We know you can’t wait for your beloved shows to return this fall, but the upcoming TV season will also offer up a slew of new series vying for your attention every night of the week. Click through this slideshow to check out potential new favorites to add to your roster.
‘The Orville’ (Fox, Sept. 10 at 8 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: In some ways, says executive producer Brannon Braga, “It’s a workplace comedy set in space.” Dig a little deeper, though, and you find “it’s a dramedy set in space where humanity as a whole has achieved great things, but romantic relationships remain as familiar as ever.”
What to Expect: The presence of long-time Star Trek writer and producer Braga should clue you in as to the major influence of the show. Despite what the commercials would have you believe, The Orville is much more an homage to late ’80s/early ’90s Trek than it is a Galaxy Quest-type spoof. The show centers around the will they/won’t they romance of a now-divorced couple played by Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki.
Your Serial’s Getting Stale: Television has grown increasingly serialized over the years, but Orville is a throwback to a time when sci-fi was more episodic. “I personally missed this form of storytelling greatly,” admits Braga. In fact, “The TV show I most gravitated to in the past ten years is Black Mirror. It’s an hour-long story told in the absolute best way. I like a beginning, middle, and end.” — Robert Clarke-Chan
‘The Deuce’ (HBO, Sept. 10 at 9 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: “It’s the beginning of the monetization of sex that is pervasive today, and it’s a story of how the people at the bottom of the food chain in labor are always suffering the most, the ones that do the most work,” says co-creator George Pelecanos.
What to Expect: The story of the legalization of porn and the rise of the industry in New York City in the 1970s. But, as you would guess from series creators Pelecanos and David Simon (The Wire and Treme), The Deuce goes much deeper than that, and tells the story through compelling characters who don’t peddle in stereotypes. James Franco plays a set of twins — Vince, who runs a mob-backed bar with a diverse clientele, and Frankie, a low-level criminal who Vince often bails out of trouble — and directed two of the season’s eight episodes. Breaking Bad Emmy winner Michelle MacLaren directed the premiere and season finale, and Maggie Gyllenhaal — who plays a prostitute who sees the burgeoning porn industry as a way to get off the street — is a producer. “Half of our directors are women, which is much higher than the industry average,” says Pelecanos. “David and I know, no matter how enlightened we think we are, we’re still two middle-aged white guys that are straight, and [the series] would be colored by that, inevitably.”
The Opposite of Sexy: In addition to making sure The Deuce had plenty of female influences behind the camera, Pelecanos says the series worked hard to show porn for what it is: work. “[We were] on set all the time, making sure that when we were shooting pornography scenes that we weren’t shooting pornography, we were shooting the shooting of pornography, you know? So the lighting was un-beautiful, and we had a lot of scenes of people sitting around sets bored, because it’s not exciting.” — Kimberly Potts
‘The Good Doctor’ (ABC, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: “Depends on how long the sentence is and how convoluted it becomes,” star Freddie Highmore jokes. “But something along the lines of: It’s about the trials and tribulations of a young surgeon who happens to have autism and savant syndrome.”
What to Expect: Bates Motel alum Highmore plays said surgeon, Dr. Shawn Murphy, who moves from a small town to San Jose to work on the staff at St. Bonaventure Hospital. The drama, developed by House creator David Shore and Hawaii Five-0 alum Daniel Dae Kim, will revolve around Shawn and his relationships with a staff that is, at best, skeptical about his ability to handle his new gig. Highmore — who met with Shore to discuss the role just three days after wrapping production on Bates earlier this year — was drawn to Shore’s script because of his commitment to focus on more than Dr. Murphy’s autism. “David has created a fully formed character… [He] isn’t relying on the stereotypical versions of people with autism,” Highmore says. “[Shawn] isn’t emotionless. He has a huge wealth of emotional experiences, of course, that he’s going through on a daily basis. We’ll get to see him through moments of joy, understand his sense of humor, we’ll get to see him fall in love. All of those more optimistic things, and the very real struggle that he faces, but it isn’t entirely about focusing on that.”
