Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Sept. 28, 2021

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Fall for fall TV: 12 most highly anticipated series of season

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The Beatles' Paul McCartney and George Harrison in concert in America in 1964.
The Beatles' Paul McCartney and George Harrison in concert in America in 1964. (Express/Hulton Archives/Getty Images) Photo Gallery

The fall TV season isn’t what it used to be — the other three seasons have long since caught up — but the months between now and year’s end still bring an embarrassment of riches. And we’re not just talking about the Roys.

From the long-awaited second season of “The Morning Show” to another “Real Housewives” scandal to a new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the saga of a media magnate’s hangers-on knifing each other in the back, you won’t be without stories to discuss at the proverbial watercooler. Oh, and did we mention the dramatization of a little thing called the Clinton impeachment?

All that and much more awaits you in the Los Angeles Times’ guide to the 12 TV shows we’re most excited about this fall.

‘Only Murders in the Building’

(Hulu, Aug. 31)

Steve Martin co-created this citizen-sleuth comedy in which he stars along with Martin Short and Selena Gomez as residents of an upper Manhattan apartment building who come together over their love of a true-crime podcast. Soon enough, they’re investigating a mystery of their own — and maybe making a podcast about it. The humor is human, not wacky — if you get a little sad now and again, that’s part of the plan — and the jokes don’t rely on our regarding the Martins as codgers who are funny just by virtue of walking and talking. (This isn’t “Grumpy Old Men and the Secret of the Old Clock.”) They’re lively in roles that play to their strengths, Martin as a standoffish former TV detective now auditioning to play extras who look like him, Short as a flamboyant theatrical producer with nothing going on. In her first regular TV role since she was a Disney Channel kid, Gomez brings a kind of solemnity that anchors the trio well.

‘American Crime Story: Impeachment’

(FX, Sept. 7)

He’s done O.J. Simpson. He’s done Gianni Versace. Now it’s time for uber-producer Ryan Murphy to reconsider yet another scandal from the ’90s with the long-awaited “American Crime Story: Impeachment.” After several delays and false starts, the series will finally arrive boasting an all-star cast including Beanie Feldstein as White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Clive Owen as President Bill Clinton and Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, the Pentagon employee who surreptitiously recorded her phone calls with Lewinsky. With playwright Sarah Burgess as showrunner, the 10-episode series is one of several recent projects to revisit this sordid saga in the post-#MeToo age, and it treats Lewinsky, who was involved as a producer, as a sympathetic protagonist rather than a punchline.

‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’

(Bravo, Sept. 12)

When it made its debut in November as the 10th addition to an aging franchise, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” felt like a snow-capped wonderland of good ol’ petty drama that brought a refreshing jolt of joy to our pandemic nights and introduced us to the culinary wonder that is a “chicken lollipop.” Even Rihanna was watching. And the show’s cast wasted little time in bringing high drama to its high-altitude locale. Filming on the second season coincided with hot-tempered Jen Shah getting arrested and charged with fraud and money laundering in an alleged telemarketing scheme. Her legal crisis will no doubt make for some slick flashback editing and “to be continued …” moments on the series, just as the tale of Erika Girardi (aka Erika Jayne) and her estranged husband, former L.A. legal powerhouse Tom Girardi, have on the current season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” The scandal has already delivered some of this season’s most real reality moments.

‘Back to Life’

(Showtime, Sept. 13)

This quirky British series has a darkly comic vibe that may at first glance seem similar to “Fleabag,” but it’s quite distinct. Daisy Haggard, who created the show, stars as Miri Matteson, who is awkwardly trying to rebuild her life after spending almost two decades in prison for committing a horrific crime. She meets endless obstacles — from dealing with her loving but cautious parents to the people in town who hate her. The series is a showcase for Haggard, whose performance is both hilarious and poignant. Miri’s life is likely not going to get easier in the second season.

