The Writers Guild of America's strike has crippled Hollywood production, but you wouldn't know that from what you are about to see — and read. Summer 2023 is packed with big, new brassy series ("Secret Invasion"), ambitious reboots ("The Full Monty") and horror ("The Horror of Dolores Roach").
And you want some William Shatner? Summer 2023 has the Shat, too.
What's going on here is not counterintuitive but business as usual — before the business goes off the rails this fall when the pipeline of new shows will begin to dry up.
So watch and enjoy because unless the WGA strike ends soon — unlikely — this fall's preview will be a lot shorter than this one.
DEADLOCH (Amazon Prime)
When a body washes up on a Tasmanian beach, a pair of detectives from the local constabulary turn up to investigate. This 8-part Aussie comedy (and yes — a comedy) may be notable for at least one obvious reason: Get ready for a lot more international productions like this in the fall, as the writers' strike continues, with no end in sight.
SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE: DUGGAR FAMILY SECRETS (Prime Video)
"19 Kids and Counting" (2008-2015) was a big hit for TLC until it was a bigger embarrassment. When oldest son Josh was reported to have molested five girls, the hammer came down, and "19" slipped into obscurity. This five-parter revisits the clan, but promises something even more sinister: Other pedophiles, cults and the creation of a secret army that will take over the country, or world. So welcome back, Duggars! We can hardly wait for this update.
"Vortex," or "Le Vortex," was a big hit in France since its launch last September, and now it's our turn. "Vortex" does sound cool: A French police captain loses his girlfriend in a tragic accident, then — 27 years later — stumbles on a time warp that allows him to communicate with her just before the accident, and maybe even prevent her death. But as everyone knows, don't mess with pesky time warps.
THE IDOL (HBO, 9 p.m.)
Oh, dear, where to begin? The controversy? That co-showrunner and series star The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) gutted the original script, then turned this six-parter into "torture porn," according to a devastating story in Rolling Stone? That early reviews out of Cannes, where it premiered in late May, have obliterated the show — it's scored a 26 on Metacritic, which is about as low as a show can go? Or the ominous fact that HBO has refused to offer screeners to U.S. critics? Of course, the notoriety could turn this into a hit for HBO, or maybe not. "The Idol '' is about a pop star (Lily-Rose Depp) who has a breakdown on tour, then is helped by a nightclub owner (The Weeknd). From this point on, all bets are off.
STARS ON MARS (WNYW/5,8)
Winner of the Best Title of the Summer Season, hands down, "Stars" strands a group of sorta-famous people on a sorta-Mars-lookalike landscape, then forces them to survive, etc. Master of Martian Ceremonies is William Shatner, who moderates the proceedings with a wink and nod, but not too much else (he is 92, after all). The stars include: Natasha Leggero, Ariel Winter, Tinashe, Marshawn Lynch, Ronda Rousey and Lance Armstrong. And that look-alike Mars is Coober Pedy, a town in South Australia where cameras have rolled before (1985's "Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.")
BURDEN OF PROOF (HBO, 9)
This true crime doc from Cynthia Hill is based on the story of 15-year-old Jennifer Pandos, who disappeared from her parents' home in James City County, Virginia, in February 1987. Her parents said she was a runaway, but her brother, Stephen, believed otherwise. His search for her unfolds in real-time over a seven-year period.
In the wake of Arnold Schwarzenegger's first-ever sitcom, "FUBAR," Netflix bestowed upon him the largely meaningless title of "chief action officer" — but at least it gives the streamer an excuse for this three-parter that explores the life-and-legend from three angles: Bodybuilding, action movie superstar, governator.
SECRETS & SISTERHOOD: THE SOZAHDAHS (Hulu)
Ten Muslim American sisters get an extended close-up in this 10-episode unscripted series that Hulu promises is "raw, real and rife with shocking revelations."
BASED ON A TRUE STORY (Peacock)
This comedy-drama-thriller from Craig Rosenberg ("The Boys") and Jason Bateman insists it is based on a true story, but (umm) which one would that be? The logline: "Inspired by a bizarre true event, the series is about a realtor [Kaley Cuoco], a plumber and a former tennis star [Chris Messina] whose lives unexpectedly collide, exposing America’s obsession with true crime, murder and the slow-close toilet seat." Eight episodes stream today, but beware the opening scene — a particularly brutal murder of a young woman that negates that "comedy" label.
THE CROWDED ROOM (Apple TV+)
This 10-parter is inspired by the 1981 non-fiction book, "The Minds of Billy Milligan," while in this fictional adaptation, an NYPD interrogator (Amanda Seyfried) has to unravel the mind and motives of one Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland), involved in a shooting in 1979, He has a "mysterious past," part of which unfolded in a sinister house in the suburbs. Emmy Rossum ("Shameless") also stars.
