Everything you need to know about every sci-fi TV series this week

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Jack's back on 24, Angie Harmon is guesting on Chuck, there's lust on Better Off Ted, Sam and Dean get psychoanalyzed, and Luke Perry does his best Samuel L. Jackson impression when it comes to Snakes on a Sub! All that and new series premieres for Caprica, Spartacus and Paranormal Cops—and returns for The Vampire Diaries, Being Erica and Supernatural.

Here's what we have to look forward to on sci-fi, action and paranormal TV this week.

MONDAY, JAN. 18 Chuck (NBC) 8 p.m. ET/PT

Angie Harmon guest-stars

It's another Awesome episode! The hot but oh-so-evil spy Sydney Price (Angie Harmon) pegs Awesome as a master spy in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome." According to executive producer and co-creator Chris Fedak, "Awesome is kidnapped by the Ring, and Chuck has to save him. He also has to kind of train Awesome on how to be a spy in his own right."

We'll meet a new recurring character played by Superman's Brandon Routh. "He plays a new member of the spy team, Daniel Shaw. He's an expert in the Ring, and the Ring is the new bad-guy organization for this year," said Fedak. And at the Buy More, when Morgan (Joshua Gomez) becomes the assistant manager it means he has to deal with Jeffster (Jeff and Lester) as employees ... and it's not pretty.

24 (Fox) 8 p.m.

2 more hours of Jack!

After Sunday's big "Day 8" kickoff, it's now "6:00 PM-8:00 PM," and we're guessing we're in for another explosive two hours. Jack follows a lead generated by Chloe, and new CTU boss Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) is not pleased. You'd think after seven other days he would have heard nobody puts Jack in a corner. Meanwhile, CTU agents Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) aren't sure who is right. Of course, we know Jack and Chloe are right, because they're always right.

Heroes (NBC) 9 p.m.

Hiro's past decisions manifest because of his brain tumor in "Pass/Fail," while Sylar goes to Claire for answers on why he's changed (and was that a kiss we saw between them in the previews?!).

Meanwhile, Samuel will try to impress Vanessa, said executive producer Adam Armus. "This woman that he grew up with, this woman that he's always had in his heart, this woman that he's sort of tried to stay in touch with throughout the years, but you know their lives have been so separate. He's been in a carnival. She's been living a very different life. Everything that he's doing, everything that he's planning, everything that he wants to do in his life is about making a life for her." Battlestar Galactica's Kate Vernon guest-stars as Vanessa.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 9:30 p.m.

Call it Operation Freak-Out. When Leonard and Sheldon's apartment is robbed, it's time for an elaborate group-tank-level security system to be developed in "The Bozeman Reaction."

And other Monday shows of interest

The Biography Channel is running a ghostly marathon all day, with episodes of Haunted History, Ghost Houses, and Ghost Encounters from 8 a.m. through 4 a.m. For Spike it's all about Star Wars, as they air Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith all day long. And Syfy's doing its own The Invaders 12-hour marathon beginning at 6 a.m.

TUESDAY, JAN. 19 Better Off Ted (ABC) 8:30 p.m.

The end is near ... for Ted, that is!

Check out Ted's second-to-last episode and you'll find out what Hansel and Gretel have to do with The Three Stooges and how to play a game called "Linda Bagel" in "Lust in Translation." When a sexy German executive (Stefanie von Pfetten) pays a visit to Veridan Dynamics, it's all about communication for Ted, who uses a new translation device to try to make some romantic moves. Unfortunately, the device uses Phil's voice.

Paranormal Cops (A&E) 10:30 p.m.

Series premiere!

They are Chicago cops by day and ghostbusters by night, and they promise they're on the case till it's solved. In their first episode, they're on the hunt at the "Casa Madrid" to find out why the store's night manager is having paranormal issues with the basement. "Bad ghosts, bad ghosts, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you. Bad ghosts, bad ghosts ..."

And other Tuesday shows of interest

On A&E's Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal (9 p.m.), two teens, Peri and Devon, investigate a haunted whaling ship in "Haunted Attic." And in the channel's Paranormal State (10 p.m.), the team investigates an Alabama house that was haunted enough to drive its family out after 18 months in "Shadow Caster."

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 20 Human Target (Fox) 9 p.m.

