Before you know it, the fall TV season will be here, so we’ve pulled together some shows you should catch up on right now — including some long-runs that you’ll want to start immediately. Plus, August welcomes select Fresh titles to streaming and home video that you might want to add to your queue this month!
What it is: A group of unrelated, ordinary people develop superhuman abilities and need to learn how to master their newly found powers and protect themselves against a mysterious organization and other superhumans (including Zachary Quinto in his first big role as the villain Sylar). The series is divided into five “volumes,” each one with a different story arc similar to a comic book.
Why you should watch it: Heroes‘ first season got a tremendously positive critical reaction, and pleased audiences with a mix of great storytelling and very likeable characters. Its 40-minute episodes are filled with fast-paced action, mystery, sci-fi, comedy, and more reflective moments that deal with issues of purpose, tolerance, and self-acceptance. “Volume One: Genesis” is far more interesting and consistent than the rest of the show, so if you don’t have the time to commit to all of it, those first 16 hours are a good way to see if it’s for you. It should also be enough to educate you on the returning characters of Heroes Reborn, premiering September on NBC.
Commitment: 55 hours.
What it is: A brilliant surgeon (Clive Owen) struggles to uphold the reputation of the famed Knickerbocker Hospital during the early 1900s while battling a narcotics addiction and, after a prominent black surgeon (Andre Holland) is hired, his own prevailing notions of race.
Why you should watch it: Unflinchingly graphic with a keen eye for period-specific detail, The Knick transports viewers to a time when a hospital visit was often something to be feared. Performances across the board are top-notch, and with Steven Soderbergh behind the camera, the series sports a crisp, finely tuned aesthetic. With season one hitting DVD and Blu-ray on August 11, you’ll have plenty of time to consume all ten episodes before season two premieres this fall.
Where to watch: All of season one is currently available to Cinemax subscribers on MaxGo, and you can also pick it up on home video August 11.
Commitment: 8.5 hours.
What it is: A dramatic anthology series, portraying a single murder and the pain and change it inflicts upon those affected.
Why you should watch it: 2015 Emmy nominees Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Richard Cabral, and Regina King lend themselves to a provocative drama that is more entangled around the lives of those touched by the crime than the mystery behind it. The series is also nominated in the Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Writing categories. This is a show that never lets up as an intense, expertly played character drama.
Commitment: 8 hours.
What it is: Set three years after two percent of the population mysteriously disappears, The Leftovers looks at the aftermath as it effects the residents of the small town of Mapleton, NY.
Why you should watch it: For those viewers of who loved the mystery of Lost, co-creator Damon Lindelof again brings a large group of people together whose connections are slowly revealed, even if the overarching mystery remains clouded. The show features a breakout performance from Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), as well as a stand-up cast including Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Ann Dowd, and Justin Theroux (who cries a lot, and who doesn’t love a healthy dose of man tears?). Added to the mix is Max Richter’s haunting score, which takes the melodrama and ramps it up to eleven.
Commitment: 10 hours.
What it is: The series chronicles the adventures of the “Doctor,” an alien called a Time Lord, a race that looks just like humans (though the Doctor says it’s the other way around). The Doctor uses a vehicle called the TARDIS, short for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, that looks like a 1960s-era London police box — although it’s much bigger on the inside. Nearly all of the Time Lords were destroyed in the Great Time War, so the Doctor is the only one that he knows of, and he has basically appointed himself humanity’s protector.
Why you should watch it: With the latest regeneration of the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), you get a semi-reset that allows new viewers to jump into the action. Capaldi has been praised for his rendition of the 12th Doctor, and with the new season set to debut on September 19 on BBC America, now is the perfect time to get caught up.
Commitment: Time is wibbly-wobbly, but about 12 hours.
What it is: Seinfeld creator Larry David plays a fictional version of himself as a producer, writer, and all-around difficult guy living in Los Angeles.
Why you should watch it: Through the lens of Larry David’s hyper-observant, wholly unsentimental, and utterly hilarious point of view, Curb Your Enthusiasm shines a light on the mundane details of life that drive all of us crazy — even if David is the only one who speaks up about them. With an ensemble that features Cheryl Hines, Richard Lewis, Jeff Garlin, and Susie Essman, Curb will have you at once identifying with the characters and also cringing at their actions.
Commitment: 40 hours.
What it is: A fantastical exploration of the lives of fairy tale heroes and villains as they weave in and out of a contemporary life parallel to our own. Snow White, the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin, Captain Hook, Prince Charming, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, the Snow Queen, Ursula, the Wicked Witch, Cruella De Vil, and the Dwarves all live in this world, discovering truths and lies while struggling with the battles of good and evil.
Why you should watch it: While it sometimes cannot help but feel like a commercial for Disney films, the themes suggest there is still magic in the small Maine town of Storybrooke, the home of many of the fairy tale characters we grew up with. Melodrama entwines their lives as much, if not more, than the magic of the lore, as they venture back and forth between contemporary Storybrooke and the timeless Enchanted Forest. The stories are spawned from the famous children’s stories, but the plots cater to adult themes as well, and is popcorn fun for all.
Commitment: 66 hours.
Why you should watch it: Two reasons: Sir Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi. And if you need more motivation than that, add in some Frances De La Tour, who is consistently hysterical as the homely, single, best friend. Vicious is a bit of a throwback to the classic English sitcom, but with such immensely experienced talent aboard, you will find yourself laughing at each rude insult hurled at each cast member throughout every episode.
Commitment: 3.5 hours.
