That, in a phrase, is the TV industry at the moment, and for many moments to come. Hundreds of shows are in production, some nearing airdate. That "peak TV" era we used to hear about — the one that hit a valley in 2019-20 — is about to re-peak all over again.
Nevertheless, what about those other shows — the few, the proud, the binge worthy that have been mostly gone for over a year?
Those too are finally on the horizon. This list looks at just 19, whose arrival is nigh, or at least "nigh" if a 2022 arrival date counts in some instances.
Specific dates for most of these remain elusive, so a "best guess" must suffice. A guarantee: Almost all will be on the air by the fall of next year, while you'll see most of them a whole lot sooner.
FX has no pressing need to rush out the third and fourth season — production on both is believed to be complete or nearing completion — and maybe a few reasons to hold on to both. Star/showrunner Donald Glover has effectively moved on from the series, to star in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith '' with that other Emmy sensation, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. He also signed a huge production deal with Amazon Prime ("Smith" will be the first show out of the gate), which almost certainly means there won't be a 5th season of "Atlanta." Glover has hinted that these last couple of seasons will be "Sopranos''-like (what? a fade to black?) and FX will push that line too. These will be event seasons, which means … well, we know what it means. Lots of teases. Expect the third to arrive late next spring or early summer after much fanfare, the 4th a year later. (By the way, that will be four years since the 2nd ended in May, 2018).
Gone more than two years (May, 2019), "Barry" has been absent longer than just about any other major series sidelined by the pandemic. We know "Barry" will be back one of these years because the series has already (reportedly) been locked for a fourth season. Anthony Carrigan — who plays No Ho Hank — told podcaster Marc Maron in June that the third was about to start shooting, according to a story on the website UPROXX. If true, then production could conceivably — maybe even realistically — wrap by the fall. A fall 2021 arrival is then almost possible. But HBO has said so little about this that spring 2022 now looks like a better bet.
BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC)
Production on the sixth and final season began in March, and is now scheduled to arrive early 2022. My hunch is early or mid-February, when the first, second and fifth seasons launched. Expect 13 episodes to close out this classic.
"Billions" endured one of the odder disruptions. The production team had just completed seven episodes of the 5th season when the pandemic shut production down. Showtime made the reasonable decision to air those — but left everyone wondering what happened to the last five episodes. The answer: They'll begin airing Sept. 5 at 9 p.m., as "the presence of powerful billionaire Mike Prince (Corey Stoll) sends ripples through Axe Capital and gives Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) a potential new weapon in his fight against Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis)." Expect the 6th to land in early 2022.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (NBC)
"Nine-Nine" will start its eighth and final (10-episode) season on August 12, but has no intention of going quietly into the good night. "B-N-N" has effectively reshaped itself in the wake of George Floyd's murder, with star Andre Braugher telling EW, "We’re going into an eighth season with a new challenge, which is that everyone’s knowledge and feelings about police have been profoundly affected… so the Nine-Nine is going to have to deal with what we know about the New York Police Department."
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
Fewer series could care less about meeting deadlines or fan expectations than "Curb," which laid three years of track between the 9th and 10 seasons. But … but there is something different this time, and "time" is the clue. As Jeff Garlin said during a recent podcast (with comedian Tim Dillon), he can't imagine Larry David (74 years old) doing this much longer. He can't imagine himself either. (Richard Lewis, suffering from multiple ailments, will only make a cameo this season.) There's certainly no urgency to get the 11th on the air right away — but there almost is if a 12th season is within the realm of possibility. So expect to see this classic back on the air this fall.
"Insecure" completed production on the 5th and final season in June, so there is really no logical or pressing reason to wait: "Insecure" will be back this fall too. HBO hasn't confirmed but this fall is really beginning to shape up as HBO's great — and highly promotable — reentry period.
I mused earlier this year that given the complexities of filming during a pandemic (all that kissing) "Outlander" might not be back until 2023. But much has happened since (including those vaccines) and "Outlander's" 6th is now full-steam-ahead for an early (most likely March) 2022 arrival date. Starz announced the news in June, while adding that the sixth will comprise only 8 episodes, including a 90-minute premiere. Production on the 7th will also begin early next year — that one is slated to run for 16 episodes. (Seasons are typically 12 episodes.)
