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Here are the 50 biggest shows of the fall TV season

Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman  in The

Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman  in The CW's
"Batwoman." Credit: The CW/Kimberley French

The 2019 fall season begins Sunday. The deluge follows shortly after. Perhaps never in the history of television has there been so much to choose from over so short a time.  Apple's new streaming service Apple TV+ starts Nov. 1, and Disney's Disney + on Nov. 12. HBO will launch a pair of franchise series this fall. Meanwhile, "The Crown" (Netflix) and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Amazon Prime) are back, too.

 Are we forgetting anyone? Right, the commercial networks. 

And so, this 2019 guide to fall's brightest and shiniest is just that — a guide, and far from a complete one. Nevertheless, scanning this list, a couple of thoughts should become apparent. How could anyone watch all this? Why would anyone? 

Anyone probably wouldn't. Instead, what you are about to witness is the rapid acceleration of the paradigm shift that began with Netflix in 2013. Of necessity, the age of Peak TV — an estimated 500 scripted series in 2019 alone — has now become the age of Buffet TV. Pick what intrigues you. Ignore the rest. Moreover, these are certainly not the 50 "must-see" new series of fall, but they are 50 of the most notable newcomers. The choice is up to you.

With a handful of exceptions, the accent here is on "new." Your favorites, or many of them, will return. What follows is proof that there's much else to get excited about. 

And,yes, agreed: Too much.

BIGGER (BET +, starts Sept. 19)

BET's new streaming service, BET+ launches Sept.  19, with the first three episodes of the 10-part "Bigger," about Layne (Tanisha Long), a single black woman, facing the prospect of a dull married life, and wondering if there's something bigger/better out there. Also launching: A Tracy Oliver ("Girls Trip") series adaptation of the 1996 Diane Keaton comedy "The First Wives Club" starring Jill Scott.

SEPT. 23

ALL RISE (CBS/2, 9 p.m.)

Fans of Simone Missick know her best perhaps as Misty Knight — with the bionic arm and kick-butt attitude — in Netflix's various Marvel series. They'll get to know a different Missick here: A tough L.A. judge with a light touch. This courtroom procedural also stars "CSI's" Marg Helgenberger.


Get past that title and this latest from Chuck Lorre and longtime partner Eddie Gorodetsky ("Mom") has some undeniable charm. Billy Gardell ("Mike & Molly') stars as a hospitalized sock salesman who falls for his nurse (newcomer Folake Olowofoyeku).

PRODIGAL SON (Fox/5, 9 p.m.)

Michael Sheen as a serial killer who is caught and jailed, and whose son (Tom Payne), years later, is approached by the NYPD to help solve a murder similar to the one his father committed and … Please tell me you've seen this kind of procedural before because I sure have.

BLUFF CITY LAW (NBC/4, 10 p.m.) 

Legal drama. Set in Memphis. Father/daughter team. AKA as the meat and potatoes of your all-in-the-family legal procedural. But this also stars Jimmy Smits, last seen in "How to Get Away with Murder," although this is his first lead role in a network drama in more than 10 years.

SEPT. 24

MIXED-ISH (ABC/7, 9 p.m.)

The "black-ish" factory line is about to yield another "ish" — this time a prequel to Tracee Ellis Ross' character Rainbow Johnson, growing up in the '80s in a hippie commune (then suburbs). Arica Himmel is Rainbow the Younger, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays her dad.

SEPT. 25

STUMPTOWN (ABC/7, 10 p.m.)

Cobie Smulders plays Dex Parios, a witty, profane, tough cop in Portland, Oregon. In the epopnymous comic series which this is based on, she is also bisexual. We don't know about that part just yet. Also stars "The Practice's" Camryn Manheim and Michael Ealy, most recently of "Being Mary Jane."    

SEPT. 26

CAROL'S SECOND ACT (CBS/2, 9:30 p.m.)

It stars Patricia Heaton and Kyle MacLachlan, which are instantly the major reasons to check out this multicamera sitcom about a mom who raised two kids while teaching school then who embarks on a "second act" — as a doctor. 