What it is: Set in Los Angeles, the show follows narcissistic writer
Why you should watch it: It’s the pitch black romantic comedy we always wanted, featuring the kind of twenty-something Los Angelenos the rest of the country loves to hate. While Jimmy and Gretchen are a hoot, it’s the supporting cast that really make You’re The Worst shine. Jimmy’s PTSD-suffering roommate Edgar (Desmin Borges) keeps everyone from being completely insufferable and Gretchen’s BFF Lindsay (Kether Donahue) airy (if sometimes dimwitted) take on life keeps the show from drowning in cynicism.
Commitment: 4 hours.
What it is: After touring the country in an RV in search of others like him, a Tucson, Arizonaman (SNL alum Will Forte) who believes himself to be the only human survivor of an apocalyptic plague returns home, only to find that he may not be so alone after all.
Why you should watch it: Long known for his bizarre sketches and boneheaded characterson Saturday Night Live, Forte has succeeded in realizing — and maintaining — a novel idea and a central character blessed with a peculiar, desperate energy. The apocalyptic premise is rich with comic potential, which Forte and his talented cast mates harness frequently and effectively, and there are enough surprises along the way to keep you guessing. Since it comes back in September with season two, it’s a perfect time to catch up.
Commitment: 4.5 hours.
The president of HBO programming, Michael Lombardo, addressed reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. From making more Game of Thrones to bringing back Curb Your Enthusiasm to cancelling Looking, Lombardo covered a lot of ground. Also, is Jon Snow dead? Yes. Is Lombardo disappointed with True Detective? No. Here are the biggest HBO developments from TCA.
As Game of Thrones hunkers down to shoot season six in Belfast, the head of HBO programming shared that the show will probably go through season eight.
“‘Seven seasons and out’ has never been a part of the conversation,” Lombardo said. “The question is, how much beyond the seventh season are we going to do?” He elaborated that the fate of the series is dependent upon how long showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss want to keep going, but they are “feeling like there’s probably two more years after [season] six.”
As for the fate of Jon Snow, Lombardo said that Snow is definitely dead. “Dead is dead is dead. He be dead… [from] everything I’ve seen, heard and read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.” Of course, dead is “dead,” but does that mean dead is dead?
When asked if HBO would be interested in a Game of Thrones prequel, Lombardo told reporters that, while HBO is open to anything Benioff and Weiss want to do, they need to focus on the next few years of Thrones before planning an offshoot.
A reporter also asked Lombardo about the controversial violence in season five, which he explained was critical to the storytelling. “This show has had violence from the first episode,” Lombardo stated. “I can’t speak to any single person’s particular taste, but I think the show is phenomenal. It went to 20 million viewers this year; it went up over one million viewers from the prior season. The show continues to grow dramatically. There are no two showrunners who are more careful about not overstepping what they think the line is — and everybody has their own line.”
It’s been well established on Rotten Tomatoes that critics are far less enthusiastic about the second season of True Detective than the first– season one is Certified Fresh at 85 percent, while season two is only 65 percent. And that’s just fine by Lombardo, who defended the series, citing that it’s drawing 12 million viewers a week.
“I had been on vacation,” Lombardo said. “I came back today to see you, all and I became aware that some of you had tweeted [and] written some comments about True Detective — that you weren’t enjoying it as much as you thought you would… I think Nic [Pizzolatto] is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today.”
Lombardo also said that season two has an ending “as satisfying as any show I’ve seen,” which will air Sunday, August 9. As for season three, HBO wants to do it if Pizzolatto does. “I’ve already called him and told him if he wants to have a season three, let’s start talking.”
Curb Your Enthusiasm fans have clung to the hope that Larry David might come back to HBO for another season, despite the lack of… well, enthusiasm from its creator, Larry David. HBO chief Lombardo, however, remains optimistic after meeting with David the day his Broadway premiere for Fish In The Dark. During that encounter, David showed Lombardo a notebook and asked, “Do you know what this is? This is the ‘next season’ notebook.”
Lombardo admitted that he hasn’t heard from David since, but that he’s fairly sure that there’s more to the Curb story. “I don’t think it’s out of his system,” he said. “When he has something to say, he will come back. I certainly see this as a continuing dialogue with him — a long one, but a continuing one.”
Due to low ratings, HBO cancelled its half hour dramedy Looking in March after two seasons, but promises to finish the story with a two-hour movie. Starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett, the Looking movie will appear sometime in the first half of 2016.
“Ending that show was, on a personal level, very painful for me,” Lombardo admitted. “I thought the show, creatively, was really doing something that I hadn’t seen on any other show, particularly dealing with gay lives… As a gay man, I was very proud that there was a show that felt like it was dealing very honestly and openly with gay men and their lives, without putting them into a comedic mode.”
The movie is written and production begins this fall.
“He’s writing. I have seen pages… I think there’s something phenomenal there,” Lombardo told reporters, explaining that, in part, the delay stems from deciding what form the project should take. “I think he was figuring out the format. Is it a miniseries, a limited series, or an open-ended series? What he showed us is basically two hours worth of material… and I trust I’ll see something by the end of the year, and we’ll go from there. But I fully expect we’ll be back up here during my tenure with David Chase and a new show.”
The title A Ribbon of Dream refers to an Orson Welles quote in which he described film as ‘a ribbon of dreams,’ and is about two young men who begin working in Hollywood in 1913 and eventually cross paths with some of the silver screen’s biggest names, including D.W. Griffith, John Ford, John Wayne, Billy Wilder, and Bette Davis.