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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

The Christmas season began in August, and you still probably don’t have a holiday viewing plan—so I’ve put one together for you. (It’s OK that you didn’t get me anything.) Here are 12 Christmas shows on the ho-ho-horizon:

Trolls Holiday (Friday, Nov. 24, NBC): The most adequate kids’ movie of 2016 is now a time-filling Christmas special about the Queen of the Trolls (Anna Kendrick) forcing her holiday traditions upon the Bergens, which sounds suspiciously Christian. Besides, Bergens eat Trolls, don’t they?

A Christmas Story 2 (Friday, Nov. 24, CMT): Sequels are always better than the original, and this follow-up to 1983’s A Christmas Story is no exception: A teenage Ralphie needs a sweet Mercury convertible for Christmas; otherwise, he’ll never get laid. A major award, for sure.

Homicide for the Holidays (Saturday, Nov. 25, Oxygen): Season 2 of the murder-rific Xmas series features true-crime stories ranging from “a botched house fire that led to the uncovering of a triple-homicide to a case that is still classified as the worst family massacre in U.S. history.” Joy!

Angry Angel (Monday, Nov. 27, Freeform): A newly dead angel (Brenda Song) is somehow stuck on Earth—well, New York City—and still hung up on her ex (Ricky Mabe), all of which pisses off her boss up in Heaven (Jason Biggs). Will she ever get off … the terrestrial plane?

A Very Pentatonix Christmas (Monday, Nov. 27, NBC): Vocal group Pentatonix returns for another holiday special, with A-list guests like Jay Leno (!) and a teen ventriloquist (!!). “A cappella” is Italian for “no real musicians will stoop to work with them,” by the way.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (Tuesday, Nov. 28, CBS): Not so much a “holiday” special as a primetime half-naked jiggle-fest that makes total sense in the new age of sexual-harassment awareness. Rumored musical guests: Hologram David Bowie and Lemmy dueting on Wham’s “Last Christmas.”

Drunk History Christmas Special (Tuesday, Nov. 28, Comedy Central): Comics re-enact ’Merican holiday events like George Washington crossing the Delaware on Dec. 25, and Teddy Roosevelt banning Christmas trees in the White House. Bill O’Reilly was right—the War on Christmas is centuries old!

Gwen Stefani’s You Make It Feel Like Christmas (Tuesday, Dec. 12, NBC): Everybody’s favorite chipmunk-voiced ska survivor hosts her very own songs-and-sketches holiday special, with guests Chelsea Handler, Ken Jeong, Seth MacFarlane, Ne-Yo and, duh, Blake Shelton. It’s gonna be B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

A Christmas Story Live! (Sunday, Dec. 17, Fox): An even better idea than A Christmas Story 2, A Christmas Story Live! puts the played-to-death holiday classic on the Broadway stage, with Matthew Broderick, Maya Rudolph and Chris Diamantopoulos. It’s live; an eye could get shot out.

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time (Monday, Dec. 25, BBC America): It’s the end of the road for 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi and series writer/producer Steven Moffat, but also the debut of the first-ever female Doc, Jodie Whittaker. Plus, in a timey-wimey twist … the First Doctor! Breathe, nerds.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (all of December, Freeform): The greatest work of the late Chevy Chase (wait, he’s not dead?) is the pinnacle of holiday movies (sorry, Bad Santa). And, if ever there were a phrase to sum up the country in the dying days of 2017, it’s: “Shitter’s full!”

Moral Orel, “The Best Christmas Ever” (streaming, Hulu): God-fearing Orel believes his baby brother Shapey to be the second coming of Jesus—but he’s also a complete asshole. Meanwhile, his parents are divorcing, and Dad’s at the bar (“Forghetty’s Pub”) getting loaded on Christmas. Ever hopeful, Orel looks to the heavens for divine intervention. Nothing happens. Fade to black. Merry Christmas!

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After cutting down on episodic bloat with the eight-installment The Defenders, Netflix is back in the overload business with The Punisher (series debut Friday, Nov. 17, Netflix), the latest 13-episode Marvel delivery from Hell’s Kitchen. Vicious vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is more antihero than superhero, and The Punisher doesn’t dabble in the supernatural like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist before it—there are no superpowers, just brute force, big guns and PTSD. The Punisher plays more like an ’80s action-revenge flick than a superhero series, and the only other familiar Marvel/Netflix face is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll); proceed with caution (and a strong stomach).

It's the end of the road for Sheriff Walt (Robert Taylor) as modern-day Western Longmire (Season 6 premiere Friday, Nov. 17, Netflix) heads into its final chapter—damn, this show has been canceled twice. After Longmire was put down by A&E after three seasons for skewing “too old,” Netflix picked up production for three more, and the series is now going out with some serious D-R-A-M-A: Walt wants to give up his badge! Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) is a death’s door in the desert! Deputy Vic (Katee Sackhoff) is hiding her pregnancy from Walt! Jacob (A Martinez) still has the most ridiculous chin-beard in Wyoming! Anyone who misses Justified might want to take Longmire for a binge.