Let's call Human Target Planes, Trains and Other Fast Modes of Transportation! After a special Sunday debut with Chance aboard a speeding train, Human Target lands on Wednesdays after American Idol for a plane-based adventure. This time Chance (Mark Valley) has to protect a client he's never met from an assassin he also doesn't know aboard a passenger plane. However, when the plane catches fire, Chance has to figure out a way to save everyone on the plane (except maybe the assassin, we're thinking).

Battlestar Galactica's Alessandro Juliani and Dexter's Courtney Ford guest-star. Next week, Human Target flips timeslots with Idol.

Ghost Hunters International (Syfy) 9 p.m.

The globetrotting ghost hunters take on Australia's Quarantine Station, which acted as an isolation camp from 1828 to 1984 for sick passengers from ships. The GHI team's on the case to see whether paranormal patients, doctors or nurses could be haunting the place in "Quarantine."

Being Erica (SOAPnet) 10 p.m.

Season-two premiere

Here's one many of you may have missed the first time round, from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and BBC Worldwide. Last season Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) went into a weird kind of therapy that had her quantum-leaping through her past to relive her regrets and come back to make positive changes in the present with the help of the mysterious Dr. Tom (Michael Riley). Well, in the season-two premiere, "Being Dr. Tom," Erica decides she wants to quit, but she's told by Dr. Tom's equally mysterious colleague Dr. Nadia (Joanne Vannicola) that she needs to pay her debt first. Apparently that means more time travel, but this time to help someone else. Twelve episodes have been ordered for the show's second season.

And other Wednesday shows of interest

You can get a look at the "Hillbilly Beast" on History's MonsterQuest (9 p.m.), which offers new photographic evidence of this Bigfoot-type creature that allegedly roams the back hills of Kentucky and has been sighted since Daniel Boone's days. And Syfy travels to the dark side with a Tales from the Darkside marathon starting at 8 a.m.

THURSDAY, JAN. 21 The Vampire Diaries (The CW) 8 p.m.

Season one returns with new episodes

When last we left The Vampire Diaries, Elena (Nina Dobrev) had just had a horrible car accident. When the series returns with "Bloodlines," Elena finds herself on a dangerous road trip with Damon (Ian Somerhalder). According to executive producer Julie Plec, "The 10th episode begins with Damon coming across Elena in the road after the accident and rescuing her, but rather than taking her back to Stefan, he realizes she doesn't have her necklace on. And so when she wakes up from passing out at the car accident, she's halfway to Georgia with Damon in the car, because he's got someone he has to go visit and he's decided he's taking her along for the ride. So they have an adventure between the two of them that brings them closer, but also brings Elena back to Stefan with a whole new understanding about him and the secret that he kept and why he kept it, and there's a big, big reveal."

Firefly's Gina Torres turns up as Damon's ex, but he also runs into someone who wants to punish him for the past. Meanwhile Stefan (Paul Wesley) asks Bonnie (Katerina Graham) to work some magic and help him find Elena, and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is drawn to a cute girl (Malese Jow) with theories about the Mystic Falls.

Fringe (Fox) 9 p.m.

Fringe gets back to business on Thursdays (and stops messing with Heroes) this week. When a man's arteries and veins literally burst due to a deadly pathogen, Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) get quarantined by the CDC in a Boston office building, and it's up to Walter (John Noble), Broyles (Lance Reddick) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) to save the day in "What Lies Below."

Supernatural (The CW) 9 p.m.

Season five returns with new episodes

There's more than a little irony when Sam and Dean end up in a mental hospital investigating a monster that's attacking patients in "Sam, Interrupted." According to executive producer Ben Edlund, "These characters, who have been running for five years trying to get to the heart of the mystery that has turned out to be the unraveling strings of the universe, they get put up on ice for an episode, in a way, and we get to look at who they are. They end up accidentally getting psychoanalyzed."

And other Thursday shows of interest

For FX's Archer (10 p.m.), it's all about a "Diversity Hire" when Sterling's carelessness leads to several agent deaths and the ISIS can't meet government diversity standards. Luckily, Conway Stern offers them a bonus as an "onyx" agent hire who wears a Star of David. And Syfy's cueing up The Sentinel for an eight-episode marathon starting at 8 a.m.

FRIDAY, JAN. 22 Medium (CBS) 9 p.m.