76TH ANNUAL TONY AWARDS (CBS/2; Paramount+)
It was touch-and-go for this year's Tonys when the striking WGA threatened to shut down this broadcast. But a waiver came to the rescue. This should be interesting nonetheless because there will be no scripted remarks — everything, in other words, is off the cuff. Expect lots of performances from various nominated shows.
AMY SCHUMER: EMERGENCY CONTACT (Netflix)
Taped at the Orpheum in Los Angeles, this is Schumer's first Netflix stand-up special in quite some time (the last, "Growing," streamed pre-pandemic) and the tone is notably less blue than those first two. (She's a married mom who just turned 40 when this was taped, so there's that.) There's even a Long Island-or-two reference in here ("I love my girls. They're all teachers and nurses from Long Island"; and a Hilaria and Alec Baldwin joke, too.)
THE FULL MONTY (FX/Hulu)
Does anyone need a "Full Monty" refresher? It has been 26 years since the movie, and 23 since the Broadway musical, and now this reboot has arrived, so that does seem in order: A band of working-class blokes in Sheffield, England, strip for cash, and become the basis for a surprise movie hit in 1997. This eight-parter returns to Sheffield where social and economic distress endures, but the youthful vigor of the lads has not. They're well advanced into late middle age now, so stripping-for-dollars (or pounds) is off the table, thankfully. The original cast, meanwhile, is all back for this, which makes it unique among reboots: Gaz (Robert Carlyle), Dave (Mark Addy), Jean (Lesley Sharp), Guy (Hugo Speer), Horse (Paul Barber), Lomper (Steve Huison), Nathan (Wim Snape) and Gerald (Tom Wilkinson).
STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS (Paramount+)
After an excellent first season, here comes Season 2. Anson Mount, Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn are all back (as Capt. Pike, Spock and Number One), while Paul Wesley and Carol Kane are joining the Enterprise crew — Wesley's James T. Kirk, first introduced last season, becomes a regular for the second, while Kane (who appears briefly in the trailer) is in something of a mystery role. Here's something unusual There will be a crossover episode with the animated "Lower Decks'' later in the season.
OUTLANDER (Starz, 8)
For your quick catchup, at the end of Season 6, Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) was falsely accused — then taken away to jail — for the murder of Malva Christie (Jessica Reynolds), while this seventh season begins with Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Ian Fraser Murray (John Bell) in pursuit. (By the way, I've seen the opener and fans will be pleased.) And yes, the end is almost near: This seventh and next-to-last season will be divided into two eight-episode halves, the second arriving in 2024.
THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD CITY (AMC, 10)
When "TWD" wrapped last November, AMC promised that "Dead" would arise again, and promise kept, with this first of three sequels, set in a devastated Manhattan — memories of "I Am Legend" — where Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) are the chief rivals. Set years after the events of "TWD," this one lasts only six episodes.
JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM (CNN, OWN, 8)
Like last year's inaugural telecast of "Global Celebration," this second year returns to the Greek Theatre, the huge outdoor amphitheater in L.A.'s Griffith Park; and per CNN and Live Nation Urban, the "initial list" of performers includes Miguel, Kirk Franklin, SWV, Davido, Coi Leray and Jodeci.
SECRET INVASION (Disney+)
Three words: Nick Fury returns. For that reason alone, it's tempting to call this ninth TV series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the high water mark of the summer. In this six-parter, Fury — Samuel L. Jackson — is trying to stop a Skrull invasion of Earth; Skrulls are shape-shifters from the planet Skrullos, so (no) this will not be an easy task for Eyepatch Man. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is huge, appropriately cinematic (and in some instances, reprising their roles from the various movies): Ben Mendelsohn, Cobie Smulders, Charlayne Woodard, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Martin Freeman, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman and Don Cheadle, to name but a few.
L.A. FIRE & RESCUE (NBC/4, 8)
The writers' strike has mothballed Dick Wolf's various hit dramas, so as a backup, or reminder, we've got this, or, in the words of the news release: "NBC reveals the real-life heroes" in this unscripted series that promises "unprecedented access to the inner workings of the Los Angeles County Fire Department."
AND JUST LIKE THAT... (Max)
And just like that, the second season of "Sex and the City's" improbable hit sequel is back. Not much to say just yet, except that Tony Danza has joined in a recurring role. Per Deadline, "No one would comment but I hear Danza will play Che Diaz’s (Sara Ramirez) father in the sitcom they wrote about their family." (Recall that Che and Miranda — Cynthia Nixon — had moved to Los Angeles at the end of the first season because their sitcom was picked up.) Sam Smith also has a role.
