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Tv | Perspective

‘The Chi,’ ‘Versace,’ ‘Altered Carbon’ and other winter shows to help you hibernate

By Hank Stuever

December 29, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Sonja Sohn as Laverne and Jahking Guillory as Coogie in “The Chi.” (Matt Dinerstein/Showtime/Matt Dinerstein/Showtime)

Let's face it, hibernation has never been easier. Here are some quick suggestions for new television shows that are worth checking out between now and the first signs of spring.

"The Chi" (Sunday, Jan. 7, at 10 p.m. on Showtime) : Emmy winner Lena Waithe ("Master of None") takes a nuanced approach to this drama about kids and young adults living on Chicago's crime-ridden South Side. There's a focus on two specific murders, sure, but what's more striking is how deftly Waithe and her actors create a strong sense of empathy for the characters' everyday lives. They are more than just bystanders; if one has to compare "The Chi" to other works in this genre, let's just say it's less "The Wire" and more "Treme."

"Black Lightning" (Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 9 p.m. on CW): What­ever happened to Black Lightning, the energy-controlling DC Comics superhero who first appeared in 1977? In this imaginative reboot, Black Lightning retired and, as Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), became a much-admired high school principal. But with his city terrorized by a violent gang called the One Hundred, Jefferson starts to reconsider. Of course, there are consequences to superhero-ing while black. It's a thoughtful approach to the genre's usual tropes, and Williams excels as a conflicted good guy.

Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” (Jeff Daly/FX/FX)

"The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" (Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 10 p.m. on FX): Having ignited a nonfiction reenactment craze with "The People v. O.J. Simpson," Ryan Murphy and company return with this less-remembered tale of the psychopathic serial killer (Andrew Cunanan, played by Darren Criss) who murdered Versace (Edgar Ramirez) on the steps of the fashion mogul's ­Miami mansion in 1997. The first episode hits a hoped-for sweet spot between fact and sensation — especially when Donatella Versace (Penélope Cruz) arrives to take over her brother's empire.

"Counterpart" (Sunday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. on Starz): Oscar winner J.K. Simmons gets dual roles in this dark mind-bender. In one dimension, Howard Silk is a longtime schmo who labors at a desk job in a Berlin-based U.N. intelligence office; but in another dimension, he's a ruthless agent who must cross over to this dimension to take care of some deadly business. Bullets fly, but it's more interesting to watch Simmons in scenes where Howards No. 1 and 2 realize how different — yet still alike — they are.

"Altered Carbon" (Friday, Feb. 2 on Net­flix): This series adaptation of Richard K. Morgan's 2002 cyberpunk novel certainly looks like a million bucks, based on a quick preview of the pilot episode. It's set in the 2400s, where consciousness is digitized and transferrable on vertabrae-like hard drives. Thus, an interstellar warrior (Will Yun Lee) is revived in a new body "sleeve" ("The Killing's" Joel Kinnaman) by a billionaire (James Purefoy) who wants him to solve a murder.

"The Looming Tower" (Wednesday, Feb. 28 on Hulu): Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer-winning book about the events that led up to the Sept. 11 attacks works as an instantly absorbing 10-episode miniseries (produced by "Going Clear's" Alex Gibney and "Capote's" Dan Futterman) that plays a little like a late-'90s "Homeland," with an added, inexorable sense of dread about what's ahead. Jeff Daniels stars as FBI counterterrorism expert John O'Neill, and Tahar Rahim ("A Prophet) is terrific as agent Ali Soufan.

Auli'i Cravalho as Lilette Suarez and Damon J. Gillespie as Robbie Thorne in “Rise.” (NBC/Peter Kramer/NBC)

"Rise" (Tuesday, March 13 at 10 p.m. on NBC): Loosely based on journalist Michael Sokolove's book "Drama High," this engaging series from Jason Katims ("Friday Night Lights") takes some of "Glee's" exuberance and mixes it with a "This Is Us"-style feel. Josh Radnor stars as a high school English teacher who takes over the drama department with the unlikely goal of staging a musical that's more provocative than another production of "Grease." (Answer? "Spring Awakening.")