Apparently, 2003’s terrible The Elizabeth Smart Story TV movie wasn’t enough, so here’s I Am Elizabeth Smart (movie, Saturday, Nov. 18, Lifetime), co-produced and narrated by Smart herself. I Am Elizabeth Smart purports to be a far more real and detailed account of Smart’s 2002 Salt Lake City kidnapping and subsequent nine months of starvation, rape, torture and religious indoctrination, so … yay? At least real actors were hired this time around: Alana Boden (Ride, Mr. Selfridge) as Elizabeth, Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist, The Wire) as co-kidnapper Wanda Barzee, and, best of all, Skeet Ulrich (Riverdale!) as batshit “prophet” Brian David Mitchell. Also good: No sign of Ed Smart.

I wasn’t all that impressed with the debut season of Search Party (Season 2 premiere Sunday, Nov. 19, TBS), but everybody else was (100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes? Da fuck?), so obviously I was wrong. The meandering story of a group of self-possessed 20-somethings (led by Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat) trying to solve the mystery of a missing college roommate felt more like a 90-minute indie flick that should have been buried on Netflix, not a five-hour cable series, but Season 2 appears to be onto something: Instead of resetting with a new mystery, the gang is dealing with the consequences of Season 1, including a “semi-accidental murder.” OK, I’ll try again.

The Christmas movies can’t be stopped—hail Santa! In A Gift to Remember (movie, Sunday, Nov. 19, Hallmark), bookstore owner Darcy (Ali Liebert) crashes her bike into handsome professional man Aiden (Peter Porte), sending him into a coma. When he’s rushed to the hospital, the dog he was walking gets left behind, so Darcy sorta-stalks Aiden in order to return him. Her detective work finds him to be the erudite world-traveler of her dreams—but when Aiden finally wakes up, she learns that he’s just the dog-walker for her fantasy man (and certainly not rich). Will she stick with him? Will Sandra Bullock and the producers of While You Were Sleeping sue? What does all of this have to do with Christmas?

After the excellent Legion and The Gifted (and the gawdawful Marvel’s Inhumans), do we really need another X-Men-adjacent superhero series? Marvel’s Runaways (series debut Tuesday, Nov. 21, Hulu) makes a case for itself, even more so than The Gifted, in filling the teen-angst void: Six superpowered friends learn that their parents might be part of a super-villain society; existential crises and exposition ensue. Runaways, the series, was created and produced by the minds behind The O.C., and takes its sweet time building both its teen and parental characters—but if you want splashy mutant-abilities displays, you’re going to have to wait. Did I mention that’s better than Inhumans?

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Still sounds good, still feels right: Lady Dynamite (Season 2 premiere Friday, Nov. 10, Netflix), Maria Bamford’s semi-autobiographical meta-comedy about dealing with bipolar disorder (much like, but totally differently from, BoJack Horseman’s bouts with depression, or Jessica Jones’ lingering PTSD—Netflix is your one-stop therapy shop), is damned near impossible to explain. There’s time-hopping; there’s fourth-wall obliteration; there’s heartbreak; there’s pugs; and there’s Bamford herself, long an odd-woman-out comedian who makes utter and complete sense within the surreal context of Lady Dynamite. You could skip Season 1 and just jump right in … but why would you do that, dummy?

How do I know it’s November? The Hallmark Channel is cranking out Christmas movies. The Sweetest Christmas (Saturday, Nov. 11, Hallmark Channel) stars perennial Hallmarker Lacey Chabert, this time as a struggling—and, of course, single—pastry chef who’s made it to the finals of the American Gingerbread Competition … but her oven is broken! Desperate, she reaches out to her ex (Lea Coco—he’s a dude; relax, watchdog groups), a pizzeria owner with just the right equipment. Will she win? Can love re-bloom for a Christmas miracle? Will I resist the obvious hot, throbbing gingerbread-man/oven joke?

I’m rarely wrong, and it’s even rarer for me to cop to it when I am, so hold onto your asses: Star Trek: Discovery turned out to be an impressive prequel, and CBS’ All Access streaming service might actually work in the long run. Here’s another winner: No Activity (series debut Sunday, Nov. 12, CBS All Access), a Funny or Die comedy about the clueless humps (in this case, Patrick Brammall and Tim Meadows) on the periphery of those action-packed crime procedurals—the cops who never get to slide across the hood of a squad car, bust a perp or do anything cool. Will Ferrell and other FoD usuals guest on No Activity, meaning you may want to keep All Access even though ST:D (ha!) is over for now. Sorry.

