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Fall TV preview: 15 shows you've got to watch (if you can find the time)

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Maniac

It’s not as though there’s a downtime season for TV anymore.

The summer months used to be the doldrums, and the fall season was the only game in town. But now we abound in good or even great shows all year long. This year alone has already produced tremendous new seasons of “GLOW” and “Atlanta,” along with the insta-classic debut seasons of “Killing Eve” and “Succession.” (You should be watching those shows.)

Yet fall still possesses a residual air of import to it. It’s when the networks (broadcast, basic, premium and streaming) puff out their chests and show viewers what they’ve got, competing for eyeballs in a time when viewers already have too much to watch.

Fall is when CBS and The CW reboot long-gone TV shows like “Murphy Brown” and “Charmed.” It’s when ABC attempts to continue the Roseanne Barr-less reboot of “Roseanne,” now called “The Conners” (that should be interesting).

It’s the time for the return of populist juggernauts like “This Is Us” and “Riverdale,” but also the time for profoundly odd little wonders that only me and like 12 other people watch — like AMC’s “Lodge 49.”

The fall TV season is still a thing, even if it’s only a thing symbolically.

That in mind, I’ve highlighted 15 shows that happen to be airing/streaming this fall and why each of them might be your thing. This is followed by a closer-to-comprehensive calendar of premiere dates.

15 SHOWS TO WATCH

“Lodge 49” (AMC)

Currently airing

This unclassifiable dramedy is now in the middle of its first season. It stars Wyatt Russell as a Long Beach bum who discovers new purpose when he joins a musty fraternal order. The series, which boasts a superb ensemble cast, is laid back in tone and pace. But there's more going on than meets the eye. It poses an incisive commentary on the post-recession economy and also the tantalizing possibility that there’s something crazy (perhaps even supernatural) buzzing about the margins of the main narrative.

Who will like it: Viewers with a peculiar sense of humor who are worried about their jobs.

 

“The Purge” (USA)

Currently airing

“Purge” movies director James DeMonaco brings his dystopian hellscape horror franchise to TV, with an ensemble series of 10 episodes taking place over a single Purge night. The first two episodes are a slick, sick and enjoyable expansion of the “Purge” universe, in what has become the most culturally relevant horror series of our crazy times.

Who will like it: Fans of the “Purge” movies. Those who like their political satire served up blunt and outrageous.

 

“Kidding” (Showtime)

Currently airing

Michel Gondry reunites with his “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” star, Jim Carrey, for a wildly imaginative dramedy about a world-famous children’s TV show host named Mr. Pickles (Carrey) whose personal struggles begin to bleed into the work of his multimillion-dollar empire. Costars Frank Langella, Judy Greer and Catherine Keener.

Who will like it: Viewers who enjoy comedy that is dark and strange. Jim Carrey fans who have been waiting years for him to have a role this good again. 

 

“The Deuce” (HBO)

Currently airing

David Simon and George Pelecanos’ deep dive into the 1970s NYC sex industry jumps ahead five years to 1977 for its second season. The massive cast of characters — played by such actors as Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Carr and James Franco (in a dual role as twins) — is now fully enmeshed in the scene’s burgeoning porn industry. Like other Simon shows post-“Wire,” this one takes a few episodes to get into.

Who will like it: Fans of “The Wire,” “Boogie Nights” and Maggie Gyllenhaal. 

 

“American Vandal” (Netflix)

All episodes available Friday

Netflix’s breakout hit of a mockumentary continues. The first season of the fake true crime doc follows our young filmmakers’ attempts to solve the mystery of who spray-painted phallic images on the cars of 27 high school faculty members. The new season has our truth-pursuers investigating an even fouler crime: At a Catholic high school, the cafeteria lemonade is contaminated with laxatives, causing scores of high schoolers to simultaneously, well, relieve themselves. The culprit of the crime goes by the name “The Turd Burglar.” The first season of “American Vandal” was juvenile, of course. But also intelligent, touching and consistently hilarious.

Who will like it: True crime fans who can still appreciate a well-told poop joke. 

