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Lori’s List: This week’s talkers on TV

JODIE WHITTAKER 'The Assets.' | ABC photo

JODIE WHITTAKER on "The Assets." | ABC photo

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Updated: February 1, 2014 6:03AM

“COMMUNITY” (7 p.m. Thursday, WMAQ-Channel 5): Creator Dan Harmon is back and so are the laughs in this lovably self-aware comedy set at Greendale Community College. The cult favorite’s fifth season deftly hits the reset button and starts out strong with back-to-back episodes. An upcoming installment — “Cooperative Polygraphy” on Jan. 16 — merits instant-classic status. Extra credit is due for adding Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”) as a cranky criminology professor and resurrecting guest stars Kevin Corrigan (“The Dictator”) and Rob Corddry (“Hot Tub Time Machine”). Rating: ★★★½

“THE ASSETS” (9 p.m. Thursday, WLS-Channel 7): Here’s some not-so-confidential information, ABC: Spy games aren’t nearly as fun when you know who the mole is from the start. That’s the main problem with this unsuspenseful eight-part miniseries based on the real-life cat-and-mouse story of Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys, “The Borgias”), a CIA counterintelligence officer who made a small fortune in the ’80s as a Soviet spy, and Sandy Grimes (Jodie Whittaker, “Broadchurch”), the CIA staffer who helped catch him. For a Cold War espionage show that knows how to deliver international and domestic drama, we’ll have to wait until Feb. 26 when FX debuts season two of “The Americans.” Rating: ★★

“DOWNTON ABBEY” (8 p.m. Sunday, WTTW-Channel 11): Season four of the most-watched drama in PBS history gets off to a somber, sluggish start with this two-hour premiere that picks up six months after Matthew Crawley’s fatal car crash. The “downstairs” storylines are particularly weak in early episodes. Clever dialogue and an unmistakable sense of place still make the show worth watching, even when the narrative is spinning its wheels like Matthew’s overturned roadster. Rating: ★★★

“THE BACHELOR” (7 p.m. Monday, WLS-Channel 7): Sexy single dad Juan Pablo Galavis — the first Latino bachelor — culls an unprecedented herd of 27 hopefuls to 18 in the two-hour premiere. Before the bloodbath that is the rose ceremony begins, the former professional soccer player from Venezuela gets advice from last season’s bachelor, Sean, whose wedding to Catherine just so happens to be airing live Jan. 26 on ABC.


Twitter: @lorirackl

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