“Hand of God” (Amazon) – Friday, September 4
What is it? Ron Perlman plays a corrupt judge who believes he can hear the voice of God after his son’s suicide attempt. He starts a crusade to find the man who raped his son’s wife, employing methods both lawful and otherwise, all in God’s name.
I’ll like it if I like… dark TV shows with morally questionable leads; think “A Gifted Man” crossed with “The Leftovers.”
Why should I care? The latest Amazon series got off to a strong start in its premiere episode. We ranked it as the best of their third pilot season, ahead of “The Cosmopolitans” and “Red Oaks” (the later of which is also on this list), in part because of its phenomenal cast. Perlman is perfect in the lead role, and his supporting players — from Garrett Dillahunt to Dana Delany — add relevance to the show in a big way. Throw in the delightfully addictive central plot of whether or not Judge Pernall Harris is a prophet or insane, and you’ve got yourself a series with infinite possibilities.
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS) – Tuesday, September 8
What is it? After nearly a decade of playing a character, Stephen Colbert is going to be himself in a talk show setting. What that means, who knows? Except hopefully it’ll be as smart and funny as “The Colbert Report.”
I’ll like it if I like… well, Stephen Colbert. Talk shows, after all, are largely driven by their hosts, and so if the glimpses we’ve gotten of Colbert’s real personality are any clue, he should be interesting to watch.
Why should I care? CBS seems like it’s taking a bit more of an old-school approach to its late night lineup, but before suiting up for Comedy Central, Colbert was part of the chaotic and crazy Chicago improv scene. So really, anything might be possible.
“Project Greenlight” (HBO) – Sunday, September 13
What is it? A documentary series you may remember from its first run in the aughts, “Project Greenlight” focuses on how first time filmmakers handle the challenges of directing a feature film.
I’ll like it if I like… Independent film, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and/or reality TV.
Why should I care? Normally, Indiewire steers clear of reality TV, but we had to make an exception for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s new effort to find the next great filmmaker. It’s been a decade since Season 3 ended, and plenty has changed in the film world during that time. How the new season — a new show, really — incorporates the adoption of digital filmmaking and other new technology into the competition will be mighty intriguing.
“Moonbeam City” (Comedy Central) – Wednesday, September 16
What is it? An adult animated series paying homage to the neon lit and sex-crazed culture of the 1980s, “Moonbeam City” follows Detective Dazzle Novak (Rob Lowe) as he protects his city from arch-rival Rad Cunningham (Will Forte) with the help of Chief Pizzaz Miller (Elizabeth Banks).
I’ll like it if I like… “Axe Cop,” “The Venture Bros.,” and/or “Miami Vice” spoofs.
Why should I care? With that cast, how could you not? Even if Rob Lowe and Elizabeth Banks aren’t enough to hook you right off the bat, the trailer showcases a unique animation style sure to add much-needed artistic beauty to your HDTV.
“Limitless” (CBS) – Tuesday, September 22
What is it? Remember that 2011 Bradley Cooper movie, about an ordinary guy who takes a magic pill that makes him super-duper intelligent? Well, this series continues the events of the film, featuring a new ordinary guy (Jake McDorman) who becomes extraordinary… and then uses his extraordinary abilities to help the FBI solve crimes. (It is CBS, after all.)
I’ll like it if I like… Bet you think we’re going to say the original movie, huh? Wrong! Instead, this is one to check out if you’re a fan of another more-than-solid CBS procedural, “Elementary.” Not only is “Limitless” being run by “Elementary” producer Craig Sweeny, it follows in that model, tempering its more procedural elements with a healthy dose of strong character work and weirdness.
Why should I care? At a recent press event, we got to see some of what Sweeny has planned for the series, and there’s a lot of promise, including an serialized narrative on top of the case-of-the-week storytelling and Bradley Cooper making appearances as a recurring, and potentially menacing, figure. Plus, McDorman is an engaging lead. “Limitless” may not be essential viewing, but it looks fun.
