher and Mica Paris took over for the show's sixth and seventh seasons). Though the US installment of "What Not to Wear" premiered shortly thereafter with a bit of a rough start with Wayne Scot Lukas, the American version found its footing in Season 2. The dynamic between Stacy London and Clinton Kelly has helped the show last for nine seasons and counting.
Original UK Series: "Queer as Folk" The UK's original "Queer as Folk" made its debut in 1999 and broke gay stereotypes throughout its two seasons, as did the US remake. "Queer as Folk" premiered on Showtime stateside in 2000 and made a splash as the first hour-long drama on American television to portray the lives of gay men and women. The series covered homophobia, late-in-life gay characters, coming out, gay adoption, HIV and many more taboo subjects. "Queer as Folk" broke down cultural barriers, paving the way for series like "The L Word" to make their debut and for acceptance of the gay community at large.
Original UK Series: "Man About The House" The UK original lasted six seasons in the early-to-mid-'70s, but the US version produced more than four times as many episodes (172 in total) over its eight seasons on the air, mainly due to a hilarious cast led by the late John Ritter.
Original UK Series: "Strictly Come Dancing" Before there was Pam Anderson, Drew Lachey and Bristol Palin (just three of the U.S. version's "All Stars" for Season 15), there was the UK's "Strictly Come Dancing," which premiered in 2004 and immediately spawned international spin-offs in 32 other countries and counting.
Original UK Series: "Pop Idol" "American Idol" is a ratings juggernaut, and it's not showing many signs of slowing down. With a revolving panel of music icons as celebrity judges and a fanbase that not only votes each week for their favorite singers, but buys their music and follows the contestants on tour, this is the reality competition to beat in the ratings.
Original UK Series: "Changing Rooms" It's not easy to find designers who are personable, talented and able to deal with the demands of a microbudget, time-crunched renovation, but both of these shows managed to do that, which is why they were both long-running hits in their respective countries. On both shows, viewers got crash courses in how to remake a room for very little dough, and even if we ultimately preferred the mildly acerbic British designers, both shows were the best kind of how-to program: They made you actually think you might be able to accomplish something similar (if you got off your couch, that is).
Original UK series: "Prime Suspect" We know, we know, the Helen Mirren original is a classic character-driven cop drama and the NBC show never quite rose to the heights that the UK series did. Having said that, NBC's version of the cop show evolved into an enjoyably meaty, well-acted ensemble drama that made great use of its versatile, talented cast and a committed performance from star Maria Bello. We were all ready to doubt the US version of the show, but her Jane Timoney made believers of us during "Prime Suspect's" brief run on the Peacock network.
Original UK Series: "The Inbetweeners" Though time will tell if the MTV adaptation will be able to rival the cult appeal of the original, the first three episodes of the new comedy prove just as charming as the British show, albeit in distinctly American ways. British humor may be dry and acerbic, but the new cast has undeniable chemistry and comic timing, and it will be interesting to see where the show goes when it starts utilizing its original material, rather than the six episodes it based on the UK series.