Midseason TV: Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Mildred Pierce and 12 Others

HBO launches Game of Thrones, Doctor Who returns, and Kate Winslet as Mildred Pierce—Jace Lacob takes a look at what’s worth watching on TV this spring.

The 2010-11 season has largely been a disappointment at the broadcast networks, among a slew of television offerings that were decidedly sub-par for the most part. ( The Cape, anyone?) But spring brings not only the possibility of warm weather and renewal, but also an array of new and returning series on the horizon as the cable networks gear up for a packed schedule over the next few weeks.

Gallery: 15 Reasons to Watch TV This Spring

Top Chef’s enfant terrible Marcel Vigneron gets his own reality show when Syfy launches Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen on March 22; CBS offers a tongue-in-cheek look at CIA operatives with Chaos, launching April 1; ABC sends Jamie Oliver to overhaul Los Angeles’ food situation in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (returning April 12); and Fox follows a group of professional thieves—led by Christian Slater—in Breaking In, premiering April 6. Meanwhile, NBC revamps its troubled Law & Order spin-off, LOLA, on April 11. Gone are original cast members Skeet Ulrich, Regina Hall, and Megan Boone. And Alfred Molina’s district attorney character will suddenly wake up and realize he used to be a cop and wants to go back on the streets. (Seriously, don’t ask.)

Costume dramas seem to be very in style these days, with a number of projects—from HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones and Mildred Pierce and Starz’s Camelot to Showtime’s The Borgias and that controversial Kennedys miniseries (which will air on Reelz after being dumped by History) and even the return of Upstairs, Downstairs—all jostling for viewers’ attention. While The Kennedys and The Borgias are (allegedly) based upon actual events surrounding two very different historical dynasties, all six manage to transport the viewer to places outside our everyday experiences. After a dull television season such as this one, we could all do with some escape.

We round up what’s new and noteworthy on television this spring.

Jace Lacob is The Daily Beast's TV Columnist. As a freelance writer, he has written for the Los Angeles Times, TV Week, and others. Jace is the founder of television criticism and analysis website Televisionary and can be found on Twitter. He is a member of the Television Critics Association.