“The Muppets” (ABC) – Tuesday, September 22
What is it? MUPPETS MUPPETS MUPPETS MUPPETS MUPPETS MUPPETS
I’ll like it if I like… MUPPETS
Why should I care? MUPPETS MUPPETS MUPPETS— Okay, okay. A few more details: The return of the Muppets to ABC comes in the form of a mockumentary-style sitcom about the making of a late night talk show, hosted by Miss Piggy. While still ostensibly family programming, there is promise of some adult-skewing humor. And also DID WE MENTION THERE ARE MUPPETS???
“Scream Queens” (Fox) – Tuesday, September 22
What is it? A college campus is under attack from an unknown killer in Ryan Murphy’s latest anthology series, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin.
I’ll like it if I like… the humor of “Glee” combined with the horror of “American Horror Story.”
Why should I care? Broadcast television has been trying to replicate the success cable networks have had with anthology series, and they’re bringing in a big gun for one more try. Ryan Murphy has positive experience in all three areas with “Glee” — a serialized Fox comedy — and “American Horror Story,” a long-running, award-winning anthology show. In addition to the power producer, stars Emma Roberts and Lea Michele should draw in a younger demo and Jamie Lee Curtis adds an alluring meta element to the horror show. On the surface it appears no matter what you like, “Scream Queens” has something to offer.
“Quantico” (ABC) – Tuesday, September 22
What is it? FBI recruits are on the run after a devastating terrorist attack wipes out the bureau’s NYC headquarters, and veteran officials suspect someone in the new crew was behind it.
I’ll like it if I like… “Homeland” meets “The Blacklist,” with a heavy dose of nighttime soaps.
Why should I care? “Quantico” stems from the mind of Joshua Safran, a writer and producer formerly of “Gossip Girl” and “Smash”; two shows you may not expect to precede the creation of an action thriller about New York’s most devastating terrorist attack since 9/11. Yet an intriguing mix of romance, secrets and secret romances combine smoothly with the action elements of the story. Plus, lead actress Priyanka Chopra helps facilitate the transitions with an instantly alluring presence. Lots could go wrong with “Quantico,” but it’s an ambitious move to mash up these genres. And we like ambition.
“Heroes Reborn” (NBC) – Thursday, September 24
What is it? What Is Dead May Never Die. Or, put it another way, remember that NBC series “Heroes” from 2006-2010 that always kind of felt like an “X-Men” rip-off? Well, it’s coming back as a limited series, with some returning cast members but a significant time jump and some dark story elements that could play well.
I’ll like it if I like… dark superhero movies. Which is basically all superhero movies these days, sure, but “Heroes Reborn” seems especially likely to skew in a Nolan-ish direction.
Why should I care? Even if you weren’t a “Heroes” super-fan when it was first airing, it’ll be interesting to see a grounded take on this genre. If that doesn’t convince you, “Reborn” is one of six series that TIFF picked to include in its inaugural television lineup. It’s festival-worthy! That means something, right?
“The Grinder” (Fox) – Monday, September 28
What is it? A charismatic TV lawyer returns home to help the family practice as an actual attorney.
I’ll like it if I like… Chris Traeger from “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” light meta comedy and classic sitcoms.
Why should I care? Courtroom dramas have been effective sources of heated debates and climactic reveals since the early days of television. Of course, very few of these juicy and entertaining elements are based on reality. Enter “The Grinder,” a show hellbent on exposing the differences between fiction and reality. Representing the former is Rob Lowe, an actor whose popular legal drama just ended, leaving him adrift. Meanwhile, his uptight brother has been slaving away as an actual lawyer and could use a few pointers on his poise in the courtroom. Sounds like just cause to watch on our end.
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central) – Monday, September 28
What is it? Remember that show with Jon Stewart? You’d randomly watch it at night before you went to bed, or in the morning as clips online? It’s that same show, but with a different host. So…it’s totally different.
I’ll like it if I like… “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” but wished he was younger and discussed race relations more often.
