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Fall TV Preview: The 17 Most Anticipated Dramas of 2016

From the fields of Louisiana to a vampire apocalypse to the early years of Queen Elizabeth, this fall's most anticipated dramas are extremely eclectic.

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Queen Sugar

September 6, 2016 on OWN

Queen Sugar Dondre Whitfield & Dawn-Lyen Gardner


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What Is It? Ava DuVernay has teamed with Oprah for this series about a family reunited by tragedy in Louisiana, and she’s brought with her an entirely female director roster (a first).

I’ll Like It If I Like… Stories set in the South, stories that feature strong female characters and stories that aren’t afraid of taking on big issues head-on.

Why Should I Care? “Queen Sugar” has its flaws, but there’s some rich filmmaking on display and there’s potential for growth with these characters.

READ MORE: ‘Queen Sugar’ Review: Ava DuVernay’s OWN Series is Frustratingly Familiar

“Quarry”

September 9, 2016 on Cinemax

Quarry Cinemax Logan Marshall-Green & Jamie Hector

What Is It? Based on the novels by Max Allan Collins, “Quarry” tells the story of Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a Marine who returns home to Memphis after serving in Vietnam. Conway finds that his war has yet to end, however, as his family treats him differently and he’s less than a respected figure around town. Despite his resistance, nagging desires he thought he left behind keep cropping up as Conway is drawn into a world of murder and bloodshed.

I’ll Like It If I Like… The second half of “The Deer Hunter” + “Rectify” (with a hint of “The Americans”).

Why Should I Care? “Quarry” may come from a few fresh showrunners, but Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller have created a world eerily familiar in its peculiarity. Conway is struggling to adjust back to life outside of Vietnam — something many veterans face — but mysterious outside forces present opportunities that keep him from even getting a chance. Nuanced and contemplative, “Quarry” should please fans of “Rectify” (the show that first introduced Gordy and Fuller as writers) and fascinate anyone unafraid to see how our nation’s past parallels its present.

READ MORE: ‘Quarry’ Exclusive Trailer & Poster: A Vietnam Veteran Becomes a Contract Killer Upon Returning Home

“This is Us”

September 20, 2016 on NBC

This Is Us Gerald McRaney & Milo Ventimiglia

What Is It? A drama with a pilot twist we can’t spoil here, “This Is Us” is best described as a show about love, family and unexpected connections.

I’ll Like It If I Like… Well, creator Dan Fogelman also wrote “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” and tonally there’s a similar vibe. It might also be the heartfelt family drama methadone that “Parenthood” fans need these days.

Why Should I Care? This cast is staaaaaaaacked. Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Gerald McRainey and Sterling K. Brown? Hell yes. Plus some stellar relative newcomers like Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz hold their own. Where the show goes beyond the pilot is a big question mark at this point, but the pilot contains a lot of promise.

READ MORE: ‘This Is Us’ New Trailer: Buzzy Fall Drama Celebrates Father’s Day With Emotional Footage

“Designated Survivor”

September 21, 2016 on ABC

Kiefer Sutherland

What Is It? Kiefer Sutherland is back, dammit, playing Tom Kirkman, a minor Cabinet member, who suddenly ascends to the position of President of the United States after the current president and other high-ranking officials are killed during the State of the Union address. Taking on the job unprepared is hard enough, much less after a successful major attack on Washington.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “24” mixed with “The West Wing”

Why Should I Care? This premise smacks of wish fulfillment in the scariest and yet most intriguing way, and Sutherland proves that he doesn’t have to be the action star to be the most compellingly badass person in the room, even if he does wear glasses. The influence of producers Simon Kinberg and David Guggenheim are both apparent in their complementary styles of creating action and tension. During an election in which experience is questioned as a prerequisite for the highest office, “Designated Survivor” plays out the what if scenario to its fascinating conclusion.

READ MORE: Kiefer Sutherland’s ‘Designated Survivor’ Reflects Hunger for an Outsider Presidential Candidate

“The Exorcist”

September 23, 2016 on Fox

The Exorcist Geena Davis

What Is It? Inspired by William Friedkin’s film and William Peter Blatty’s novel, “The Exorcist” tracks two priests tackling one family’s demon-related crisis. Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) is growing in popularity outside of members within his Chicago parish while Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) battles life-and-death struggles in Mexico City. The two couldn’t be more different, but they’re brought together by the Rance family, who are members of Tomas’ parish. Tipped off by the family matriarch, Angela (Geena Davis), the two priests try to rid the house of its demons before it’s too late.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “The Exorcist” (we hope)

Why Should I Care? Anyone with the balls to take the good name of “The Exorcist” and try to reimagine it needs to be monitored. We’re as suspicious of this property as anyone — especially given the restrictions of broadcast TV in relation to the genre demands of horror shows — but Geena Davis’ presence gives us some hope. That, and Fox has proven it can make hard-edged TV with the best of ’em.

