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Your spring TV guide: Blooming great stuff

Questions. People like to ask me a lot of questions.

Sometimes, it's "Dude, where's my show?" And I reply that I'm working on that for you. Because you're nice and you called me "Dude."

On occasion it's "Doyle, do you realize I have no respect for you because you are obviously a leftard, a know-nothing socialist parasite?" And I say, "Sir, you have shown me the error of my ways. It is a sad fact that reality itself amounts to a smear campaign against Our Glorious Leader and his stout-hearted colleagues. You are a Great Canadian."

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Recently people have asked me if I'm attending the Toronto FC versus LA Galaxy game. And I say, "You're darn tootin' I am." Or they ask if I think Canada's Got Talent is a helluva show, a rival to Hockey Night in Canada for fun and talent? And I reply, "Well, it's noisy."

On Monday people asked my opinion about the news that Nicole (Snooki) Polizzi from Jersey Shore is engaged to, and expecting her first child with, one Jionni LaValle. And I reply that it's certain proof that there is a God when two such extraordinary people are fated to meet and mate.

But back to "Dude, where's my show?" On the cusp of spring, we can look forward to a fine parade of new and returning shows. Here are the essential details.

Mad Men returns Sunday, March 25, with a two-hour episode. After a long absence, two hours will be needed to flesh out the circumstances and themes of this, the fifth season. What's cooking on it? Search me. Vague hints that some entanglement between Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Joan (Christina Hendricks) is probably a red herring. Mad Men is not a soap opera. On the show, the Vietnam War and the draft loom. Whither America is the real, meaty question about this season.

Game of Thrones, HBO's surprise hit, will return for Season 2 on Sunday, April 1. HBO says, with effortless archness, "Summer spans decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the South, where heat breeds plots and intrigues; to the vast and savage eastern lands, all the way to the frozen north. Kings, Queens, Knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men, ... all will play the Game of Thrones." Okey dokes. Murder, madness and maidens in sexy dresses from Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

The Killing returns to AMC on Sunday, April 1, with a two-hour opener. Yes, we're told, this time on the rain-drenched series, Rosie Larsen's killer will be revealed. Put the frustrations of the end of the first season behind you. The slow, subtle and sometimes exquisitely painful drama will do things at its own pace.

Also, look out for Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 coming to ABC on April 11. Good wacky drollery, it's about a nice Midwestern girl moving to NYC only to find that her employer has been shut down on some fraud thing. She takes a room in the apartment of Chloe (Krysten Ritter), only to be ripped off. Meanwhile, Chloe hangs with actor James Van Der Beek (as himself), who has gone to seed since Dawson's Creek. The pilot is a nifty, sharp take on fraud in the U.S. today.

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Veep starts on HBO Canada on April 22. A sort-of U.S. version of the Brit political satire The Thick of It, it was created by Thick of It writer Armando Iannucci and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as U.S. Vice-President Selina Meyer. The woman was a powerful senator and now struggles to be relevant as the VP. The pilot is a small masterpiece of illumination about the pettiness of inside-the-White-House politics.

But wait, don't stop there with your spring viewing plans. It's the 200th anniversary of the year Charles Dickens was born. As part of the big Dickens 2012 celebrations, two big, splashy TV adaptations are coming.

Great Expectations starts Sunday, April 1, on PBS's Masterpiece Classic. An orphan, an escaped convict, a seemingly deranged rich woman, a bewitching girl. Like the adaptation of Bleak House a few years ago, this one is rapid-paced, made in brief episodes to capture the manner of Dickens's original storytelling in weekly magazine format. Gillian Anderson is Miss Havisham, David Suchet is Jaggers and Ray Winstone is Abel Magwitch. It's lovely.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood arrives April 15, also on Masterpiece Classic. Dickens's final and unfinished novel is one his darker creations. Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox) isn't the central character. It's really about Drood's uncle, John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud. This adaptation finishes the story left untold by Dickens to some people's satisfaction, but not to others.

My goodness, you will note that April 1 will be busy. But you'd be a fool to miss any of these shows. Thanks for asking, Dudes and Dudettes.

Check local listings.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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