Shows old and new returning

A quick glance at some of the most notable TV returns and debuts of early 2010.

Sunday: "Chuck" (8 p.m., NBC), "Big Love" (8 p.m., HBO), "Return to Cranford" (8 p.m., PBS), "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan" (8 p.m., Syfy).

Retail clerk Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) finds out whether his new spy skills will help him save the world from bad guys in "Chuck's" two-hour season premiere; Sissy Spacek joins the cast of "Big Love" as a powerful lobbyist; Judi Dench returns in the sequel to the pleasing Victorian miniseries "Cranford"; and the "Battlestar" TV movie tells the story of the Cylon attack on humanity from the point of view of the Cylons.

Jan. 12: "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox) and "Southland" (9 p.m., TNT).

New judge Ellen DeGeneres won't be part of the panel when the audition rounds of "Idol's" ninth season begin; she will join the show starting with the Hollywood round. TNT is first re-airing the seven "Southland" episodes that were made for NBC last season. In March, TNT will begin airing six previously unseen episodes from the police drama's second season.

Jan. 13: "Leverage" (9 p.m., TNT).

When this action -caper series returns, Nate (Timothy Hutton) and his fellow do-gooder grifters try to take down a sweatshop owner.

Jan. 14: "Project Runway" (9 p.m., Lifetime) and "Archer" (9 p.m., FX).

For "Runway's" seventh season, judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are back full-time and the show returns to its New York roots (thank goodness for both developments). "Archer" is a dry, sometimes surreal animated comedy about a put-upon spy with a complicated personal life.

Jan. 17: "Human Target" (7 p.m., Fox) and "24" (8 p.m., Fox).

It's a night of manly action on Fox, as the network unveils the bodyguard-for hire action drama "Human Target," which has a great cast — Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley — but a somewhat iffy execution in the pilot. When "24" returns, cast constant Kiefer Sutherland will be joined by Katee Sackhoff ("Battlestar Galactica") and Freddie Prinze Jr.

Jan. 21: "Burn Notice" (9 p.m., USA).

If the frigid winter is getting to you, returning to Miami for more adventures with Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) could be just the ticket.

Jan. 22: "Caprica" (8 p.m., Syfy)

"Caprica" is a promising "Battlestar Galactica" prequel series with a great cast (Paula Malcolmson, Polly Walker, Esai Morales and Eric Stoltz) and zero space ships.

Jan. 25: "Damages" (9 p.m., FX).

The cast for the third season of this legal thriller looks stellar: Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, Campbell Scott and Keith Carradine will join stars Glenn Close, Rose Byrne and Tate Donovan for more classy conniving in New York boardrooms, offices and bedrooms.

Feb. 2: "Lost" (8 p.m., ABC).

"We concocted the mythology of the show a long time ago, and it's like having a Christmas present and you kept it on the shelf a long time and people are finally going to get to open it and see it," executive producer Carlton Cuse told us regarding the ABC drama's 18-hour final season, which will sign off for good in May. The show is moving to Tuesday nights.