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20 TV shows to watch while chilling out this fall

HBO's "The White Lotus" returns for a second season, this time set in Sicily.Fabio Lovino/HBO

The onslaught continues, all year-round, regardless of the weather. Peak TV will not be stopped, not even by the dead zone of late summer, when in recent weeks HBO and Amazon premiered their biggest, baddest CGI-driven epics.

Nonetheless, it’s fall, the season when being inside becomes more desirable, when students start new classes and open new books. The Emmys — on Sept. 12 — will wrap up old business, then another batch of new and returning shows will arrive. Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy.



A TV industry satire about the trend of rebooting beloved shows? I love the meta concept, and it’s in good hands. Steven Levitan, co-creator of “Modern Family,” is behind this one, which features Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville, and Judy Greer as the original cast of a lousy old series — “Step Right Up” — that’s being revived for Hulu by Rachel Bloom’s character. She and the showrunner of the original, played by Paul Reiser, lock horns. (Hulu, Sept. 20)

Sounds like: “30 Schlock”


“So Help Me Todd”

A mother-and-son law firm — that’s the bland pitch for this painfully titled legal procedural. But: Marcia Gay Harden is the mother, and that’s enough to get me in the door. Skylar Astin is the scrappy, scruffy son she may need to whip into shape. (CBS, Sept. 29)

Sounds like: “Mommie Jurist”

Jacob Anderson as Louis de Pointe du Lac in AMC's "Interview with the Vampire."Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

“Interview with the Vampire”

AMC acquired rights to 18 Anne Rice books, and this 1976 novel about the undead in New Orleans is the network’s first adaptation. Jacob Anderson, best known as Grey Worm in “Game of Thrones,” stars as the tormented Louis de Pointe du Lac, and Sam Reid is the defiant Lestat de Lioncourt. Created by Rolin Jones, who co-created HBO’s “Perry Mason” reboot, the show promises to give us immortal creatures suffering sexily and homoerotically in candlelit mansions. (AMC, Oct. 2)


Sounds like: “The ‘Twilight’ Zone”

“A Friend of the Family”

This scripted miniseries, based on the true events chronicled in the Netflix documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight,” follows the case of a man who kidnaps a teenage neighbor — and does it more than once — in 1970s Idaho. Jake Lacy, often typecast as Mr. Nice Guy, plays the kidnapper, Mckenna Grace plays the oft-kidnapped girl, and Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks play her parents. (Peacock, Oct. 6)

Sounds like: “Invasion of the Snatcher”

Hilary Swank and Craig Frank in "Alaska Daily," premiering Oct. 6 on ABC. Darko Sikman/ABC

“Alaska Daily”

Tom McCarthy wrote and directed the Oscar-winning “Spotlight,” and he starred as a desperate newspaper writer in season five of “The Wire.” Now he returns to the world of journalism as the creator of a network drama set in Anchorage. Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank stars as a disgraced New York journalist trying to make a comeback. She’ll keep an eye on Russia from her house. (ABC, Oct. 6)

Sounds like: “The Atonement Post”

“Let the Right One In”

Our love of the undead never seems to die. Adapted from the Swedish novel and the two films based on it, this New York-set version focuses on a 12-year-old vampire and her father, who protects her while trying to find a “cure.” Madison Taylor Baez plays the girl, who befriends a bullied boy, and Demián Bichir plays her father. (Showtime, Oct. 9)


Sounds like: “Little Miss Nighttime”


Charlie Hunnam of “Sons of Anarchy” gets back on a motorcycle for this long-awaited adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’s 2003 novel. He plays a bank robber who flees a maximum-security prison in Australia and heads to Mumbai. (Apple TV+, Oct. 14)

Sounds like: “Slumdog Hellionaire”

Hannah Galway in Netflix's horror anthology series "Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities."David Lee/Netflix

“Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities”

Another horror anthology series comes to TV, this one with an Oscar-winning imprimatur and a — bawahaha — Halloween-friendly premiere. Del Toro will introduce each of the eight episodes, two of which he wrote, and the casts will include F. Murray Abraham, Andrew Lincoln, Glynn Turman, Crispin Glover, and Rupert Grint. (Netflix, Oct. 25)

Sounds like: “The Shape of Horror”


The last functioning Blockbuster Video store, located in Bend, Ore., is the setting for this workplace comedy. Why that’s almost as crazy as setting a sitcom in a paper company. Randall Park from “Fresh Off the Boat” and Melissa Fumero from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star. (Netflix, Nov. 3)