What’s so funny about cancer? Ill Behaviour (series debut Monday, Nov. 13, Showtime), a British show acquired by Showtime, has an idea. Recent divorcee Joel (Chris Geere) moves in with Charlie (Tom Riley), who then announces that he has cancer and, instead of clinical treatment, is going the holistic route. Naturally, Joel and mutual friend Tess (Jessica Regan) kidnap Charlie and begin injecting him with chemo drugs against his will. And if that’s not funny enough, also in the mix is alcoholic sex-addict doctor, Nadia (Lizzy Caplan, who always makes anything better). It’s more hilarious (and chaotically British) than it sounds, and Geere almost tops his You’re the Worst performance. Almost.

The rise of eSports baffles me—how the fuck is playing videogames a “sport”? I’m typing this paragraph athletically quickly right now, so can I be in the Olympics? Anyway: Future Man (series debut Tuesday, Nov. 14, Hulu) is about a hapless gamer (Josh Hutcherson) who’s recruited by time-traveling bad-asses (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) to use his eSkills to save humanity. (Obviously, these visitors haven’t been paying attention and don’t realize that humanity is no longer worth the effort.) Future Man is a Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg joint, and the kitchen-sink action/comedy mix they brought to Preacher and This Is the End is in full effect here, just on a smaller scale. But humanity? Nah.

The Mindy Project (series finale Tuesday, Nov. 14, Hulu) is one of those rare shows that survived being cancelled by a TV network (Fox) by landing on a streamer (Hulu) and running longer than anyone ever expected (three more seasons). Not that Mindy Kaling’s rom-com-gone-wrong really had six seasons and 117 episodes-worth of material, but kudos for going farther than anything called a “project” should. (I’m looking at you, Alan Parsons Project and Vanilla Ice Project.) Over the years, unlucky-in-love OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri evolved from a hot mess into at least a warm mess, and Kaling smartly let her co-stars (a cast with a higher turnover rate than Papa John’s) shine. Now, when’s The Office reboot happening?

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Need more proof that broadcast television is out of ideas? S.W.A.T. (series debut Thursday, Nov. 2, CBS) is a TV show based on a 2003 movie based on a 1975 TV show—neither of which fared particularly well. (There was no 2 S.W.A.T. 2 Spurious film sequel, and the series lasted just 37 episodes.) Still, CBS is banking on ex-Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore to carry this re-reboot, because he’s the only face anyone’s going to recognize. Here, he’s former Marine “Hondo” Harrelson, a streetwise Los Angelino charged with leading the local Special Weapons and Tactics unit (militarized police, because ’Merica). Everyone else on the show? Mix-and-match CBS cop-procedural pretty people. This will run for years.

By the time a series hits eight seasons, there ain’t much story left to tell—remember cautionary Showtime series Dexter and Weeds? At least Californication had the good sense to bail at seven. Shameless (Season 8 premiere Sunday, Nov. 5, Showtime), on the other hand, has the legs to go eight more, as there’s no more endlessly evolving and entertaining TV family than the Gallaghers. Who would have expected Fiona (Emmy Rossum) to become a businesswoman, or Lip (Jeremy Allen White) to get sober? Or perpetual deadbeat Frank (William H. Macy) to become an upstanding citizen? (Best wait to see how long that lasts.) I’ve been tellin’ ya since 2010: This is America’s Family. Get thee to Netflix.

The “S” in SMILF (series debut Sunday, Nov. 5, Showtime) stands for “Single”; you know the rest. Twenty-something Boston mom Bridgette (Frankie Shaw, who created, wrote and directed this series based on her same-name Sundance short film) juggles parenting, an acting career and relationships in Los Angeles—a reality-slapped twist on the usual autobiographical actor/comic project. Even after Better Things and Fleabag, a female lead in this raw—and funny, it should be noted—a series is still somehow surprising and novel, and SMILF upstages Showtime partner White Famous through sheer willingness to go there. (Jay Pharoah is great, but WF still feels timid.) Shaw is a star—watch her.

Last year’s debut season of The Girlfriend Experience (Season 2 premiere Sunday, Nov. 5, Starz) arrived with much hype thanks to the connections to Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film and The King. (Season 1 star Riley Keough is Elvis Presley’s granddaughter.) Season 2 of Tales of High-End Prostitution introduces all-new characters and two storylines: one involving a Republican super-PAC director (Anna Friel) and an escort (Louisa Krause) entwined in a steamy blackmail scheme; the other is about an ex-prostitute (Carmen Ejogo) in the witness protection program who dangerously falls back into her old ways. The Girlfriend Experience maybe not be as ’70s kitschy as The Deuce, but it does have a grit all its own.

