So far the 2011-2012 television season has lacked a great deal of buzz.  NCIS continues to be the dominant series on network TV with about 20 Million people watching regularly, while NFL football is having a banner year for ratings.  New TV shows have seen very limited success as 7 shows on the 4 major non-cable networks did not make it to the half way point, and a few of them did not make it through the 1st month!  The replacements are coming, and one show actually has a legit buzz.

Being a mid-season replacement usually means in the past you were a show not good enough to make the original lineup for the network, but we have seen shows thrive as just mid-season or late season entries but most of those shows have been of the non-scripted kind.  A new season of American Idol begins on Jan. 18th, and the ratings dominator should be ready for another good run with Randy, J. Lo and Steven in place for their 2nd season together.  Later this summer, America's Got Talent should do what it normally does - be the #1 rated show during the time where most networks are circulating repeat episodes of their past season.

One new series seems to have garnered legitimate buzz for this mid-season is Alcatraz on FOX.  The feel seems one part Lost with a dash of X-Files and the most famous prison in the world.  The feel of Lost should not be a shock here since J.J. Abrams who created that show is responsible for this new show debuting Jan. 16th.  FOX is doing its normal big hype job, so expect some of its stars to be spotted in the audience of Idol for sure (who include Lost alum Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill from the Jurassic Park series, and former ER doctor Parminder Nagra).

NBC will try to capture some of the Glee phenomenon with its mid-season hopeful Smash.  The name says it all - the network hopes the show will be just that, with the backdrop of Broadway and the hopes of creating a Smash musical.  The influence of A Chorus Line and All That Jazz can be felt here, and the critics are scoring this entry as one with real promise because of the premise, the backdrop (musical about Marilyn Monroe being built from the bottom up), and the cast of award winners (Emmy winner Debra Messing, Oscar winner Anjelica Huston) combined with some British flare (the very talented Jack Davenport from The Pirates of The Caribbean series), and a former Idol runner up (Katharine McPhee).

The best hope for ABC this mid-season falls on the shoulders of Dawson of Dawson's Creek?!?!  James Van Der Beek will play an absurd version of himself in Don't Trust The Bitch In Apt. 23 (Yes, you are not seeing that wrong).  Don't judge the concept with James until you watch.  Matt LeBlanc did something similar last year by playing an absurd version of himself in Episodes on Showtime and earned an Emmy nomination for it.  The breakout star here should be Krysten Ritter, who gets to be the lead after being the strong supporting actress in movies like Confessions Of A Shopaholic, She's Out Of My League, and What Happens In Vegas.

Cable networks HBO and Showtime have highly anticipated new shows because of the casts involved.  Take former Oscar nominee and gifted all-around actor Don Chedale, team him with a hot young spitfire in Kristen Bell and a former Emmy winner Richard Schiff (The West Wing), in a dark comedy with depth that has no rules (it's cable!) and you have House Of Lies which made its debut recently to major positive reviews.  Meanwhile HBO has decided to resurrect Dustin Hoffman with Luck.  Hoffman is a veteran gambler whose stories surround a race track with a strong supporting cast (Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Kevin Dunn, Jason Gedrick, and Richard Kind).  Look for Hoffman to be the comeback actor of the year with this series.

While this is the cream of the replacement crop, most of the rest coming soon will probably not last.  The Firm does bring back a great 80s flick from Tom Cruise, with Josh Lucas playing Mitch for NBC.  My problem for the show is the believability (are there really functioning pay phones found when you really need it?)

Rob Schneider has put together Rob! for CBS based on his marriage to a younger Latino woman (paging Modern Family - you been ripped off!)  Much love for Cheech Marin who plays Rob's father in-law, but you better off watching him on the Food Network (Celebrity Cook Off) than this potential bomb.

Chelsea Handler has a show based on her life for NBC, but Chelsea seems best in small doses, and her books are probably much more entertaining.  Ashley Judd is coming to TV for the 1st time this mid-season, but it may be a short stay on ABC with Missing - picture ID channel and an ex-CIA operative in search of her son.

While all if this is happening this mid-season, watch these shows carefully as they may not be back for the next season: CSI:NY, Pan Am, Body Of Proof, The Biggest Loser, Parenthood, Fringe, and House (this could be the final season for the show).