RETURNING SHOWS

Here's a select list of premiere dates for some shows that are returning soon, with my recommendations starred (). Note: Midseason return dates for shows that already premiered last fall aren't included here; also, some returning shows had not announced premiere dates in time for this article.

"60 Days In" (A&E; at 9) Monday, Jan. 1

"The Amazing Race" (CBS at 8) Wednesday, Jan. 3

"The Americans" (FX) Final season; premiere date TBA

"Another Period" (Comedy Central at 10:30) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Ash vs. Evil Dead" (Starz at 9) Sunday, Feb. 25

"The Bachelor" (ABC at 8) Monday, Jan. 1

"Baskets" (FX at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Better Late Than Never" (NBC at 9) Monday, Jan. 1

"Beyond" (Freeform at 8) Thursday, Jan. 18

"Big Brother" (CBS at 8) Wednesday, Feb. 7

"Billion Dollar Buyer" (CNBC at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 3

"Billions" (Showtime) Premiere date TBA

"Bizarre Foods" (Travel at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Catfish: The TV Show" (MTV at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 3

"Crashing" (HBO at 10:30) Sunday, Jan. 14

"DC's Legends of Tomorrow" (CW at 8) Monday, Feb. 12

"The Detectorists" (Acorn TV) Monday, Jan. 15

"The Detour" (TBS at 10:30) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Drunk History" (Comedy Central at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Divorce" (HBO at 10) Sunday, Jan. 14

"The Good Fight" (CBS All Access) Sunday, March 4

"Grace and Frankie" (Netflix) Friday, Jan. 19

"The Haves and the Have Nots" (OWN at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 9

"High Maintenance" (HBO at 11) Friday, Jan. 19

"Homeland" (Showtime at 9) Sunday, Feb. 11

"Home Town" (HGTV at 9) Monday, Jan. 8

"If Loving You Is Wrong" (OWN at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 10

"Intervention" (A&E; at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 2

"The Magicians" (Syfy at 9) Wednesday, Jan. 10

"Mama June: From Not to Hot" (We TV at 9) Friday, Jan. 12

"Married at First Sight" (Lifetime at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 2

"Marvel's Jessica Jones" (Netflix) Thursday, March 8

"Match Game" (ABC at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 3

"Mozart in the Jungle" (Amazon) Friday, Feb. 16

"My 600-lb. Life" (TLC at 8) Wednesday, Jan. 10

"Nashville" (CMT at 9) Thursday, Jan. 4

"The Path" (Hulu) Wednesday, Jan. 17

"Portlandia" (IFC at 10) Thursday, Jan. 18

"One Day at a Time" (Netflix) Friday, Jan. 26

"The Quad" (BET at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 23

"Roseanne" (ABC at 8) Tuesday, March 27

"Say Yes to the Dress" (TLC at 8) Saturday, Jan. 6

"Schitt's Creek" (Pop TV at 8) Wednesday, Jan. 24

"Sister Wives" (TLC at 8) Sunday, Jan. 7

"Strike Back" (Cinemax at 10) Friday, Feb. 2

"Summer House" (Bravo at 10) Monday, Jan. 22

"Survivor" (CBS at 8) Wednesday, Feb. 28

"Taken" (NBC at 9) Friday, Jan. 12

"UnREAL" (Lifetime at 10) Monday, Feb. 26

"Victoria" (PBS at 9) Sunday, Jan. 14

"The Voice" (NBC at 8) Monday, Feb. 26

"WAGS Atlanta" (E! at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 3

"The Wall" (NBC at 8) Monday, Jan. 1

"When Calls the Heart" (Hallmark at 9) Sunday, Feb. 18


Hank Stuever has been The Washington Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a reporter for the Style section, where he covered popular culture.

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Tv | Perspective

‘The Chi,’ ‘Versace,’ ‘Altered Carbon’ and other winter shows to help you hibernate

By Hank Stuever

December 29, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Sonja Sohn as Laverne and Jahking Guillory as Coogie in “The Chi.” (Matt Dinerstein/Showtime/Matt Dinerstein/Showtime)

Let's face it, hibernation has never been easier. Here are some quick suggestions for new television shows that are worth checking out between now and the first signs of spring.

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