All that’s missing from the USA Network’s bid to become a serious prestige-cable network is a period drama … oh, here’s one now! “An epic saga about the secret history of the 1930s American heartland, Damnation (series debut Tuesday, Nov. 7, USA) centers on the mythic conflict and bloody struggle between big money and the downtrodden, God and greed, charlatans and prophets.” Whoa, hyperbole much? Damnation has plenty going for it, including writers and directors from Hell or High Water and Longmire, as well as co-star Logan Marshall-Green (late of Cinemax’s fantastic-but-canceled Quarry), but it mostly just adds up to dust and bluster. This proves once again that nothing good has ever come out of Iowa.

When it aired what I thought was its series finale back in March, I was sure I’d never see Teachers (Season 2 fall premiere Tuesday, Nov. 7, TV Land) again. Surprise! That was just the “spring finale” of the second season before an eight-month “hiatus” … what? Anyway: Female comedy troupe the Katydids (Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O'Brien and Kathryn Renée Thomas, hence the name—get it?) are back for more episodes of hot-mess elementary-school hilarity, inexplicable Walking Dead-sized breaks aside. This pleasant, unexpected gift at least makes up for the disappointment that was IFC’s Baroness Von Sketch Show.

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Look, I liked the first go-round of Stranger Things (Season 2 premiere Friday, Oct. 27, Netflix) just fine, sort of like Panda Express takeout: filling, not quite dog food, coulda been worse. But then you people whipped up a breathless hype frenzy like it was The Greatest TV Show of All Time, and things just got ’80s-romanticizing-stoopider from there. And Barb? She’s dead; get over it. Season 2 of Stranger Things picks up a year later, on Halloween 1984, with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) returning from The Upside Down to help the gang take on a new crop of weirdness in Hawkins. Meanwhile, Joyce (Winona Ryder) as cray as ever. (Hey, if ain’t broke.) There’s also the Reagan/Bush re-election campaign to deal with—boo!

What an ambitious year 2015 was for broadcast network dramas—successful, not so much. Scream Queens, Limitless, Blood and Oil, Heroes Reborn, The Player, Wicked City, Rosewood, Minority Report—all dust in the wind. Quantico is (sort of) still alive, as is Blindspot (Season 3 premiere Friday, Oct. 27, NBC), the crime-conspiracy thriller that went from “The next Blacklist!” to Friday-night filler in two seasons. There are still mysteries to be solved in Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and her tattoos, but first, she has to face her vengeance-bent bent brother Roman (Luke Mitchell) and rescue her former FBI team from his clutches (which really raises questions about said team’s competency). So, Blindspot … still on.

Saturday Night Live was a groundbreaking, counterculture oddity in the ’70s; today, it’s a meme generator. Tom Hanks’ “David S. Pumpkins” appeared twice on SNL last season, which has somehow led to The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special (special, Saturday, Oct. 28, NBC) being a thing. But it’s not much of a thing: It’s just a half-hour, barely animated special featuring the voices of Hanks and ex-SNLer Bobby Moynihan, as well as Peter Dinklage (!), wherein nonsensical character Pumpkins shows kiddies “the true meaning of Halloween”(?). The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special is just another pointless, cynical SNL cash-grab that should make Lorne Michaels roll over in his grave.

Some of us were lucky enough to see Ozzy and Co. on their final tour last year; for the rest of you, there’s Black Sabbath: The End of the End (special, Saturday, Oct. 28, Showtime), the concert film capturing the finale of the influential metal band’s 49-year run. Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler put on a hell (ha!) of a show for being 60-something vampires, backed by a younger sit-in for drummer Bill Ward who literally looked like Jesus; and an inaudible off-stage keyboardist/guitarist whom I’m assuming collected an equal paycheck. With the exception of anything from 1978’s underrated Never Say Die! album, The End of the End features every classic Sabbath song. Play it loud.

So far, there are not a lot of scary Halloween recommendations, right? Might I suggest a few selections from RiffTrax (streaming, Amazon Prime), the guys who spun off from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) into something completely … well, the same? They still hilariously mock terrible movies, and there are a handful of their horror offerings available on Amazon Prime, like When a Stranger Calls Back, The Last Slumber Party, Frankenstein Island, House on Haunted Hill, The Revenge of Doctor X and the incomparably awful Rock ’n’ Roll Nightmare. (Seriously—I challenge you to make it through that one.) Or just keep binge-ing Stranger Things.

Why is Stan Against Evil (Season 2 premiere Wednesday, Nov. 1, IFC) returning the day after Halloween? And, while we’re at it, why isn’t Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead coming back until February 2018? You B-level cable outlets are killin’ me. Anyway: Stan Against Evil, a thinly veiled rip-off of/homage to Ash vs. Evil Dead that will do for now, I suppose, remains a reliably goofy/scary vehicle for comedy vet John C. McGinley to rage-shrug as the former sheriff of a demon-plagued town built on the site of a 17th-century witch-burning. This time, he’s begrudgingly trying to save his replacement sheriff (Janet Varney), who’s trapped in another time. (February 2018? Take me!)