 

“BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)

All episodes available Friday

In hindsight, it seems improbable that an animated series about a depressive, alcoholic movie star (who is also a horse) would get five seasons of television. And even more improbable that the show would become one of the most critically acclaimed series on TV. Whatever the case, BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is as fascinatingly flawed a character as Don Draper, and, like “Mad Men,” “BoJack” explores the anxious dread at the heart of a meaningless existence with wit and panache. Unlike “Mad Men,” there’s a lot of dog, cat and horse humor here.

Who will like it: At this point, you’ve either found “BoJack” or you haven’t. 

 

“Norm Macdonald Has a Show” (Netflix)

 All episodes available Friday

They gave Norm a talk show! Each half hour-long episode will revolve around Macdonald’s unique brand of comedy and feature special guests such as Drew Barrymore, David Spade, Judge Judy, David Letterman, Jane Fonda, Chevy Chase, M. Night Shyamalan, Michael Keaton and Lorne Michaels.

Who will like it: Those who understand that Norm Macdonald is one of the funniest people alive.

 

“Maniac” (Netflix)

All episodes available Sept. 21

Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”) directs Emma Stone and Jonah Hill in this out-there series about two mentally unwell people who sign up for an experimental drug trial that takes their minds into realms of fantasy and science fiction. This looks wild and unmissable. It costars Justin Theroux, Sally Field and Sonoya Mizuno (“Crazy Rich Asians”).

Who will like it: Me. 

 

“The Good Place” (NBC)

Premieres Sept. 27

I say in complete seriousness that this Kristen Bell/Ted Danson NBC sitcom — which takes place in heaven and hell and everywhere in between — is as rich in twists, mythology and world-building as “Lost” and “Game of Thrones.” And it’s also much, much funnier. The end of last season reset all the pieces once again, as the show continues to be far too restlessly inventive to fall back on any one formula for long.

Who will like it: Everyone! Watch it! 

 

“Superstore” (NBC)

Premieres Oct. 4

NBC’s other great comedy is a blue-collar sitcom in the mold of “Cheers” about the employees of Cloud 9, a big-box store in St. Louis. “Superstore” doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does offer a near-perfect example of the workplace comedy format, featuring a wonderful ensemble cast (including America Ferrera and Ben Feldman) and scripts that are far smarter than they need to be. “Superstore” even has a bit of a subversive streak.

Who will like it: Those who long for the great working-class sitcoms of an earlier era. 

 

“The Romanoffs” (Amazon Prime)

All episodes available Oct. 12

Here’s a real oddball: a contemporary anthology series set all around the world and centering on stories about people who believe themselves to be descendents of the Russian royal family. The series comes from “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, and it stars (ahem) Aaron Eckhart, Kerry Bishe, Amanda Peet, John Slattery, Paul Reiser, Christina Hendricks, Diane Lane, Griffin Dunne, Ron Livingston, Kathryn Hahn and Omaha native Andrew Rannells.

Who will like it: Who knows. 

 

“My Brilliant Friend” (HBO)

Will premiere sometime in November

HBO has committed to adapting all four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which follow two women over the course of their 60-year friendship. This first season is based on the first book, set in 1950s Naples, when our main characters meet as girls at primary school. Ferrante’s series is a masterpiece, and, by most accounts, the showrunners have done an excellent job translating the first volume to screen.

Who will like it: Fans of epic, period-piece dramas. 

 

“Homecoming” (Amazon Prime)

All episodes available Nov. 2

Sam Esmail (“Mr. Robot”) developed and directed this new series starring Julia Roberts as a caseworker for a secret government facility who wants to rejoin civilian life. The first few episodes recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where “Homecoming” was met with unanimous praise, critics calling it a gripping show made in the fashion of a 1970s conspiracy thriller.

Who will like it: Julia Roberts completists. Fans of “Three Days of the Condor.” 

