They say the tradition of a new fall TV season is over and done with. But what do they know? From this critic’s perspective, the announcements about new and returning series still become an avalanche at this time of the year. It seems nobody told network, cable and streaming services to quit the expectation that viewers want new content as the weather turns.
Fair warning here – the lineup can be confusing if you’re in Canada. Series you read about airing on FX might be on Disney+ in Canada. Some shows on Peacock might be on Crave here, or might not. They might be on Amazon Prime Video in Canada. If something is on Hulu, it could appear anywhere in Canada.
But there are certainties – the highly anticipated second season of the Emmy-winning The White Lotus will arrive on HBO/Crave in October, date to be announced. Jennifer Coolidge is back, and in Sicily, apparently. The wonderful and multiaward-winning Sort Of returns for a second season on CBC, starting Nov. 15. And a first-rate British drama you may have missed on PBS, Ridley Road, arrives on CBC on Oct. 25.
Here are 12 picks for the coming months, including drama, comedy and documentaries.
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (AMC, starts Oct. 2) is a seven-episode “contemporary reinvention” of the famous Anne Rice novel. The series will follow the life of Louis (Jacob Anderson), a young black man in New Orleans during the early 1900s. He, of course, ends up becoming a vampire when Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) offers it to him as a way of escaping a world of racism and strife. That’s not so easy. Lurid, sombre, sensual and visually eye-popping, it’s sexy-horror escapism. And with the glitzy teen-romance Vampire Academy already airing (Sundays on W network) the beautiful undead are definitely back in the pop culture.
Nothing Compares (Showtime/Crave, Oct. 2) is a powerful and moving dive into the turbulent years in the career of Irish singer Sinead O’Connor. Her story is extraordinary, from a bleak childhood to early stardom to enormous controversy. (Her autobiography Rememberings is an often stunning book, a furious and funny account of growing up as a young woman who never, ever did what she was told to do.) Raw and poignant, it’s a doc Showtime will release briefly in theatres, anticipating an Oscar nomination.
Alaska Daily (ABC, starts Oct. 6) tells us yes, an Oscar-winning actress will do a network TV show. Hilary Swank plays journalist Eileen Fitzgerald, who ditches New York life to work at a local Anchorage newspaper. She needs a clean start, personally. The pilot is very solid, as our abrasive heroine chooses to write about the deaths of Iocal Indigenous women.
Let the Right One In (Showtime/Crave, starts Oct. 9) is inspired by the classic movie of the same title and is more evidence of a vampire-comeback trend. Demian Bichir stars as the father of the girl vampire Eleanor (Madison Taylor Baez) who stays aged 12 forever, in what is part-thriller and part agonizing meditation on loneliness. It’s strangely, mesmerizingly realistic, not fantasy.
Shantaram (AppleTV+, starts Oct. 14) stars Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as Lin, a convict who escapes prison in Australia with a fake passport and flees to the teeming streets of Bombay, where he hopes to disappear, but is drawn into the local crime underworld.
Magpie Murders (PBS Masterpiece, starts Oct. 16) aims to elevate the British whodunnit genre. Based on the novels by Anthony Horowitz, it’s about book editor Susan Ryeland (Lesley Manville) and the unfinished mystery manuscript that leads her into another, real-life mystery. Set in the 1950s and the present day, it’s more tart than most thrillers in the genre.
Annika (PBS Masterpiece Mystery, starts Oct. 16) also aims to change the tone and style of British cop shows. Nicola Walker plays Annika, an officer at Police Scotland’s maritime homicide unit. She’s Norwegian-born and a single mother with a very bratty teen daughter who peskily interferes in her mom’s life. The character addresses the camera often, offering dry, wry takes on the shenanigans around her.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (Netflix, starts Oct. 25) is an anthology series – made in Toronto – from del Toro, all good-looking horror stories intended to “challenge traditional notions of horror” with two new episodes airing daily until the entire package is available in time for Halloween.
The Talented Mr. Rosenberg (CBC on The Passionate Eye, Oct. 21) is a documentary directed by Barry Avrich, about Albert Rosenberg, who presented himself in Toronto as a Swiss billionaire and used dating sites to meet women whose savings he stole. That might be just the tip of the real story.
The Peripheral (Amazon Prime Video, starts Oct. 21) is all sci-fi thriller with alternative realities and some spectacular action sequences. Based on the novel by William Gibson, it stars Chloë Grace Moretz whose character discovers a secret connection to another reality and then her own fraught future. From the producers of Westworld and possibly just as mind-boggling.
The Idol (HBO, streams on Crave, starts in November, date TBA) is created by Abel Tesfaye (also known as The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. Tesfaye also stars, along with Lily-Rose Depp and Dan Levy, in a concoction about the music industry and a self-help guru, in what HBO calls “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood.”
The Crown Season 5 (Netflix, November date TBA) now has Imelda Staunton as the Queen and, apparently, covers the period of Diana’s split from Charles and her tragic death. Diana is played by Elizabeth Debicki. Also, Dominic West plays Prince Charles and Olivia Williams portrays Camilla Parker Bowles.