Why should I care? When Jon Stewart stepped down, everyone took note: It was a momentous decision not only for the man himself, but for everyone who came to rely on his half-hour blend of news and comedy for their update on world affairs. Now, that audience is expected to adopt a new leader, one who wasn’t democratically elected but appointed from on high. Trevor Noah gets his first shot at earning their trust on September 28. You better believe they’ll be watching, and he better hope they tune in again on the 29th.
“Casual” (Hulu) – Wednesday, October 7
What is it? Written by Zander Lehmann and directed by Jason Reitman, this Hulu series about the complications of modern love has a unique twist: It’s about a brother and sister who are best friends and whose search for love is aided and abetted by the fact that the brother runs an internet dating company.
I’ll like it if I like… “Louie,” “You’re The Worst” and other relationship comedies that verge into dramedy territory at times.
Why should I care? Reitman’s had a couple of set-backs lately, but there’s no denying that he’s directed some really wonderful films, and if Lehmann’s scripts prove strong enough, this could make for an enjoyable sleeper hit.
“Red Oaks” (Amazon) – Friday, October 9
What is it? A coming-of-age story set at a country club in the ’80s, “Red Oaks” focuses on young David (Craig Roberts) and his adventures as a tennis instructor during one fateful summer.
I’ll like it if I like… “Caddyshack,” “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Eastbound and Down,” “Prince Avalanche”…
Why should I care? With David Gordon Green directing the pilot and Steven Soderbergh attached as an executive producer, “Red Oaks” could be a worthy comedic follow-up to “Transparent” at Amazon (and it may actually be funny). It helps the cast is made up of talented youngsters (Craig Roberts from “Neighbors” and “22 Jump Street,” Oliver Cooper from “Californication”) as well as veteran favorites like Paul Reiser, Richard Kind and Jennifer Grey. The pilot was enticing in a nostalgic sort of way, lulling viewers into a sense of deep relaxation upon entering the upper class world of a country club through the eyes of a scrappy kid. If the tone holds up, it could make for ideal bingeing.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW) – Monday, October 12
What is it? A Showtime pilot rejiggered for network television with (according to the producers) not too much effort, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” stars Rachel Bloom as a somewhat unbalanced young woman who moves to West Covina, CA to chase a long-lost love. Oh, and as you can see above, it’s a musical.
I’ll like it if I like… musicals that have swear words in them.
Why should I care? Tired of seeing the same ol’ thing, over and over again, on television? Well, here you go; ain’t nothing like this. Bloom is a self-made viral video star with tons of smarts and charm, and the CW is pairing it with “Jane the Virgin” on Mondays, making for a night of quirky lady-focused comedy. That’s more than a little neat.
“Ash Vs. Evil Dead” (Starz) – Saturday, October 31
What is it? Bruce Campbell’s Ash is back in action. After years of getting soft by living a day-to-day life free of threats on his life, the best deadite killer alive must wield the boomstick once more.
I’ll like it if I like… “Army of Darkness,” “Evil Dead II” and “Evil Dead” (in that order), but not the remake of “Evil Dead.”
Why should I care? Well, the original writer and director of “Evil Dead,” Sam Raimi, is on board as an executive producer, for one thing. He directed the pilot, for another. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Bruce Campbell blast zombies bloody on a weekly basis? It’s a half-hour version of the fun, schlocky but expertly-crafted horror you’ve come to know and love either from this franchise or the others that stem from it.
“Master of None” (Netflix) – Friday, November 6
What is it? Aziz Ansari partners with “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur for a Netflix comedy about a 30-year-old actor in New York who, like many millenials, struggles with decision-making both small (where to eat lunch) and big (life itself).
I’ll like it if I like… Tom Haverford from “Parks and Recreation” starring in his own episode of “Chef’s Table,” with some romance on the side. (Or maybe you just really like/identity with Aziz Ansari.)
