12 Things That Give Me Hope For 2012! (Nos. 12-6)

A new year, a new crop of pop culture to consume. Sure, “The Hunger Games” is gonna be huge, and yep, Madonna will definitely make a splash with her follow-up to “Hard Candy.” But here’s the first part of my list of 12 releases that I’m personally shaking and crying over in 2012. Welcome to my brain, Internet!

12. Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson
You just know “I’m untouchable, bitch” will become THE catchphrase in 2012. Enjoy it now, until we get sick of it once “Drew Peterson: Untouchable” debuts on Lifetime January 21.

11. “Downton Abbey” Season Two!
At first, this British miniseries may look like every other stuffy “Masterpiece Theater” entry. But with lightning-fast pacing, relatable characters and enough “oh no she didn’t” barbs and juicy melodramatic twists to last a lifetime of Tyler Perry movies, “Downton Abbey” skirts the typical costume drama clichés. When’s the last time “PBS” and “buzz” appeared in the same sentence? (Season two premieres January 8; season one now streaming on Netflix)

10. Van Halen Reunion
Admittedly, I’m more excited for all the David Lee Roth/Eddie Van Halen drama backstage than the music they’re going to be performing on stage. Is it too late to request a reality show? [Grabs popcorn.] (Tickets go on sale January 10)

9. “Robot and Frank”
I went to film school with the dudes who made this flick, which is making its debut at Sundance, starring Frank Langella as an elderly man who gets saddled with a strange new caretaker, a robot voiced by Liev Schrieber. Ten years after I read the script for the short film version in class, I still think about it regularly. If the feature treatment is half as good as what I remember, movie fans are in for an unforgettable offbeat tale. (Sundance schedule TBA)

Read on for more!

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8. The Avalanches’ follow-up to Since I Left You
Modular Records confirmed it! The Australian electronic group is finally releasing a sophomore album in 2012. Their 2000 debut, Since I Left You, was chock full of dizzying samples from obscure soul records, dance tutorials and John Waters films, all fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle to create the party album of its time. They’ve been holed up in the studio for a decade meticulously crafting this new one, which includes a song they teased on Twitter as “the best we ever done.” (Possible album titles include “On A Saturday,” “Friday Night Fever,” “Hi!”; release date TBA)

7. Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby!
I’m a sucker for any and all offspring of Hollywood royalty, but I haven’t been this excited for a rich baby since I learned how to spell the word “Suri.” (Release date TBA)

6. The Magnetic Fields Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
In 2010, Stephin Merritt and Co. released Realism, the final “synth-free” album in a trilogy they created for Warner Bros’ Nonesuch imprint. But now they’re back on Merge, the label that put out their most iconic work, from Holiday to Get Lost to ’90s benchmark 69 Love Songs, and have hooked up a whole new collection of modern synths for Merritt’s incomparable ditties. (March 6)

Check back later today for the five entertainment events, including a Broadway revival, a hot mess reality show and a new band you haven’t even heard yet, that have me super excited!