1. “The Chair” Season 1 (available August 20)
Why Should I Watch: Sandra Oh! Do you need another reason beyond Sandra Oh? Of course not, but perhaps you’re curious to know how much of the “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Killing Eve” star you’ll be getting. “The Chair” consists of six, half-hour episodes, all of which star Oh as Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the new Chair of the English department at a prestigious (fictional) university tarnished by scandal. A professor (Jay Duplass) has been accused of improper behavior, and the investigation is made all the more complicated by a) his well-liked status within the community, and b) his possible relationship with Dr. Kim. Has she been promoted to guide the university into a new era, or is she the scapegoat to help the old guard escape any blame for their current predicament?
Bonus Reason: Amanda Peet! No, the “Brockmire” and “Togetherness” star isn’t acting opposite Oh in “The Chair” — she’s the writer, showrunner, and executive producer. All three jobs are firsts for Peet, and she’s assembled quite a team for her debut(s), including Oh and Duplass, but behind-the-camera as well.
TV fans and “Game of Thrones” obsessives, in particular, likely know Peet is married to David Benioff, who along with D.B. Weiss, struck a rich overall deal with Netflix in 2019; “The Chair” is the duo’s first original series to come out of that deal, as both “GoT” helmers serve as executive producers for the new show.
And it’s also worth mentioning: Oh is also an EP, making “The Chair” her first starring and producing project since “Killing Eve” — time to get excited?
2. “Friday Night Lights” Seasons 1 – 5 (available August 1)
Why Should I Watch: At this point, I have to assume everyone who’s going to watch “Friday Night Lights” has watched “Friday Night Lights”; critics, fans, stars, and virtually anyone who’s seen Tim Riggins stumble through his emotions without any of the confidence and wherewithal he brings to the gridiron, they’ve all been adamantly recommending the former NBC drama for the better part of 15 years. So the real question becomes: Why should I watch “Friday Night Lights” again? Easy:
- It’s always a good time to watch “Friday Night Lights.” You’ve seen it. You know that.
- It’s the summer. Football is in the air. But so are afternoon trips to the Tasty Freeze for ice cream, sunset beers overlooking the great state of Texas, and late-night romance under a blanket in your coach’s/girlfriend’s dad’s living room. Isn’t living vicariously in Dillon, TX better than living in the reality of wherever you are now? (At least, you know, for a few hours at a time.)
- You may be tempted by new shows, sure. But when it comes to Netflix, literally one 2021 scripted series ranks among the year’s best (so far), and if you haven’t plowed through the six, 15-minute episodes of “I Think You Should Leave” yet, then I can’t help you. You’re already lost.
Bonus Reason: I just gave you three reasons! Four, if you count mentioning the name “Tim Riggins,” which absolutely should be counted. How many more do you need? It’s the best television series of all-time, get on it!
3. “30 Rock” Seasons 1 – 7 (available August 1)
Why Should I Watch: Because it’s been a week, huh?
Bonus Reason: Lemon, it’s Wednesday.
4. “Untold” (Episode 1, “Deal with the Devil,” available August 17)
Courtesy of Netflix
Why Should I Watch: From Chapman and MacLain Way, the Emmy-winning creators of “Wild Wild Country,” comes a new sports documentary series consisting of five separate films on five distinct topics. The first, premiering August 10, is titled “Untold: Malice at the Palace,” and director Floyd Russ dives into what went unsaid before, during, and after the infamous brawl in Detroit between players and fans during a 2004 NBA game; next up is “Deal with the Devil,” directed by Laura Brownson and covering Christy Martin’s turbulent boxing career; then there’s “Caitlyn Jenner,” Crystal Moselle’s look at how the fame tied to the world’s greatest athlete deterred the titular subject from embracing her own identity; and in the final two installments, the Way brothers step behind the camera (they’re executive producers on the whole series) for “Crime and Penalties” (out August 31) and “Breaking Point” (September 7) — the former examining what happens when a “trash magnate with mafia ties buys a minor league hockey team” and the latter a profile of Mardy Fish’s tennis career.
Bonus Reason: Aside from the weekly release schedule — you gotta love a weekly release! — “Untold” promises to share stories you haven’t heard before, “even if you think you have.” With that lineup of subjects and this creative team, there’s no question it’ll be worth checking in every week to see what’s next.
Merie Weismiller Wallace / Netflix
5. “Brand New Cherry Flavor” Season 1 (available August 13)
Why Should I Watch: For one, the cast is on point: Rosa Salazar stars as Lisa N. Nova, an aspiring film director who arrives in Los Angeles dead-set on helming her first picture. Things get very weird from there, as an unexpected betrayal turns her dream project into a nightmare. Somehow, Catherine Keener, Eric Lange, and Manny Jacinto are all involved, in what looks like a surreal noir not far removed from David Lynch territory.
Bonus Reason: “Brand New Cherry Flavor” stems from Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion, who serve as executive producers, showrunners, and writers on all eight episodes. Antosca, a former “Hannibal” writer, hit it big with 2019’s Hulu limited series “The Act,” while Zion is a writer/producer on “Billions” and “Good Behavior” — those solid credits aside, the two are best known together for working on “Channel Zero,” a SyFy original series and IndieWire horror favorite from the last half-decade or so. This self-contained follow-up should have genre fans eager to see what Antosca and Zion have cooked up for them.
