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Seven Days of Television: December 30 to January 5

A select viewing guide to the next seven days of television

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MONDAY DECEMBER 30 Almost Human (Fox, Global, 8 p.m.) One of the few breakout hits of the current TV season, this sci-fi show launched with the imprimatur of TV wunderkind J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Star Trek) as executive producer. Tonight’s original pilot episode takes place 30 years in the future when the entire world seems to be overrun with criminals and desperate characters. Enter the dour detective John Kennex (Karl Urban), sole survivor of a devastating police massacre and not the biggest fan of those newfangled robot cops on the police force. Naturally, Kennex’s new partner turns out to be a robot cop named Dorian (Michael Ealy) and the odd-couple heroics begin.

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TUESDAY DECEMBER 31 Air Farce: New Year’s Eve 2013 (CBC, 8 p.m.) For many Canadian viewers, the Air Farce New Year’s Eve tradition dates back 40 years – all the way back to when it was the Royal Canadian Air Farce on CBC Radio. As in years past, the New Year’s special features the talented Farce players taking sharp aim at the biggest news stories of the past 12 months. Cast regulars Don Ferguson, Luba Goy, Craig Lauzon, Alan Park, Penelope Corrin and Arnold Pinnock contribute sketches spinning off the outrageous Canadian Senate scandal, the birth of Prince George and the twerking talents of pop tart Miley Cyrus. The highlight: Lauzon as embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford, performing his own version of the Robin Thicke hit Blurred Lines.

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WEDNESDAY JANUARY 1 Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story (CBC, 8 p.m.) If you missed this sharp TV-movie when it aired last spring, treat yourself to this evening’s encore broadcast. Based on real-life events, the movie provides an accurate late-career snapshot of hockey legend Gordie Howe (capably portrayed by Vancouver actor Michael Shanks) who has just ended his 25-year career with the Detroit Red Wings and restless in his new office job with the team’s front office. When Gordie’s sons Marty (Dylan Playfair) and Mark (Andrew Herr) are drafted into the newly-formed WHA league, Gordie–at 44–takes the plunge and signs up with the fledgling franchise Houston Aeros as the “first father-son team ever.” Acting veteran Kathleen Robertson is outstanding as Gordie’s iron-willed wife/manager, Colleen.

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THURSDAY JANUARY 2 Community (NBC, Global, 8 p.m.) All weird things come to those who wait. Back tonight for a fifth, likely final, season (and with Chevy Chase nowhere in sight), TV’s quirkiest sitcom returns with an hourlong outing sure to appease fans. The story finds the pivotal character Jeff (Joel McHale) returning to Greendale Community College when his ex-law partner Alan (Rob Corddry) enlists him to gather evidence against the school for a lawsuit. The dense Deal Pelton (Jim Rash), meanwhile, thinks Jeff is back to help the school, so he immediately reassembles the core members of the “study group.” And yes, Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) is back for the occasion.

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FRIDAY JANUARY 3 Something Borrowed, Something New (TLC, 10 p.m.) Launched last year, this unscripted series focusing on harried bridal experts was an immediate ratings hit for TLC, which naturally commissioned a second season. As before, the format follows the workday routine of stylist Sam Saboura and designer Kelly Nishimoto, who collectively assist clients in choosing between a new designer dress or a reimagined heirloom. In tonight’s first new episode, the duo deal with a bride-to-be planning a huge Italian wedding with a winter wonderland theme. In the second show, Sam and Kelly deal with a bride insistent on wearing a fragile 1942 wedding gown falling apart at the seams.

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SATURDAY JANUARY 4 Sex Sent Me to the ER (TLC, 10 p.m.) Nobody can ever accuse TLC of subtlety in its programming choices. Debuting tonight, this new pilot for series recounts real-life stories of people sent to the hospital as a result of injuries sustained while getting busy. Starting things off with a bang, so to speak, the first episode focuses on a woman whose roll in the hay with her husband became complicated when she achieved an orgasm. Why he rushed her to the hospital: She was still having the same orgasm two hours later!

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SUNDAY JANUARY 5 Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.) Take note, poseurs and period-piece aficionados: Downton Abbey is finally back on Sunday nights. The season-four opener takes place six months after the shocking death of Matthew (Dan Stevens) and finds the key members of the Crawley family and servants desperately attempting to cure Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Isobel (Penelope Wilton) of their deep depression. In other news, Lady Grantham’s maid O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) creates a seemingly irresolvable crisis. Pip-pip.

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