Why should I care? Ansari is the one to watch here. While it’s encouraging to see him alongside a strong roster of supporting players (H. Jon Benjamin co-stars on the show, and Michael Schur is an executive producer along with EPs from “Louie” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Ansari is a talent waiting to explode. His stand-up is insanely popular, and his innovative techniques on stage — asking audience members to volunteer for relationship therapy via live text message readings — led to a unique sociology book about love in the digital age (“Modern Romance”). Whether he can reign in all his interests for a compelling half-hour of TV is yet to be proven, but you better believe we’ll be tuning in to find out
“Flesh and Bone” (Starz) – Sunday, November 8
What is it? “‘Black Swan’ But Slightly Less Crazy,” or “‘Center Stage’ Broke Bad”: A drama about the behind-the-scenes of a very competitive ballet company, created by award-winning “Breaking Bad” writer/producer Moira Walley-Beckett. (She’s the credited writer on “Ozymandius,” y’all.)
I’ll like it if I like… the mental image of Walter White in pointe shoes? We kid. Sorta.
Why should I care? The key to great drama isn’t the setting; it’s what the setting enables. So even if ballet’s not really your thing, just watch the trailer above. Shit looks like it’s going to get real.
READ MORE: Review: ‘Public Morals’ Takes a Familiar World and Makes It Addictively Fresh
“Into the Badlands” (AMC) – Sunday, November 15
What is it? Maybe the most bonkers show on this list. A martial arts series set in a wholy-original post-apocalyptic feudal society, starring Daniel Wu, and full of hardcore wuxia action.
I’ll like it if I like… Well, at the TCAs, AMC didn’t have screeners, but did give critics DVDs of the following films: “Yojimbo,” “Harikiri” and the “Once Upon a Time In China” trilogy. So take that how you might.
Why should I care? We don’t know if this show will be great, but at this point we’re confident saying that it will not be boring.
“Man in the High Castle” (Amazon) – Friday, November 20
What is it? Based on the Philip K. Dick novel, this Amazon series is set in an alternate universe where the Axis won World War II, and America now lives under the rule of Germany and Japan.
I’ll like it if I like… Well, running the show is Frank Spotnitz, who learned his craft as a key producer on “The X-Files.” And the book is considered a classic. So if you like your sci-fi smart and dark, you may be in luck here.
Why should I care? “High Castle” was our favorite of the January Amazon pilots, and did we mention that Spotnitz worked on “The X-Files”? Well, if you’re on the fence, then maybe go to Amazon yourself and check out the pilot. Odds are, you’ll be joining us in eager anticipation.
“The Expanse” (SyFy) – Monday, December 14
What is it? Based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey, “The Expanse” takes us to the future: Specifically, Mars, the asteroid belt beyond Mars and an Earth looking to maintain control over its outermost colonies.
I’ll like it if I like… “Battlestar Galactica” and any of the other hard sci-fi series that Syfy used to produce back when it was called the Sci-Fi Channel.
Why should I care? Well, beyond the fact it stars Thomas Jane, Jonathan Banks, Jared Harris and Shohreh Aghdashloo, it’s genuinely exciting to see Syfy returning to its roots and make something smart and interesting for genre fans. This is no “Ghost Hunters.” And it might end up being one of the best surprises of the fall.
“Marvel’s Jessica Jones” (Netflix) – TBD 2015
What is it? The next big Marvel/Netflix series stars Krysten Ritter (“Breaking Bad,” “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23”) as an ex-superhero turned private detective who copes with the PTSD of her former life by drinking and brawling her way around New York.
I’ll like it if I like… the idea of a “Daredevil”/”Don’t Trust the B” mash-up. (And face it, you kinda LOVE that idea.)
Why should I care? According to executive producer Jeph Loeb, “Jessica Jones” is a psychological thriller driven in part by Jessica’s complicated relationship with a villain known primarily as Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, and the cast also includes Carrie-Anne Moss, Mike Colter and Rachael Taylor. It’s the next big play in the epic Marvel Cinematic Universe this year, but also promises to be a grounded and intimate character study. We can’t wait.
This feature originally ran on August 28. It has since been updated with additional information, including relevant links to interviews, reviews and features.