"Ozark" started production on the 4th and final season last, which seems like the good news here. But here's the less than good: Showrunner and star Jason Bateman told the website Collider that full production, from start to finish, will take at least a year, probably longer, because the final season is expected to run 14 episodes. Does this mean the final will arrive later this fall? That seems unlikely. Expect a spring 2022 launch instead.
QUEEN SUGAR (OWN)
Production on "Sugar's" sixth season got underway in New Orleans early spring, which means that it will almost certainly arrive this fall, maybe even as early as August. As fans know, the fifth season was specifically set in the year 2020 (with episodes named after specific dates), as the Bordelons dealt with the 2020 pandemic year. It's time to see how they're dealing with this one.
STRANGER THINGS (NETFLIX)
"Stranger Things" began production on the 4th season Feb. 14, 2020, then shut it all down a month later. The show restarted production mid-September … then shut it all down again for a couple of weeks. Strangers things have happened to other shows in this strange pandemic year, but "Things" seemed to have the quirkiest luck. Part of the problem is simply logistical, including multiple locations in Atlanta and New Mexico. Plus how — or where — will those "Soviet" scenes be filmed? New Mexico? Recall the third's final scene, where some prisoner — come on! not David Harbour's Jim Hopper — is being fed to a Demogorgon in a Kamchatka prison camp. "We’re not in Hawkins anymore," said a recent tease. OK, so where? In any case, "Things" will not be back until 2022, and my bet is midyear, around July 4. Netflix will likely only get one more season after that. It wants (and needs) to milk this defining hit for all its worth.
HBO's prestige series wrapped its second season Oct. 13, 2019 and the third season launch now appears to be a good bet for a return this October too. The logic of October (HBO has only said the series will return this fall) indicates a certain symmetry but there is a practical reason too. By launching then, the ten-episode third can wrap by early-mid December. That's a nice, concentrated viewing window guaranteed to get maximum fan (and press) attention. There's a lot to promote too: The third promises a titanic father (Brian Cox) versus son (Jeremy Strong) battle, while Alexander Skarsgård ("True Blood") and Adrien Brody are joining the cast.
TED LASSO (APPLE TV+)
For those of you wondering what all the fuss is about — 20 Emmy nods, including for best comedy and actor (Jason Sudeikis) — you don't have long to wait. The second season arrives Friday, July 23. "Lasso" — Apple TV Plus' big breakout — is a "Bad News Bears"-style comedy about an American coach of a luckless UK soccer team.
THE CROWN (NETFLIX)
The Imelda-Staunton-as-Queen-Elizabeth 5th season started filming only in June which means a 2022 arrival date, but when in 2022? Let's go out on a limb here — a particularly sturdy one, in fact. The fifth will likely arrive on schedule in November, 2022 with an outside shot at a December, 2022 start date.
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (HBO MAX)
HBO Max ordered a second season of its breakout hit, then announced that it will land in the spring of 2022.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (AMAZON PRIME)
"Maisel's" first three seasons dropped in early, so the wishful thinking among fans is that the 4th will also launch this December. It's good wishful thinking, almost logical too, but production on the 4th season only started this past January. That doesn't leave much time for a rollout. Also, why should Amazon rush this? The streamer (and show) may be better waiting off until early 2022. One reason why: Much of Amazon's promotional firepower will be focused on the first "Lord of the Rings" series, which is expected to arrive this fall.
THE WALKING DEAD (AMC)
"TWD" begins its long goodbye on Aug. 22, with the first eight episodes of what will eventually be a total of 24 for this 11th and final season. Expect more episodes next winter (2022) but no reason to assume AMC will air them all then. My hunch: eight episodes then, and the last eight next August.
After that wild, woolly third season, there was some idle speculation that "Westworld" might have just 3D printed its last "host." But so much for speculation: "World" will be back for a fourth season and star Jeffrey Wright even confirmed that production was underway in a recent Instagram post. Nevertheless, expect a summer 2022 launch for the 4th. The show is complicated; postproduction must be hellish; and HBO is no rush.
One of cable TV's giant hits before the pandemic found its comfort zone in the summer, but the 4th season will have to test out some cooler weather. The 4th is expected early November so the Paramount Network series can cross-promote with the NFL on CBS, according to Deadline.