 

“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)

Premieres Nov. 18

This has got to be one of the more intriguing projects of 2018, on TV or the big screen. It’s a crime, uh … I guess a crime comedy based on a true 2015 story about two prisoners who escaped from jail with the help of a female prison employee with whom they were both sexually involved. Benicio del Toro and Paul Dano play the convicts. Patricia Arquette plays the prison worker. And Ben Stiller (!) directs the whole thing.

Who will like it: Curious, adventurous viewers who don’t need to “like” the main characters. 

 

“The Little Drummer Girl” (AMC)

Premieres Nov. 19

AMC adapts the John le Carre novel of the same name into a miniseries. Set in the 1970s, the show follows an actress who is recruited into becoming a double-agent for the Israeli government. Directed by Chan-wook Park (“Oldboy,” “Stoker”) and starring Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Shannon.

Who will like it: Tinkers, tailors, soldiers, spies. 

 

Full premiere calendar

Well not full full. There are hundreds of shows premiering over the next few months. I’ve only included the ones that seemed to be of the most interest. And of those, I’ve only included additional details if the shows merited them. “The Big Bang Theory,” for instance, needs no further introduction.

Good shows that have already returned

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FX)

“Insecure” (HBO)

“Kidding” (Showtime)

“The Deuce” (HBO)

“American Horror Story: Apocalypse” (FX): Season 8 of Ryan Murphy's anthology series is a crossover between Seasons 1 and 3. True fans will know what that means. Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates return.

Starting Friday

“American Vandal” (Netflix)

“BoJack Horseman” (Netflix)

“The First” (Hulu): Sean Penn leads the cast of this drama about the development of the first manned mission to Mars. From the creator of “House of Cards.”

“Forever” (Amazon Prime): Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph star as a bored suburban couple trying to break out of their rut in this new comedy series.

“Norm Macdonald Has a Show” (Netflix)

Sept. 16

“The Circus” (Showtime): The political docu-series continues to chronicle our crazy times.

Sept. 19

“I Feel Bad” (NBC): New NBC family sitcom starring Sarayu Blue as an imperfect mother who feels bad. Produced by Amy Poehler.

Sept. 21

“The Good Cop” (Netflix): A dramedy procedural starring Tony Danza and Josh Groban as a father-son cop duo. From the creator of “Monk.”

“Maniac” (Netflix)

Sept. 23

“9-1-1” (Fox): A new season to Ryan Murphy’s cuh-razy show, now starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Sept. 24

“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS): You

“The Good Doctor” (ABC): Already know

“The Voice” (NBC): What these shows are.

Sept. 25

“Lethal Weapon” (Fox): Season 3 returns without one of its stars: Clayne Crawford, who was kicked off the show for supposedly just being kind of a maniac. Seann William Scott will replace him as a new character.

“Mr. Inbetween” (FX): Aussie drama about a family man who moonlights as a criminal for hire.

“NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans” (CBS)

“This Is Us” (NBC)

Sept. 26

“Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.” (NBC): They’re all set in Chicago.

“Empire” (Fox)

“The Goldbergs” (ABC)

“A Million Little Things” (ABC): ABC tries to make its own “This Is Us.”

“Single Parents” (ABC): Taran Killam stars as a single father who joins a support group for single parents in this sitcom from the writers of “New Girl.”

“South Park” (Comedy Central)

Sept. 27

“The Good Place” (NBC)

“How to Get Away With Murder” and “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC)

“Mom” (CBS)

“Murphy Brown” (CBS): TV’s reboot fever continues with the return of this 20-years-absent sitcom. Brown (Candice Bergen) is now hosting a morning cable news show.

Sept. 28

“The Cool Kids” (Fox): Comedy set in a retirement community.

“King Lear” (Amazon Prime): Two-hour Shakespeare adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emily Watson.

“Last Man Standing” (Fox): Tim Allen’s cancelled ABC sitcom becomes a revived Fox sitcom.

Sept. 29

“Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Wonder what they’ll do sketches about.

Sept. 30

“God Friended Me” (CBS): A drama about an atheist who gets a friend request on social media from none other than God.