Stephen King and George Romero collaborated on a theatrical horror anthology back in 1982, and this "inspired-by" six-parter should honor the source material in at least one obvious way — lots of star cameos, including Giancarlo Esposito, Tobin Bell, Adrienne Barbeau (who appeared in the 1982 movie), Tricia Helfer, Big Boi and Kid Cudi. (A new King story will also be adapted for the series.)

EVIL (CBS/2, 10 p.m.)

The peerless "Good Wife/Good Fight" team, Robert and Michelle King, are the creators, while it stars Mike Colter who was terrific in "Luke Cage." A priest (Colter) and psychologist/skeptic (Katja Herbers) investigate paranormal stuff. Michael Emerson and Aasif Mandvi also star.  

PERFECT HARMONY (NBC/4, 8:30 p.m.)

A former Princeton music professor (Bradley Whitford), now in his cups, needs to dry out and find a new career. In this "Glee"-ish comedy, he sort of does — as choirmaster to an assortment of small-town misfits. 

SUNNYSIDE (NBC/4, 9:30 p.m.)

One of the major network comedies of the fall season, courtesy of Kal Penn, who also stars, is about a disgraced Queens politico who gets a chance at restitution when he's hired by immigrants who want to become citizens.

THE UNICORN (CBS/2, 8:30 p.m.)

Walton Goggins in a sitcom? He has done comedy ("Vice Principals") but this seems only like a stretch until you see it and it does look good. Same with the supporting cast — Michaela Watkins ("SNL"), Rob Corddry and Omar Benson Miller ("Ballers"). The setup: Wade's (Goggins) friends try to get him to date again a year after his wife's death.

SEPT. 27


Ryan Murphy's first series under the Netflix banner stars Broadway sensation Ben Platt ("Dear Evan Hansen") as an entitled, preening, scheming high school student in Santa Barbara who decides to become president. Each season (two already ordered) will follow one of his campaigns, from class president to U.S. president. A huge star-studded cast, much of it plucked from Murphy's unofficial repertory company, including Jessica Lange. 

TRANSPARENT (Amazon Prime)

Could show creator Jill Soloway have conceived of a funkier way of going out than a musical episode? In the opening moments, Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) has died, and the family is left to do what it has done so memorably during the past five seasons — rend themselves — and the songs just keep coming. For a family that began in such discord, this finale at long last offers perhaps a little harmony. .  

SEPT. 29

BLESS THE HARTS (Fox/5,  8:30 p.m.)

Fox has had few failures in the Animation Domination block and this amusing newcomer looks to continue the trend. Created by Emily Spivey ("Last Man on Earth"), with some famous voices (Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph), "Harts" unfolds in the "King of the Hill" world, and has some of the same vibes.      


Forest Whitaker stars as '60s-era Harlem crime boss Bumpy Johnson. A couple of other A-listers are on board — Giancarlo Esposito and Vincent D'Onofrio. And yes, Epix is not on Optimum, but it is available on DirecTV and Amazon Prime.

OCT. 2

ALMOST FAMILY (Fox/5, 9 p.m.)

Based on an Australian drama ("Sisters"), "Family" is about a fertility doctor (Timothy Hutton) who impregnated more than 100 patients, while his own daughter, Julia (Brittany Snow) is about to meet some of her new sisters, including Roxy (Emily Osment). Yup, a skin crawler of a concept, but Fox thinks it has one of the breakouts of the fall. 

OCT. 6

BATWOMAN (CW/11, 8 p.m.)

Batwoman (Ruby Rose) is a lesbian. That's a first, at least in the live-action superhero world. Rose's Kate Kane — introduced last season on "The Flash," "Supergirl" and "Arrow" — brings lots of swagger to the role. 

PRESS (WNET/13, 10 p.m.)

A six-parter from the BBC about two rival London newspapers — the Herald (think the Times) and the Post (think the Post) — and their many dilemmas. The swashbuckling editor of the Post (Ben Chaplin) is ethically untroubled, a top editor at the Herald (Charlotte Riley) not so much. Chaplin, by the way, got rapturous reviews for this. 

OCT. 9

NANCY DREW (CW/11, 9 p.m.)

