Your favourite TV networks and streaming services are cranking up their new content as the days get shorter and the temperature drops. Numerous new and returning programmes continue to aim to win over new viewers and earn cultural cachet, even if autumn television is no longer the primary period for new shows to launch.
“The Serpent Queen”
This lighthearted drama, which is set in Renaissance Europe, has all the trappings of “Game of Thrones” court intrigue and the demeanour of “Fleabag.” Samantha Morton portrays Catherine de Medici, a prominent French monarch and a descendant of the illustrious Italian Medici family whom you may recall from your Advanced Placement European history lesson. However, historical knowledge is not necessary to enjoy “Serpent,” which gives a very cheeky, honest interpretation of Catherine’s narrative that doesn’t sugarcoat the really unpleasant aspects of life at the time. Both Morton and Liv Hill, the young actress who portrays Catherine as an adolescent in flashback scenes, are electrifying.
The “American Gigolo”
In this TV adaptation of the iconic 1980 movie, Jon Bernthal plays the part that made Richard Gere a famous. In a modest departure from the movie’s narrative, Bernthal portrays a male prostitute who spent years in jail after being wrongly accused of murder. He returns to the perilous world of criminals in Los Angeles in an effort to determine whether he was falsely accused and to reconcile with the one woman he truly loves. Bernthal, who was made for the part, sells the soap opera scenario. The prolific actor is the draw—all brooding eyes and wise grins.
Better in Dough
Who could resist the story of three Nonnas—Italian grandmothers, for those who are unfamiliar—making absurd pizza combinations that gained popularity on social media? Even though “Dough” isn’t very profound or high art (unless we’re talking about deep-dish pizza), it’s one of the best new series this year.
“The Holocaust and the US”
In keeping with his tradition of focusing on the less than rosy aspects of history, Ken Burns’ most recent documentary series, which he co-produced with Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, examines how the American people and government responded to (and participated in) the atrocities taking place in Nazi Germany. The documentary is heartbreaking and instructive without being preachy.
It seemed inevitable that a programme about the creation of one would be created in the Hollywood era of remakes, revivals, and reboots. A popular but generic 2000s comedy is brought back to life by the cast and writers of Keegan-Michael Key, Rachel Bloom, Judy Greer, Johnny Knoxville, and Paul Reiser (well, back on Hulu because it’s really meta). The excellent cast and clever screenplay from “Modern Family” co-creator Steven Levitan almost convince us to overlook the fact that the show is really called “Revival” rather than “Reboot,” as it truly portrays.
You wouldn’t be blamed if you didn’t immediately realise that the new “Star Wars” TV series is set in a galaxy far, far away. The 2016 movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has a new prequel called “Andor” that details the beginning of Diego Luna’s character. The “Star Wars” of it all is essentially incidental, and the series is intelligent, compelling science fiction. That’s really a very positive thing, and “Andor” has a spirit and a lightness that some of the other “Star Wars” programmes lack because they’re weighed down by fan service, canon events, and self-importance. “Andor” forges forth on its own, producing something fresh and thrilling.
‘Reginald the Vampire’
Quite a few vampire series are coming out this fall, from Peacock’s “Vampire Academy” to AMC’s upcoming version of Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” but only one imagines what would happen if someone who doesn’t look like a supermodel was turned into a monster of the night. Let’s meet Reginald (Jacob Batalon, “Spider-Man: No Way Home”), a regular guy who wastes his talent by working at a fast food restaurant. In contrast to “Twilight” or “True Blood,” this vampire narrative features Reginald getting his own sharp teeth after a fortuitous encounter with a handsome vampire.
‘A Friend of the Family ‘
“Friend” is a fictitious drama about a child abuser who wormed his way into an Idaho family in the 1970s. It is based on a heartbreakingly real event that was previously presented in Netflix’s “Abducted in Plain Sight.” Jake Lacy’s character “B” seems a kind parent and neighbour, but over the course of several years, he kidnaps McKenna Grace, the daughter of his family friends Colin Hanks and Anna Paquin, twice because he is fascinated with her. The gruesome drama is created by its subject, survivor Jan Broberg, and it carefully balances relaying her experience without taking advantage of it.
This escapist romance stars Zoe Saldana as a young Black lady who discovers her soul mate while on a six-week trip to Italy. The narrative continues after Amy (Saldana) and Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea) share their first kiss; other themes include making compromises between building a life together, cultural differences, and the effort required to sustain a relationship through difficult times.
This upbeat workplace comedy starring Randall Park from “Fresh Off the Boat” and Melissa Fumero from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” takes place at a fictional Blockbuster video store in Michigan, the last one left in the world. The comedy, which takes its influences from shows like “Parks and Recreation,” features a lot of gags about the former VHS and DVD rental industry. Still, it also has a terrific will they or won’t they romance at its core and quite a few eccentric supporting characters we could fall in love with. The fact that Netflix is largely responsible for the demise of Blockbuster lends the situation a touch of meta-comedy.