TLDR: There’s going to be a lot of good television in the next couple of months. Our Fall TV preview can help.
Before we get started, one quick word of warning. If you plan on quickly scanning through the list to make sure The Walking Dead or The Mindy Project are still holding strong, you’re about to be disappointed. I’m as excited as you for more South Park or one last season with The League, but the truth is, after a couple of seasons, you’ve either committed to a show or decided to skip it altogether. The first or second season of a show is the perfect time to jump on a new program – you’ll notice that I’ve missed one or two of these so far myself – so we’re going to take a look at those instead. Have fun reading, and good luck finding time for all of these in your fall schedule!
The Muppet Show
ABC, Tuesday, September 22 (8:00/7:00 Central)
It’s been sixty years since Jim Henson’s Muppets made their first appearance on Sam and Friends, a Washington D.C. show created by Henson while he was still in college. With later mainstays Kermit and Rolfe leading the cast, Sam and Friends featured musical numbers, faux-celebrity sightings, and product placements for Esskay Meats, a local sponsor of the show. Sure, it’s tempting to roll your eyes in 2015 at Muppets in commercials or music videos, but that’s always been the case. If people complain that The Muppet Show seems like more of the same, just remember that their particular brand of “more of the same” has been a part of American culture longer than the state of Alaska.
Empire (Season 2)
Fox, Wednesday, September 23 (9:00/8:00 Central)
With the enormous popularity of Empire, television executives seemed to finally realize that middle-aged white men weren’t the only people watching television. The show was a huge success; Empire’s audience grew with each consecutive episode and the show became a focal point for the increased diversity of television audiences. I may have been one of the few people to miss out on Empire’s first season, but I asked Broken Projector’s own Geoff LaTulippe to give me the rundown and he baited the hook: “It’s like a telenovela and a rap video smashed into each other at a hundred miles an hour and then Shakespeare humped the result into magic storytelling.” Sold.
Sunday Nights on HBO
HBO, Sunday (Rolling)
Have you noticed that HBO has gotten really good at keeping us glued to our seats on Sunday nights? In 2015, the network really perfected the art of appointment television. After Game of Thrones ended, Sunday nights belonged to True Detective in July, then Show Me a Hero in August, Project Greenlight in September, and The Leftovers in October. It doesn’t really matter if your HBO show of choice is a behind-the-scenes look at independent filmmaking or a non-secular Left Behind, odds are you’ll be glued to HBO on Sunday nights for at least part of this fall. Personally, I’ll be watching Project Greenlight just to make sure that Ben and Matt are still best friends.
iZombie (Season 2)
The CW, Tuesday, October 6 (9:00/8:00 Central)
When the zombie apocalypse has decimated the world population and pockets of humanity live in underground tunnels, there will still be Rob Thomas, churning out smart, female-driven television shows seemingly on the verge of getting cancelled. iZombie immediately filled that Veronica Mars gap for soapy, smart-ass characters who might be more vulnerable than they’re letting on. And unlike Mars, Thomas’s show seems actually be in sync with the rest of The CW’s programming this time around. With a fall lineup that includes new Arrow, Flash, iZombie, and Jane the Virgin, the CW might just have its best year of original programming to date.
Fargo (Season 2)
FX, Monday, October 12 (10:00/9:00 Central)
With all due respect to the amazing television shows that premiered in 2014, no show was more impressive than FX’s Fargo. Nobody wanted a television adaptation of one of the Coen Brothers’ best films; nobody could quite wrap their head around prestige television that involved Oliver Platt and Billy Bob Thornton. We were wrong. Noah Hawley drilled into the core of the original film – its dark humor, desperation, and Minnesota Nice – and created one of television’s best shows, led by perhaps its best character (Alison Tolman’s Molly Solverson). With an arguably better cast and the benefit of the doubt, Fargo could very well end up being the second season standout that audiences hoped for with True Detective.
Jane the Virgin (Season 2)
The CW, Monday, October 19 (9:00/8:00 Central)
Much like Empire, Jane the Virgin found itself shooting up the best-of lists by telling stories not usually found in primetime television. The first season was the perfect blend of two television cultures, bringing together the best parts of the American comedy and the Mexican soap opera and breaking out its lead actress Gina Rodriguez in the biggest possible way. Those on the fence about more of this should should listen to Linda Holmes and her colleagues discuss Jane the Virgin on Pop Culture Happy Hour, where they spend most of their time laughing at the memory of the show before trying to describe why they liked it so much.
CBS, Monday, October 26 (8:30/7:30 Central)
Anyone who has watched Arrow or The Flash knows DC has something special in Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. As Executive Producers on two of television’s most prominent comic book adaptations, both Berlanti and Kreisberg have developed a reputation for character-driven, plot-churning, fan-pleasing television without sacrificing the joy and brightness of the comic books for the small screen. Together with Ali Adler – a longtime television writer and producer and one of the driving forces in getting Supergirl off the ground – these three are set to try and deliver a female-driven superhero property. After hearing for years that Wonder Woman or Black Widow are too “tricky” for primetime, Supergirl fans will hopefully prove those words wrong.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
Starz, Saturday, October 31 (9:00/8:00 Central)
Not including a handful of video games and a post-credits teaser in 2013, we haven’t seen Bruce Campbell’s Ash in all his glory since Army of Darkness. That’s a twenty-three year gap between appearances, the kind of time off between franchise entries that would impress anyone not named George Miller. Diehard fans of The Evil Dead franchise were on the phone with their cable provider the day it was released, but if you need any further persuading, then more Evil Dead means more opportunities to watch Campbell play our favorite swaggering idiot. Campbell has never treated his acting career as a particularly sacred thing; if the trailer is any indication, expect Evil Dead to be full of meta-humor about Campbell’s B-movie status and AARP qualifications.
The Man in the High Castle
Amazon Prime, Friday, November 20
When you’re a self-interested high school kid, American history can sometimes feel a bit bland. It’s a period drama whose outcome is already known: you, sitting at an uncomfortable desk, daring your high school history teacher to push her nervous breakdown back another year. And that’s probably why I loved Harry Turtledove books. His history seemed alive; the smallest changes meant that anything and everything was possible. The Man in the High Castle, based on the Hugo Award-winning novel by Philip K. Dick, has the look of a Spielberg HBO miniseries and the pedigree of a former Executive Producer for X-Files and Millenium. Why stop at historical fiction when you can just futz with history as much as you want?
Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Netflix, Fall 2015 (TBD)
In 2001, comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis created Jessica Jones, a retired superhero who made ends meet as a private investigator. Like Spiderman or Daredevil, Jones focused her protection efforts mostly on her own neighborhood; she was also one of the few superheroes to voluntarily give up her secret identity. In a world where everyone equates great power with great responsibility, Jones stood out as someone who was brave enough – or indifferent enough – to walk away. There were times that this spring’s Daredevil series felt hamstrung by its own PG-13 rating; Jessica Jones should be the biggest test to date of Marvel’s stomach for adult content.