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Way back in April, I dismissed the debut of Great News (Thursdays, NBC) as an inferior Tina Fey production that lacked the snap of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and I saw no point in the casting of Nicole Richie. But by the time the newsroom comedy wrapped its initial 10 episodes, Great News had found its goofy groove, and Richie proved herself to be an adept comic actress. (Let’s just pretend that VH1’s Candidly Nicole never happened.) Sure, Andrea Martin could dial it down a little—OK, a lot—but so what? Season 2 continues the subtle-but-sharp transformation into 30 Rock 2.0, meaning Great News is no longer the worst sitcom on NBC … here’s looking at you, Will and Grace.

Like Ghost Wars, Superstition (series debut Friday, Oct. 20, Syfy) is an effectively creepy Syfy show saddled with a lame title: C’mon, Ghost Wars sounds like a reality series about haunted storage units, and Superstition sucks hard enough for Freeform. The setup for Superstition, however, is solid: The Hastings family (patriarch-ed by series creator/producer Mario Van Peebles) runs the only funeral home in a small Georgia town, and they also specialize in “afterlife care” for souls who met mysterious deaths by demonic “Infernals” (there’s your title!), and generally kick supernatural ass. Bonus: Where the wildcard of Ghost Wars is singer Meat Loaf, Superstition has pro ’rassler Diamond Dallas Page. Spooky!

We’ll always have October, and we’ll always have The Walking Dead (Season 8 premiere Sunday, Oct. 22, AMC). Like the zombie apocalypse and Christianity, it’s never going away, but we must keep fighting to vanquish them anyway. Eight seasons is plenty, though I would argue that Showtime’s Shameless should run at least 20, because it is the greatest series on TV, and I’d win the argument, so shut up. As for TWD’s Season 8 premiere, it’s more of the same: blood, action, dripping flesh, more blood, flannel, homoerotic glances between Rick and Daryl, etc. Me, I’m curious to see if the righteous morons who were outraged at Season 7’s “family unfriendly” violence—in a cable show about zombies!—will be back.

Too much has been written about why Kevin Can Wait (Mondays, CBS) killed off a perfectly good wife character in order to reunite Kevin James with ex-King of Queens co-star Leah Remini in Season 2, and not nearly enough about why this piece of shit is still on. So … why is this piece of shit still on? It’s a forced, painfully unfunny sitcom that’s an insult to even the intelligence of CBS viewers who’ve allowed four seasons of Scorpion to just happen, and the addition of Remini makes little difference when the writing is nowhere near the caliber of King of Queens’ writing (which wasn’t gold, but at least it was, you know, comedy). Please join me again in 2026 when I rewrite this paragraph for KCW’s Season 10 premiere.

Like a bizarre collision of Martha Stewart Living and the comic actress’ cult favorite Strangers With Candy, At Home With Amy Sedaris (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TruTV) is the how-to crafting, cooking and hospitality show of the end times—or, at least, the weirdest thing on TruTV. Modeled loosely on Sedaris’ books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, At Home combines utterly useless homemaking tips with sketch comedy and game guests (like Paul Giamatti, Jane Krakowski, Sasheer Zamata and the infamously humorless Michael Shannon). This takes the surreality of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner to a whole ’nother level.

Speaking of Snoop, what’s this all about? Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TBS) is based on ’70s game show The Joker’s Wild, which involved a giant slot machine and trivia questions; in Snoop’s house, the slot machine remains, but the trivia has been replaced with “giant dice, playing cards, streetwise questions and problem-solving.” At least it’s kinda new, unlike Drop the Mic (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TBS), which is just a celebrity rap battle rip-off of Nick Cannon’s Wild n’ Out given a cheese-glaze finish. Then again, Lip Sync Battle looked none too promising when it debuted, and that gave us … well, Chrissy Teigen’s boobs.

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In her new weekly series I Love You, America (series debut Thursday, Oct. 12, Hulu), comedian Sarah Silverman is “looking to connect with people who may not agree with her personal opinions through honesty, humor, genuine interest in others, and not taking herself too seriously. … Silverman feels it’s crucial, now more than ever, to connect with un-like-minded people.” If you’re skeptical of Liberal Elite Hollywood’s motives for hanging out with Red State rednecks while promising to not to shit on them, join the club. But it’s a promising chat show/travelogue setup, and Silverman is more capable of pulling it off sincerely than, say, Chelsea Handler. She still does that thing on Netflix … doesn’t she?

With a cool title like Mindhunter (series debut Friday, Oct. 13, Netflix), you’d expect sci-fi series loaded with psychic warfare and exploding heads, or is that just me? Sadly, this Mindhunter is another cop show, starring Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as FBI agents who interview imprisoned serial killers to analyze their motives to help solve current cases … zzz. So far, so Criminal Minds, but Mindhunter—singular? There’s two of ’em!—is produced by David Fincher, who delivered at least a couple of good House of Cards seasons, and co-stars Aussie treasure Anna Torv, absent from ’Merican TV since the 2013 demise of Fringe, so there’s that. Maybe one exploding head, just for me?