READ MORE: William Friedkin to Teach Cinema Masterclass at 2016 Cannes Film Festival

“Van Helsing”

September 23, 2016 on Syfy

Van Helsing Syfy

What Is It? In this new take on the classic literary figure, “Van Helsing” is now portrayed as a female lead — Vanessa Helsing. As the next in a lineage of warriors who will lead the human race against a world dominated by non-humans, Vanessa uses whatever means necessary to save mankind. “From what?” you ask. Well, vampires, of course.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “The Walking Dead,” “Billy and Billie”

Why Should I Care? “Van Helsing” marks playwright and indie filmmaker Neil LaBute’s second TV creation (and first drama series), but its ambition isn’t relegated to the background of its head writer. Besides swapping the gender of its lead, “Van Helsing” introduces new rules to the vampire game and plays as a fresh take on the apocalyptic fervor sweeping television.

READ MORE: ‘Van Helsing’: Neil LaBute Challenges Expectations With Bloody, Surprising New Syfy Series

“Marvel’s Luke Cage”

September 30, 2016 on Netflix

Mike Colter as "Luke Cage"

What Is It? Netflix’s next installment leading up to “The Defenders” presents an updated version of the blaxploitation superhero Luke Cage (Mike Colter), the bulletproof black man we first met during “Jessica Jones.” Despite Luke’s insistence on ignoring his crazy strength, he’s forced to use his powers when a local crime lord crosses the line.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “Unbreakable” with touches of “Southland” and “The Cotton Club”

Why Should I Care? “Luke Cage” doesn’t look or feel like other superhero series, not even the Marvel ones, and that’s due to Cheo Hodari Coker’s commitment to creating Harlem in all of its glory — from the watering hole that is the barbershop and local basketball court to the modern police precinct and elite night club. This environment is a key to understanding what makes Luke Cage tick… and can tick him off.

Versailles

October 1, 2016 on Ovation

Versailles

What Is It? The court of King Louie XIV gets the saucy premium cable drama treatment, with a young attractive cast that looks great in the many wigs they wear.

I’ll Like It If I Like… Period dramas that don’t skimp on the sex, and aren’t afraid to get soapy. Remember when “Outlander” Season 2 spent some time in France’s most famous palace? Picture that, but with a whole lot more doin’ it.

Why Should I Care? Already an international sensation, “Versailles” features some lush production design and compelling plotting — it’s the sort of addictive drama that may not win awards, but has us paying attention.

READ MORE: ‘Versailles’ Exclusive Clips: Historical Series Follows The Construction of Versailles During Louis XIV’s Reign

“Westworld”

October 2, 2016 on HBO

Westworld

What Is It? Ostensibly a remake of the 1973 Michael Crichton film, the next big play from HBO is a dark, complex and fascinating examination of the nature of humanity, told largely from the point of view of the robots who populate a futuristic amusement park.

I’ll Like It If I Like… The fact that Crichton also wrote the novel upon which “Jurassic Park” is based feels worth mentioning, but “Westworld” feels reminiscent of classic science fiction by Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov. Get ready to think deep.

Why Should I Care? Developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, “Westworld” has had its production difficulties, but is very focused on the more allegorical elements of its premise in the best way. It’s hard, intellectual sci-fi on a level we see rarely these days, and its mysteries are so far captivating.

READ MORE: HBO’s ‘Westworld’: Do You Need Rape to Examine Humanity (With Robots)?

“Goliath”

October 14, 2016 on Amazon Prime

Goliath Amazon Billy Bob Thornton

What Is It? Billy Bob Thornton stars as Billy McBride, a washed-up lawyer who’s lost it all due to his alcoholism. He gets a chance at redemption with a wrongful death lawsuit, but must go up against his ex-partner (William Hurt) at the law firm he helped bring to success.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “The Practice” and “Mom”

Why Should I Care? David E. Kelley just couldn’t quit TV and returns to his old legal stomping grounds with some major casting firepower. Plus, Billy’s recovery storyline and personal connection to his opposition make for a deliciously messed-up scenario.

READ MORE: ‘Goliath’ Trailer: Billy Bob Thornton Broods in David E. Kelly’s New Amazon Show

“Berlin Station”

October 16, 2016 on EPIX

Berlin Station Richard Jenkins EPIX

What Is It? Richard Armitage leads the impressive cast of EPIX’s spy thriller as Daniel Miller, a CIA agent stationed in Berlin to determine the identity of a now-famous whistleblower masquerading as “Thomas Shaw.” Miller is thrown into the fast-paced world of field officers — running, deception, danger and moral compromises — with the help of veteran spy Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans). Richard Jenkins and Michelle Forbes co-star.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “The Game,” “The Americans.”

Why Should I Care? Um, because Richard Jenkins is in it? The recent Emmy-winner may not be the star, but considering his record on prestige drama series — “Olive Kitteridge,” “Six Feet Under” — how can we not check out his latest venture for the small screen? There are other reasons, but you don’t need to hear them. Trust us.

