Winter Arts Preview: TV

Aleksander Chan

Premieres Jan. 29 on HBO

From “Deadwood” creator David Milch and director Michael Mann, this drama set in the high-stakes gambling world of competitive horse racing looks to be just as moody, gritty and slicing as its creators’ filmography. Dustin Hoffman stars as conniving mobster Chester “Ace” Bernstein, who returns to the racetracks and derby players after a four-year stint in prison. Nick Nolte plays a horse trainer caught up in his scheming. Knowing Milch, this won’t be about horse racing, but the price we pay for passion in a culture that encourages obsession.

Premieres Feb. 6 on NBC

Set during the casting of a Broadway musical about the life and loss of Marilyn Monroe, “American Idol” finalist Katharine McPhee stars as the ambitious, breakout Iowa chanteuse favored for the role over a veteran actress. Talked up as “Glee” for grown-ups, this pedigreed musical drama features Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston and looks to be the kind of serious, intriguing drama long missing from NBC’s schedule. It’s a high-concept, stylized work championed by new network president Robert Greenblatt, who developed Showtime’s trademark original series “Weeds” and “Dexter.”

“Mad Men”
Returns in March on AMC

After being held up by financial and contract negotiations with series auteur Matt Weiner, the ‘60s drama finally returned to production in August, readying for a March premiere of its anticipated fifth season. We last saw suave ad man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) struggling with the thought of facing his mortality in the wake of his divorce — and in a whirlwind season finale, becomes engaged to his coquettish secretary. After a fall season of mediocre knock-offs (“The Playboy Club”), seeing this chicly designed drama about Fitzgeraldian reinvention back on the air will be warmly received.