Sounds like: “The Box Office”

“The Calling”

David E. Kelley, one of TV’s most prolific writers, adapted this series from the novel “The Missing File” by Israeli writer D.A. Mishani. And Barry Levinson is directing multiple episodes, including the premiere. The story follows an NYPD detective, played by Israeli actor Jeff Wilbusch (from “Unorthodox”), through an unusual case, and costars include Constance Zimmer and Chris Sullivan (from “This Is Us”). (Peacock, Nov. 10)

Sounds like: “Avid E. Telley”


“The English”

Emily Blunt stars in this limited series as a British aristocrat in the 1890s American Midwest. She’s looking for the man who killed her son. Traveling with an ex-cavalry scout and member of the Pawnee Nation, played by Chaske Spencer, things get dangerous along the way. Also in the cast: Stephen Rea, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Hughes from “Victoria.” (Amazon, Nov. 11)

Sounds like: “Blunt Force Trauma”

“Tulsa King”

Sylvester Stallone comes to TV. Created by Taylor Sheridan of “Yellowstone” and its spin-offs, the undisputed big gun at Paramount+, the show follows Stallone’s New York Mafia capo after he serves a 25-year prison sentence and gets moved out of the city to Oklahoma. Also on board: Garrett Hedlund, Dana Delany, Annabella Sciorra, and Martin Starr. (Paramount+, Nov. 13)

Sounds like: “A-yip-i-YO-e-ay!”

Kumail Nanjiani as Somen “Steve” Banerjee in Hulu's true-crime saga "Welcome to Chippendales."Erin Simkin/Hulu

“Welcome to Chippendales”

The scripted true-crime story, created by Robert Siegel of “Pam & Tommy,” is about the founding of the male strip club. Kumail Nanjiani stars as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, who eventually faces charges of arson, racketeering, and murder for hire. The supporting cast is strong, with Murray Bartlett, Juliette Lewis, Annaleigh Ashford, and Dan Stevens as Paul Snider, the man who murdered Dorothy Stratten. (Hulu, Nov. 22)

Sounds like: “The Fool Monty”


What’s this, a Disney+ show that has nothing to do with “Star Wars” or Marvel? Still, it’s a reboot, and an odd one at that. “Willow” is a series adaptation of the 1988 Ron Howard movie, which was about Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) and his quest to protect a baby from an evil queen. Davis returns as Willow, and he sets out on a different quest this time. Fantasy adventure, this is your TV moment. (Disney+, Nov. 30)


Sounds like: “O.G.I.P.”


“The Handmaid’s Tale”

The dystopian series that anticipated the current rollback of civil rights and rise of theocracy returns for a fifth season of misery. The theme is vengeance, as Elisabeth Moss’s June copes with her primal need to get even. (Hulu, Sept. 14)

Sheryl Lee Ralph returns for season two of "Abbott Elementary" on ABC.Gilles Mingasson/ABC

“Abbott Elementary”

The charming mockumentary about the teachers at a Philadelphia public school, which is nominated for six Emmys including outstanding comedy, returns for a second season. Maybe the networks do have a future? (ABC, Sept. 21)

“Documentary Now!”

Finally, season four of the spoof series arrives after three years, with takes on the documentaries “When We Were Kings,” “My Octopus Teacher,” “Burden of Dreams,” and others. This season’s performers will include Alexander Skarsgård, Cate Blanchett, and Jonathan Pryce. (IFC, Oct. 19)

“The White Lotus: Sicily”

I’m most excited about the return of Mike White’s satire, which will be more about relationships than white privilege this time around. Jennifer Coolidge, who did career-best work in the first season, is back with a new cast that includes Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli, and Theo James. (HBO, October)

Imelda Staunton assumes the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the upcoming season of "The Crown" on Netflix.Alex Bailey/Netflix/Alex Bailey

“The Crown”

The fifth season inches closer to the present tense. It will feature yet another exciting change of cast, including Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Dominic West as Prince Charles, Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret, and Elizabeth Debicki as Diana. (Netflix, November)

“Dead to Me”

The third and final season of Liz Feldman’s dark comedy returns to answer all the questions. What will ultimately happen to the Thelma and Louise of streaming TV? James Marsden returns as Steve’s twin brother, along with stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini. (Netflix, fall)

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.