READ MORE: Epix CEO Mark Greenberg on Why His Channel is Getting into the Original Scripted Series Game

“Chance”

October 19, 2016 on Hulu

Hugh Laurie as Eldon Chance - Chance_Season 1, Episode 1, Photo Credit: David Moir/Hulu

What Is It? Based on Kem Nunn’s novel of the same name, “Chance” takes its name from its main character, Dr. Eldon Chance (Hugh Laurie), a forensic neuropsychiatrist who makes a personal mistake with one of his patients; a patient who might have multiple personalities and definitely has an abusive ex (who also happens to be a cop). Chance’s misstep leads him down a darker road than he’s accustomed to, all while dealing with a divorce and trying to help his teenage daughter emerge from adolescence unscathed.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “Damages,” “Jessica Jones,” “The Leftovers”

Why Should I Care? Hugh Laurie’s back on TV! OK, so he’s been back in small doses thanks to an excellent guest arc on “Veep” and an Emmy-nominated part in “The Night Manager,” but “Chance” marks the former “House” star’s first foray into serialized TV since he left the beloved Fox drama. On the surface, Hulu’s drama may seem to share quite a bit with Laurie’s breakout role: He plays a doctor. It’s a mystery. The doctor’s last name is the title of the show. And while fans of “House” certainly have reason to be excited, “Chance” already looks like a more fittingly modern take on medical studies — realistic, authentic and grounded.

READ MORE: ‘Chance’ Trailer: Hugh Laurie Aims to Solve an Unsolvable Problem in Hulu Drama from ‘Room’ Director

“Good Girls Revolt”

October 28, 2016 on Amazon Prime

Good Girls Revolt

What Is It? Set in the 1960s, several women fight back by filing a sexual discrimination lawsuit against their publication, a move that affects everything in their lives including their love lives and friendships. Loosely based on the book of the same name.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “Masters of Sex” and “I’ll Fly Away”

Why Should I Care? Although this is a fictionalized version of actual events,it’s not by any means a fantasy. In fact, in its pilot, Grace Gummer plays Nora Ephron, the real-life journalist who later became the rom-com queen, writing “When Harry Met Sally…,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” With feminism still a hot button topic today, the series serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come… and how much hasn’t changed.

READ MORE: ‘Good Girls Revolt’ First Look: See Grace Gummer & Anna Camp as Sexual Discrimination Pioneers

“The Crown”

November 4, 2016 on Netflix

Matt Smith and Claire Foy in "The Crown."

What Is It? A detailed episodic look at Queen Elizabeth II’s (Claire Foy) life, beginning in Season 1 with her early life, her romance with the future Prince Philip (Matt Smith), her coronation and her ongoing relationship with Winston Churchill (John Lithgow).

I’ll Like It If I Like… Easy — any of creator Peter Morgan’s previous writings, including “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon.” The man has made an epic career out of bringing quite recent history to life, and that same talent is on display here.

Why Should I Care? Beyond the dynamic and engaging performances of Foy and Smith (not to mention Lithgow showing the Brits how a Churchill portrayal is meant to be done) this is an era of history that may surprise a lot of people, and Moffat’s take is an extremely human and honest one.

READ MORE: Why ‘The Crown’ Went To America To Find Its Winston Churchill

“Good Behavior”

November 15, 2016 on TNT

Good Behavior - Pilot TNT Ph: Brownie Harris

What Is It? On the heels of “Animal Kingdom” comes TNT’s latest examination of small-time crime. Letty (Michelle Dockery) is a con artist who gets dragged in over her head when she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ll Like It If I Like… The best sort of pulp fiction, which emphasizes character and plot on an equal level.

Why Should I Care? Lady Mary gets a little naughty! Much of “Good Behavior” is a one-woman show, and Dockery owns the screen with the sort of performance that should have people forgetting “Downton Abbey” ever existed.

READ MORE: Trailer Watch: Michelle Dockery Leaves ‘Downton Abbey,’ Joins Sexy Thriller ‘Good Behavior’

“Undercover”

November 17 on the BBC

Undercover BBC

What Is It? Without giving too much away, on the surface this looks like a story about  barrister Maya Cobbina (Sophie Okonedo) who is trying to prove the innocence of an American death row inmate. Simultaneously, flashbacks from 20 years ago will slowly reveal how Maya met her husband (Adrian Lester).

I’ll Like It If I Like… “The Night Of”

Why Should I Care? Surprise! Peter Moffat, who wrote this series is also the writer behind “Criminal Justice,” the British basis for HBO’s “The Night Of” and your eczema dreams. Prepare for some surprises and moral ambiguity.

READ MORE: Millennials Are Slowly Killing the DVR — Which Could Go The Way of the VCR

“Shut Eye”

December 7, 2016 on Hulu

Shut Eye Jeffrey Donovan

What Is It? A con artist (Jeffrey Donovan) who makes a living fortune telling for gullible clients suddenly becomes psychic for real. Maybe now he can have the upper hand with the local Romani community that has a chokehold on the psychic businesses in Los Angeles.

I’ll Like It If I Like… “White Collar” and “The Mentalist”

Why Should I Care? Donovan may not reach the heights of his “Fargo” role, but he’s still a welcome, charismatic presence on our TVs. The seedy world of faux fortunetelling is intriguing in a modern noir-ish way, and there’s potential to unveil a side of Los Angeles that hasn’t been seen before.

READ MORE: Fall TV Preview: The 17 Most Anticipated Comedies of 2016

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