At long last, a bona fide fall TV season is here.
Not just "here," but here: Full to bursting with new shows, returning shows, must-watch shows, and possibly shows that (just might) turn into our next "Game of Thrones" obsession.
Meanwhile, this fall is not without that long-missing comfort factor either. There are newcomers here that will evoke the past because they come from the past (you know them as "reboots"), most notably "The Wonder Years" and "CSI: Vegas."
Here are 31 noteworthy newcomers arriving this fall (all times are p.m.).
SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (HBO, 9)
After a near-50-year absence, "Scenes" is back as a miniseries, this time with Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac as the star-crossed couple who must untangle their words, emotions and lives. (Ingmar Bergman's 1973 miniseries was loosely based on his marriages, including the one with Liv Ullmann, who starred.) What to expect? A lot of talk and disentanglement and emo. Lots and lots of emo.
AMERICAN RUST (Showtime, 10)
"American Rust" was the acclaimed novel by Philipp Meyer, published in 2009, that at long last has made it to the screen. A proposed USA adaptation foundered some years ago, so it's churlish to suggest this is some sort of quick Showtime follow to HBO's hit "Mare of Easttown" — both about personal-demons-battling cops pursuing a murder case in hardscrabble corners of Pennsylvania. Still, it's not the best sign either. Adapted by Oscar-nominated actor/writer Dan Futterman, this stars Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney.
Y: THE LAST MAN (Hulu)
Just about every last person on the planet with a Y chromosome — that'd be men — suddenly dies, and all the stuff they were driving (from jets to helicopters to cars) also pile up. It happened in the early aughts, and all that remains is half the human race — some might say better half — and a capuchin monkey, and a guy named Yorick (Ben Schnetzer). Why did all the men die in this so-called "androcide?" Why is Yorick the last man standing? This FX on Hulu miniseries — based on the Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra DC Comics (Vertigo) series, and also starring Diane Lane, Olivia Thirlby, Amber Tamblyn and Marin Ireland — will try to answer those questions.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN QUEENS (ESPN) 8
Once upon a time in Queens there was a wonderful (and at times dysfunctional) baseball team known as the Metropolitans, starring baseball greats Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry. This "30 for 30" two-parter (wrapping Sept. 15) is their story.
DAN BROWN'S THE LOST SYMBOL (Peacock)
Busy Peacock launches this adaptation of the 2009 Dan Brown novel — think symbols, symbology, the CIA, worldwide conspiracies. You know: More of "The Da Vinci Code," though this is a prequel.
73RD PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS (CBS/2, 8)
While "The Crown" and "Ted Lasso" look like locks for best drama/best comedy, respectively, nothing about this past year on TV has been a lock so why expect a "lock" here? Meanwhile, lots of interesting side stories, with Cedric the Entertainer as host.
MUHAMMAD ALI (WNET/13, 8)
Four parts, eight hours, almost all week, this latest from Ken Burns (and Sarah Burns and David McMahon) explores the life and times — also the ways those times were changed by that extraordinary life.
THE BIG LEAP (Fox/5, 9)
Fox leaps into the first real fall season in a couple of years with this comedy (or dramedy?) about a reality show (a dance company trying to mount "Swan Lake"). With "Leap" — starring Scott Foley, Jon Rudnitsky, Teri Polo and Piper Perabo — Fox is saying the world has changed, and so has its idea of prime-time entertainment.
NCIS: HAWAI'I (CBS/2, 10)
With this 4th spinoff, CBS is saying the world hasn't changed at all or at least prime-time TV hasn't. Nothing to see yet, screener-wise, with this sure-bet, but you can close your eyes and almost imagine. What is unique is lead Venessa Lachey, as Special Agent in charge, Jane Tennant, who is balancing motherhood and careerhood. Lachey thus becomes the first female lead of one of the "NCIS" juggernauts. (So maybe prime-time is changing after all.)
