Give thanks, TV viewers, that we’re coming up on a month that not only offers a handful of intriguing documentaries, the return of two breakout series from last year and a British sitcom about cancer starring Lizzy Caplan, but also the premieres of both S.W.A.T and S.M.I.L.F.! All this, plus an old-school horse opera and a two-part history lesson on five decades of Rolling Stone. Here’s what you’ll be tuning into this November. (You can check out our guide to the month’s best streaming options here.)
Beyond a Year in Space (PBS, Nov. 15th)
The 2016 documentary A Year in Space monitored astronaut Scott Kelly’s 12-month stint on the International Space Station, walking laypeople through the extraordinary demands of a jaunt out of the atmosphere. This follow-up rejoins him on his last day in space and through his return to Earth, where his work is far from finished. As he reintegrates to society and has a stirring reunion with his loved ones, Kelly and his twin brother Mark submit to a close study from NASA to determine the effects that a year among the stars would have on the human body and yield fascinating conclusions. Those viewers that wanted more hard realism and less potato farming from The Martian, guess what? You’re in luck.
Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders (SundanceTV, Nov. 18th)
Truman Capote singlehandedly invented the nonfiction novel form in 1966 when he turned the sordid tale of the Clutter family’s grisly murder into In Cold Blood. This doc places that case back under the magnifying glass, with documentarian Joe Berlinger – no stranger to true crime chronicles, he; see the groundbreaking Paradise Lost trilogy – digging in to information about the murders themselves, the homicide investigation and the aftermath. Most importantly, it also dives into why this decades-old story captured the imagination of both the author and the general public.
Damnation (USA, Nov. 7th)
The great plains of America’s unsettled frontier were watered first with blood, and this old-school Western recreates the heartland of the Thirties, when magnates angled to get townships under their thumb and religious revivals dotted the country. Two men in direct opposition face off for the soul of a rural Iowa hamlet: phony preacher Seth Davenport (Killian Scott) and professional strikebreaker Creeley Turner (Logan Marshall-Green). It’s meticulously designed for full period-appropriate immersion, well versed in the Western’s gruff dialect and sure to be treat for people still mourning the demise of Deadwood and Hell on Wheels.
The Girlfriend Experience, Season 2 (Starz, Nov. 5th)
Everything about the first season of Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan’s sleek drama, set in the high-price, hight-stakes world of career call girls, was blazingly original – and the sophomore go-round aims to be even more ambitious. Both directors independently handle their own free-standing half-season, with each episode splitting its time between two parallel stories. One strand, set during the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, examines the relationship between a Republican Super PAC director (Anna Friel) and a professional companion du jour. The other narrative follows a GFE worker (Carmen Ejgo) who relocates to New Mexico with witness protection, but can’t stop herself from returning to the game. Two chilling, oblique takes on capitalism and carnal knowledge for the price of one!
Ill Behaviour (Showtime, Nov. 13th)
As Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients go, Charlie (Tom Riley) is in pretty good stead. His prognosis is positive; he feels comfortable bypassing chemotherapy and trying his luck with alternative holistic treatments. But his friends (Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Regan and You’re the Worst‘s Chris Geere) fear that he’s may be endangering his own life. So they do what any rational people would do: bind Charlie to a chair in his basement so they can forcibly administer the medicine he needs. Did we mention this BBC 2 import is a comedy? And that Peep Show co-creator Sam Bain is responsible for its genuinely warped sense or humor? And that it took U.K. viewers by storm when it aired back in its home country earlier this year?
The Return of Mythbusters (Science, Nov. 15th)
After a year and half of un-busted myths, TV’s enduring valentine to the rigor of the scientific method has returned to rule on what can and cannot be set on fire. Series hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman hung up their lab coats in 2016, leaving a talent-search reality show to find their suitable replacements. Now winners Jonathan Lung and Brian Louden are ready to blow some stuff up – in a controlled, reproducible experimental environment, of course. Few programs have so successfully translated intellectual curiosity into a format that makes learning fun. And don’t pretend like you weren’t wondering if cars really explode when you shoot the gas tank.
Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge (HBO, Nov. 6th)
Yes, it’s an account of the magazine’s 50-year history, a publishing institution that dictated the conversation around Sixties counterculture and modern pop culture for five decades and one which we are not the least bit biased about, no sirree. Alex Gibney’s two-part, four-hour chronicle promises plenty of founder Jann Wenner’s choicest anecdotes, assorted memories courtesy of past staffers and noted scribes/shutterbugs, possibly a few mentions of Hunter S. Thompson’s numerous narcotic-fueled freakouts and a front-row seat to many of rock history’s biggest moments. Also did we mention that Rolling Stone has the best-looking digital editorial staff to boot? Seriously, they’re gorgeous.
Search Party, Season 2 (TBS, Nov. 19th)
The first season finale of this wryly hilarious mystery-comedy sent our ensemble – rootless Dory (Alia Shawkat), her boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds), attention-starved Portia (Meredith Hagner) and narcissistic Elliott (John Early) — back to square one. The sophomore run takes a different approach, swapping out the investigation structure for something darker and more ethically murky. The gang has committed a murder. When the authorities find the body and start asking some pointed questions, each character lurches into their own little mental breakdown. Expect more hipster takedowns and slow-roasted, handcrafted millennial angst.
S.M.I.L.F. (Showtime, Nov. 5th)
The title stands for Single Mother I’d Like to … well, you get the picture. That’s this comedy in a nutshell, with creator-writer-star Frankie Shaw lampooning her own experiences as a young actress balancing the demands of motherhood and the dating circuit. Rosie O’Donnell is Shaw’s mother; Connie Britton is her boss. And right when the child-rearing stuff threatens to get sentimental, there’s a bare-assed sex scene. Eat your heart out, Bad Moms.
S.W.A.T. (CBS, Nov. 2nd)
From a 1975 TV series to a 2003 big-screen blockbuster – and now back from whence it came. But this is not your father’s Special Weapons And Tactics law enforcement procedural; this new series speaks to the issues of its time by focusing on the fraught relationship between the police and the black communities they’re supposed to be protecting. The pilot episode sees the all-too-familiar sight of a black teenager killed by an officer on duty, and in the instatement of new squad leader Hondo (Shemar Moore), a commitment to more careful policing of brutality. Yes, his team through a gamut of life-or-death operations every week. No, Samuel L. Jackson isn’t slated to make a cameo any time soon.
Editor’s note: The Cold Blooded entry was updated to reflect new information about the miniseries.