Home Again: Though Highmore says “Shawn couldn’t be more different from Norman [Bates],” he hasn’t totally left the Bates universe behind: The Good Doctor, like Bates, films in Vancouver, and even employs some of the Bates Motel crew. “The family is somewhat intact up here,” he says. “It was amusing to me having packed up all of my items and shipped them home [to England] to be returning just a few months later.” — KP
(Photo: Liane Hentscher/ABC)
‘Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders’ (NBC, Sept. 26 at 10 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: The series that perfected “ripped from the headlines” storytelling dives deep — eight episodes — into the 1996 conviction of brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez for the murders of their parents.
What to Expect: The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie star Edie Falco plays Menendez brothers defense attorney Leslie Abramson, alongside a cast that also includes Josh Charles, Anthony Edwards, and Heather Graham. The Menendez Brothers showrunner Rene Balcer — an Emmy-winning executive producer on the original Law & Order — says the familiar faces will help shed new light on the infamous case, including how local politics factored heavily into the trial, as did wealth (“They fit the rich brat model,” Balcer says), and the siblings’ allegations that they had been sexually abused by their father for years. “Today, because of the changing attitude towards sexual abuse, especially the sexual abuse of boys within the family, I think they would have gotten a very different sentence,” says Balcer, who wrote “The Serpent’s Tooth,” a 1991 episode of Law & Order that was inspired by the Menendez case. “They would not have been convicted of first-degree murder with life with no parole. I think they probably would have, at most, been convicted of second-degree murder, most likely voluntary manslaughter, and they’d be out now.”
What About the “Chung, Chung”?: Balcer is coy about whether or not we’ll hear the trademark Law & Order sound in The Menendez Murders. “Those touches have been parodied ad nauseam, and it’s a question of, ‘Can we do it without looking like we’re parodying ourselves?’” he says. “I mean, you’ll know it’s Law & Order, but it’s not a duplicate of [the original series].” — KP
(Photo: Justin Lubin/NBC)
‘Marvel’s Inhumans’ (ABC, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: An isolated community of superhumans fight to protect themselves.
What to Expect: The term “inhuman” has been used by the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the equivalent of “mutant,” but the Inhumans are actually a race created by the alien Kree, a fully independent civilization living on the moon. Their king, Black Bolt (Anson Mount) is ousted by his brother, Maximus (Iwan Rheon), and the rest of the royal family rush to his defense as he is stranded on the hostile alien landscape of… Hawaii?
Keep Your Mouth Shut: Show creator Scott Buck had numerous obstacles to overcome — not the least of which is the technical challenge of filming much of the series for IMAX screens (it premieres theatrically Sept. 1 for a limited run). But his first concern was how to tell a story centered around Black Bolt without dialogue — only stage directions. “The character itself is such a challenge. When your lead character never utters a single word?” Fortunately, Mount was up to the task. “He immediately jumped into it. He started creating his own language, which is something we didn’t necessarily expect him to do.” It got to the point, says Buck, “Anson came to me and said, ‘Can you tone it down?’ It felt like I was telling him too much. He wanted to put his own spin on things.” — RCC
‘The Gifted’ (Fox, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: Mutants have always been the hunted in X-Men movies, so show creator Matt Nix says he started with “A family that’s always been on the other side of those issues,” to explore what it’s like to be the hunter and to realize you’re not one of the good guys.
What to Expect: That family is forced to go on the run from the government’s Sentinel Services when mom (Amy Acker) and dad (Stephen Moyer) discover that their two teens (Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White) have mutant abilities. Another connection familiar to comic fans: Their last name. “You don’t name a family The Struckers by accident,” teases Nix. (For the uninitiated, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker is a notorious Marvel supervillian.)
