12 Shows to Look Forward to in 2012

12 Shows to Look Forward to in 2012 It’s a New Year, folks, and that means a whole new slate of TV programming.

From the return of award-winners like “Mad Men,” "Justified" and “Game of Thrones” to a new Dustin Hoffmann HBO show and Don Cheadle on Showtime, 2012 promises to be something special for TV watchers and cord-cutters alike.

Check out our previews of the Class of 2012 – 12 shows to look forward to in the brand new year.

Luck” - January 29th at 10 p.m.
HBO made some serious room from their schedule at the end of the year to make room for new shows like this one. The network ran a preview of the new hour-long horse racing drama, starring Dustin Hoffmann and Nick Nolte, right after the finale of "Boardwalk Empire," and man is this powerful TV. With powerhouse acting from Hoffmann and A-list cinematic directing talent from Michael Mann, this is a gorgeous, well-written show about greed, gambling and the world's most beautiful and expensive ponies.

"Mad Men" – Friday, March 16
It took them long enough, but AMC is finally getting around to launching a season five of "Mad Men," kicking off with a Jon Hamm-directed premiere on March 16th. The show will reportedly pick up sixteen months form where it left off, which will have Don recently married to wife Megan, Joan with Roger Sterling's child and the whole crew in a new office with a whole new company to run. Seriously. Can't. Wait. The only real question is if Matthew Weiner and the "Mad Men" crew can bring in an unprecedented fifth Emmy for Best Drama.

"The Walking Dead" - February 12 at 9 p.m.
After the oh-so-messy incident at the barn, how will Rick and crew pick up the pieces at Herschel's Farm? AMC picks up where they left off (aka finally started getting good again) with a six-episode run starting back up in February. Will the group stay together, or will the violence cause the already visible fissures in unity to become gaping chasms? Will they promise not to spend any more episodes wandering around the woods aimlessly? Pretty please?

"Eastbound and Down" – HBO,  Feb. 19th at 10 p.m.
You know who's excited about 2012? Kenny F^&*ing Powers, that's who. Baseball's bad boy has left the cockfighting and corn rows of his Mexicand baseball adventure behind and is headed back to the good ol' U.S. of A., mainly the Spring Break playground of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Kenny will reportedly helm the mighty Myrtle Beach Mermen. Sadly, this will be the last season of "Eastbound and Down," but not likely the last we'll see of our man KP.

"Game of Thrones" – HBO, April 15th
Winter is coming…eventually…we swear. HBO’s new series made just about all of our writer’s lists of the best 5 new shows of 2011, and garnered a boatload of Emmy noms to boot. The show is already garnering more per episode in overseas revenue than “The Sopranos,” which may tell you everything you need to know about the long-term prospects for this lush and lusty medieval romp.

"Alcatraz"- Fox, January 16th at 8:00 p.m.
J.J. Abrams is Executive Producing this sci-fi thriller about a bunch of former Alcatraz prisoners (who are supposed to be dead) out on the loose on the streets of San Francisco terrorizing the general populous. Are they ghosts? Time travelers? Can they be stopped? We’re not sure, but with Abrams on board, you can be sure there’s a government conspiracy involved. Likable “Lost” big man Jorge Garcia is on the cast. Given Abrams Luck with "Person of Interests," and the presence of Garcia, we've got high hopes for for this one.

"House of Lies"- Showtime, January 8th at 10:00 p.m.
Don Cheadle as the black Ari Gold? Count us in. The new Showtime series is based on the book “House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time,” starring Cheadle as “a cutthroat consultant (who) is never above using any means (or anyone) necessary to get his clients the information they want.”

"Touch"- Fox, March 19th at 9:00 p.m.
In his first full-time TV role since “24,” Kiefer Sutherland playsa widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute, severely autistic 11-year-old son, Jake” until he discovers that his son has a special gift which allows him to make connections and predict events using numbers. From “Heroes” writer/creator Tim Kring, the show also stars Danny Glover, as a professor with some gifts of his own.

"Justified” – FX, January 17th at 10:00 p.m. EST
This bad-ass tale of an old-school sheriff in modern times garnered four Emmy Awards nominations this year, including one for Timothy Olyphant’s acting.Margo Martindale won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The third season kicks off this March.

"Shameless" – Showtime, January 8th at 8:00 p.m.
William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum are headed back to the Windy City. As Showtime puts it,It's summertime and the Gallaghers of Chicago are cooking up fresh ways to bring home the bacon. Their ventures may not be moral — or even legal — but they certainly are outrageous.” Expect lots of booze, sex and “no collar “South Side hijinks to ensue.

"American Idol" – Fox, January 18th at 8:00 p.m.
“American Idol” was supposed to be rendered irrelevant by this time of year by Simon Cowell’s super-mega-monster-X-Factor-spectacular. Did it happen? Not so much. The biggest music talent show on the air is back Wednesday, Jan. 18 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Thursday, Jan. 19 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). J Lo is reportedly making $20 million for her judging talents, so she damn well better do something special this year.

Jersey Shore” – MTV, January 5th at 10:00 p.m.
We’re not saying “Jersey Shore” belongs in the same article as “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones,” but a whole lot of y’all are gonna watch it, and who are we to come between you and your Snooki? Lucky us, the Shore crew is back from Italy and rarin’ to go, and the whole cast is in for season five, despite messy salary negotiations and the departure-and-return of Vinny to the house.