Nancy Drew was your grandmother's Veronica Mars — perhaps even your great-grandmother's — and now she has returned to the small screen. Newcomer Kennedy McMann plays her as a wide-eyed naif with a passion for solving mysteries. 

OCT. 11


The "Breaking Bad" movie finally arrives, and with it all those lingering questions. What did happen to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after that wild ride into the night? Will Walter (Bryan Cranston) appear in flashback? Some other beloved — now dearly departed — characters too?

OCT. 13


James Lipton, 92, has stepped down as host of "Inside," and after 23 years at Bravo, the long-running series has a new home, too. One of the new hosts, Alec Baldwin, interviews Henry Winkler in the opener.

WHY WE HATE (Discovery, 10 p.m.)

Six-parter from Alex Gibney and Steven Spielberg draws on "research in psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and history [to] trace the evolutionary basis of hate and uses stories from both past and present to reveal the nature of this primal and universal emotion." Enough said? 

OCT. 15


The Treadstone Project, or "Operation Treadstone" to Jason Bourne fans, was a CIA black ops program that recruited soldiers to become super-assassins. Now it's the basis of a USA series, and an "event" one no less. 

OCT. 16

LIMETOWN (Facebook Watch)

Popular podcast "Limetown" is a fictional story about the disappearance of 300 people in a Tennessee town, and now a TV series, starring Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci. Facebook Watch appears to have put a lot of money behind this.

OCT. 18


Paul Rudd hasn't been the lead in his own TV series since the mid-'90s, but makes up for lost time here, playing both leads. Rudd's character is a guy who decides he wants to be a better version of himself. Long story shortened: He gets his wish. The problem is that the other version, the worst half of himself (so to speak), is still around. Now there's two of them. Not since "The Patty Duke Show" has a lead actor worked so hard, with similarly promising results.


John Green's popular and controversial debut novel has waited 15 years to be adapted, though not for want of trying. A movie was once considered, then discarded. A problem may be the novel's plot and structure (complicated) and that lingering content controversy (drugs, sex, suicide.) Josh Schwartz ("Gossip Girl") has adapted Green's roman a clef about his early life in a boarding school, while the enigmatic and tragic Alaska Young is played by Norwegian actress Kristine Froseth.

MODERN LOVE (Amazon Prime)

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is never having to say you're sorry. And love is next to impossible to find in New York City. This half-hour anthology based on The New York Times column stars a lot of big-name actors playing those who refuse to give up the search. They include Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Dev Patel and John Slattery.

OCT. 20

WATCHMEN (HBO, 9 p.m.)

Could "Watchmen" be the next "Game of Thrones?" The ambition here does appear outsized, and never count out a series where ambition is backed by HBO money. Damon Lindelof has adapted Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's classic comic "maxiseries" from the '80s, but don't expect a TV facsimile. With a huge, eclectic cast (Robert Redford, Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr, Don Johnson, Regina King, Jeremy Irons), he's set the series in present-day, and while it's still an alternate history — there's no internet, for example — the watchmen superheroes are now outlaws. Welcome to the end of the world as we, or they, know it. 

OCT. 21


Catherine the Great ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796, and now, at long last, the miniseries! And it's a doozy, too. It stars Helen Mirren whom we haven't seen much of on TV since "Prime Suspect." This four-parter continues the Mirren tradition of paying monarchs ("The Queen," "Elizabeth I" ) and should easily be as memorable as those.

OCT. 27

MRS. FLETCHER (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)

Tom Perrotta returns to HBO following the sensational adaptation of his novel "The Leftovers." This series based on another novel, "Mrs. Fletcher" — about a single mom and college-age son embarking on adventurous new lives — is quite the departure. Kathryn Hahn plays Mrs. Fletcher while Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener directs the opener of this seven-episode comedy.

NOV. 1


"Wild nights — Wild nights!/Were I with thee/Wild nights should be/Our luxury!" Apple TV+'s first new series takes those opening lines from Emily Dickinson's poem, "Wild Nights," and spins an alternate life story for the belle of Amherst. This one appears to be a lot livelier than the one she actually led. Hailee Steinfeld stars as the Emily we hardly knew. And don't worry, purists: It's a comedy.


