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Fall TV Preview 2017: Marvel Antiheroes, Serial Killers and ‘Stranger Things’

From ‘The Punisher’ to the return of ‘Curb,’ mutant superheroes to a brand new ‘Star Trek’ series – here’s what you’ll be watching this season

Remember when Fall was the time for new shows – when the Big Three networks, and the few upstarts that would challenge the trio’s decades-long reign, would gloriously unveil their new 10pm hour-long dramas and two-hour primetime sitcom blocks? Now, there are seemingly millions of outlets sprouting up every day and we get a glut of fresh series all year-round; a true-crime whodunnit to binge in the dead of winter, a can’t-miss anthology show popping up in the spring, an Eighties nostalgia-fest timed perfectly for the dog days of summer. Autumn still brings small-screen bounties as sure as the leaves will turn brown and crisp. But the notion that you had to wait until school started back up for the latest rounds of must-see shows and to discover future water cooler conversation-starters? Peak TV doesn’t adhere to your antiquated calendars, people. Peak TV is a 365-day phenomenon. 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a massive batch of new shows and new seasons of some returning favorites dropping in the next four months. Looking at what streaming services and cable channels and Ye Olde Networks have coming down the pike, a few things seem apparent: a) what’s old is still new again; b) you’re going to be watching a lot of Netflix (but you already knew that); and c) people still love antiheroes and superheroes, and if you can get both in one show, you’ll have to hire more folks to count your stacks of money. Here are 25 dramas, comedies, miniseries and big-name fan-favorites coming back for more this fall that we’re excited and/or curious about. Prep yourself for some serious couch time.

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‘The Orville’ (Sep. 21)

MacFarlane’s crush on himself gets to third base – putting himself on screen as the lead of a Star Trek homage that adds up to about
one-12th of a spaceball. It’s an hour-long not-quite-comedy, starring Family Guy creator as the captain of a starship that’s most
definitely not the U.S.S. Enterprise; Adrianne Palicki is his second-in-command
who just happens to be his frown-happy ex-wife. The sci-fi sitcom has been done
over the years, from Paul Feig’s sadly underrated Other Space all the way back to Richard Benjamin’s Seventies trash classic Quark (about
an interstellar garbage collector). But giving The Orville a serious side is just a catastrophic move, as is
giving it that insanely long running time – doing this as a standard MacFarlane
slaptick goof would have at least made sense on its own terms. RS

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‘Mike Judge Presents: Tales From the Tour Bus’ (Sep. 22)

The new animated series from Mike Judge, the legend behind Beavis & Butt-head and King of the Hill, loots the historical vaults to celebrate the legends of country music. (On Cinemax, of all places.) Tales From the Tour Bus goes deep on the most scandalous outlaws in country lore: hell-raising renegade Waylon Jennings, rockabilly reprobate Jerry Lee Lewis, knife-toting rowdy Johnny Paycheck (who, we’ve been told, was the only hell his mama ever raised). It’s cut with live-action performance footage of the original artists, based on interviews with fellow musicians, though you don’t have to know jack about Nashville history to enjoy it. The most brilliant early episode is a two-parter, mourning the disastrous booze-soaked marriage of George Jones and Tammy Wynette – which, like most of the stories on Tales From the Tour Bus, was as glorious in music as it was demented in real life. RS

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‘Neo Yokio’ (Sep. 22)

An anime comedy from Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig? Starring Jaden Smith as a poor little rich kid and Jude Law as his robot butler? Plus Jason Schwartzman and Susan Sarandon? Nothing about Neo Yokio seems to make sense – yet everything about it turns out twice as well as you might expect. Stylish as it is, Netflix’s colorful sci-fi excursion doesn’t fall for the cult of the quirky – it’s genuinely compelling and witty, set in an otherworldly American metropolis in the not-so-distant future of “magistocrats.” Smith plays a morose young elite who lives a posh-yet-tedious life of leisurely heartache (not a million miles from the kind of guy Koenig usually likes to write songs about). But it takes a weird turn when he meets a fashion blogger with some cosmic secrets – Tavi Gevinson, take a bow – and discovers his true calling: battling the supernatural forces of evil while uttering battle cries like, “Coco Chanel, may her memory be blessed.” RS

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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (Sep. 24)

CBS All Access
Streaming: the final frontier. The first new TV Trek series since Enterprise dropped over a decade ago, Discovery is a step into the unknown for everyone concerned – including CBS, who will premiere the first episode in primetime and then stream the rest online at CBS All Access. (Live long and prosper, digital platform!) It’s one of the fall’s most hotly awaited experiments, as well as featuring Wilson Cruz (eternally beloved as Ricky from My So-Called Life) and Anthony Rapp as the first queer couple on Trek … depending, of course, on your Spock/Kirk perspective. The cast includes The Walking Dead‘s Sonequa Martin-Green as a sorta-kinda Vulcan commander, Michelle Yeoh as the shenzhou‘s captain and – something fans might be especially curious to check out – Rainn Wilson as that shifty old pimp from the original series, Harry Mudd. RS

