The fragility of trust and the slippery nature of identity are front-and-center themes in three new series premiering in January 2009. Here's a primer.
The Gist: Workhorse ad writer (Eric McCormack) gets a promotion over his flaky, brilliant partner (Tom Cavanagh), sowing tension between the friends.
Sounds Like: A modern-day Mad Men, infused with the male bonding of House and Scrubs.
The Big Question: When your best friend becomes your boss, is he still your best friend?
Why We're Intrigued: Mixing work and friendship: the trickiest gambit since mixing work and romance. Let the mind games begin!
The United States of Tara (Showtime)
The Gist: Suburban mom Tara (Toni Collette) has multiple personalities, including a foul-mouthed teen minx and a beer-guzzling schlub.
Sounds Like: The Three Faces of Eve meets Juno, which is no surprise: Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody scripted the pilot.
The Big Question: Who can you trust when you don't know who you are?
Why We're Intrigued: Mental illness as a sitcom premise is decidedly dicey, but it gives the wonderful Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) a spectacular acting showcase.
Lie to Me (Fox)
The Gist: Interrogation specialist Tim Roth is a human polygraph test, able to detect deception in a blink or a frown; Kelli Williams is his right-hand woman.
Sounds Like: The Mentalist with a healthy dose of CSI.
The Big Question: Does a liar's face always tell the truth?
Why We're Intrigued: In a nicely counterintuitive touch, Roth brings a sinuous, faintly disreputable air to the role of a righteous truth-seeker.