By Cameron Rasmusson
We’re officially stepping into the fall season, which means that the last of the summer shows are on their way out (so long, “Hannibal.” You were too good for this world), and a host of new and returning programs have or will soon debut. This fall sees new seasons from some serious heavy hitters—immensely popular “The Walking Dead” premieres its sixth on Oct. 11. But there are also enough new or significantly revamped series in the mix to keep things interesting. Here the shows I’m looking forward to the most as we move into the final months of the year.
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”—Sept. 28, Comedy Central
Is there any entertainer with more pressure on him or her right now than Trevor Noah? Not only is the South African comic relatively young and untested, but he also has the unenviable task of following Jon Stewart, who built “The Daily Show” over 16 years into the most popular politics and news comedy show in the country.
Since taking over the program on Sept. 28, Noah has shown himself to be well aware of audience expectations, but he’s handled the heat with impressive surety and grace. Still, only time will tell whether he can fully replace Stewart as America’s favorite fake newsman.
“Homeland”— Oct. 4, Showtime
In 2011, Showtime’s CIA thriller “Homeland” debuted an extraordinary first season rich with excellent acting (Mandy Patinkin, people!), tight pacing and a keep-you-guessing structure of calculated twists and revelations. Since then, the show has been all over the map, stumbling from wild implausibility back to surprising depth and nuance.
Who knows what terrorist threats Carrie Mathison (Claire Daines) and company will tackle in “Homeland’s” fifth season. But regardless of the writing quality, the cast is sure to act it out with customary gusto.
“The Leftovers”— Oct. 4, HBO
How would you react if a percentage of the Earth’s population vanished without explanation? Would you assume it was the Rapture, a belief held by many Christians? Would you prefer the alien abduction theory? And how would you deal with the grief of lost loved ones, gone without even a body to bury.
“The Leftovers” explored these questions in an uneven but fitfully compelling first season last year. Its second season sees a major restructuring of the show, with the central Garvey family moving to a Texas town that supposedly wasn’t affected by the disappearances. Expect mystery, ambiguity and great music from composer Max Richter.
“Fargo”— Oct. 12, FX
Spun off from the classic Coen brothers movie, “Fargo’s” first season was a surprising success in almost every respect. The twisting story of gangsters, liars and hitmen sorting out their bloody business amid the Scandinavian accents and impeccable manners of Minnesota delivered both thrills and laughs aplenty.
The second season overhauls the cast and story, traveling back in time to 1979 South Dakota, where state policeman Lou Solverson must tangle with both crime syndicate plots and a scheduled campaign stop by presidential candidate Ronald Reagan.
“The Knick”—Oct. 16, Cinemax
Maybe the best American history series to come around since the unparalleled “Deadwood,” “The Knick” explores the birth of modern medicine at the beginning of the 20th century as experienced by the staff of the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City.
Built upon a tremendous lead performance by Clive Owen, “The Knick” is beautifully shot, directed and acted. But beware if you’re the squeamish type, because it doesn’t shy away from portraying some of the era’s more jaw-dropping medical procedures.
“The Man in the High Castle” Nov. 20, Amazon
“The Man in the High Castle” set TV fans abuzz when Amazon released the pilot episode to lavish critical praise earlier this year. An adaptation of a novel by Philip K. Dick, one of the greatest science fiction authors of the 20th century, the series is set in an alternate history where the Axis powers have won World War II. America is divided between the Japanese Empire in the west and the Nazi’s Third Reich in the east, with a neutral zone stretching down the Rocky Mountains.
Can “The Man in the High Castle” live up to its excellent pilot episode? We’ll find out Nov. 20, when all 10 episodes go live to stream for Amazon Prime subscribers.