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‘Will & Grace’ (Sep. 28)

Ah, the late Nineties – when rap-rock and boy bands were big, a Clinton was in the White House and a new sitcom about a woman and her gay best friend could help shift the cultural winds. Dave Kohan and Max Mutchnick reunite their Must See TV fab four and unleash them on a vastly different world than the one Will, Grace, Jack and Karen left back in 2006. Whether the less-than-P.C. humor that helped make a name for this show will be somewhat neutered for a modern audience remains to be seen, though supposedly Megan Mullally’s glorious hot mess is now best friends with Melania Trump (!) and Sean Hayes has hinted that his sidekick hasn’t mellowed with age. In any case, it will be great to see this quartet together again, and lord knows we could use a laugh-tracked countermeasure to our current homophobic moment. DF

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‘Tin Star’ (Sep 29)

Take a fish-out-of-water cop – say, an alcoholic, British ex-detective who moves his family to the Canadian Rockies and tries to start life over as a small-town sheriff. Then add some serious tragedy, some hired killers from his past and an Oil Company who’s not keen on people asking questions about their corporate practices. Hell, we’ll even throw in a former Mad Men cast member (Christina Hendricks). This Amazon import has all the makings of an intriguing, quirky crime thriller, though the real reason you want to check this out is to witness Tim Roth give a master class in less-is-more acting – and, eventually, some serious ass-kicking. DF

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‘The Punisher’ (Fall 2017)

It was sort of a given that, from the moment Jon Bernthal’s tortured, take-no-prisoners vigilante showed up in Daredevil‘s second season, the fan-favorite would get his own show. This solo outing for the man in black with the skull logo looks by all accounts to be one of Marvel’s more brutal, violent and moodier outings; word on the street is that the show will get into Frank Castle’s military past a bit more, bad guys will get bullet holes, the body count will be off the charts and The Walking Dead veteran will scowl a lot. (That last one is really just an educated guess-timation.) Judging from the trailer, Girls‘ veteran Ebon Moss-Bachrach shows up as some sort of sidekick, Paul Schulze (that’s food-scarfin’ Father Phil for you Sopranos fans!) is some sort of bad guy and Daredevil‘s Deborah Wall is some sort of continuity-keeping supporting player. DF

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‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Season 9 (Oct. 1)

Hello, Larry! The complainer-in-chief finally returns for a whole new batch of episodes, in which our favorite anti-social curmudgeon grants your every wish-fulfillment desire regarding the daily shit we all put up with (what, you’ve never wanted to shush a loudly grieving funeral patron or push away a pushy perfume salesperson?). David’s usual partners-in-crime – Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Richard Lewis, Susie Essman, the mighty J.B. Smoove – are back and improving up a storm; expect to see Carrie Brownstein and Bryan Cranston drop by as well. How we have missed you, Larry. You can insert your own “pretty, pret-ty good” joke here. DF

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‘Ghosted’ (Oct. 1)

Craig Robinson and Adam Scott investigating the paranormal? Now this could lead to something, if only a goofball vehicle for their comic chemistry. The former is a cop fallen on hard times; the latter is a professor who’s torched his career with his belief in alien abductions, to the point where he’s now a nebbishy bookstore clerk. Together, they get recruited into an X-Files-like government investigation to hunt down the supernatural. Robinson and Scott play off each other well, though they haven’t quite found the right vehicle for their combination – let’s just say that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was most certainly not it. So Ghosted might have the raw material to develop into the real deal. We want to believe. RS

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‘The Gifted’ (Oct. 2)

Because why should mutants just be for the multiplex? Fox brings its ace-in-the-hole Marvel property – the X-Men franchise – to the small screen with this tale of two parents (Angel’s Amy Acker and True Blood‘s Stephen Boyd) who discover their kids are Homo superiors and take them on the lam. Luckily for them, there’s an underground community of similarly genetically blessed folks who take them in and keep them from being terminated with extreme prejudice by anti-mutant government officials. Longtime comic-book readers will be giddy to see some vintage X-favorites (Polaris! Thunderbird!) show up; everyone else will simply thrill to the fact that, with Bryan Singer directing some episodes and onboard as an executive producer, this feels like just like an X-blockbuster on the small screen. DF

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‘Dynasty’ (Oct. 11)