Getting the Big Names: “I was floored when [Marvel] let us use Polaris,” says Nix. Polaris, the daughter of Magneto, wasn’t in Nix’s original pitch of the show, but once Marvel gave the go-ahead, the character (played by Emma Dumont) grew to have a major role. Admits Nix, “Part of that was just, ‘Holy sh*t, they’re letting me have Polaris!” — RCC
(Photo: Ryan Green/Fox)
‘Dynasty’ (The CW, Oct. 11 at 9 p.m.)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: Much like the original series, executive producer Sallie Patrick said the reboot is “a timeless story of a dysfunctional family who are, at the end of the day, going to come together.”
What to Expect: Energy mogul Blake Carrington (Grant Show) is marrying the much younger Cristal Flores (Nathalie Kelley), and his daughter Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) is not happy about it. “The conflict between these two ladies drives the show,” Patrick explains. “Fallon wants her father’s respect, Cristal wants his love.” (And of course, they both want his money.) Set in Atlanta, this Dynasty will also feature a more diverse cast than the original; Blake’s main business rival is the black billionaire playboy Jeff Colby (Sam Adegoke). Notes Show, “Race is going to be a big deal” on the series.
First Wife Club: The arrival of Blake’s ex-wife, Alexis, in the second season changed the course of the original series. “We know we are bringing in Alexis,” Patrick says. “Joan Collins was an icon and huge inspiration.” Unlike the original, though, Alexis’s specter will loom from the beginning. “We have fun building the character off-stage,” Patrick teases. “She will be appearing at some point this season, but I won’t say when.” — Kelly Woo
(Photo: Jace Downs/The CW)
‘Future Man’ (Hulu, Nov. 14)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: “It came about when we were working on [feature film] This Is the End,” a comedy/horror mashup, says co-creator Ariel Shaffir, “We felt as though it would be really fun to do a sci-fi comedy.”
What to Expect: The story revolves around future super-soldiers Tiger and Wolf (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson), who are trying to fit into the present with the help of present super-schlub Josh (Josh Hutcherson) as they work to avert the oncoming apocalypse. (Expect references to everything from the original Terminator to The Last Starfighter to Back to the Future.)
Neverending Story: The show began life as a movie script, but the two writers were never satisfied with it. “Every time we got to the end of our movie script,” says co-creator Kyle Hunter, “[we felt] there was so much more story to tell.” The solution? “We decided to develop it into a TV show where it can never end! That’s the best case scenario.” — RCC
(Photo: Brandon Hickman/Hulu)
‘She’s Gotta Have It’ (Netflix, Nov. 23)
The 1-Sentence Pitch: Why remake She’s Gotta Have It? That’s precisely the question that series star DeWanda Wise asked herself when she was weighing whether or not to play the new Nola Darling — the free-spirited, sexually woke artist carrying on relationships with three very different men — in Spike Lee’s 10-episode adaptation of his 1986 filmmaking debut. Then she read the scripts. “It feels really familiar and really necessary; there’s a lot that’s new and there’s a lot more time we’re spending on these characters.”
What to Expect: “One of the major updates is taking Nola from a character constructed by a 22-year-old Spike Lee and really fleshing that out and making Nola a whole woman,” Wise says. To that end, Lee surrounded himself with female collaborators both in front of and behind the camera. And their influence will be felt throughout the season, inspiring such storylines as discussions about body issues, and Nola’s career concerns as a struggling artist trying to keep up with the high cost of living in gentrified Brooklyn.
Life on Mars: In addition to directing the ’86 film, Lee starred as resident scene-stealer Mars Blackmon, Nola’s hyperactive, sports-crazed suitor. Hamilton star Anthony Ramos has inherited Mars’s oversized glasses for the remake, and Wise says that Lee couldn’t be happier at being replaced. “Spike saw Hamilton eight times! He loves Anthony Ramos. Gleeful Spike Lee is the best Spike Lee, and when he was really gleeful on set, nine times out of 10 it was when Anthony was there.” — Ethan Alter
(Photo: David Lee/Netflix)