6. “The Defeated” (available August 18)
Why Should I Watch: Once you’ve finished “Friday Night Lights” for the 18th time, you’re bound to be jonesing for a little more Taylor Kitsch — and Netflix has you covered. First released in 2020 on Canal+ (and other international services), “The Defeated” (originally titled “Shadowplay”) follows Max McLaughlin (Taylor Kitsch), an American cop circa 1946 who travels to Berlin in search of his missing brother. While there, he helps a German policeman (Nina Hoss) protect the city and its citizens from a post-WWII uptick in crime that threatens to engulf the city.
Bonus Reason: While Kitsch is the obvious draw for anyone who’s rooted for and against the East Dillon Panthers, “The Defeated” features a pretty stacked cast for an import released with very little fanfare from Netflix: Hoss, as the aforementioned local law enforcement member, is the powerhouse from “Phoenix” (2014), “A Most Wanted Man” (2014), and three seasons of “Homeland” (starting in 2014); “Dexter’s” Michael C. Hall co-stars as a U.S. consulate; and Logan-Marshall Green follows up “The O.C.” and “Prometheus” with a turn as Kitsch’s lost brother. No matter why you tune in, you’re bound to find another welcome face during “The Defeated.”
7. “Gone for Good” Season 1 (available August 13)
Why Should I Watch: A five-part limited series, “Gone for Good” is the latest adaptation of a Harlan Coben novel to hit Netflix following 2018’s wild mystery, “Safe” (hey, there’s Michael C. Hall again), two more in 2020 — “The Stranger” and “The Woods” — and April’s “The Innocent.” While mysteries with imminent (and hopefully satisfying) endings are an enticing product for any TV network, Netflix’s rapid acquisition of Coben’s stories is a far more telling metric for success than any of the shady viewing statistics released every quarter; that doesn’t mean they’re all good, but it does mean they’re feeding a fanbase — and they will for a while, considering two more adaptations are in the works following “Gone for Good”: “Hold Tight” (a Polish-language original series) and “Stay Close” (British) are both on the way.
Bonus Reason: OK, OK. Enough with what’s next, let’s talk about what’s now: “Gone for Good” focuses on Guillaume Lucchesi, a 30-something fellow who’s suffered a lifetime of hardship: Guillaume thought he’d moved on from a 10-year-old tragedy that took the lives of his first love, Sonia, and his brother, Fred. But when his mother dies, his new partner, Judith, disappears at her funeral, and Guillaume has to delve deep into the past to avoid losing yet another loved one in the present. This one sounds a bit sad (even for Coben), but at five episodes, at least it’s not a lengthy investment to find out the truth.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“44 Cats” Season 3 (available August 1)
“Darwin’s Game” (available August 1)
“Hunter x Hunter” Season 6 (available August 1)
“Top Secrets UFO Projects: Declassified” Season 1 (available August 3)
“Car Masters: Rust to Riches” Season 3 (available August 4)
“Chhota Bheem” Season 4 (available August 4)
“Control Z” Season 2 (available August 4)
“Cooking with Paris” Season 1 (available August 4)
“American Masters: Inventing David Geffen” (available August 4)
“Hit & Run” Season 1 (available August 6)
“Navarasa” Season 1 (available August 6)
“Shaman King” Season 1 (available August 9)
“Gabby’s Dollhouse” Season 2 (available August 10)
“I Need Romance” Season 1 (available August 10)
“The Crowned Clown” Season 1 (available August 10)
“Bake Squad” Season 1 (available August 11)
“AIRawabi School for Girls” Limited Series (available August 12)
“The Kingdom” Season 1 (available August 13)
“Valeria” Season 2 (available August 13)
“Mother Goose Club” Seasons 3-4 (available August 15)
“Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai” Season 1 (available August 15)
“Winx Club” Season 6 (available August 15)
“Toot-Toot Cory Carson” Season 5 (available August 17)
“Comedy Premium League” Season 1 (available August 20)
“Everything Will Be Fine” Season 1 (available August 20)
“Korean Cold Noodle Rhapsody” Season 1 (available August 20)
“The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf” Feature Film (available August 23)
“Oggy Oggy” Season 1 (available August 24)
“Titipo Titipo” Season 2 (available August 24)
“Clickbait” Season 1 (available August 25)
“John of God: The Crimes of a Spiritual Healer” Season 1 (available August 25)
“Motel Makeover” Season 1 (available August 25)
“Open Your Eyes” Season 1 (available August 25)
“Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes” Season 1 (available August 25)
“Tayo the Little Bus” (available August 25)
“Edens Zero” Season 1 (available August 26)
“Family Reunion” Part 4 (available August 26)
“I Heart Arlo” Season 1 (available August 27)
“Titletown High” Season 1 (available August 27)
“Bread Barbershop” Season 2 (available August 28)
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” Season 1 (available August 28)