ORDINARY JOE (NBC/4, 10)
Joe Kimbreau (James Wolk) can't make up his mind upon college graduation about which life/career to pursue — to become a cop, music star, or nurse? This drama (with a "This is Us" vibe) then follows his life in three parallel timelines, as each. With Natalie Martinez as girlfriend Amy, who joins him on his various journeys.
FBI: INTERNATIONAL (CBS/2, 10)
"FBI" goes international, and with this latest, the franchise now fills the entire CBS Tuesday lineup. In the opener, special agent Scott Forrester — played by "The Man in the High Castle's" Luke Kleintank — heads to Croatia to find a fugitive; also starring Heida Reed — "Poldark" fans will vividly remember her as Elizabeth Warleggan — and almost-newcomer Vinessa Vidotto.
OUR KIND OF PEOPLE (Fox/5, 9)
The 1999 nonfiction book, "Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class" — by Lawrence Otis Graham, who died in Feb. — explored the Black aristocracy in Sag Harbor and Martha's Vineyard but this prime-time soap from Lee Daniels ("Empire") is really just about Oak Bluffs. Stars Yaya DaCosta ("Chicago Med") as a single mom who comes back to the Vineyard to a place that her mother left to her, so she can start a hair care business, and join the upper crust there; also with Morris Chestnut, Joe Morton and soap superstar Debbi Morgan ("All My Children").
THE WONDER YEARS
This reboot of the 1988 classic already stands at the head of the 2021 fall class, in part because it has no obvious intention of simply being "The Black 'Wonder Years'" but the "Wonder Years" that will also explore race and racism in 1968 Montgomery, Alabama. Nevertheless — or in spite of that — wonder and nostalgia very much remain. With Elisha "DJ" Wiliams as 12-year-old Dean Williams; and Dule Hill as Bill, his father, and Broadway star/Tony Award winner Saycon Sengbloh, as Lillian, his mom.
FOUNDATION (Apple TV +)
Isaac Asimov's vast "Foundation" series — published in various forms from 1942 until 1986 — is considered among the greatest of sci-fi franchises, and also among the most difficult for the purposes of TV. Will this David S. Goyer ("Dark City") adaptation be Apple's "Game of Thrones" — or just one more ill-fated "Dune?" There's a review embargo until late September so I can't even give you much of a hint, but I can tell is there is money and beauty on the screen. (But this trailer tells you as much.) This ten-part "Foundation" — about Hari Seldon's (Jared Harris, "Mad Men'') effort to predict the course of human history over millenniums and galaxies, and a band of exiles who try to rebuild civilization — also stars Lee Pace, T'Nia Miller, Broadway's Terrence Mann and Finnish actor Laura Birn.
MIDNIGHT MASS (Netflix)
This latest horror thriller from Mike Flanagan ("The Haunting of Hill House'') — starring Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, Annabeth Gish and Hamish Linklater — is about a "young priest [who] brings glorious miracles, ominous mysteries and renewed religious fervor to a dying town desperate to believe." I expect he'll be bringing a little something else too. Seven episodes drop this day.
BMF (Starz, 9)
50 Cent strikes again, with "Black Mafia Family," about a pair of Detroit brothers in the '80s. Stars Demetrius "Lil Meech '' Flenory Jr. as real-life crime boss Big Meech (who is his real-life father); Da' Vinchi is his brother Terry "Southwest T" Flenory. The rest of the cast includes Russell Hornsby, Michole Briana White, Myles Truitt, Steve Harris and Wood Harris while Snoop Dogg and Eminem have arcs too.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: CITIZEN HEARST (WNET/13, 9)
Superb and hugely entertaining four-hour adaptation of Roslyn native David Nasaw's 2000 biography of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. For the news junkie in all of us.
LA BREA (NBC/4, 9)
A sinkhole opens up in Los Angeles, swallowing cars, buildings, freeways, maybe even this series at some point. In the meantime, we've gotta figure out why the hole opened up in the first place and What Lies Beneath (With Natalie Zea and Jon Seda.)
THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART (Apple TV +)
Stewart's last "Daily Show '' was August 6, 2015 — an eternity in TV years, which means he had to reinvent himself in some measure for this return. Each one-hour episode is devoted to a single topic. Not sure yet, but current events are a sure bet. (It started production over the summer before a live audience.) There's an accompanying podcast too.