The CW
Everything from the Eighties spins back around, but the time is definitely right to reboot this classic shoulder-pad soap opera, so it’s getting the CW treatment that paid off for Riverdale. Loathsome Rich White Person: “When the revolution happens, it’ll be your head they come for first.” Slightly More Loathsome Rich White Person: “I’ll be sure to get my hair done.” Josh Schwartz evokes his old O.C. mojo, bringing back Melrose Place‘s resident semi-sane person Grant Show as the patriarch Blake Carrington. This Dynasty works infinitely better than the Dallas reboot from a few years ago, which suffered because the fresh young cast members seemed nowhere near evil enough to hang with their elders. UnReal‘s Nathalie Kelley is magnificently despicable in the old Joan Collins role, and like most of the poseurs here, she rocks hair that looks like it’s trying to bitch-slap her own false eyelashes. Congratulations, The Americans, you’llyou’ll no longer have the most outlandish wigs on network TV. RS

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Michael Tran/FilmMagic

‘I Love You, America’ (Oct. 12)

Who better to bring us divided citizens together than a smart-ass stand-up comic? Yes, it sounds questionable on paper – but Sarah Silverman is being sincere when she says she wants this late-night talk show–cum-Daily Show–style riff on current events to get past blue state/red state stereotypes. The show will feature Silverman interviewing folks who’ve had ideological awakenings or 180-degree turnarounds, as well as doing field reports in parts of the U.S. that may not share her background or perspective on the world. (“I had dinner with a family in Louisiana who voted Trump and had never met a Jew,” Silverman told EW, describing a segment from the series.) The notion is that we actually aren’t all that different if we just, y’know, talk to each other. This should not seem like a revolutionary concept in 2017, and yet it does. DF

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‘Mindhunter’ (Oct. 13)

To catch a killer, you have to think like a killer – which is why, in the late Seventies, the F.B.I. has put together a group of agents, including Holden Ford (Glee‘s Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), that interviews convicted mass murderers in order to gain insight into their warped mindset. And as anyone who’s read a Thomas Harris novel or has had any exposure to pop culture over the last 25 years will tell you, every prolonged look into the abyss increases the chance that the abyss will start staring right back into you. Based on the book by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, this crime procedural from creator Joe Penhall and executive producer/director David Fincher is exactly what you’d expect from the screenwriter behind The Road and the man who gave us Seven and Zodiac. It’s Prestige TV at its somber-stylishly pulpiest. DF

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‘White Famous’ (Oct. 15)

The Hollywood shuffle gets a new spin from producer Jamie Foxx and star Jay Pharoah – the dilemma of a successful black comedian on the come-up, angling for mainstream money without losing his original edge. Chris Rock once summed up the title concept on Kevin Hart’s Real Husbands of Beverly Hills – “I’m famous, you’re more like Black Famous. I’m like Prince, you’re like Trey Songz.” Pharoah plays a comic loosely based on Foxx’s experience in the younger days, with Foxx in a minor role as himself. RS

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 (Oct.22)

When we last saw Rick Grimes, the dreadlocked regent King Ezekiel, Darryl the Sexy Crossbow-Wielding Biker and the rest of gang, they were forming a coalition of the willing to take on the bat-man Negan’s army and end his tyranny once and for all. Readers of Robert Kirkman’s comics know this storyline arc as “All-Out War” – and showrunner Scott M. Gimple has suggested that, as in the books, shit is about to get very gnarly. This zombieapalooza juggernaut will remain the most popular show on cable not to feature dragons even if it screws the pooch, but the fact that it’s finally getting around to a proper battle royale suggests that it’ll have a sense of focus that was largely AWOL last season. DF

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‘At Home With Amy Sedaris’ (Oct. 24)

Finally, a crafts ‘n’ cooking show we can get behind! The legendary Amy Sedaris will teach viewers a variety of useful home-decorating and culinary tips, as well as “skills” including (but not limited to) “Frenching beans, gutting a trout, crocheting miniature sweaters [and] entertaining businessmen.” Celebrities will drop by; comedians such as Rachel Dratch and Chris Elliott will play faux-experts; and there will be a special holiday episode which we imagine will involve lots and lots and lots of spiked eggnog. Take that, Martha Stewart! DF

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‘The Last O.G.’ (Oct. 24)

Coming home after a 15-year bid in prison, Tray returns to his old stomping grounds in Brooklyn and finds that the world he knew was gone. Life’s gone on without him; hipsters have moved into the neighborhood and opened up artisanal candy shops and fancy-pants bistros. Worse, Tray’s girlfriend is now married and raising two kids – his sons, in fact, which he didn’t know he had. So, this is some new sort of gritty drama that HBO or somebody is hoping will garner them a bag full of Emmys, right? Nope: This is Tracy Morgan’s new comedy (!), costarring breakout Girls Trip star/funniest talk-show guest alive Tiffany Haddish (!!!) as his long-suffering ex. We have a feeling we’ll love this series so much we’ll take it out behind the high school and get it pregnant. DF