I had no idea that today’s kiddies were clamoring for a reboot of ’70s Saturday-morning cheese lump Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (series re-debut Friday, Oct. 13, Amazon Prime), but here it is. The original S&SM was part of the Sid and Marty Kroftt acid-trip factory that included H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville, as well as the proto-superheroine Strong Female Characters of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. This iteration seems more aimed at ironic-nostalgia-hungry Gen-Xers than children, but at least David Arquette found work (as Captain Barnabas, a local loon out to expose the Sea Monsters as “real”), and we get The Roots’ updated version of Sigmund’s theme song. So where’s the Lost Saucer remake?

Do we really need another cable dramedy about how tough it is to be a comedian? When it stars ex-Saturday Night Live-er Jay Pharoah and is helmed by Tim Kapinos (Lucifer, Californication) and Jamie Foxx (everything else), maybe. White Famous (series debut Sunday, Oct. 15, Showtime) is essentially Foxx’s story, centered on a black comic (Pharoah) on the rise who’s straddling the line between street cred and mainstream (read: white) appeal. While White Famous offers few insights into Foxx’s real career (even when he shows up as himself in the first episode), it does make it abundantly clear that SNL blew it with the talented Pharoah. As a “prestige” series, this is more Dice than Louie.

Speaking of wasting perfectly good comedic talent, have you seen 9JKL (new series, Mondays, CBS)? That filler half-hour between The Big Bang Theory and Kevin Can Wait? Oh yeah, no one watches “live” TV anymore—it’s all on-demand with your Hulus and your Rokus and your Flibberzoos. It’s safe to say no one is “demanding” 9JKL, not even to justify the $9.99 they blew on CBS All Access for Star Trek: Discovery. Mark Feuerstein, David Walton, Elliott Gould, Linda Lavin and Liza Lapira, funny people all, star in the most forgettable family sitcom since … well, damn, I’ve forgotten. Chances are, by the time this column finally reaches the Interwebs, 9JKL will be canceled. Never mind.

Much in the same way that White Famous seems like a stylistic throwback, Loudermilk (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 17, Audience/DirecTV) could be a lost early-2000s comedy from the trope dawn of AA (Asshole Antihero). While White Famous is a misuse of a young actor like Pharoah, it’s perfectly OK in the case of Loudermilk, because the titular Loudermilk is played by been-there comedy vet Ron Livingston (sorry, Ron—loved ya in Office Space). Loudermilk is a former alcoholic and, even worse, former rock critic, who hates pretty much everything and everyone. Sounds familiar, but as scripted by one Farrelly brother and a Colbert Report writer, and delivered by Livingston, Loudermilk really works.

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Now that The Strain is over, TV only has one vampire apocalypse show, Van Helsing (Season 2 premiere Thursday, Oct. 5, Syfy), and it’s finally stepping up to the challenge. In Season 1, Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) spent mucho time wandering underground and losing colleagues—saving Canadian dollars on locations and costars, apparently—in a slow buildup to the vamp beatdown. Series creator/writer Neil LaBute—yes, that Neil LaBute—took a glacial approach that was unusual for a Syfy hour, and Overton more than delivered on the human drama and (occasional) vampire-slayer action. Now, the bigger/bloodier battle to take back the world really begins; come back if you got bored and bailed.

No, it’s not a reality show about haunted storage units—Ghost Wars (series debut Thursday, Oct. 5, Syfy) is about malicious paranormal forces taking over a remote town in the remotest of states, Alaska. Anything set in The Last Frontier is automatically 10 times spookier, and Ghost Wars could be a potential challenger to Syfy’s creepiest anthology series, Channel Zero, at least in star power: Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil), Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy), Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica) and Meat Loaf (!) occupy various quadrants of science, religion, skepticism and psychic ability. It’s another impressive new Syfy entry—a couple of years ago, this would have been about haunted storage units.

What happens when the young daughter of Jane Sadler (Kyra Sedgwick), the producer/writer of a fact-based police drama, goes missing, and she has to deal with the real cops? D-R-A-M-A, that’s what! Ten Days in the Valley (new series, Sundays, ABC) isn’t much different from other crime procedurals—especially not ABC’s defunct Secrets and Lies—but it at least deserves points for letting Sedgwick be a shady, barely sympathetic character with a tenuous grasp on the truth and her own drug problem. Whether it holds up over 10 episodes (as 10 days, get it?) or not remains to be seen; right now, it’s mostly coming off as a network knockoff of HBO’s Big Little Lies, which was no great shakes itself. Yeah, I said it.

