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5 Best Bets on TV This Week: Kevin Bacon’s Return to the Small Screen and the Finale of ‘American Horror Story’

5 Best Bets on TV This Week: Kevin Bacon's Return to the Small Screen and the Finale of 'American Horror Story'

Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Downton Abbey,” “Shameless,” “Girls,” Californication,” “Enlightened” and more, but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.

“The Following”: Series Premiere
Monday, January 21 at 9pm on Fox

Kevin Bacon’s first small screen gig since his days on soaps “Search for Tomorrow” and “The Guiding Light” at the start of his career finds him taking up one of the most common jobs on primetime TV and chasing down serial killers. Well, mostly one killer by way of, as the title says, his following, which sets the show apart from the more typical procedural. Bacon plays an FBI agent dueling with a charismatic psychopath (James Purefoy) who’s built up a network of protégés to do his murdering for him. The series, which has attracted attention for its dark content, is the creation of Kevin Williamson, the writer behind “Scream” as well as “Dawson’s Creek” and “The Vampire Diaries.”

“Independent Lens”: “Beauty is Embarrassing”
Monday, January 21 at 10pm on PBS

You probably know Wayne White’s work, even if you don’t know him by name — the artist and cartoonist served as an Emmy-winning set- and puppet designer on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and the art director of the Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight” music video. He currently produces paintings that involve reworking mass produced thrift store prints by adding text. Neil Berkeley’s doc, which premiered at SXSW last year, is a look at White’s idiosyncradic work and his equally unique life.

“American Horror Story”: Season Finale
Wednesday, January 23 at 10pm on FX

The closing installment of the current arc of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s anthology series “American Horror Story” is entitled “Madness Ends,” fitting for a show that’s spent its current season in an insane asylum and that’s consistently and completely bonkers. Will Murphy be able to bring the story of the Briarcliff Mental Institution and murderer Bloody Face to some kind of coherent finale? Probably not, but with aliens, Nazi doctors, crazy nuns, demonic possession and more on the table, it’s the wild-eyed details rather than the overall vision that have always been the show’s great strength.

“Last Resort”: Series Finale
Thursday, January 24 at 8pm on ABC

Shawn Ryan’s promising military drama was given its marching orders back in November, when it couldn’t pull together the kind of ratings that would lead ABC to give it a full season order. On the plus side, the series was given the remainder of its 13-episode run to close out its story, which means that the tale of renegade nuclear submarine USS Colorado and its leader Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) has been tweaked enough to offer a little closure in what’s become its series finale.

“Spartacus”: Season Premiere
Friday, January 25 at 9pm on Starz

Despite beginning as a clear stylistic “300” knockoff and facing the blow of having lead actor Andy Whitfield tragically pass away from lymphoma after the first season, Starz original series “Spartacus” has attracted a loyal following of fans who’ll make an argument for the smarts underlying the swords, sandals and sex shtick. The show’s third and final season, “War of the Damned,” finds Liam McIntyre reprising his turn as the titlular slave turned gladiator turned leader of a slave rebellion against Rome.

Also worth a look: Matthew Rhys, soon to be seen in FX Russian spy series “The Americans,” stars as a man who encounters his own double in a bar in Daphne du Maurier adaptation “The Scapegoat,” airing on Ovation on Tuesday, January 22nd at 8pm; NOVA explores the technology that’s changed the face of warfare in “Rise of the Drones” on Wednesday, January 23rd at 9pm on PBS; and the six-episode PBS series “Shakespeare Uncovered,” which explores the Bard’s plays via celebrity hosts, stars off with double feature of Ethan Hawke on “Macbeth” on Friday, January 25th at 9pm and Joely Richardson’s investigation on two cross-dressing comedies at 10pm.

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