1. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” Volume 1 (available September 1)
Why Should I Watch It? In the last two months, Netflix has made quite the move to become a destination for children’s programming. “Reading Rainbow” started streaming on the service in August (8/1), and now one kids TV classic will be joined by another. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” aired from the mid-’60s until 2001, with reruns nationally televised on PBS until 2007. There’s a wealth of knowledge in all that content, and now a new generation can come to appreciate the genius of Fred Rogers. I know this column tends to get a little sarcastic and sly, but there’s no joke here. Get to bingeing.
Best Episode: “Mister Rogers” isn’t an experience that can be defined on an episode-by-episode basis. So rather than pick one half-hour section out of literally 1000+ episodes, let’s honor the method Netflix helped make an accepted custom and binge-watch the heck out of some “MRN.”
Popular on IndieWire
2. “Call the Midwife” Season 4 (available September 14)
Why Should I Watch It? I know, I know. Two PBS shows at the top of the list for September? And it’s not as though this is a month lacking new releases — scroll to the bottom of the page to see just how many other shows are being released in an absolutely stacked September. But instead of mindlessly staring at “The Mysteries of Laura” or dutifully finishing “The Following,” give these fine women a shot instead. “Call the Midwife” is a rare example of top-notch TV made for the whole family. That’s right. It’s as good as just about anything out there, and you don’t have to wait for the kids to go to bed or, if you’re a young, hip, childless fan of the small screen, suffer any conflicted moral dilemmas while rooting for the central characters. It’s a refreshing change of pace, and one that may make you want to keep stepping its way.
Best Episode: While many may argue British television has more than one major edge over American TV, I’d say it’s only major triumph is the institution of annual Christmas specials. From “Downton Abbey” to “Sherlock” to “Doctor Who” and more, many popular U.K. series feature bonus episodes for the holidays that are longer than traditional airings. As much as I’ve enjoyed all the entries from the aforementioned series, you haven’t really seen what a Christmas special until you’ve seen a “Call the Midwife” Christmas special. That’s right, “Downton”! These ladies are coming for your crown!
3. “Parenthood” Season 6 (available September 25)
Why Should I Watch It? We’ve gone over this before. That means you good, loyal readers listened and now desperately want to watch the final season of one of the best dramas (formerly) on broadcast television. You’ve enjoyed the deeply personal and identifiable tribulations and joys of the Braverman family, told with a keen eye for realism and an ear for authentic dialogue. So you wonderful folks need no convincing to finish the final season. The rest of you… Well, you’re not worth the time it would take to copy and paste my former, flawless argument. So…
Best Episode: It’s always tempting to pick the finale of a final season, because series cappers leave such an impact. Yet the best episode of Season 6 came two weeks earlier with “Let’s Go Home.” Max (Max Burkholder) is charged with developing a mysterious set of photos for his grandparents while Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Adam (Peter Krause) flip flop on what to do with their failing business. Both stories work better in reality than they sound in summary, but the true inspiration of Episode 11 comes with the reunion of fan favorite couple Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen). A seasons-long examination of what can make a marriage fall apart — outside of the conventional errors — is resolved when these two lovebirds finally figure it out. “Parenthood” was never about the easy answers, even if it often assured us things would be okay. That’s Joel and Julia in a nutshell, and we couldn’t be happier to have watched it play out.
4. “Gotham” Season 1 (available 9/21/2015)
Why Should I Watch It? Despite what Ben McKenzie’s been saying about the “mistakes” of Season 1, the first year in “Gotham” was actually pretty solid (not that he’s been bad-mouthing the show, just publicizing its second season). Yes, it got a little too reliant on the “villain of the week” formula, but the production design and casting elevated the slightly-serialized crime drama above the other cops and robbers episodic content out there. And now that Season 2 is going to be even more focused on the long game, extending storylines beyond a 42-minute timeline, this the time to catch up with soon-to-be Commissioner Gordon.
Best Episode: “Rogues’ Gallery” finds a young Jim Gordon (McKenzie) on the outs with the Gotham P.D., demoted down to a security guard at Arkham Asylum where a deranged “doctor” is experimenting on the inmates. With the help of Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin of “Homeland” and “Firefly” fame), Gordon picks up the case for a gripping change of pace, just when the season needs it.
5. “Portlandia” Season 5 (available September 12)
Why Should I Watch It? See above.
Best Episode: If they can make a sponsored skit that good, imagine what they can do with a full season on their own. Wait. Don’t imagine it. Watch it. Start at the beginning with “The Story of Toni & Candace” and — even though that’s the best episode, telling the origins of the now iconic feminist bookstore — keep going. Just when you think you know what’s coming on this innovative sketch show, they’ll surprise you.
6. “Longmire” Season 4 (available September 9)
Why Should I Watch It? Because I did. Last time “Longmire” came up in Indiewire conversation — when Season 3 debuted on Netflix — I promised to watch the highest-rated episode chosen by the fans. That turned out to be the finale, which, at the time, could have been the series finale if Netflix hadn’t intervened and ordered more of the cult hit. I’ll admit, the show has its charms, especially in its cast. (Gotta admit I still have a soft spot for Lou Diamond Philips.) The last episode may not have shown enough to hook me into watching the whole series, but I’m glad to see the series live on via Netflix.
Best Episode: As of now, that’s unknown. But you better believe the fans will tell you within hours of the Season 4 debut.
7. “The Walking Dead” Season 5 (available September 27)
Why Should I Watch It? It’s the highest-rated cable show on television. In fact, “The Walking Dead” is so popular it gets better ratings than most broadcast television, despite having a shorter reach. Sure, popularity alone isn’t a good reason to invest your time in a new TV show (please don’t start watching “The Big Bang Theory”), but “The Walking Dead” offers up a number of intriguing ideas on society’s shifting functionality in a post-apocalyptic landscape. You know, with zombies.
Best Episode: Season 5 wasn’t the strongest season of AMC’s smash hit, but it did have its bright spots. One among them was Episode 12, “Remember,” or when The Ricketeers entered Alexandria and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finally shaved off his beard. Seeing our over-taxed leading man finally assume the role of sheriff again was quite the visual stimulus, and the rest of the proceedings worked as a pseudo-preview for what “Fear the Walking Dead” might look like. Overall, the enlivening hour introduced a number of intriguing options for the future, even if the show didn’t fully capitalize on them by season’s end.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Arthur” Season 17 (available September 1)
“Battle Creek” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Da Jammies” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Mouk” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Person of Interest” Seasons 1-3 (available September 1)
“The League” Season 6 (available September 1)
“Zoo Clues” Season 1 (available September 1)
“Madame Secretary” Season 1 (available September 4)
“Melissa & Joey” Season 4 (available September 4)
“Space Dandy” Season 2 (available September 7)
“Fugitivos” Season 1 (available September 10)
“Comedy Bang! Bang!” Season 4 (Part 2) (available September 13)
“Kambu” Season 1 (available September 15)
“Sin Senos no Hay Paraiso” Season 1 (available September 15)
“Zoobabu” Season 1 (available September 15)
“The Fosters” Season 3 (available September 16)
“The Mysteries of Laura” Season 1 (available September 17)
“The Following” Season 3 (available September 21)
“Person of Interest” Season 4 (available September 22)
“Blue Bloods” Season 5 (available September 25)
“Hawaii Five-0” (available September 25)
“Bones” Season 10 (available September 29)
“Murdoch Mysteries” Seasons 4-7 (available September 30)