The pandemic may not be over but TV production has resumed to the point that this fall’s TV season — with new shows coming to broadcast, cable and streaming services — will look more familiar than fall 2020’s cobbled-together lineup.
Indeed, given the number of reboots, remakes and continuations, the “new” series debuting this fall will look exceedingly familiar for better (for the networks marketing them) and for worse (for viewers seeking originality).
Programs with local ties
New episodes of TruTV’s “Tacoma FD” (10 p.m. Thursday) began airing this week, following the fictional firefighters of Tacoma’s Station 24 in the show’s third season, filmed in the Los Angeles area.
CBS’ “Survivor” (8 p.m. Wednesday, beginning Sept. 22) returns for its 41st season with 31-year-old Ricard Foyé, who grew up in Lynnwood and now resides in Sedro-Woolley with his husband and their two children, competing.
Mike Flanagan, creator of “The Haunting of Hill House,” delivers another spooky Netflix entry with “Midnight Mass” (Sept. 24), the story of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford, “Friday Night Lights”), a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater) and a string of seemingly miraculous events on a Pacific Northwest island. The show filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Netflix’s upcoming 10-episode “Maid” (Oct. 1) offers a Puget Sound hat trick: The series, like The New York Times bestselling memoir by Stephanie Land it’s based on, is set in the Seattle area, though it filmed in Victoria, B.C. Seattle native Nick Robinson is one of the stars of this story of a single mother (Margaret Qualley) who turns to housecleaning to make ends meet as she escapes an abusive relationship (Robinson plays against type as the abuser). Billy Burke, a Bellingham native, also plays a role in the series.
Actor Devan Chandler Long (“Doom Patrol”) from Anacortes plays one of several spirits haunting an old mansion in CBS’s high-concept comedy “Ghosts” (9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7), based on a British series of the same name.
Seattle native Constance Zimmer (“UnReal”) joins the cast of “Condor” (9 p.m. Nov. 7), formerly on DirecTV’s now-defunct Audience Network and now on premium cable network Epix. Zimmer plays an FBI agent embedded in the CIA. The series, based on the book “Six Days of the Condor” and the film “Three Days of the Condor,” follows a CIA analyst (Max Irons) who stumbles onto a plot that threatens the lives of millions.
Of the 15 new series debuting on broadcast networks this fall, eight are based on what Hollywood movers and shakers call “existing IP” (aka intellectual property, aka a title you likely know).
CBS invests most heavily in retreads, including “CSI: Vegas” (10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6), reuniting cast members William Petersen, Jorja Fox, Wallace Langham and Paul Guilfoyle of the original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Other retreads include “FBI: International” (10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21), with a team operating out of Budapest (where the show films); and “NCIS: Hawaii” (10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20).
The CW introduces “4400” (9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25), a new version of “The 4400” (2004-07, USA Network), and offers an updated, adult version of ‘90s Nickelodeon hit “Legends of the Hidden Temple” (8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10).
The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe series, “Hawkeye” starring Jeremy Renner, comes to Disney+ on Nov. 24.
Syfy revisits two horror franchises with a “Chucky” series (10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12) and a “Day of the Living Dead” series (10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15). Amazon remakes “I Know What You Did Last Summer” as a series (Oct. 15).
Paramount+ reboots the former CW and BET comedy series “The Game” (Nov. 11).
Lifetime starts down a new “Highway to Heaven” (8 p.m. Nov. 6) with the first in a series of TV movies starring Jill Scott as the angel and Barry Watson (“7th Heaven”) as the angel’s human helper.
“My grandmother thought Michael Landon was fine, OK?” Scott said referring to the star of the original 1984-89 NBC series, during a Lifetime news conference as part of the summer 2021 virtual Television Critics Association summer press tour. “Every time we watched ‘Little House on the Prairie’ — which we did faithfully — or we watched ‘Highway to Heaven,’ she would always say the same thing: ‘Look at him, just look at him.’ We loved him in our house.”
Showtime’s “Dexter” ended in 2013 not with a bang but a whimper as serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) became an Oregon lumberjack, and that was not OK with viewers, Showtime executives or Hall.
“The way the series proper ended has a great deal to do with why we’re revisiting the show and the character,” Hall said during a recent TCA news conference. “A lot of what was mystifying or dissatisfying to people is a lot of what creates the appetite that we’re hopefully satisfying now.”
In “Dexter: New Blood” (9 p.m. Nov. 7), the killer is living in a small upstate New York town — and he’s restrained himself from taking any lives.
Not all reboots are created equal.
ABC’s “The Wonder Years” (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22) delivers a new take on the 1980s hit dramedy that actually has something new to say by centering this redo on a Black family in Montgomery, Alabama.
Fox goes the aspirational, meta route with “The Big Leap” (9 p.m. Tuesdays, Sept. 21), a scripted series about adults who audition to become part of a dance company on a fictional Fox reality competition series that culminates in a live production of “Swan Lake.” Set aside the unlikelihood of Fox ever airing ballet, and “Big Leap” delivers some entertaining dance numbers in its likable pilot episode that improves as it goes.
ABC’s “Queens” (10 p.m. Tuesday. Oct. 19) also starts rough — the plot is basically a dramatic version of Peacock’s “Girls5eva” about a hip-hop girl group reuniting 20 years later. But over the course of that first hour the characters come into better focus and “Queens” shows soapy promise.
Writer Danny Strong (“Recount,” “Game Change”) delivers another excellent dramatic expose with “Dopesick” (Oct. 13, Hulu), a character-driven history of America’s opioid crisis starring Michael Keaton.
Netflix and director Ava DuVernay explore the high school years of future NFL player and social justice advocate Colin Kaepernick in the six-part scripted series “Colin in Black and White” (Oct. 29).
Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novel “Foundation” becomes an Apple TV+ series (Sept. 24) starring Jared Harris (“Mad Men”) and Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”) in the story of an attempt to preserve the future of civilization from impending calamity.
Ken Burns’ latest PBS opus, “Muhammad Ali” (8 p.m. Sept. 19-22), offers a portrait of the three-time heavyweight boxing champion.
KCTS-TV presents the 68-episode import “The Rebel Princess” in Chinese with English subtitles (11 p.m. weekdays, Nov. 1) starring Zhang Ziyi as a princess who defies expectations.
For young viewers, PBS debuts “Alma’s Way” (8:30 a.m. weekdays, Oct. 4), created by former “Sesame Street” cast member and writer Sonia Manzano, about a confident Puerto Rican girl and her life with family and friends in the Bronx.
Several series delayed by COVID-19 finally return this fall, most notably HBO’s buzzy “Succession” (Oct. 17), which finds Logan Roy (Brian Cox) battling son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) after Kendall’s betrayal at the end of Season 2.
Amazon’s “Goliath,” starring Billy Bob Thornton, returns for its fourth and final season on Sept. 24.
National Geographic Channel’s first “The Hot Zone” miniseries in 2019 was the network’s most-watched scripted series ever. A second edition, “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” (9 p.m. Nov. 28), follows new characters tracking down who sent letters laced with anthrax in the weeks after 9/11.
For Hallmark fans, the latest “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” movie debuts at 9 p.m. Oct. 17 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (the last one premiered back in 2018).
At PBS, delayed seasons of several drama favorites arrive, including “Call the Midwife” (8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3-Nov. 21), “Grantchester” (9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3-Nov. 21) and “Baptiste” (10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17-Nov. 21).
This story has been updated with the correct filming location of “Maid.”