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Fall TV Preview: The 30 Most Interesting New Shows of 2018

Big stars (Julia Roberts!), big returns ("Murphy Brown"!), and big follow-ups (from Sam Esmail, Matthew Weiner and Beau Willimon!) highlight a busy new TV season.

Emma Stone, Candice Bergen, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts

Netflix/CBS/Hulu/Shutterstock

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As the film world’s awards season heats up, audiences are already anticipating new projects starring Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey, Toni Collette, Michael Douglas, and Benicio del Toro.

Of course, all of those projects happen to be TV series, and they’re part of what’s shaping up to be perhaps the most ambitious fall TV season ever. A lot has been made of TV’s current reboot/remake/reunion culture, and that’s definitely a trend this fall. Some of the season’s most anticipated new shows include CBS’ return to “Murphy Brown,” and what ABC has in store for “The Conners,” the spin-off of “Roseanne” that comes thanks to Twitter.

The fall also includes several adaptations, including Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” Amazon’s TV take on the successful podcast “Homecoming,” starring Roberts (and from Sam Esmail), and AMC’s next limited series based on a John le Carré spy thriller, “The Little Drummer Girl.”

But for anyone who laments a lack of originality in this age of Peak TV, they’re just not looking hard enough. Among creators returning to TV with new original projects: “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon, whose “The First” stars Penn and explores a mission to Mars. “True Detective” helmer Cary Fukunaga brings Stone and Jonah Hill together for “Maniac.” “Girls” creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner go “Camping.” Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry reunite for “Kidding.” (All right, so some of these are adaptations as well — but at least with fresh spins.)

If there’s a trend this fall, perhaps it’s the continued rise of anthology series. “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner is back with “The Romanoffs,” an unconventional anthology series shot across the globe. “Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson has “Tell Me A Story,” an anthology series about twisted fairy tales. And horror master Jason Blum turns the holidays creepy with the monthly Hulu anthology “Into the Dark.”

IndieWire will focus on returning shows later this week, but until then, here’s a round-up of the 30 new shows most likely to make some noise this fall.

“The Purge” (USA Network, Sept. 4)

The Purge TV Show

“The Purge”

USA Network

Executive Producers: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Thomas Kelly, James DeMonaco, Jason Blum
Stars: Gabriel Chavarria, Hannah Emily Anderson, Colin Woodell, Amanda Warren, Jessica Garza, Lili Simmons

After four successful films, James DeMonaco’s “Purge” franchise makes the jump to television with its premise intact: Set in a not-too-distant, distinctly American future, “The Purge” refers to a 12-hour period where all crime, including murder, is legal. While the movies generally track one connected set of characters, the 10-hour series is nearly as long as the event itself and expands its focus accordingly. There’s an ex-military man looking for his sister; a couple hoping to get their business started at a rich people’s Purge party; a professional being asked to close a deal during Purge night; and there’s a busload of cult members driving from stop to stop, looking for someone to purge them. For those looking for a deeper understanding of The Purge, its citizens, and their depraved motivations, this lengthy stay in a dystopia might be up your alley.

“Kidding” (Showtime, Sept. 9)

Kidding Jim Carrey Showtime

Jim Carrey in “Kidding”

Erica Parise / Showtime

Executive Producers: Dave Holstein, Jim Carrey, Michel Gondry, Raffi Adlan, Michael Aguilar, Roberto Benabib, Jason Bateman, James Garavente
Stars: Jim Carrey, Catherine Kenner, Judy Greer, Frank Langella, Cole Allen, Justin Kirk

For anyone who watched “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and thought, “You know, I really wish this was 10 times as long,” then Showtime has just the series for you. “Kidding” comes from the inventive minds of Michel Gondry and Jim Carrey, who last collaborated on the 2004 film, but even though both are executive producers here, Dave Holstein created “Kidding.” He’s found new avenues into tough conversations, which include a lot of brilliantly built puppets and questionable hair styles. The series tracks Mr. Pickles (Carrey), a legend in children’s programming who suffers a personal crisis that could turn public at any moment, and the team around him is struggling to keep him together. Exploring life and death in terms of meaning is never an easy task, but the half-hour non-comedy is an invitation meant to pull you in — and Carrey’s performance certainly helps.