‘Y: The Last Man’

(FX on Hulu, Sept. 13)

Based on Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Eisner Award-winning comic book series, “Y: The Last Man” is set in a world where every single mammal with a Y chromosome suddenly and pretty horrifically dies one day — except for a cisgender man named Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. Besides the mystery around the tragedy and Yorick and Ampersand’s immunity, the survivors also have to figure out how to rebuild a functional society and maybe avoid human extinction. It’s a comic book series with a special place in my heart, and because this show has been a long time coming (it was initially announced in 2015, after a yearslong attempt at a film adaptation did not pan out), a part of me refused to get my hopes up that it was really happening until I saw the trailer. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how the show updates the source material to reflect a more nuanced understanding of gender.

‘The Morning Show’

(Apple TV+, Sept. 17)

Season 2 of the newsroom drama, which laid bare the cutthroat culture of chatty news programs in its freshman run, returns nearly two years after its debut on the then-fledgling Apple TV+, now an Emmy favorite for “Ted Lasso.” Host Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) has quit the morning show, her relationship with co-anchor Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon) is hanging by a thread and a shamed Matt Lauer-esque Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is poised to make a comeback. New additions to the cast include Hasan Minhaj and Julianna Margulies. Watch the bloodletting behind the smiles as they continue to stray from script, on and off camera.

‘The Big Leap’

(Fox, Sept. 20)

In 2014, a British docuseries recruited a group of average-size amateur dancers and trained them for a performance of “Swan Lake.” This hourlong show fictionalizes the endeavor with earnest emotionality about life’s second chances and follows, among others, an unemployed man hoping to win back a spouse, a single mom trying to overcome depression and a famous athlete working to fix his reputation. Scott Foley adds humor and conflict as the producer of the show within a show.

‘La Brea’

(NBC, Sept. 28)

Just the title may be a reason to tune in for guilty pleasure-seekers like me. After all, how many dramas are named after a Los Angeles street that really has nothing distinctive about it? The mysterious promos that aired repeatedly during the Tokyo Olympics didn’t reveal much, except that a giant sinkhole has opened up in the middle of the city and plunged a lot of unfortunate residents deep, deep, deep underground — into what the program notes describe as a “mysterious and primeval” world.

‘Queens’

(ABC, Oct. 19)

This prime-time soap from “Scandal” writer and executive producer Zahir McGhee centers on the members of an all-female ’90s hip-hop group who attempt to mount a comeback in their 40s. Though the premise sounds similar to “Girls5Eva” — a comedy I didn’t enjoy as much as others did — the tone and approach is decidedly different and boasts real-life hit-makers Eve and Brandy in its cast. I have a feeling “Queens” will fill the “Nashville”-, “Empire”- and “Star”-shaped hole in my heart.

‘Dexter: New Blood’

(Showtime, Nov. 7)

Television’s favorite serial killer returns for a 10-part revival of “Dexter,” with Michael C. Hall reprising his role as the awkwardly charming forensics expert by day, deadly avenger by night. Making things more interesting: Jennifer Carpenter will reportedly return as his sister Deb, even though she was famously killed off in the 2013 finale of the eight-season drama. Will she return as his conscience, or are we talking prequel? The only sure bet is that Dexter Morgan is still investing in yards of plastic tarps and Saran Wrap.

‘Hawkeye’

(Disney+, Nov. 24)

Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, is admittedly not the most exciting member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers. But “Hawkeye” is set to introduce Kate Bishop, who in the comics is a teen who takes on the Hawkeye mantle when she joins the next generation superhero team the Young Avengers, and that’s plenty exciting. The cast also includes “Black Widow” standout Florence Pugh reprising her role as Yelena, the trained assassin who — spoiler alert — was told that Clint is responsible for her beloved sister Natasha’s death at the end of the movie. I can’t wait to see how that first meeting is going to go.

‘The Beatles: Get Back’

(Disney+, Nov. 25)

“Get Back” is Peter Jackson’s hyper-extended happy cut of Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s downbeat 1970 film documenting the birth of the album that would be called “Let It Be,” seemingly along with the death of the band that was making it. (It ended up being the last Beatles album released, though “Abbey Road” was made after it.) Lindsay-Hogg’s movie, long offered as evidence that something was rotten in Pepperland, has been out of circulation for years; Jackson’s version, which restores the album’s original title, argues that the Fab Four were having fun and working like a band in between the scenes of passive-aggression. It comes to television as six hours spread over three nights.

— Robert Lloyd

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