Falling Water (Thursday, Oct. 13, USA), series debut: In the time of Too Many Shows, it’s almost suicidal to drop a new series that won’t get to the damned point by the middle of the first episode; USA needs to hook ’em fast, because viewers have a dozen other choices tonight (except for Notorious, which still sucks). Falling Water follows three seemingly unrelated people (Lizzie Brochere, David Ajala and Will Yun Lee) who come to realize that they’re all dreaming parts of the same dream, and said dream relates to “the fate of the world.” How? That’s annoyingly unclear, but the three are definitely dreaming—so much so that it’s impossible to tell what’s “real,” but at least the imagery is gorgeous. (If you have access to 4K HD and “herbal” medication, you’ll probably enjoy this more than most.) Falling Water has nine more episodes to establish a plot; otherwise, there likely won’t be more to come.
Goliath (Friday, Oct. 14, Amazon Prime), series debut: Yes, I’ve been complaining about the glut of new legal dramas this season … However! The potential of the combo of David E. Kelley (finally venturing into the streaming realm) and Billy Bob Thornton (sorely missed from episodic TV since Fargo Season 1) is too rich to ignore. As beaten-down Los Angeles lawyer William McBride, Thornton more than delivers, and Goliath, set against the classic-noir backdrop of seedy Los Angeles, is a stick-it-to-The-Man legal saga that echoes Better Call Saul and the late, great Terriers. McBride, on the edge of abandoning the legal system in favor of just drinking himself to death, is hell-bent on one last takedown—his former partner (William Hurt), a power-tripping shark using his corporate influence to cover up a murder and who-knows-what else. It’s a familiar trope, but Thornton and Kelley play it so well that it’s easy to forgive them for not using Goliath’s killer supporting cast (including Maria Bello, Molly Parker and Olivia Thirlby) to fuller effect.
Haters Back Off (Friday, Oct. 14, Netflix), series debut: Depending upon your tolerance level for YouTube star Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger), Netflix’s Haters Back Off is either a brilliant, inevitable expansion of her digital reach, or an inexplicably annoying excuse for comedy (i.e. you’re old—go watch Longmire again). Ballinger’s Miranda character is a satire of self-absorbed, tone-deaf YouTube “singers” desperate for fame, so creating a backstory around her (which includes The Office’s Angela Kinsey as her mother, and Eastbound and Down’s Steve Little as her far-too-supportive uncle) could bring the whole meta roof crashing down. Then again, there’s some undeniably funny writing here (“Are you an alto or a soprano?” “I’m American!”), and Ballinger dominates any size of screen she’s on, so it’s probably best not to overthink Haters Back Off. Besides, no Millennials are reading this, anyway … right?
Eyewitness (Sunday, Oct. 16, USA), series debut: Since there are, as previously stated, Too Many Shows, do you really need a crime thriller about a pair of teenage boys trying to hide their taboo relationship and stay one step ahead of a murderer whom they witnessed in the act at a remote cabin? If Eyewitness were even half as intense as the Norwegian series upon which it’s based, I’d be inclined to say, “Kanskje.” But, as with umbrellas and black metal, some things are just done better in Norway.
Chance (Wednesday, Oct. 19, Hulu), series debut: Hugh Laurie is back on TV (well, Hulu) as a doctor—but Dr. House, he ain’t. In Chance, he’s Dr. Eldon Chance, a forensic neuropsychiatrist whose treatment of a patient with possible multiple personalities (Gretchen Mol) becomes a bit too intimate for the liking of her abusive police-detective husband (Paul Adelstein). It sounds like the setup for a throwaway Lifetime movie, but Chance is a layered psychological thriller more in line with British imports like The Fall and Marcella, with even-seedier stories happening outside the margins and a surprisingly terrifying performance from ex-My Name Is Earl goofball Ethan Suplee. It may (or may not) be wise to also mention that Chance comes from novelist/screenwriter Kem Nunn, the man who created HBO’s most divisive drama ever, John From Cincinnati … but there it is.