Tuning In to Fall Television

Now that the weather is changing and we’ll all be spending a bit more time indoors, the networks are hoping to lure us into watching their new television shows. Their many, many new television shows. To help you find what might interest you, here are just a few of them sorted into loose categories.

Young and Unusual
The Big Bang Theory has been pleasing nerds and the people who love them since 2007. Now a prequel show, Young Sheldon (CBS or CTV, 9/25), will give us the backstory of the One Nerd to Rule Them All, Dr. Sheldon Cooper. It could be cute and funny, or it could be disconcerting to have off-color high school humor revolving around a precocious child who is very young for his grade—time will tell. In The Good Doctor (ABC or CTV, 9/25), a show based on a South Korean drama of the same name, young pediatric surgeon Shaun Murphy is a genius who is also autistic. Showrunner David Shore is best known for creating the medical drama House. And the newest X-Men adaptation, The Gifted (FOX,or CTV, 10/2), is the story of an ordinary couple having marital issues. Their focus changes dramatically when they realize that their two teens have mutant abilities. Tagline? “Family is the ultimate power.”

Not So Young, Still Unusual
In the drama/comedy Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC or CTV, 10/3), Kevin is feeling a bit like a loser as he moves into his sister’s house. An encounter with a meteor changes everything when he is given a mission from God to protect the world and a guardian angel to guide him on the way. Part serious, part sentimental, and possibly a bit sacrilegious, this looks like a new take on Joan of Arcadia. A different fish-out-of-water comedy is The Mayor (ABC, 10/3 or CTV, 10/7), which features a hip hop artist who accidentally becomes mayor as part of a publicity stunt. His challenge is to stop rapping about injustice and start working to change it. Looks like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air meets Parks and Recreation. Speaking of Parks and Rec, Adam Scott will be teaming up with Craig Robinson (The Office) in Ghosted (FOX or City, 10/1) a Parks-and-Rec-tified comedy version of The X-Files. They play a mismatched duo who investigate paranormal events. Kyra Sedgewick plays the mother of a young girl who disappears in the 10-episode drama series Ten Days in the Valley (ABC or CTV, 10/1). What’s different about this mother? She’s also the producer of a controversial TV show about police.

As Seen at the Bookstore
Netflix offers a couple of events this fall based on book club favorites. The elegiac final novel from the late Kent Haruf is the basis for Our Souls at Night (Netflix, 9/29), the story of two lonely older people looking for a connection. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford take the starring roles. And hoping to mimic the success of Hulu’s version of The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix and CBC adapted another enigmatic Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace, (CBC, 9/25 or Netflix, 11/3) for the small screen in a 6-hour Canadian-American miniseries. Sarah Polley wrote the screenplay for the story of Grace, a servant girl who may or may not be guilty of murder.

A World of Issues
A number of series and films address issues around the world. First They Killed My Father (Netflix, 9/15) is a movie directed by Angelina Jolie based on Loung Ung’s memoir about her horrifying experience under Pol Pot’s rule in Cambodia. The Vietnam War (PBS, 9/17), Ken Burns’ latest documentary series, probes the historical and cultural ramifications of the war in Vietnam, as well as the men who fought in it, over 10 episodes. The State (National Geographic, 9/18) is a miniseries about four Brits who go to Syria to join ISIS, from Peter Kosminksy, the director of Wolf Hall. Released (OWN, 9/30) documents the experiences of six people who are freed after being incarcerated. And Undercover High (A & E, 10/10) is a 12-episode documentary series that sends seven young adults undercover into a high school in Topeka, Kansas, to learn what life is like for the American teenager.

Militant Drama
Lots of new shows revolve around the military this season. In the trailer for the slick-looking, The Brave (NBC or Global, 9/25), elite undercover military heroes try to foil a terrorist hostage situation. In SEAL Team (CBS, 9/29 or Global, 9/27), elite Navy SEALS do courageous things but also suffer from PTSD. And in the soapier Valor (The CW, 10/9), Army helicopter pilots must balance normal life with top secret missions, but they have a few secrets of their own.

True Crime
Thanks to the success of Making a Murderer and the O.J. Simpson shows last year, there are plenty of true-to-life crime series. Getting the most attention is Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC, 9/20), starring Edie Falco as the defense attorney for the infamous Menendez brothers who were convicted of killing their parents after a long, drawn-out process. Strong Island (Netflix, 9/15) is a documentary movie by director Yance Ford, whose brother William was murdered on Long Island in 1992. This film examines the role race played in the fight for justice. Another documentary, The Disappearance of Maura Murray (Oxygen, 9/30), appears to follow the same twisted line of questions and accusations that fascinated viewers of The Keepers last year. College student Maura Murray disappeared in 2004, and it seems that everyone has a different theory of what happened. And finally, Criminal Confessions (Oxygen, 10/1), brought to you by Dick Wolfe, the creator of all the Law and Order series, is in reality show terrain as it looks into police interrogation rooms to see the strategies used by officers as they try to get suspects to confess.

What Will You Watch?

That’s just a partial listing of what’s coming up—with a whole, real world outside your window, you’ll want to pick and choose carefully. What will you be watching? Let us know what you think!

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List is for US based networks.  Writers should try to connect with Canadians by listing the Canadian networks with the American ones. See http://www.torontosun.com/2017/09/07/2017-fall-tv-premiere-dates-where-and-when-to-see-your-favourite-shows  for an example.

Thank you for pointing that out, August, I appreciate the suggestion. I have added the Canadian stations and dates where I could.

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