Fall TV Preview
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Intrigued by a drama set behind the scenes of a morning TV show, with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon topping the cast? How about a supernatural series with Lin-Manuel Miranda or a comedy starring Paul Rudd as a man overshadowed by his clone, or the chance to see Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker as a real-life 1960s gangster?
Choose them all, and here's the potential monthly tab for that modest slice of the expanding pie that is TV in general and the fall 2019 season in particular: about $40. To be fair, that would provide access to other programs, new or returning, from Apple TV Plus ("The Morning Show"), HBO ("His Dark Materials"), Netflix ("Living with Yourself") and Epix ("Godfather of Harlem").
But the small screen is demanding a bigger bite of viewers' entertainment budget, and there's no end in sight as streaming services from Apple and Disney arrive this fall, squalling for attention with star-laden and high-concept programs while existing services crank out more shows to keep customers. Netflix, estimated to spend up to an astounding $15 billion this year on programming, will field some 30 contenders between now and November.
While Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once famously boasted that his service's true competition is sleep, time is finite for all and money limited for most. According to the latest findings from research firm Magid, consumers are willing to subscribe to an average of four streaming services and pay an average of $42 for them — an increase in the average $38 that people told Magid they were OK with spending in 2018, but a drop from the average of six services they were willing to pop for last year.
To aid your media battle plan, here's a selection of new shows coming your way, along with notable series returns. The services range from free over-the-air commercial and public TV networks (after $25 or so for a basic digital antenna) to the more-indulgent cable and streaming choices.
— "mixed-ish," ABC, Sept. 24. Rainbow "Bow" Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross' character in "black-ish,"is a preteen fish-out-of-water in this prequel about growing up as the mixed-ethnicity child of hippies and a transplant to suburbia. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tika Sumpter are her parents.
— "Stumptown," ABC, Sept. 25. Based on a graphic novel series, the drama stars Cobie Smulders as a veteran with PTSD, a gambling problem and a brash approach to her private detective work. The novels' creators, including writer Greg Rucka, are among the producers.
— "Bob (Hearts) Abishola," CBS, Sept. 23. From sitcom hitmaker Chuck Lorre ("The Big Bang Theory"), an odd-couple romantic comedy about a nurse (Folake Olowofoyeku) and the former cardiac patient who pursues her (Billy Gardell).
— "Evil," CBS, Sept. 26. A crime drama from "The Good Wife" and "The Good Fight" creators Robert and Michelle King, with the roots of criminality sharing center stage with proving whodunnit. Mike Colter plays a priest in training, Katja Herbers a pragmatic detective.
— "Batwoman," CW, Oct. 6. Ruby Rose plays the title character, a Caped Crusader on new ground: She is openly lesbian, a rarity for a TV superhero. Batwoman is put to the test in a crime-wracked Gotham City, with her dad (Dougray Scott) maybe on her side.
— "Nancy Drew," CW, Oct. 9. The enduring sleuth of book and 1970s TV fame is back and grown up in the series that promises supernatural overtones, a hint of horror and a love life for Nancy, played by Kennedy McMann.
— "Almost Family," Fox, Oct. 2. A fertility doctor's (Timothy Hutton) unethical actions upend three women's lives in this drama produced by Jason Katims ("Friday Night Lights") and Annie Weisman ("About a Boy"). Brittany Snow, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Emily Osment star.
— "Bless the Harts," Fox, Sept. 29. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell and Ike Barinholtz are the voice cast for this animated comedy about a Southern family that's financially challenged but with a wealth of friends and good humor.
— "Bluff City Law," NBC, Sept. 23. Jimmy Smits builds on his legal resume ("L.A. Law") with the role of Elijah Strait, head of a famed Memphis, Tennessee, law firm that fights for social justice. Caitlin McGee co-stars as Strait's estranged daughter and reluctant partner.
— "Perfect Harmony," NBC, Sept. 26. Bradley Whitford plays a former Ivy League college music professor who finds his new calling as director of a small-town church choir that needs a tune-up in music and life.
— "Country Music," PBS, Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25. Ken Burns' new opus, an eight-part, 16-hour history that starts with the earliest recordings of country music and follows its evolution through famed artists including Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks.
Returning: the final seasons of "Modern Family," ABC, Sept. 25; the Ted Danson-Kristen Bell comedy "The Good Place," NBC, Sept. 26; Viola Davis' "How to Get Away with Murder," ABC, Sept. 26; "Madam Secretary," CBS, Oct. 6, with Tea Leoni elevated to president; CW's long-running mainstay "Supernatural," Oct. 10; "Poldark," Sept. 29, on PBS' "Masterpiece."
