The Great Maxim Fall TV Preview
The ultimate guide to what you should be watching this season. You’re welcome.
Nothing makes the bittersweet goodbye to summer easier than the promise of fall TV. Critically-acclaimed premium cable favorites are returning alongside new, quirkier shows from Comedy Central, Starz , and Netflix (all to reward us for suffering through True Detective’s second season).
We’ll hit peak fall TV in earlier October, when Homeland, The Leftovers, and The Affair all have their season premieres on the same night, with the TheWalking Dead trailing a week later. Now is the time to catch up if you are behind; the spoilers will not wait for you.
Though we are now forced to live in a godforsaken world that has mercilessly cut off our supply of Mad Men, we can at least look forward to Bradley Cooper’s small screen debut, a new show from the Sons of Anarchy creator, and an animated parody of Miami Vice starring Rob Lowe (that we are irrationally hoping will fill the temporary Bojack Horseman void).
We’ve rounded up the shows that look like your best bets this fall, and we hope you like them, but it’s not our fault if you don’t.
Hand of God (Amazon, September 4)
Amazon is looking for another original series hit with Hand of God, which stars Ron Perlman as a morally bankrupt judge who believes God wants him to avenge the man who put his son into a coma. Full disclosure: Early reviews are not overwhelmingly good, but we’re going to give this one a shot anyway, because Ron Perlman.
Project Greenlight (HBO, September 13)
Over a decade after the show first premiered on HBO, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are back to give a new crop of amateur filmmakers a shot at Hollywood success. The Farrelly Brothers will mentor the winning director or team. It’ll feel like you are right back in film school, but with better lighting.
The Bastard Executioner (FX, September 15)
Kurt Sutter’s follow-up to Sons of Anarchy is going back in time to 14th century Wales, when executions were frequent, public, and dispassionate. Heads will literally roll. (Look for Ed Sheeran as a recurring villain!)
Moonbeam City (Comedy Central, September 16)
This neon-lit animated series is a parody sendup of Miami Vice, complete with bad hair and cringeworthy cop procedural dialogue. Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Kate Mara, and Will Forte star.
Minority Report (Fox, Sept 21)
Another big-to-small screen debut, Minority Report the series will jump 10 years from where the movie left off — bringing us to the year 2065, when a re-acclimated pre-cog (Stark Sands) helps a detective (Meagan Good) stop violent crimes before they happen. Tom Cruise will not be joining us.
Limitless (CBS, September 22)
So far, Limitless looks like it has the potential to be a big hit for CBS, even among viewers who may not have loved the film (although I personally could watch it again and again.) Bradley Cooper, as suspected, stayed hooked on the intellect-enhancing drug that caused him so many problems in the movie, and now it looks like he’s in the recruiting game.
Empire, Season 2 (Fox, September 23)
Empire may have been the year’s biggest surprise hit (or was it a surprise?) and Season 2 promises even more drama than the first —if you can imagine. Lucious Lyon is behind bars, while Cookie is planning a coup. Their already iconic love/hate relationship looks like it will be hitting a fever pitch.
Last Man On Earth, Season 2 (Fox, September 27)
As we learned early in the first season, Phil Miller was not in fact that only human to survive a virus that wiped out most of the planet’s population. Season 2 finds Phil banned from Tucson and in exile with Carol. Jason Sudeikis will return as Phil’s astronaut brother.
Quantico (ABC, September 27)
This time-jumping thriller follows a new class of FBI recruits preparing to become agents in the field — except one, who is plotting a homegrown terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The smoking hot Priyanka Chopra is being billed at ABC’s next big breakout star.
The Leftovers, Season 2 (HBO, October 4)
The debut season of The Leftovers was a bit of a slog in the first half, but became markedly more engaging during the second half, right around the time the dystopian drama began to focus more on Carrie Coon’s character (coincidence? No). Coon remains top-billed for the second season — along with star Justin Theroux — and their crew is leaving the fictional Maple, New York for a town called Miracle, Texas for a fresh start. But as you can probably guess, “there are no miracles in Miracle.”
Pro tip: Keep an eye on background televisions screens to see if they are inexplicably tuned in to the eighties sitcom Perfect Strangers like last season.
Homeland, Season 5 (Showtime, October 4)
Two years have passed since the season finale of Season 4, and during that time Carrie Matheson left the CIA for a job in the private sector and an attempt at domestic bliss with her toddler daughter and a new beau. But a massive cyberattack has put sensitive CIA files in the hands of German hackers, and Carrie gets sucked in again— though the trailer doesn’t make it clear exactly who she is working for. Homeland has had its good seasons and its not-so-great seasons, so there’s no telling which way this one will go — but it’s certainly worth turning into, especially with the introduction of new cast regulars like Sarah Sokolovic.
The Affair, Season 2 (Showtime, October 4)
Season 1 of Showtime’s The Affair was a very compelling but somewhat polarizing show; what with its dual perspectives that meant there was only really a half hour of action for every hourlong episode. We don’t know if that format will continue, but we do know that Noah has left his wife Helen for Allison, and that he’s a murder suspect. Maybe “the truth is suspect,” as the show’s teaser claims, but we still want to know.
The Walking Dead, Season 6 (AMC, October 11)
A showdown between Rick and Morgan has been brewing for some time, and it looks like it’s finally happening in Season 6. We’ll also find out if the fan conspiracy theory that Maggie is the woman getting eaten by zombies in the trailer is legit. Speaking of Maggie, Lauren Cohan told Entertainment Weekly that the Season 6 premiere was “the most suffocating beginning to the season that I’ve experienced yet.” That says a lot!
Nathan For You, Season 3 (Comedy Central, October 15)
This offbeat Comedy Central series finds the absurdity in the mundane by way of Nathan Fielder, a business adviser who traffics in hilariously terribly strategies. Nathan for You is on its way from cult favorite to mainstream hit — and season 3 may just put it over the edge.
The Knick, Season 2 (Cinemax, October 16)
Today’s minor health problems can quickly become life or death issues in Cinemax’s turn-of-the-century medical drama. When we last saw Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen), his bad habits had gotten the better of him and he escaped to a clinic for recovery. But in Season 2, he won’t have any time to rest, as he’ll be fighting an outbreak of the bubonic plague.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, October 31)
Starz continues to strive for quality basic-cable relevance with
Ash vs. Evil Dead
, a horror comedy from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell that serves as the sequel to the
trilogy. According to the series description, “Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal.”
Master of None (Netflix, November 6)
Netflix’s newest original series is based on Aziz Ansari’s stand up and his book Modern Romance. The Parks and Recreation star plays a 30 year-old floundering actor with a close but complicated relationship with his parents, played by Ansari’s own.
Into the Badlands (AMC, November 15)
The martial-arts post-apocalyptic drama will have a brief but action-packed six episode run. Loosely based on the Chinese tale Journey to the West, the story follows a warrior and a young boy grappling with philosophical questions on a dangerous journey through a feudal land.
Transparent, Season 2 (Amazon, December 4)
The first Amazon series to achieve widespread critical acclaim, Jill Soloway’s comedic drama follows Maura’s (Jeffrey Tambor) late-in-life transition from male to female. Season 2 looks like it will focus away from the first shock of that transition and more on Maura’s family and friends. “Maura is not the central figure,” Tambor said of his character at TCA this summer, “but the gateway now from so many stories evolving from this decision to be authentic.”