“You” (Lifetime, Sept. 9)

You - Penn Badgley Lifetime 1

Elizabeth Lail and Penn Badgley in “You”

Courtesy of Lifetime

Executive Producers: Sera Gamble, Sarah Schechter, Greg Berlanti, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo
Stars: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Shay Mitchell, Zach Cherry, Luca Padovan, Hari Nef

Greg Berlanti continues his slow takeover of the entire TV landscape with this Lifetime series about a bookstore employee who takes social media snooping to an unhealthy, dangerous level. Told from the point of view of Joe (Badgley), this takes half of a rom-com and flips the script for the psychopathy on the other side. “The Magicians” co-creator Sera Gamble serves in the same role for this series.

“The First” (Hulu, Sept. 14)

THE FIRST -- Sean Penn leads an ensemble cast in this near-future drama about a crew of astronauts attempting to become the first humans on Mars. Under the direction of visionary aerospace magnate Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone), the crew contends with peril and personal sacrifice as they undertake the greatest pioneering feat in human history. Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone) and Tom Hagerty (Sean Penn), shown. (Photo by: Paul Schrimaldi/Hulu)

“The First”

Hulu

Executive Producers: Beau Willimon, Jordan Tappis
Stars: Sean Penn, Natascha McElhone, LisaGay Hamilton, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Keiko Agena, Oded Fehr, Hannah Ware, James Ransone, Melissa George

Not to be confused with the impending Neil Armstrong biopic with a similar title, this Hulu drama tracks the journey of the first manned mission to Mars. Getting deep into the bureaucracy of how a mammoth task like this could even be pulled off, the show’s eight-part season also investigates the private lives of the people tasked with making scientific achievements like this work. Sean Penn stars as the NASA employee charged with helping coordinate the effort and Natascha McElhone as the financial and logistical public face of the mission. The show has a director roster that includes Agnieszka Holland, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, and Daniel Sackheim.

“Forever” (Amazon, Sept. 14)

Forever Maya Rudolph Fred Armisen

“Forever”

Amazon

Executive Producers: Alan Yang, Matt Hubbard, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Dave Becky, Tim Sarkes
Stars: Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph

Many of the details about this series — including the extent to which it’s actually a comedy — are being kept under wraps. But with Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph as the stars of the show, that’s almost enough to recommend it on its own. To sweeten the deal, the show comes from co-creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, both veterans of “Parks and Recreation” and Yang, the Emmy-winning co-creator of “Master of None.” Come for the shuffleboard, stay for the pensive looks out at the ocean.

“Warriors of Liberty City” (Starz, Sept. 16)

Warriors Of Liberty City Starz

“Warriors of Liberty City”

Kyle Alexander/Starz

Executive Producers: LeBron James, Luther Campbell, Evan Rosenfeld, Maverick Carter, Pamela Healey, Dan Peirson

Starz is quickly building an impressive 2018 docuseries lineup. Its first, “America to Me,” debuted at Sundance before earning rave reviews; its second, “Warriors of Liberty City,” premiered at SXSW and is set to appeal to football fans looking for a little more on-field drama on Sunday nights. Set in a crime-heavy Miami neighborhood, Liberty City is also home to an unexpected source of NFL talent. Players including Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Antonio Brown, Duke Johnson, and Teddy Bridgewater all came through the town’s youth football program, which was spearheaded by none other than hip-hop pioneer Luther Campbell. The new series tracks a season with a recent team of youngsters as they try to overcome personal tragedy through a challenging, team-oriented after-school program. It’s a powerful profile piece and an exciting journey, so Starz may very well have another hit on its hands.

