1. “The Get Down” Season 1, Part 1 (available August 12)
Why Should I Watch It? Baz Luhrmann brings his wild style to the small screen in a story inspired by the creation of hip-hop. I know, I know — you’re already in, but there’s so much more! Made from a carefully curated combination of experienced minds — including Grandmaster Flash, Nas and Nelson George — “The Get Down” chronicles how kids in Queens during the late ’70s blended disco and soul music to create what’s currently the most popular pop music genre. Oh, and did we mention it’s a love story? A handful of newcomers join respected actors like Jimmy Smits and Giancarlo Esposito for the 12-hour first season, but we’re only getting six episodes to start with. It can’t all be perfect.
Best Episode: While Luhrmann served as showrunner for the entire first season (and directed a few episodes himself), the premiere episode is a 90-minute extravaganza of Luhrmann. Pulsing with rhythm and rhymes, Luhrmann amps up the energy without losing focus or missing a single step. It’s an addictive, instant introduction to a brand new world constructed as only Luhrmann (and executive producer Catherine Martin) can manufacture. Get ready to fall in love, all over again.
2. “Rectify” Season 3 (August 1)
Why Should I Watch It? “Rectify” is an existential drama that’s as comfortable questioning our purpose as it is affirming it. Centered around an ex-con freed on DNA evidence after being held on death row for 19 years, Ray McKinnon’s Georgia-based family narrative addresses how time, experience and love (in all forms) can alter perspective. Daniel Holden’s (Aden Young) journey affects everyone he’s connected to — from his immediate family members to the Senator who prosecuted him to the attorney who’s dating his sister — and it makes you invest in the complex characters forced into unique, self-reflective circumstances. It’s an experience unlike any other on TV.
Best Episode: Season 3 saw its episode order reduced back down to six — after both McKinnon and SundanceTV executives agreed the 10-episode second season was a bit too lengthy — but that doesn’t make it any easier to choose a favorite. “Rectify” is built on moments (which makes it great for bingeing), and our favorite moment came in “The Future” (Episode 5), when Daniel, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), Jon, Janet and Jared gathered around a pool Daniel had just painted, after sabotaging it in a confused fit of anger the night prior. It’s a beautiful moment of acceptance and support, even as it could all come crashing down for each of them.
3. “Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie” (available August 1)
Why Should I Watch It? Yes, this Funny or Die special has been online for months, but this satirical interpretation of Donald Trump’s 1987 memoir/business advice combo book deserves to be seen on a bigger screen than your computer’s just as much as it needs to be discovered by anyone who thinks Johnny Depp has lost his edge. Maybe he has when it comes to choosing the majority of his projects, but this choice was pure genius — as was his hilarious depiction of Donald Trump. It’s also worth noting this was officially submitted for Emmy consideration…and got blanked. Correct this injustice by watching for every nomination “The Night Manager” got instead (that’s 12 repeat viewings).
Best Episode: It’s all one “episode” (/film), but these two moments are our favorites — and no, we can’t choose just one. They kind of go together.
4. “Louis C.K.: Live at the Comedy Store” (available August 15)
Why Should I Watch It? New episodes of “Louie” are not on their way, nor will they be for a while now. So the best you can hope for from the comedian — other than his self-produced and released drama series, “Horace and Pete” — is fresh stand-up. We know, we know. It’s not the same. But perhaps you can imagine what Louie would do after his set based on the material within it.
Best Episode: Well, there’s just the one, but this marks the third C.K. stand-up special to hit Netflix. Between “Chewed Up” and “Live at the Beacon Theatre,” we prefer the latter, so consider us excited for another “Live at” edition.
5. “The Verdict” (available August 1)
Why Should I Watch It? If you’ve been watching “The Night Of” — HBO’s serialized procedural that digs into the process of trial by jury deeper than any miniseries in recent memory — you need to see “The Verdict.” Sydney Lumet’s 1982 courtroom masterpiece stars Paul Newman as a down-and-out lawyer looking for an easy payday when one floats his way. The only problem: His conscience gets in the way. Watching the film, you’ll immediately see parallels between Frank Galvin (Newman) and Jack Stone, John Turturro’s attorney in “The Night Of.” But more importantly, you’ll see how the former influenced the latter, and how embracing this kind of character dynamic makes both stories so much stronger.
Best Episode: The best episode of “The Night Of,” so far, is the pilot. But that may all change when it finally comes to a close, come August 28.
6. “Once Upon a Time” Season 5 (available August 26)
Why Should I Watch It? In any given episode of “Once Upon a Time,” you can see a bevy of magical movie characters and historical figures running around for the delight of families everywhere. The ABC drama is, at worst, a corporate wet dream put to narrative form — with so many franchises and coveted company properties crossing over each other — but at its best it can be exciting fun for all ages — a rarity in primetime these days, especially as a one-hour drama.
Best Episode: With a pregnancy and stolen baby in the mix, it’s significant the most memorable scene of Season 5 came when Emma imparted her dark magic on Captain Hook — a choice as shocking as it was necessary. The complicated relationships at play in this family friendly fantasy series should help parents stay engaged, just as iconic images like Excalibur and Robin Hood introduce classic properties to a new generation.
7: “A Very Murray Christmas” (available now)
Why Should I Watch It? Because I don’t want you to watch “St. Vincent.” I get it. It’s a new(-ish) Bill Murray movie you probably missed when it was in theaters. It earned him a bit of awards buzz before petering out with two Golden Globe nominations and a well-deserved SAG nod to Naomi Watts. But let’s be clear: “St. Vincent” is very bad. Our own Chief Film Critic Eric Kohn generously gave the film a “B” grade coming out of TIFF, citing Murray’s performance as the main reason to recommend it, but I respectively disagree. Murray’s committed yet utterly ridiculous character plods through a picture as predictable as it is unrewarding. So please, just watch something else instead…
Best Episode: …like “A Very Murray Christmas”! Sofia Coppola’s holiday special starring Murray as Murray earned a surprise but richly-deserved Emmy nod for Outstanding TV Movie last month, and if you’re keen to explore the serious side of the legendary screen actor, why not go unfiltered? A melancholic take on what it’s like to live as Bill Murray, “A Very Murray Christmas” should satisfy anyone searching for a deeper connection with the star — not to mention, this is an utterly honest, fragile and revealing performance. Murray goes there, and you’ll want to go right along with him.
The Rest of Incoming TV:
“NCIS” Season 13 (available August 1)
“Real Husbands of Hollywood” Season 4 (available August 9)
“Fearless” Season 1 (available August 19)