— "A Very Brady Renovation," HGTV, Sept. 9. Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams and the rest of "The Brady Bunch" siblings join forces with HGTV stars including Jonathan and Drew Scott for a makeover on the house used for exterior shots in the 1969-74 sitcom.
"Patsy & Loretta," Lifetime, Oct. 19. Broadway stars Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller play country music greats Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn in a TV movie about their friendship and the challenges they helped each other face.
"The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park," AMC and Sundance TV, Nov. 13-15. The docu-series revisits the 1986 killing of Jennifer Levin by prep school student Robert Chambers, promising new scrutiny of evidence and how gender and status affected the crime's perception.
Returning: "The Walking Dead," AMC, Oct. 6, with newcomers, familiar faces and an expected farewell to Danai Gurira's character, Michonne.
— "Godfather of Harlem," Epix, Sept. 29. Whitaker is a producer as well as lead of the drama series about New York crime boss Bumpy Johnson and his 1960s post-prison life, when trouble is afoot in his community.
— "His Dark Materials," HBO, date to be announced. James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Dafne Keen join Miranda (of "Hamilton" fame) in this series adapted from Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels about an effort to unravel a plot against children.
— "Watchmen," HBO, Oct. 20. Damon Lindelof ("Lost," ''The Leftovers") is an executive producer for this drama series inspired by the graphic novel and with a starry cast including Regina King, Jeremy Irons and Louis Gossett Jr.
— "Back to Life," Showtime, Oct. 6. Miri is out of prison and back home in her small town after 18 years in this British comedy starring Daisy Haggard and from "Fleabag" producers Harry and Jack Williams.
— "The L Word: Generation Q," Showtime, Dec. 8. Jennifer Beals is back for this sequel to "The L Word," joined by new cast members including Arienne Mandi and Leo Sheng in an updated look at LGBTQ lives and loves.
— "Taken Down," Acorn TV, Sept. 16. A Nigerian girl from a Dublin center for asylum-seekers is murdered, with the investigation complicated by refugees' fears of deportation and trauma. Lynn Rafferty and Brian Gleeson star.
— "Modern Love," Amazon, Oct. 18. The eponymous New York Times newspaper column inspired this romantic comedy anthology, with Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Tina Fey, Brandon Victor Dixon and Catherine Keener in the cast.
— "Undone," Amazon, Sept. 13. From "BoJack Horseman" creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and writer-producer Kate Purdy, an animated drama starring Rosa Salazar as a troubled woman and Bob Odenkirk as her late dad.
— "The Morning Show," Apple TV Plus, date to be announced. Steve Carell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Billy Crudup join Aniston and Witherspoon in a behind-the-scenes look at fictional players in the competitive morning broadcast realm.
— "See," Apple TV Plus, date to be announced. A futuristic drama about a world left sightless and with its population diminished by a virus. Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard are the stars.
— "The Victim," Britbox, Sept. 10. A four-part miniseries with Kelly Macdonald as a mom who loses her young son to violence and, years later, faces the consequences of her bid for justice.
— "The Mandalorian," Disney Plus, Nov. 12. Pedro Pascal, Ming-Na Wen and Carl Weathers are among the stars of this "Star Wars" series that takes place after the fall of the Empire.
— "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," Disney Plus, Nov. 12. There's a new cast in this new take on the popular Disney Channel franchise, as students prep their campus' first production of "High School Musical."
— "Looking for Alaska," Hulu, Oct. 18. An eight-episode limited series based on John Green's 2005 novel of the same name, with Kristine Froseth and Charlie Plummer starring in a tale of young love and friendship.
— "The Politician," Netflix, Sept. 27. Producer Ryan Murphy turns his cynical eye on politics, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange and Bette Midler along for the ride. Payton (Ben Platt) is running for high school president, with the White House his ultimate goal.
— "Rhythm + Flow," Netflix, Oct. 9. A hip-hop competition series led by Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Tip "T.I." Harris, with John Legend among its producers and with talent searches in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago.
— "Living with Yourself," Netflix, Oct. 18. A comedy starring Paul Rudd as a man who's beside himself when he's duplicated in an unorthodox spa treatment, but made better, and sees the copy take over his life.
Returning: Netflix's "The Crown" returns Nov. 17, with Olivia Colman taking over for Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth; the musical finale to Amazon's groundbreaking transgender drama "Transparent," Sept. 27; "Doc Martin" starring Martin Clunes on Acorn TV after the comedy's two-year break, date to be announced.
Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .
This story has been corrected to show the proper spelling of Forest Whitaker's first name.