Let us be your (TV) guide…
The chilly winds of autumn have officially blown in darker nights and yet another school year,
but the turn of the season only means one thing for TV bingers: cozy nights spent in front of the telly.
Perhaps more so than any other year in recent memory, the 2017-18 season is chock-full of potential, with shows ranging from period dramas (see: The Crown) to returning TV juggernauts in the vein of The Walking Dead. Put simply, there’s something for everyone, and as this so-called Golden Age of television continues to attract big-name Hollywood stars, networks are about to broadcast some truly top-tier content.
But with so many channels clamouring for your attention, it’s often difficult to find a drama that enthrals quite like Breaking Bad—or thrills like The Sopranos, or The Wire, or any other series from the past 10 years that has now entered TV’s gilded pantheon.
Don’t fret, though, for we’ve whittled down a list of recommendations for your viewing pleasure. From the nostalgic joy of Stranger Things season 2 to the visual spectacular that is Blue Planet II, LifeSearch’s TV guide for Autumn 2017 runs the gamut to ensure all bases are covered.
And let’s face it: no one has enough spare time to binge through every notable TV series on the airwaves. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Sky Atlantic, 26th September
Kicking things off with a potential cracker, HBO’s 1970s-era porn drama The Deuce whisks viewers off to New York City to explore the early days of the porn industry. Hatched by The Wire’s David Simon and George Pelecanos, this is a series teeming with A-list talent, and stars Hollywood veteran Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy, a Times Square sex worker mesmerised by the idea of fledgling dirty movies. By her side are two—yes, two— James Francos, with The Deuce placing Franco in the dual role of Vincent and Frankie Martino.
Similar to Game of Thrones and Westworld before it, The Deuce doesn’t shy away from nudity, which shouldn’t be all that surprising given the delicate subject matter at hand. But rather than being egregious, HBO’s freshman drama leans on those adult elements to sink its teeth into complex, meaty themes.
Star Trek: Discovery
Netflix, 25th September
Federation Starship U.S.S. Discovery is bound for the small screen.
For the first time since Enterprise beamed off the airwaves in 2005, Star Trek is headed to television in the form of CBS’ rebooted Star Trek: Discovery. Set ten years before the adventures of Kirk and Spock, its fantastical story will be told through the eyes of First Officer Michael Burnham (The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green), and Discovery looks to bring cinema-quality visual effects and spectacle to the small screen.
Trekkies can also look forward to the advent of the Klingon Empire, a mainstay of the Star Trek franchise since its inception, whose leader T’Kuvma wages war against the United Federation of Planets.
Emerging from a troubled spell in production, Star Trek: Discovery is a tale that grew in the telling, and its first season now spans 15 episodes in total. Divided into two blocks, the first lot of eight will air weekly from September through until 6th November. And after that? Netflix will premiere the remaining seven in 2018. But can Star Trek: Discovery boldly go where no one has gone before?
Channel 4, Sundays at 9pm
Channel 4 may have lost Black Mirror to Netflix, but the broadcaster has filled that slot with an equally intriguing sci-fi anthology series. Its name? Electric Dreams, and it’s already begun.
Inspired by the works of genre giant Phillip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), this is a series that manages to achieve what all great science fiction sets out to do: to present a timely and indeed prescient piece of fiction that subtly taps into the zeitgeist.
Take Sunday’s opener as an example. Entitled “The Hood Maker,” Electric Dreams kicked things off with a parable on human society, one in which the tentative coexistence between humans and teeps, mutant telepaths able to access their thoughts, crumbled. Weaving themes of state surveillance, human rights, prejudice and civil liberties into its water-tight story, Channel 4’s anthology series is already off to a flyer.
And when you consider that future episodes star such big-name actors as Bryan Cranston (!), Anna Paquin, Greg Kinnear, Juno Temple, Janelle Monáe, Julia Davis and Steve Buscemi, the remaining nine episodes of Electric Dreams are bursting at the seams with sci-fi potential.
Netflix, October 13th
From Zodiac to Seven to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher has always held a particular fascination with serial killers, and his latest creative effort takes that career fixation to an entirely new level.
We are, of course, referring to Mindhunter, the Netflix original series in which Fincher toys with the idea of meeting convicted killers face-to-face and asking the unspeakable: just what’s going on behind those demented eyes?
Lifted from the pages of Mind Hunter: Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, Mindhunter stars Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as Holden Ford and Bill Tench, respectively, two agents operating within the Behavioural Science Unit in 1979. Their mission is to essentially understand how criminals think, and apply that logic to unsolved cases. And after Making a Murderer gripped the Internet two years ago, we can only imagine how TV bingers will react to David Fincher’s latest.
Mindhunter settles into Netflix on October 13th, and it may just be the scariest TV show of the Halloween season.
Netflix, October 27th
Long before Pennywise and It ruled the box office, Netflix served up another sci-fi gem in the form of Stranger Things—itself inspired by Stephen King’s horror masterclass.
From humble beginnings to one of the breakout hits of 2016, Stranger Things blew past all expectations with its potent blend of science fiction, humour and good old-fashioned ‘80s nostalgia. Realising they had a sleeper hit on their hands, Netflix quickly issued the green light on season 2, which will invite subscribers back to the sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana this Halloween.
Will Byers (Noah Schnapps) may have escaped the Demogorgon–and, by effect, the Upside Down–by the skin of his teeth, but it seems the lasting effects of that warped dimension will continue to spew out all sorts of abominable monsters throughout the course of season 2’s nine-episode arc. And it’s up to the pint-sized heroes of Hawkins (Eleven included!) to save the day once more.
Can the show’s second season possibly top the first? Stranger Things have happened.
Blue Planet II
Brooding crime dramas and otherworldly creatures are all well and good, but if it’s non-fiction you’re after, look no further than Blue Planet II.
Featuring the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough and music from industry legend Hans Zimmer, the new seven-part series marks the first time the BBC has set off to document never-before-seen ocean wildlife in almost 16 years. And if last year’s mesmerising Planet Earth II was any indication, those with a taste for nature documentaries are in for quite the treat later this year.
Not only that, but radical advances in technology enabled filmmakers to capture intimate, gasp-inducing shots of sky-scraping mountains and uncharted islands, so we can’t wait until Blue Planet II plunges into the world’s deepest and darkest oceans.
It’ll air via BBC One sometime before the year’s end.
As for the returning mainstays/honorable mentions, The Walking Dead season 8 promises to bring “all-out war” to AMC’s apocalyptic flagship on October 22nd, while Black Mirror is back, back, back with six dark realities later this year. Finally, if it’s more Larry David you’re after, Curb Your Enthusiasm is returning for its ninth season on October 1st.