With Dollhouse off for the night and Ghost Whisperer and Smallville pre-empted for the telethon about Haiti earthquake relief, Hope for Haiti, the normally crowded Fridays are down to Medium and a couple important cable premieres. In Medium's "Psych," Allison dreams about a schizophrenic girl, who seems normal in real life although she has a mentally ill roommate. But is the child responsible for her parents' deaths? And Bridgette meets a boy she likes.

Caprica (Syfy) 9 p.m.

Series premiere!

If you haven't watched the DVD or seen the extended pilot online, here's your chance to finally see what all the excitement is about—and do it with limited commercial interruptions. In the two-hour pilot, it's 58 years before the human race was driven from Caprica, and the events that will lead to the birth of the Cylons swirl around two rival families, the Graystones and the Adamas.

According to executive producer Jane Espenson, "The Graystones are wealthy and powerful ... media-savvy, with access to amazing future tech. The Adamas are more traditional, middle-class, and with ties to organized crime. Both families have suffered terrible losses during the pilot, and the different ways they react to these losses brings them into conflict. They're on the same planet, but really in very different worlds. The gulf between them ... their social strata, their cultures, their access to tech and power ... is part of what's tearing Caprica apart.

"We deal a lot with responsibility and guilt, but not in a brooding way ... everyone reacts by sort of striking out with these bold actions to try to fix everything," said Espenson. "Sometimes they manage to do so, and sometimes they make things worse. We play a lot with moral gray areas, like we always did on Battlestar ... wrong actions with good intentions, and vice versa. We're dealing with questions having to do with what makes life worth living, what makes a life moral, and what makes a life a life. Big stuff. But with a light touch."

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz) 10 p.m.

Series premiere!

How about a television series that gets renewed for a second season before it even airs its first episode? Promising sex, nudity and graphic violence, Spartacus takes us back into the past to follow a Thracian warrior named Spartacus (Andy Whitfield), who, along with his fellow warriors, aligns himself with Rome in a effort to protect his village. In the pilot episode, "The Red Serpent," Spartacus and the others soon learn that the Romans do not have their best interests at heart, and their village is left unprotected from barbarian invaders. Xena's Lucy Lawless stars as the devious Lucretia, The Mummy's John Hannah as her power-hungry husband Batiatus and 300's Peter Mensah as Doctore, the head of the gladiatorial school.

And other Friday shows of interest

In Animal Planet's The Haunted (10 p.m.), a family is haunted by the spirit of a former resident in "Leave House." Then in the Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars (9 p.m.), when Ahsoka's lightsaber is stolen by a pickpocket in "Lightsaber Lost," she enlists the help of an ancient Jedi to get it back.

SATURDAY, JAN. 23 Legend of the Seeker (Syndicated) Whenever

It's "Dark" times for the Seeker's gang when Zedd (Bruce Spence) has to name a new Seeker due to Richard's absence. Meanwhile, Richard works with the Sisters of Light in an attempt to learn how to use his wizardly power. However, the beautiful and mysterious Sister Nicci (Star Trek's Jolene Blalock) exposes a shocking secret that forces Richard (Craig Horner) into a dark alliance. And you know that can't be a good thing.

Demons (BBC America) 9 p.m.

The smiters face off against a power-hungry, 100-year-old vampire named Quincey (Ciarán McMenamin) from Mina's past, who is creating havoc with his band of half-life misfits in London. And Quincey's presence causes a change in Mina's (Zoe Tapper) behavior.

Sea Snakes (Syfy) 9 p.m.

Syfy's Saturday Night Action Flick

Forget Snakes on a Plane! How about Genetically Altered Snakes on a Sub! In Sea Snakes, Luke Perry plays a sub commander who has to lead his crew against said deadly snakes. Fred Olen Ray directs, with Krista Allen and Tom Berenger co-starring.

SUNDAY, JAN. 24 American Paranormal (National Geographic) 8 & 9 p.m.

After several busy Sundays, pickings are slim this week. However, American Paranormal goes in search of Bigfoot and ghosts. First, at 8 in "Bigfoot," the foremost leading Bigfoot expert, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, and field biologist John Mionsynski travel to the mountains of Wyoming to see if they can find any evidence of the creature's existence. And then at 9, in "Haunted Prison," Fermilab theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper investigates ghostly phenomena at Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary.

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