BELIEVE IT or not, there are people for whom the words "March Madness" describe their feelings when favorite shows are either pre-empted or in reruns.
If that's you, take this time to clear space on your DVR for the TV events coming in the next few weeks, including:
HBO's "Mildred Pierce." Oscar winner Kate Winslet plays the title role in a miniseries adaptation of James M. Cain's 1941 novel.
Cain's Depression-era story of an entrepreneur and mother may have even more resonance now than it did in 1945, when Joan Crawford starred, winning an Oscar.
Evan Rachel Wood ("True Blood") plays Mildred's daughter, Veda, and Guy Pearce ("The King's Speech") is Mildred's on-again, off-again lover.
Directed by Todd Haynes ("Far from Heaven"), this five-parter is scheduled to play out over three Sundays. Premieres: 9 p.m. March 27.
Starz' "Camelot." You wouldn't expect the network that gave us "Spartacus: Blood and Boobs" to serve up your father's King Arthur, would you?
Good. Because our very first glimpse of the once and future king (Jamie Campbell Bower) in the two-hour premiere finds him shirtless and cavorting in the open air with a bare-breasted beauty.
Head shaven, his face even grimmer than usual, Joseph Fiennes ("FlashForward," "Shakespeare in Love") plays the sorcerer Merlin, seeking to secure a kingdom for a boy who didn't know he was a king's son. Eva Green ("The Golden Compass") is Arthur's scheming half-sister Morgan, who has other plans. Premieres: 10 p.m. April 1.
AMC's "The Killing." Steven Bochco's old "Murder One" meets moody Canadian drama "Durham County" in this exploration of the aftermath of a young girl's slaying, an atmospheric mystery based on a Danish series and relocated to Seattle.
Among the sleepless there: Homicide detective Sarah Linden ("Big Love's" Mireille Enos), who's in her final hours on the job when the body's found; mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), whose campaign may be somehow involved; and the victim's parents, played by Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton.
After the two-hour opener, you might have trouble sleeping, too. Premieres: 9 p.m. April 3.
Showtime's "The Borgias." The network that brought us the prettiest Henry VIII ever in "The Tudors" could easily have cast Justin Bieber as Rodrigo Borgia, the 15th-century schemer who became Pope Alexander VI, and most of us wouldn't have been sure his hair didn't really look like that.
Fortunately, director Neil Jordan ("Michael Collins") was in charge of "The Borgias," and so while star Jeremy Irons is a whole lot more photogenic than the papal portrait that accompanies the real Rodrigo's Wikipedia entry, he's nevertheless just dissipated-looking enough to bring off the role of patriarch to what Showtime's happily billing as "the original crime family." (And, OK, Oscar-winning talent doesn't hurt, either.) Premieres: 9 p.m. April 3.
ReelZ Channel's "The Kennedys." I haven't yet seen the miniseries the History Channel ordered from producer Joel Surnow ("24") and then passed on as allegedly not historical enough - or, some suggest, simply not reverent enough to satisfy the surviving Kennedys - but ReelZ hopes to get major attention for scooping it up.
Greg Kinnear plays JFK and Katie Holmes is Jackie-not-yet-O in the eight-parter, which will be shown consecutively (though the first two episodes will be repeated on the second night, April 4, to avoid conflicts with the NCAA men's championship, and the first six episodes will be repeated back-to-back, beginning at 2 p.m. April 9). Premieres: 8 p.m. April 3.
PBS' "Upstairs Downstairs." "Masterpiece" marks its 40th season with a three-episode return to 165 Bellamy Place, with a cast that includes the show's original creators, Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins ("Cranford").
Don't expect to recognize anyone from the original but Marsh's Rose, who finds herself back below stairs in a different capacity. It's pre-World War II London, where the home's new owners will be rubbing elbows with some of the very same people who pop up in "The King's Speech."
If you watched "Masterpiece's" "Downton Abbey," you probably already have the flavor down, but for those who accept no substitutes, "Upstairs, Downstairs Complete Series: 40th Anniversary Edition," a 21-disc collection that covers all five seasons of the classic series, comes out on DVD March 29. Premieres: April 10.
HBO's "Game of Thrones." The first book of George R.R. Martin's fantasy series comes to life in what might be the most anticipated new HBO series since Tony Soprano had his first panic attack.
So far, I've seen only a preview - HBO's planning to tease fans with the first 15 minutes at 9 p.m. April 3, before Part 3 of "Mildred Pierce" - but what I've seen looks lush. Premieres: 9 p.m. April 17. *
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