Stephanie Land's memoir about being down and out in Washington State and Montana was an instant hit when first published in 2019; now … the ten-part miniseries with Margaret Qualley. (Andie MacDowell, Qualley's mom, also stars.)
CSI: VEGAS (CBS/2, 10)
"CSI" aired for 15 seasons (2000-15), but some true-blue fans still believe it was never the same after Bill Petersen — Gil Grissom — left in 2009. He is at long last back, and so is Jorja Fox — Sara Sidle — while Paul Guilfoyle (you remember Jim Brass, right?) and Wallace Langham (David Hodges) are also back. (Sadly, Guilfoyle for only a couple of episodes.) CBS is calling this a one-time "event" series, but you can be certain that if ratings are decent, it will become another long-running series instead.
CHUCKY (Syfy, USA, 10)
Slasher doll Chucky is back, this time on TV, while Brad Dourif reprises that unique Chuck voice. Fans will be thrilled to learn that Jennifer Tilly is also back. She played long-suffering Tiffany Valentine in all those "Chucky" flicks. Meanwhile, that little creep still has a hankering for serrated knives.
Beth Macy's 2018 "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company That Addicted America '' has been turned into an All-Star eight-episode epic. And those stars: Michael Keaton, Rosario Dawson, Will Chase, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter, Peter Sarsgaard, Jake McDorman. The hyper-talented Danny Strong created this.
GUILTY PARTY (Paramount)
Kate Beckinsale is in this ten-parter about a journalist who wants to exonerate a mom serving a life sentence for murder. And — almost forgot — it's a comedy.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (Amazon Prime Video)
Prime has yet to screen this series for critics, so we'll have to take the streamer's word that it offers a compelling-enough reason to revive a 1997 classic that already resolved what happened last summer, and then some. Stars Brianne Tju, most recently in Hulu's "Light as a Feather."
QUEENS (ABC/7, 10)
It's been 20 years since these hip-hop queens have been on stage together and … no, this is not a remake of "Girls5Eva," which just launched (but hey, you never know!) This stars Naturi Naughton ("Fame," "Power"), Eve, Nadine Velazquez and Brandy as the other queens.
4400 (CW/11, 9)
"The 4400" aired way back early in the century in the USA, and for this reboot, the same premise remains (4400 people who disappeared reappear) with a twist: They were "marginalized" when they first disappeared.
DEXTER: NEW BLOOD (Showtime, 9)
Back when we last saw him in 2013, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) disappeared into the woods as a lumberjack (yes, that finale). Dex is back, this time as a guy who runs a store in upstate New York where his blood-spatter expertise is no doubt of dubious value. (Julia Jones and Clancy Brown also star.)
THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR (Apple TV +)
"The Shrink Next Door" was a podcast hosted by veteran business journalist Joe Nocera, about a shrink who had an unusual business plan: He sponged off his patients. (Yes, there was a Long Island tie — the first episode opens in Southampton.) This adaptation stars Will Ferrell as the patient, and Paul Rudd as that unscrupulous next-door shrink.
COWBOY BEBOP (Netflix)
As animé fans well know, "Bebop" — about bounty hunters aboard the good ship Bebop in the year 2071 — was one of the most beloved series in animé history. So perhaps there's just the slightest of risks in turning this into a live-action series? John Cho stars.
THE WHEEL OF TIME (Amazon Prime)
Is it just a coincidence that Prime's most anticipated series of the fall will drop the same day one of Netflix's does? Like Apple TV +'s "Foundation," this is also huge, ambitious, star-studded (Rosamund Pike leads a cast of, literally hundreds) and predicated on the reasonable assumption that the world really is hungry for a new "Games of Trhones"-like fixation. Based on the Robert Jordan opus, it's about — oh dear, how is it possible to explain? — a prophecy about a reincarnated dragon that might save the world or destroy it (and one of the characters who go looking for said dragon just might be the dragon himself, or herself).