O.M. Gawd! Who could have predicted that Riverdale (Season 2 premiere Wednesday, Oct. 11, The CW) would blow up when it debuted back in January? I mean, besides me? (Look it up—I’m on the right side of history here.) The Archie Comics-via-camp-noir teen drama squeezed a whole lotta crazy into its initial 13 hours, culminating in a hysterical maple-syrup/drug-trafficking reveal and the possible murder of Archie’s dad, Fred (Luke Perry). What’s next for Archie (KJ Apa), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes)? Between sexy times, the gang will be tracking a new town threat known as “Sugar Man,” True Detective-style. I’m just a wee bit too excited for this.

On the other hand, I have zero fucks to give about Dynasty (series debut Wednesday, Oct. 11, The CW), a needless reboot of the big-haired super-soap that ruled the ’80s. Why not revive a lesser-known show, like the amazing 1985 series Street Hawk, which was pretty much just Knight Rider on a motorcycle, or the 1987 cult crime classic Wiseguy, which presaged TV’s current incest-is-best craze by 30 years? Or, hell, Square Pegs? Anyway: Dynasty is still about clashing Atlanta families the Colbys and the Carringtons, both rich, both beautiful, both overflowing with White People Problems—come on, read the room/country, CW. If ever there were a time for petulant TV billionaires, this ain’t it.

Season 2 weeded out the casual observers quickly, but USA is sticking by its breakthrough “prestige series” Mr. Robot (Season 3 premiere Wednesday, Oct. 11, USA). With Elliot (Rami Malek) laid up after being gunned down, is Darlene (Carly Chaikin) about to feel the wrath of the Dark Army? Will Elliot’s other half, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), deliver fsociety’s death blow to Evil Corp? What the hell does new-on-the-scene car salesman Irving (Bobby Cannavale) have to do with any of this? Remember that the heretofore most recent episode of Mr. Robot aired long before Nov. 8, 2016, and trust that the new season will deal with the election fallout differently, if not more subtly, than American Horror Story: Cult.

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Not much was expected of Marvel’s Inhumans (series debut Friday, Sept. 29, ABC), and the two-hour pilot doesn’t … not? … deliver on that lowered bar. Like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with more ridiculous outfits, or dollar-store X-Men, Inhumans Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medusa (Serinda Swan), Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), Triton (Mike Moh), Karnak (Ken Leung), Crystal (Isabelle Cornish), Maximus (Iwan Rheon) and supersized teleporting-dog Lockjaw are a royal family of don’t-call-them-mutants who flee the moon for Hawaii to establish a persecuted-superheroes-as-Dreamers narrative. An underwritten, obscure Marvel property dumped on Friday night doesn’t really need to perform, but it should do … something.

Craig Robinson and Adam Scott in a paranormal comedy? Sounds like Adult Swim material, but Ghosted (series debut Sunday, Oct. 1, Fox) fits nicely into the Sunday-night broadcast between The Simpsons and Family Guy, maybe even better than The Last Man on Earth (which also returns tonight, Tandy fans). Cop-turned-mall-security-guard Leroy (Robinson) and professor-turned-bookstore-clerk Max (Scott) are recruited into a secret government agency to find a missing agent and track alien/supernatural activity in Los Angeles, because, why not? Ghosted is ridiculous, and Robinson and Scott go all in (as does Ally Walker as their hard-ass boss). A rare bright spot in 2017’s fall TV.

Remember last season, when there were several new shows about philanthropic tech billionaires with troubled pasts buying and operating hospitals, police departments and Waffle Houses for the greater good? (I made one of those up; good luck guessing which one.) Wisdom of the Crowd (series debut Sunday, Oct. 1, CBS), starring Jeremy Piven as a Silicon Valley heavy rallying millions to use the info-sharing app he created to—wait for it—solve his daughter’s murder, is another CBS procedural with pretty techies, just with bonus constitutional and privacy concerns. Even with Piven in vintage Ari Gold/Entourage mode, Wisdom of the Crowd is innocuous enough to skate by on CBS for years.

When we last saw Larry (Larry David) six years ago, he’d split the country for France with Leon (J.B. Smoove) to avoid spending any time with sick children—totally understandable. Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 9 premiere Sunday, Oct. 1, HBO) doesn’t need gimmicks like “character development” and “change,” only Larry! Larry! Larry! (Thanks, Leon.) In addition to Smoove, Curb regulars Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and Richard Lewis are back, and the Season 9 guest list includes Carrie Brownstein, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston and Lauren Graham, among others. Awkward Larry moments to look forward to: “Larry offends Jeff’s barber” and “Larry bribes a funeral usher.” Curb always delivers good blurb.

