The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Tuesday, Sept. 8, CBS), series debut: No one’s probably more excited about the long-awaited arrival of new Late Show host Stephen Colbert than James Corden, who’s been working The Late Late Show for more than three months without a proper lead-in—just reruns of CBS dramas (and no comedian should be forced to follow the unintentional hilarity of CSI: Cyber). As for Colbert, the Late Show Stephen Colbert will be the real Stephen Colbert, not the hyper-arch “Stephen Colbert” of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report … follow? Night One’s guests are no great shakes (reliable charmer George Clooney and GOP snoozer Jeb Bush), but don’t worry: Trump can’t stay away for long.
Drunk History (Tuesdays, Comedy Central), new season: The most educational program on television (sorry, PBS) is back for a third season of wasted comedians narrating elaborate re-enactments of Great Moments in History. Tonight, in “Miami,” actor Clark Gable (played by Josh Hartnett) joins the World War II Air Force; Griselda Blanco (Maya Rudolph) takes over the local cocaine trade; and Ponce de Leon (Johnny Knoxville!) battles for Puerto Rico. See? You’ve learned something already.
The Awesomes (Tuesday, Sept. 8, Hulu), season premiere: Hulu’s original content ranges from expectedly average (Quick Draw, Deadbeat, The Hotwives) to surprisingly good (Difficult People, the rescued-from-Fox Mindy Project); animated superhero comedy The Awesomes falls somewhere in the middle. Producer Seth Meyers voices Dr. “Prock” Awesome, the son of retired superhero Mr. Awesome, who reluctantly turned the super-team brand over to his (mostly) power-free kid. Prock’s assembled replacement squad of reject superheroes (voiced by Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson and Rashida Jones, among others) isn’t exactly The Avengers, hence, comedy. It’s more hit than miss, and who can resist a supervillian team called P.R.I.C.K.S. (“Primates Really Into Crime and Killing Sprees”)?
Cake Boss (Tuesday, Sept. 8, TLC), season premiere: Six years ago, I declared Cake Boss an unwatchable knockoff of reality classic Ace of Cakes and questioned the “Learning” component of The Learning Channel. Now we all know that TLC stands for Toddlers, Lunatics and Cake (thanks, Natasha Leggero); Ace of Cakes is long gone; and Cake Boss is now entering Season 7 (!). This inexplicable survivor of the Guido Reality Wave (Remember when this nation was rapt with Jersey Shore? We’re far more sophisticated now!) is just as obnoxiously stoopid and overtly scripted as it was in 2009, so let’s hear it for consistency!
The League (Wednesday, Sept. 9, FXX), season premiere: Meanwhile, adding insult to idiocy, The League is ending after Season 7! The series has had a great run, however—hell, it’s survived an NFL near-lockout and a move to FXX, two hits that would have killed a lesser fantasy football comedy (if there were another fantasy football comedy, anyway). The League is more about the fine art of trash talk and friendly-occasionally-turning-nasty rivalry than football stats, and the cast (Mark Duplass, Stephen Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Jon Lajoie, Paul Scheer and Katie Aselton) has ratcheted both up to ridiculous new levels every year. (Last season ended with a beach house in flames and a ghost Adam Brody—OK, now what?) Don’t let the sportsball angle deter you; catch up on The League before the quarterback throws the final homerun hard in the paint.
You’re the Worst (Wednesday, Sept. 9, FXX), season premiere: The most buzzed-about new comedy of 2014 began as a decadent raunch-com about a pair of narcissistic Los Angelinos (Chris Geere and Aya Cash) who fell in love in spite of themselves, and ended on the sweet/sour note of them (ack!) moving in together. You’re the Worst, from casting to writing, was so sharply perfect that Season 2 seems like an impossible dream. Fortunately, the first couple of episodes show no sign of waning. Unlike Jimmy (Geere) and Gretchen (Cash), who are so terrified of becoming a “boring couple” that they’re partying 24/7 at near-lethal levels. (If you’ve ever fantasized about hijacking a Google Car, prepare to squee.) You know what? Forget everything else I’ve written (like you already haven’t): You’re the Worst is the only show you need to watch.