LOS ANGELES: The fall TV season officially kicks off next week and even avant-garde streaming platforms, which release shows nonstop, are part of the traditional September hoopla once owned by broadcast networks. Streaming, cable and broadcast are on track to surpass the record 487 shows they fielded last year.
To find quality goods, Syracuse University’s TV and popular culture professor Robert Thompson has suggested these tips.
Do your homework. Viewers who once leisurely browsed through the schedules of broadcast networks for free now face a dizzying number of fee-based platforms and shows.
Trusted publications and bloggers can help you sort through them.
Break out of your comfort zone. “Take a percentage of your viewing and watch things you think you’re not going to like,” Thompson says. Cable and streaming lean toward gourmet fare and networks dish out comfort food, but both can yield surprises.
Don’t judge a TV series by its cover, aka the pilot episode. It introduces characters and provides a blueprint for where it intends to go, a heavy lift. It’s a rare bird like “This Is Us” that starts out precisely realized.
Follow the work of stars you like but keep producers and writers in mind, too. When “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner unveils new anthology series “The Romanoffs” Oct. 12 on Amazon Prime Video, admirers of his late, lamented AMC drama will want to tune in.
Here’s an excerpt from a season that has something for everyone, and too much for all.
Julia Roberts is following the path beaten by Nicole Kidman and others to intriguing small-screen material. For Roberts, the lure is Amazon’s podcast-based psychological thriller “Homecoming,” in which she plays a social worker for returning soldiers.
Jim Carrey stars in his first TV series, Showtime’s “Kidding,” created by Dave Holstein and with director Michael Gondry on board for several episodes of the dark comedy.
“Superbad” stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill are together again in Netflix’s dark comedy “Maniac” as guinea pigs in a drug trial gone awry. It’s directed by Cary Fukunaga.
Jennifer Garner returns to her TV roots with HBO’s “Camping,” an outdoor test of marriage based on the British comedy and produced by Jenni Konner of “Girlfriends.” David Tennant co-stars.
Michael Douglas produced and stars (opposite Alan Arkin) in Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method,” a nuanced comedy about aging that’s a departure for creator and sitcom hit-maker Chuck Lorre.
Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette and Paul Dano star in Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora,” based on a headline-making 2015 New York State jailbreak. Funnyman Ben Stiller makes a sharp turn as the drama’s producer-director.
“Magnum P.I.” is yet another blast-from-the-past CBS title, but original star Tom Selleck is staying put on “Blue Bloods” while Jay Hernandez steps into the title role. A 21st-century twist: estate caretaker Higgins is a woman.
“Murphy Brown” and the original cast topped by Candice Bergen return in the CBS sitcom that jousted with politicians during its 1988-98 run. Creator Diane English is back and ready to enter the Trump-era fray.
“The Conners” is ABC’s attempt to salvage a hit show and jobs from the wreckage of last season’s revival of “Roseanne.” With Roseanne Barr out, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert and other cast members take center stage.