“Maniac” (Netflix, Sept. 21)

"Maniac"

“Maniac”

Netflix

Executive Producers: Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, Cary Fukunaga, Michael Sugar, Doug Wald, Kruke Kristiansen, Anne Kolbjornsen, Espen PA Lervaag, Kjetil Indegard, Ashley Zalta, Patrick Somerville
Stars: Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Sonoya Mizuno, Justin Theroux, Julia Garner, Jemima Kirke, Sally Field

There’s so much that’s unknown about what might be Netflix’s most anticipated series of the fall, but this much is known — this isn’t going to be like anything else on TV. Written by Patrick Somerville (a novelist who previously worked on the FX drama “The Bridge”) and directed by Cary Fukunaga, the visual genius who made “True Detective” Season 1 addictive, the trailers for “Maniac” have been rich with stunning images that may not make a lot of sense. But in promising to take us inside the psyches of troubled patients Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill), who have signed up for a pharmaceutical trial that could potentially solve all our problems, one thing feels certain: We’re in for a real trip.

“Jane Fonda in Five Acts” (HBO, Sept. 24)

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

“Jane Fonda in Five Acts”

HBO

Executive Producers: Susan Lacy, Jessica Levin, Emma Pildes
Stars: Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, Ted Turner, Paula Weinstein

Susan Lacy’s follow-up to last year’s “Spielberg” is yet another personal, wide-ranging documentary look at a notable American figure. And while Jane Fonda’s cozy scarf game might not be on the same level as Spielberg’s, there’s no denying that her place in history as an activist, actor, and icon is one that deserves deep consideration. Each of the first four “acts” is named after one of the men in her life, including ex-husbands Tom Hayden and Ted Turner, but the fifth act is one defined only by herself, as forceful a personality as ever.

“Manifest” (NBC, Sept. 24)

MANIFEST -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Parveen Kaur as Saanvi Bahl -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC/Warner Brothers)

“Manifest”

Virginia Sherwood/NBC/Warner Brothers

Executive Producers: Jeff Rake, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
Stars: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Parvenu Kaur, Luna Blaise

Montego Air Flight 828 makes a routine trip from Jamaica to the U.S…. but it takes off in 2013 and lands in 2018. Talk about your jet lag! To the 191 passengers on board, nothing’s out of the ordinary except for a brief spell of extreme turbulence. For the outside world, however, all of these people were presumed dead after disappearing into thin air. Now, five years later, the reunions are joyous but often bittersweet: people have aged, some have died, and others have moved on romantically.

What happened and why are the drama’s central mysteries, but a series of unexpected after-effects point to a possible purpose for those on that fateful flight, which gives this “Lost” wannabe a more uplifting tone with less smoke monsters. Such puzzle shows haven’t worked so well lately, but these hints at a master plan, a greater context to our chaotic world, gives it a positive twist that is appealing in today’s world.

“Single Parents” (ABC, Sept. 26)

SINGLE PARENTS - ABC's "Single Parents" stars Devin Trey Campbell as Rory, Kimrie Lewis as Poppy, Sadie Hazelett as Amy, Grace Hazelett as Emma, Brad Garrett as Douglas, Taran Killam as Will Cooper, Marlow Barkley as Sophie, Jake Choi as Miggy, Leighton Meester as Angie, and Tyler Wladis as Graham. (ABC/Ed Herrera)

“Single Parents”

ABC

Executive Producers: Elizabeth Meriwether, Katherine Pope, J.J. Philbin, Jason Winer
Stars: Taran Killam, Leighton Meester, Brad Garrett, Kimrie Lewis, Jake Choi

“New Girl” may have ended, but the adorkable shenanigans and spontaneous bursts into song don’t have to. Liz Meriwether brings her delightful sensibilities to yet another multicultural ensemble that celebrates those raising kids without partners. New-to-town dad Will (Killam) is the most dedicated father to his little girl but has lost sight of who he is as a person. Enter the other single parents who’ve created a gang of sorts that remind each other that they’re people first – with their own interests and desires outside of coloring books and Disney princesses.

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