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T.V. That Matters 12/7

By Matt Ern, Columnist

"Justified" - FX

"Justified" is one of the best shows on TV, and you've probably never heard of it. Do yourself a favor and watch the first two seasons before it comes back January 17 (they're not too long). 


It's the story of Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. marshal who's transferred back to his hometown after shooting a fugitive in Miami. The town of Harlan is a mining community in Kentucky where Raylan mixes it up with the various local criminals and crime families. 


"Justified" mixes case-of-the-week style episodes with terrific season-long arcs featuring top-notch guest stars – Margo Martindale won an Emmy for her portrayal of Mags Bennett, the second season's villain. 


"Fear Factor" -  NBC

Hey, remember America's torrid love affair with "Fear Factor"? Me neither, but apparently the reruns of NBC's gross-out/stunt show rate so well, NBC has decided to bring it back for eight more episodes, starting December  12. Joe Rogan will be returning to yell at contestants while they jump through burning buildings and eat bugs for the first time since 2006 (this time in HD no less!) This is truly a Christmas miracle. 


"Who's Still Standing" - NBC

Based on the (apparently) popular Israeli game show "Still Standing," "Who's Still Standing" is a trivia competition slated to premiere on NBC December 19.  And the best news of all: Ben Baily will be hosting. 


Contestants can win up to $1 million on the show, but the twist is that losing causes them to be dropped through holes in the floor. It's remarkably similar to another show called "Russian Roulette" I used to watch on the Game Show Network all the time, but I have no idea what network it originally aired on or whether it was also an adaptation of "Still Standing."   


"Winter Wipeout" - ABC

ABC'S incredibly popular obstacle-course games how returns with another season this winter starting on December 8. "Wipeout" features contestants moving through various stages of increasingly elaborate and difficult obstacle courses while commentators berate them and make up unflattering nicknames. The commentary may get old eventually, but watching people get hit in the face and fall in the mud probably won't, so I'm glad "Wipeout" is back. 


"30 Rock" - NBC

Do I really need to tell you that you should be watching "30 Rock"?  It's been sorely missed on NBC's Thursday night lineup, especially considering it was replaced with "Whitney." But thankfully Liz, Jack, and Tracy will be back on January 12th. It's also rumored to be Alec Baldwin's last season with the show.  The best days of "30 Rock" may be behind us, but it's still better than almost everything else on TV, so get excited for it, okay?   


"Cougar Town"

"Cougar Town" doesn't have a definitive season premiere date yet, but watch it whenever it happens to return in the next few months. Don't let the incredibly dumb name fool you; it's actually a pretty good show and has pulled off some of the most meta jokes I've ever seen (it exists in the same universe as "Scrubs" and Abed from "Community" appears in one episode as Abed, after explaining in an episode of "Community" that he got to be an extra on "Cougar Town"). If you were a fan of "Scrubs" check out "Cougar Town" before it's gone; they share the same writing staff and a lot of the same actors. 

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