USA TODAY TV Critic Kelly Lawler breaks down her must-see TV shows of the spring and talks about how the pandemic is affecting production.
Continuing to social distance leaves us with a lot of time on our sanitized hands. Thankfully, television is here to offer a distraction.
Now, given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on production, fall’s offerings are slimmer than usual. But there are still releases to be excited about.
Beloved competitions also return this fall, including “The Masked Singer,” “The Amazing Race,” and “The Bachelorette.”
As we near Halloween, streaming platforms will unleash horror series, including “Monsterland” (Hulu) and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” (Netflix), the next chilling offering from the producers of “The Haunting of Hill House.”
Our calendar of major highlights ensures you won’t miss the return of your favorite series or the start of a new show you’ll fall in love with. (All times EDT/PDT.)
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“Archer” Season 11 (FXX, Wednesdays at 10)
“Sing On!” (Netflix): Tituss Burgess hosts this singing contest that compares karaoke contestants to the original singers of their songs.
“Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (Netflix): The new animated series, which counts Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, is centered on a group of six teens selected to attend a special camp. But, as is typical with “Jurassic” projects, it’s never just a walk in the park…
“Pen15” Season 2 (Hulu)
“Ratched” (Netflix): Sarah Paulson stars in producer Ryan Murphy’s origin story for the infamous nurse from the novel and Oscar-winning 1975 film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Ryan Murphy’s ‘Ratched’ Netflix series leaves critics disappointed: ‘It’s really bad’
“The Masked Singer“: Season 4 (Fox, Wednesdays at 8)
“I Can See Your Voice” (Fox, Wednesdays at 9): “Masked Singer” judge Ken Jeong serves as host of this new game show, where contestants attempt to decipher talented singers from the bad ones, before they’ve sung a note, for a chance at $100,000. Like “Masked,” it’s based on a South Korean format.
‘The Masked Singer’ reveals Season 4 characters, shows off a hot pink Croc ready to rock
“The Chef Show:” Season 2 (Netflix)
“Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC, Thursdays at 8)
“Press Your Luck” (ABC, Thursdays at 9)
“Match Game” (ABC, Thursdays at 10)
“The Comey Rule” (Showtime, Sunday at 9): The two-part miniseries dramatizes the events around the 2016 presidential election and aftermath, and the role of former FBI Director James Comey (Jeff Daniels) in shaping history.
“Fargo” (FX, Sundays at 10): The fourth installment of the acclaimed anthology series, starring Chris Rock arrives after a five-month pandemic production delay. Set in 1950 Kansas City, it centers on dueling African-American and Italian crime bosses.
“Monsterland” (Hulu): In the anthology series inspired by Nathan Ballingrud’s “North American Lake Monsters,” interactions with creatures and beasts “drive broken people to desperate acts.”
“Flesh and Blood” (PBS, Sundays at 9): The four-part series explores the deadly sins challenging a family in the “mystery about the perils of late-life romance.”
“The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime, Sundays at 9): Ethan Hawke plays abolitionist John Brown in the limited series inspired by James McBride’s 2013 novel, with Joshua Caleb Johnson as Onion, a young slave.
“The Walking Dead: World Beyond” (AMC, Sundays at 10): A pair of sisters and their two pals venture out of their safe haven in order to complete a mission.
“Ellen’s Game of Games” (NBC, Tuesday at 8, then 9 as of Oct. 13.)
“Swamp Thing” (CW, Tuesdays at 8): Abby Arcane (played by Crystal Reed) comes back to her Louisiana hometown and learns frightening truths about the community’s swamp.
“NeXt”: (Fox, Tuesdays at 9): John Slattery plays a Silicon Valley trailblazer who partners with a cybercrime agent played by Fernanda Andrade to do battle with a uniquely terrifying opponent.
“Supernatural” (CW, Thursdays at 8): The long-running series returns with its (delayed) final episodes.