Attention Marvel’s Inhumans: This is how you do a not-really-but-totally-X-Men series. Also, The Gifted (series debut Monday, Oct. 2, Fox) is nowhere near as bizarre as FX’s Legion, so relax. Suburban couple Reed (Steven Moyer) and Caitlin Strucker (Amy Acker) learn that their teen kids possess mutant abilities, go on the run from the mutie-hating government, and meet up with an underground mutant network; action and/or adventure ensue. In the hands of X-Men vet Bryan Singer and X-Men fan Matt Nix, The Gifted nails both splashy superheroics and emotional undertones (because, you know, teens), and is easily the best new show of the new fall season. Which is saying little, but watch anyway.

In sitcom The Mayor (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 3, ABC), a young rapper (Brandon Micheal Hall) runs for the mayoral office of his city as a publicity stunt to bolster his flailing career—and guess what happens? The title probably gave it away. Later, in one-hour dramedy Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 3, ABC), miserable Texan Kevin (Jason Ritter) is drafted into a mission to save humanity by a “guardian angel.” Neither of these series are cheesedick Throwback Tuesday gags from Fox circa 1987; they’re premiering right damn now on current-season ABC. And these aren’t even the lamest shows of the Worst Broadcast Fall Season in recent memory—2017, you may just kill me yet.

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It’s finally here—and CBS won’t let TV critics see it in advance. Everything’s probably fine, just fine. Star Trek: Discovery (series debut Sunday, Sept. 24, CBS) has been a troubled production since it was announced two years ago; the least of its problems is that it’ll move to yet another paid streaming service (CBS All Access, whatever that is) after it debuts on CBS proper. The showrunner (Bryan Fuller, moving onto America Gods) dropped out; casting the lead took forever (finally going to The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green); the premiere date kept getting pushed back. Now, no reviews allowed? Maybe the debut will hook you into another subscription service. If not, there’s always The Orville.

Young Sheldon (series debut Monday, Sept. 25, CBS) … dear god, no. As if an origin story for the most annoying, played-out character on television weren’t enough, one-note Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons also narrates this coming-of-meh tale of 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage). Pluses: There’s no laugh track, and Li’l Shelly’s mom is played by the daughter (Zoe Perry) of his Big Bang Theory mother Laurie Metcalf, which is a cool twist. Beyond that, Young Sheldon is just an overly sentimental sitcom that’s short on actual laughs and long on relying on a child actor who, oddly, displays more range than Parsons ever has. With all six seasons of The Wonder Years on Netflix, there’s no need for this.

As irritating as Young Sheldon is, at least it has focus. Which is waaay more than you can say about Me, Myself and I (series debut Monday, Sept. 25, CBS), a time-spanning, three-generational sitcom that apparently wants to be a cross between a floor-demo single-camera comedy and, ugh, This Is Us. You have 1991 Alex (Jack Dylan Grazer), who’s dealing with high school shit; 2017 Alex (Bobby Moynihan), who’s dealing with professional/marital stress, as well as Urkel (Jaleel White); and 2042 Alex (John Larroquette), who’s dealing with being a rich, white old guy in President Ivanka Trump’s America (just kidding … or am I?). I’d say “first cancellation of the season,” but it’s a turrible year all around, so …

No entertainment rag has declared that “Autism is the new black!” just yet, but the season is young. As is The Good Doctor (series debut Monday, Sept. 25, ABC), who’s played by former “Norman” Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel). Like Netflix’s Atypical, it’s a series about a young man living with autism; unlike Atypical, The Good Doctor’s Shaun Murphy (Highmore) is a 20-something surgeon with the power of life and death in his hands, man! Don’t you understand the gravity?! It’s probably going to be that every week, even though the pilot episode sets up what could have been an unusual medical drama. However, networks don’t like “unusual,” so ABC will micromanage this into a case-of-the-week yawner.

Yes, Lifetime recently aired a Menendez Brothers movie (with Courtney Love as Momma Menendez!), but who cares? The first eight-episode installment of new anthology show Law and Order: True Crime (series debut Tuesday, Sept. 26, NBC) gives ’90s murder dreamboats Lyle and Erik Menendez more of an in-depth, American Crime Story-esque treatment with bigger names (well, Anthony Edwards and Heather Graham), but no convincing answer to the question, “Uh, why?” It’s fun watching familiar stars playing historical dress-up (though Lolita Davidovich’s Kitty is no match for Courtney Love), but episodes 237 and 238 of crime-comedy series The Last Podcast on the Left are more entertaining, and educational.

To appeal/pander to the red-state regressives who voted in the New Orange Order, CBS brings you SEAL Team (series debut Wednesday, Sept. 27, CBS), a military procedural that’s just a weak clone of History Channel’s Navy SEAL drama Six that swaps out the incomparable Walton Goggins for the inconsequential David Boreanaz, and adds more models in uniform. They’re pretty ’Merican heroes with ugly personal probs! Don’t we already have, like, eight NCISes? If I also don’t automatically thumbs-up similar new military dramas The Brave (NBC) and Valor (The CW … yes, The CW), am I just a Liberal Media weenie who doesn’t Support the Troops? Send those letters c/o this publication!

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