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Stay Tuned: Patrick Stewart returns as iconic character in ‘Star Trek: Picard’

Melissa Crawley
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Patrick Stewart returns as Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: Picard."

Awkwafina plays an exaggerated version of herself in a new comedy series, Jean-Luc Picard begins his next chapter, Sabrina goes on more chilling adventures and Alicia Keys hosts music’s biggest night.

Dispatches: Weekly TV news
BBC Studios and National Geographic announced a three-series commitment deal around multiple Emmy award-winning series, “Life Below Zero.” The show, which features a cast of people who have left traditional society to live in the remote regions of Alaska, will have two more seasons, while “Life Below Zero: Port Protection” will have one more season. The deal also includes an eight-part spinoff series, “Life Below Zero: Next Generation.” The new show features less experienced cast members who attempt to create a life in Alaska’s wild frontier.

EPIX revealed its slate of projects in development. The three-scripted series and three docuseries include a dramedy from Edward Burns set in 1984 and an Elizabethan-era drama based on the international best-selling novel, “A Column of Fire,” by Ken Follett.

Contenders: Shows to keep on your radar
In the mostly autobiographical, “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” (Jan. 22, Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. ET), Awkwafina (“Ocean’s 8,” “Crazy Rich Asians”) plays Nora Lum, a character who shares her real name and background. The difference is that fictional Nora Lum isn’t a successful actor and rapper. Nora’s primary goal is to move out of her father’s house and her attempts to do so form the series’ central premise. In an exaggerated version of her real backstory, Awkwafina brings energy and laughs to the scripted Nora.

A new chapter begins for retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: Picard” (Jan. 23, CBS All Access, 8:30 p.m. ET). Patrick Stewart reprises his role as the beloved leader, who he played for seven seasons on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The series follows the iconic character into the next phase of his life and Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman told critics at a recent 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour event that “the first chapter is really Earthbound” and “the look, tone and feel of the show is different by design.” Stewart’s performance is the draw here. The series has already been renewed for season two.

Season three of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” drops on Netflix (Jan. 24). In this installment of the dark comedy, the teenage witch has to defend her title as the newly crowned Queen of Hell against a princely challenger, save her boyfriend Nick and defend the coven against a tribe of pagans who wish to resurrect an ancient evil. Then there’s the matter of not missing cheerleading practice. It’s a clever, irreverently fun series with a strong ensemble cast.

Alicia Keys returns to host the “62nd Grammy Awards” (Jan. 26, CBS, 8 p.m. ET). Among the artists scheduled to perform are current Grammy nominees, Camila Cabello, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, Rosalia and Tyler, The Creator, Billie Eilish and Lizzo, who received the most nominations with a total of eight, will each make their Grammy stage debuts.

Report Card: Ratings winners and losers
Winners: The NFC Championship lead-in helped “9-1-1: Lone Star” score a solid premiere with close to 10 million viewers.

Losers: The finale of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” rated low.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @mcstaytuned.