“The Haunting of Bly Manor” (Netflix): A new chapter arrives from the producers of “The Haunting of Hill House” (2018). 1980s England serves as a backdrop for the nine-episode season, which begins with Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) finding a replacement nanny to tend to his parent-less niece and nephew.
“Fear The Walking Dead” Season 6 (AMC, Sundays at 9)
“The Bachelorette” (ABC, Tuesdays at 8): Clare Crawley kicks off her journey as the franchise’s eldest lead.
“The Amazing Race” (CBS, Wednesdays at 9)
“Star Trek: Discovery” Season 3: (CBS All Access, Thursdays)
“Helstrom” (Hulu): The two children of a serial killer search for heinous evildoers.
“Shark Tank” (ABC, Fridays at 8)
“Supermarket Sweep” (ABC, Sundays at 8): “SNL” alum Leslie Jones hosts the return of the grocery store game show.
“The Voice” (NBC, Mondays and Tuesdays at 8)
“Superstore” (NBC, Thursdays at 8)
“The Undoing” (HBO, Sundays at 9): Nicole Kidman stars as therapist Grace Fraser, who is married to the dedicated Jonathan (Hugh Grant) in this limited series created by David E. Kelley (“Big Little Lies”). The couple’s idyllic life is upended following a death and a missing spouse.
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
“Roadkill” (PBS, Sundays at 9): Hugh Laurie embodies a crooked politician in this four-part drama.
“The Good Doctor” (ABC, Mondays at 10)
“Moonbase 8” (Showtime, Sundays at 11): Astronauts Skip (Fred Armisen), Rook (Tim Heidecker) and Cap (John C. Reilly) are in training for what they hope is their first lunar mission.
“Industry” (HBO, Mondays at 10): The new drama centers on a group of recent grads all trying to nab a job at a one of London’s premiere investment banks.
“This Is Us” (NBC, Tuesdays at 9)
‘This Is Us’ Season 4 finalereveals pregnancy and marriage shockers
“Chicago Fire” (NBC, Wednesdays at 9)
“Station 19” (ABC, Thursdays at 8)
“Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, Thursdays at 9)
“Law & Order: SVU” (Thursdays at 9)
“I am Greta” (Hulu): A documentary centered on teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
“The Blacklist” (NBC, Fridays at 8)
“The Crown” Season 4 (Netflix): The upcoming season covers 1979-1990, which includes Prince Charles’ 1981 wedding to Diana and the birth of their two children, Princes William and Harry.
“The Reagans” (Showtime, Sundays at 8): The Reagan administration is examined in this four-episode docuseries.
“Big Sky” (ABC, Tuesdays at 10): In David E. Kelley’s new thriller series set in Montana, private detectives Cassie (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody (Ryan Phillippe) team up with Cody’s ex, former police officer Jenny (Katheryn Winnick), to track down the person responsible for the kidnappings and killings of women in the area.
“For Life” (ABC, Wednesdays at 10)
“A Milliion Little Things” (ABC, Thursdays at 10)
“Black Narcissus” (FX): All In this three-episode limited series, inspired by Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel, things go awry when a group of nuns tries to convert an isolated palace into a mission.
“The Stand” (CBS All Access, Thursdays): In the limited series inspired by Stephen King’s novel, Whoopi Goldberg plays centenarian Mother Abagail, who is tasked with saving the world from Randall Flagg, aka the Dark Man played by Alexander Skarsgård.
“Big Brother” (CBS, premiere at 9, Wednesday. After the debut, it will air Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8): An all-star cast assembles for the reality program’s 22nd season.
‘Big Brother: All-Stars’ premiere: Who’s in the cast, who’s HOH and what went wrong on live TV
“Star Trek: Lower Decks” (Thursdays on CBS All Access): A new animated comedy, the first in decades for the “Trek” franchises, centers on the U.S.S. Cerritos’s support crew.