THE BEAR (Hulu)
On the subject of second seasons, there's this — Hulu's critically adored chefcom, with the dazzling kitchen patter, and standout performances, returns for No. 2 today, with Bob Odenkirk in a guest-star arc. Variety (which first reported in April) says details are "under wraps."
I'M A VIRGO (Prime Video)
"I'm a virgo," says Cootie (Bronx-born Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome) "and Virgo's love adventure." And so apparently does this potential summer 2023 standout from Boots Riley — rapper (The Coup) and producer ("Sorry to Bother You") — who has envisioned a comedy about a kid who grows … and grows … and grows. The first three episodes premiered in March at South by Southwest, and today all seven drop. "Absurdist" seems to be the title most often attached to this coming-of-age series about a 13-foot-tall teen in Oakland, California, but clearly Riley — a political activist with a long history of radical causes — has bigger ambitions here beyond a few visual gags (although the trailer has some terrific ones). Walton Goggins, Mike Epps and Carmen Ejogo also star.
BET AWARDS (BET)
The 2023 telecast feels like one of those can't miss ones because it'll be celebrating — any guesses? — the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
THE GOLD (Paramount+)
Hugh Bonneville, Jack Lowden and Dominic Cooper are in this seven-part drama about the Brink's-Mat gold bullion robbery (Nov. 26, 1983, at Heathrow airport in London, £26 million stolen) described as "the crime of the century" at the time.
THE BACHELORETTE (ABC/7, 9)
The 20th season asks some momentous questions: What is Charity Lawson looking for in a man? Once found, will she find forever love? (And that's no typo — this is the 20th …)
HIJACK (Apple TV+)
Calling Jack Bauer: This Idris Elba thriller has been compared to a shorter version of "24" — seven hours as opposed to 24 — while Apple's logline further elaborates: "When Flight KA29 is hijacked during its 7-hour journey from Dubai to London, Sam Nelson (Elba), an accomplished corporate negotiator, tries using his professional skills to save everyone on board." Archie Panjabi also stars in this seven-parter.
THE HORROR OF DOLORES ROACH (Prime Video)
Justine Machado ("Six Feet Under," "Jane the Virgin'') is Dolores, who has returned home to Washington Heights after 16 years in prison. She hooks up with an old friend who runs an empanada shop-restaurant, and soon … well, soon you will never eat an empanada again. This eight-part Blumhouse adaptation of the Gimlet 2018 podcast of the same name explores all sorts of social issues, and a certain culinary one in particular. Is it enough to say that "Dolores'' — itself an adaptation of Aaron Mark's 2015 one-woman play with Daphne Rubin-Vega, “Empanada Loca” — has long been compared to "Sweeney Todd"? The cast looks terrific, by the way: Alejandro Hernandez, Kita Updike, K. Todd Freeman, Jean Yoon, Cyndi Lauper, Judy Reyes and Marc Maron. Bon appétit.
GRANTCHESTER (WNET/13, 9)
"Grantchester" — which I have loved longer than I can remember — is back for an eighth season. The logline for the rest of you Granties out there: "Will (Tom Brittney) is the happiest he’s ever been but his world will be rocked by a terrible accident. He’s always preached the word of a compassionate God — but how can he now, when his despair leads him on a dangerous downward spiral? Geordie (Robson Green) has found a new contentment in his relationship with Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth)" but then …
FULL CIRCLE (Max)
Who remembers "Mosaic," a 2018 binge candy thriller with Sharon Stone, which also happened to be Steven Soderbergh's first TV series? Me, for one, which explains my seriously heightened anticipation for this next thriller from Soderbergh and Ed Solomon (writer on "Mosaic") about a botched kidnapping in NYC, told from multiple perspectives. And man-oh-man, what a cast: Claire Danes, Timothy Olyphant, Zazie Beetz, Jharrel Jerome, Dennis Quaid, CCH Pounder, Sheyi Cole and Jim Gaffigan. Two episodes weekly.
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (FX, 10)
My obligatory reminder that the fifth season of this rightfully-esteemed mockumentary returns this day.
FOUNDATION (Apple TV +)
In what feels like an eternity, "Foundation" is back for its second season after a two-year break that seemed to augur second thoughts by Apple. After all, this David S. Goyer adaptation of the Isaac Asimov classic was expensive and didn't generate sufficient buzz, even if most reviews ranged from respectful to rapturous (Newsday's, for example). This second-season logline may also explain why audiences didn't exactly clamor aboard: "More than a century after the Season 1 finale, tension mounts throughout the galaxy in Foundation Season 2. As the Cleons unravel, a vengeful queen plots to destroy Empire from within. Hari, Gaal, and Salvor discover a colony of Mentalics with psionic abilities that threaten to alter psychohistory itself." If none of this makes sense to you, then this show may not be for you after all. But it is great and beautiful and a wonder of TV art, so welcome back, old friend. The cast (Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Lou Llobell and Leah Harvey) appears intact, too.
JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL (FX, 10)
Along with a few other TV standouts, here's another reason to get seriously excited about summer, 2023: U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens — Timothy Olyphant, who else? — is back in this close-ended series that's based on Elmore Leonard's 1980 novel, "City Primeval," with several key changes. The big one — Givens never appeared in the novel. But this is TV and TV can do what it wants (so there). Picking up where "Justified" left off in 2015, Raylan — now living in Miami with his daughter (Vivian Olyphant who is, in fact, Olypant's daughter) — goes to Detroit where he has to rope a psycho recently released from prison named Oklahoma Wildman (Boyd Holbrook). Aunjanue Ellis ("King Richard") plays the lawyer who represents Wildman. Expect lots of mayhem and a dead body or three. (The original series, by the way, was based on the Leonard novella, "Fire in the Hole.")
MINX (Starz, 9)
Starz has rescued this after HBO Max canceled, and now the second season — about Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), a feminist who creates an erotic magazine for women — is here. Jake Johnson also stars.
After a convoluted broadcast history that began in 1999 on Fox, then continued on Comedy Central, "Futurama" is back once again on Hulu, for at least 10 episodes. David X. Cohen and Matt Groening created the series back in those flush, money-is-no-object days of the late 1990s when "The Simpsons" was ruling the culture and Fox's prime-time. "Futurama," of course, never reached those heights but was esteemed nonetheless. Cohen and Groening imaged a futureworld set at the Planet Express interplanetary delivery company, and the oddball employees who people — or robot'ed — it. The unforgettable voice cast is all back — Billy West, Katey Sagal, Amy Wong, et al — and so is the voice behind bad robot Bender, John DiMaggio, who left the original after a pay dispute. Coolio — who died last year — has a cameo, too.
TWISTED METAL (Peacock)
After "The Last of Us" broke the video-games-make-bad-TV curse, this latest series based on the long-running "vehicular combat" video game of the same name certainly looks a little more promising, and the cast shouldn't hurt either. But what's interesting here is that this is actually a comedy — the presence of Will Arnett and Thomas Haden Church give that much away, and so do the characters, including one Sweet Tooth, a homicidal clown who drives an ice cream truck. Anthony Mackie — Falcon of "The Avengers" — plays a guy named John Doe who's lost his memory but has to deliver a package past a phalanx of crazy, bloodthirsty, killers-behind-the-steering-wheel types. (Hey, this is a video game-based series — you want logic?) Other cast members include Stephanie Beatriz, Neve Campbell and that veteran of the pro wrestling circuit, Samoa Joe, who plays Sweet Tooth — who is voiced by Arnett. (Seriously.)
HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON (HBO, Max)
Rocky Point native John Wilson wraps his innovative (and hilarious) comedy about how to make stuff with this third season When the end was announced in late May, he said in a statement, "It’s a miracle that a program like this ever made it on to HBO in the first place, and after 18 episodes, it feels like we pulled off some kind of incredible heist [so] if you’re a fan of the show — thanks for watching, and buckle up, because there’s a crazy trip you’re about to take.”
RESERVATION DOGS (FX/Hulu)
Sterlin Harjo's celebrated comedy about life on the "'rez" is back for a third season.
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING (Hulu)
Paul Rudd's cameo wrapped Season 2 and who knows how Meryl Streep will become part of Season 3, but — good news — she and Rudd will both be here. Recall how Rudd's Ben Gilroy collapsed on stage in that play starring Charles Haden Savage (Steve Martin) directed by Oliver Putnam (Martin Short). Is he dead? Is this suddenly "Only Murders in the Theater"?
Peter Berg directs this six-episode drama based on Barry Meier's 2003 book, "Pain Killer: A 'Wonder' Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death." Netflix calls this "a drama series about the origins of the opioid crisis," but it does seem to recall Michael Keaton's 2021 Hulu miniseries, "Dopesick." Cast includes Matthew Broderick, Uzo Aduba and Taylor Kitsch.
THE WINTER KING (MGM+, 9)
We haven't heard a lot from MGM+ (formerly Epix) this summer, but 10-part "Winter King" just might make up for that. This one's based on Bernard Cromwell's "Warlord Chronicles" trilogy from the mid-'90s, about Britain of the Dark Ages, and those Arthurian legends with Merlin, Lancelot and King Arthur ("Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" Iain De Caestecker) and Guinevere (Jordan Alexandra, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"). Presumably this will be the first of (at least) three seasons because there are two other books in the trilogy — "Enemy of God" and "Excalibur."