“Poldark” (PBS): This will be the Season 4 premiere. The much-loved show will end after its fifth season.

“REL” (Fox): The regular timeslot for the new sitcom starring Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”).

“The Simpsons” (Fox)

Oct. 1

“Happy Together” (CBS): Damon Wayans Jr. stars in this sitcom about a comfortable married couple whose lives are upended when a musician moves in.

“The Neighborhood” (CBS): Max Greenfield stars as a Midwestern man who moves his family to L.A.

Oct. 4

“I Feel Bad” (NBC): New timeslot for the series.

“Superstore” (NBC)

“Will and Grace” (NBC)

Oct. 5

“Big Mouth” (Netflix): The dirty-minded animated series returns.

“Fresh Off the Boat” (ABC)

“Into the Dark” (Hulu): Jason Blumhouse produced this horror anthology series, which will feature a new episode the first Friday of each month.

“The Man From High Castle” (Amazon Prime)

Oct. 7

“Doctor Who” (BBC America): Now with a new Doctor: Jodie Whittaker.

“Star Wars Resistance” (Disney): Animated series set between the events of “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”

“The Walking Dead” (AMC): Still shambling along.

Oct. 9

“Black Lightning” and “The Flash” (The CW)

Oct. 10

“All American” (The CW): Sports drama inspired by the life of NFL linebacker Spencer Paysinger.

“Riverdale” (The CW)

Oct. 12

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW): The final season.

“The Haunting of Hill House” (Netflix): Mike Flanagan (“Hush”) directs this miniseries adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel.

“The Romanoffs” (Amazon Prime)

Oct. 14

“The Alec Baldwin Show” (ABC): TV now has more Alec Baldwin.

“Camping” (HBO): Jennifer Garner stars as a Type-A tyrant in this comedy series about a group of friends who go camping.

“Charmed” (The CW): Reboot of the series, which last aired in 2006.

“Supergirl” (The CW)

Oct. 15

“Arrow” (The CW)

Oct. 16

“The Conners” (ABC): It’s “Roseanne” without Roseanne.

“The Kids Are Alright” (ABC): A ’70s-set sitcom about a large Irish-Catholic family all living under one roof.

“The Rookie” (ABC): Nathan Fillion returns, this time as a citizen hero who becomes the LAPD’s oldest rookie cop.

Oct. 19

“Wanderlust” (Netflix): Toni Collette stars in this drama about the gradual crumbling of a marriage.

Oct. 20

“My Dinner With Herve” (HBO): In this HBO movie, a journo (Jamie Dornan) spends a night hanging out with “Fantasy Island” actor Herve Villechaize (Peter Dinklage).

Oct. 22

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (The CW)

Oct. 25

“Deutschland 86” (Sundance): The German espionage series jumps ahead three years.

“Legacies” (The CW): A spinoff of “The Originals,” which was a spinoff of “The Vampire Diaries.”

Oct. 26

“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (Netflix): Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men”) stars as Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Oct. 28

“Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix): The “Daily Show” correspondent gets his own show.

“Ray Donovan” (Showtime)

Oct. 31

“Tell Me a Story” (CBS All Access): Classic fairy tales reimagined as stories set in contemporary NYC.

Nov. 2

“Homecoming” (Amazon Prime)

“House of Cards” (Netflix): Kevin Spacey is out. Robin Wright is the new lead. Greg Kinnear and Diane Lane join the cast.

“Watergate” (History): Three-part docu-series about Watergate from “Inside Job” director Charles Ferguson.

Nov. 4

“Outlander” (Starz): Sing me a song of a lass that is gone ...

Nov. 16

“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix): A new comedy starring Michael Douglas as an acting coach and Alan Arkin as his longtime friend.

“Narcos: Mexico” (Netflix): “Narcos” shifts to Mexico, with new cast members Diego Luna and Michael Peña.

Nov. 18

“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)

Nov. 19

“The Little Drummer Girl” (AMC)

Nov. 28

“Vikings” (History)

Dec. 21

“Marvel’s Runaways” (Hulu): The teenage superhero series returns.

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