“Selling Sunset“: Season 3 (Netflix)
“Howard” (Disney+): The documentary makes viewers a part of Howard Ashman’s world. The late lyricist wrote the lyrics for tunes from beloved Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” in addition to creating musicals.
“Shark Week” (Discovery Channel, Aug. 9 through Aug. 16): The 32nd annual Discovery event includes specials “Tyson vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef” (Aug. 9, 9 EDT/PDT) and “Will Smith: Off The Deep End” (Aug. 11, 9 EDT/PDT).
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+): Jason Sudeikis stars as a football coach hired to oversee a British soccer team.
“World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” (Amazon Prime): Bear Grylls hosts the reality competition, in which 66 teams face-off.
“Lovecraft Country“: (HBO, Sundays at 9): The drama takes its inspiration from 2016 Matt Ruff’s novel, set in the 1950s. Jonathan Majors portrays Freeman, who partners with his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), a pal from childhood. They embark on a road trip to find Atticus’ dad, Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams), who has gone missing and also encounter racism and horrifying monsters.
‘Lovecraft Country’ review: In HBO’s horror series, America’s racism is the real monster
‘There’s a horror in just being Black’: HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ digs into real racism with pulp fiction
“Lucifer”: Season 5 (Netflix)
“Love Fraud” (Showtime, Sundays at 9): This four-part docuseries explores the cons of Richard Scott Smith, who romanced and swindled several women, prompting them to turn to a bounty hunter for revenge.
“Chef’s Table: BBQ” (Netflix): The beloved food series returns to focus on barbecue.
“The Boys”:Season 2 (Amazon Prime)
“Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz, Sunday at 9 (then 8 as of Sept. 13)): This new series, featuring Mary J. Blige, begins where its predecessor “Power” left off. Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr.) is facing a new reality where his mom Tasha (Naturi Naughton) is being charged with the death of Tariq’s father. In order to pay for her defense attorney he “turns to the familiar drug game.”
“Undercover”: Season 2 (Netflix)
“American Ninja Warrior”: Season 12 (NBC, Mondays at 8)
“Get Organized with The Home Edit” (Netflix): A reality series from producers Reese Witherspoon and Molly Sims about organizers who help conquer clutter and transform lives.
‘Get Organized with The Home Edit’ stars on ‘surreal’ experience in Reese Witherspoon’s closet
“L.A.’s Finest”: Season 2 (Spectrum On Demand; first season airs on Fox, beginning Sept. 21 at 8.) Jessica Alba plays detective Nancy McKenna and Gabrielle Union portrays Syd Burnett, a member of the LAPD, formerly with the DEA, in this “Bad Boys” spin-off crime series.
“Woke” (Hulu): Cartoonist Keith Knight serves as co-creator and an executive producer for the comedy inspired by the artist. Lamorne Morris stars as Keef, a cartoonist on the brink on success when an incident upends his life.
‘Woke’ star Lamorne Morris talks reality of new Hulu series, shares his own experiences with racism
“The Duchess” (Netflix): Comedian Katherine Ryan stars as a single mom debating whether to have another child with her ex.
“Wonderstruck – Animal Babies” (BBC America, Saturday at 8): A trio of films documents the young lives of animals being raised in dangerous places.
“Coastal Elites” (HBO, Saturday at 8): Bette Midler, Issa Rae, Sarah Paulson, Kaitlyn Dever and Dan Levy star in this special set during the pandemic, in a serious of monologues.
“Our Cartoon President” (Showtime, Sundays at 8:30)
“The Third Day” (HBO, Mondays at 9): The limited series is broken into two parts: Jude Law stars in the “Summer” episodes, while Naomie Harris is at the center of the series’ “Winter” shows.
“We Are Who We Are” (HBO, Mondays at 10): A pair of American teens living in Italy on a U.S. military base are the focus of the eight-part look at adolescent life from Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”).
Contributing: Carly Mallenbaum and Kelly Lawler
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