This big-budget drama imagines a past when "the space race had never ended," where nations sent astronauts and cosmonauts to infinity and beyond. Ronald D. Moore (most recently "Outlander") is showrunner,


Could Apple TV+'s most expensive series ($300 million for just 20 episodes) also be its least compelling? Clearly the money for this fictional series about a thinly disguised "Today" show went into that cast, headlined by Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon. But new showrunners have already been installed, which suggests profligate Apple is already a little nervous. Nevertheless, this is the hook series, about to answer the single most pressing question of fall, 2019: Will you pay $4.99 a month to see Steve Carell channel Matt Lauer? 

SEE (Apple TV+)

In the far, dystopian future, people have gone blind. Then one day, a couple of kids are born who can see. How do blind people know they can see? Guess we'll have to see for ourselves. Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard star in this fantasy epic.

NOV. 4


A pair of kids, Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson), travel through parallel universes in search of children kidnapped by the evil Gobblers. Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Clarke Peters round out the cast in this adaptation of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy. 

NOV. 5


Yes, indeed, Broadway musical fans — the TV adaptations live on. Or they at least half do here. This one will stitch together scenes from the theatrical of the same name, from 1989, with live performances from the stage version. Alan Menken's music, meanwhile, also lives on.

NOV. 10

DUBLIN MURDERS (Starz, 8 p.m.)

Starz's major newcomer is about a pair of Irish detectives working on a case about murdered children. Based on Tana French's novels, this feels like a compelling cross of "True Detective" with "Broadchurch." 

NOV. 12

ENCORE! (Disney+)

In 2017, Kristen Bell hosted an ABC special about a group of Californians who reunited to stage a production of their high school musical, "Into the Woods." This series expands the concept to other former classmates, other schools, other productions. And Bell is back.


"High School Musical" from 2006 was a huge success for Disney, spawning sequels and careers. Enter the series that sounds familiar ("students at East High who stage a performance of 'High School Musical' … realize that there is as much drama that happens offstage as there is onstage").


Perhaps the second most important launch for Disney + — a live-action movie adaptation of the 1955 animated classic. Lots of big stars — Tessa Thompson, Justin Theroux, Janelle Monáe — and lots of cute dogs, too.


This is the series upon which the fate of Disney+ may well rest — a live-action eight-parter set in the "Star Wars" universe, the first of its kind. In the "Star Wars" canon, a Mandalore was typically a bounty hunter, so yes, this will be violent. No screener to see at deadline, but the trailer promises great spectacle and some big names (Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Carl Weathers, director Werner Herzog). Pedro Pascal is the mandalore of the title.

NOV. 13


Sundance and AMC are revisiting a crime most New Yorkers had hoped to forget — the murder of Jennifer Levin by Robert Chambers in Central Park, on Aug. 26, 1986. This will air over three consecutive nights.

NOV. 15


Not to be confused with the slasher film of the same name, this 10-part comedy stars Kat Dennings as a woman who wants to get back with her pals after getting dumped by her boyfriend.

NOV. 17

THE CROWN (Netflix)

Back at long last for the third season, this will cover the years 1964-77. Meanwhile, expect a brand-new cast: Tobias Menzies as Philip, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.

NOV. 20

MAD ABOUT YOU (Spectrum Originals)

You'll need the Charter Spectrum app to catch this 12-part revival of the 1992-99 NBC comedy, which starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. Six episodes drop on Nov. 20, the last six on Dec. 18.

DEC. 6


Here's what we know about the third season, at least from the few hints supplied by the trailer: Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is going on tour with singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), which she calls "the first of a million tours." Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown also joins for a three-episode arc.


This 10-parter stars Abigail Spencer as a woman who is nearly killed by some bad guys, and who will have her vengeance. And how.

DEC. 8

WORK IN PROGRESS (Showtime, 11 p.m.)

Showtime appears to be lying low as the war of the major pay services goes to DEFCON 1. But there is the comedy "Work in Progress," written in part by Lilly Wachowski, about a lesbian — played by Chicago-based improv star Abby McEnany — who's on a self-improvement kick. "The L Word" (2004-09) sequel, "Generation Q," also launches on Dec. 8. 

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