A previous version of this story first appeared in TheWrap Magazine Fall TV issue
The Bastard Executioner (FX)
If there’s any TV showrunner we’d like to see get medieval, it’s “Sons of Anarchy”‘s Kurt Sutter, who ought to offer plenty of blood’n’gore to savor in his tale of a 14th century knight who becomes the ultimate enforcer.
Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris (NBC)
In which the best awards-show host of our time (that Oscars gig excepted) attempts the herculean task of reviving the variety-show format for 10 episodes. Good luck, buddy.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
Romantic obsession, music, comedy.
We love the premise–an actor who’s played a lawyer on a long-running TV series thinks he’s qualified to join his family’s real law firm when his show is canceled–and Rob Lowe seems like the right guy for the job.
Into the Badlands (AMC)
A martial-arts drama based on an old Chinese tale (and a Comic-Con sensation), the series could make Daniel Wu the 21st-century version of David Carradine‘s Kwai Chang Caine in the ’70s cult series “Kung Fu.”
A procedural, a whodunit (or, really, a whosgonnadoit) and a look at the fight against terrorism.
Scream Queens (Fox)
Another creepy anthology series from Ryan Murphy (“American
Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis-Ross are back to find the humor in racial identity, a worthy goal in these turbulent times.
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Get out your hankies: The most successful international show in Emmy history and one of the most-watched dramas around the world will end its six-season run, airing its final episode on Christmas Day in the U.K. and, anticlimactically, a couple months later in the U.S.
The biggest new show in years will attempt to avoid the second-album slump.
Noah Hawley‘s first season deftly captured the spirit and tone of the Coen brothers’ 1996 movie without using its story or characters, and he’ll try to do it again with a whole new story, this time featuring Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson and Patrick Wilson.
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
Last season, the sitcom starring Constance Wu won points for being the first Asian-focused show on network TV since Margaret Cho‘s “All-American Girl” 20 years ago; this season, it’ll become the first to run for more than a single season.
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
A murderer is revealed and new cast members come aboard.
Jason Reitman‘s last couple of films haven’t been hits, but he sounds well-suited for a yet-unscheduled Hulu series that blends comedy and drama in the story of a bachelor brother and newly divorced sister.
Hand of God (Amazon)
Ron Perlman‘s judge-turned-vigilante has the potential to be one of the most tortured and morally complex–and let’s face it, one of the most badass–characters of the season.
After three seasons on A&E, will the series about a gun-toting Wyoming sheriff find new energy on Netflix? The storyline is promising: The title character has found his wife’s killer and is now out for revenge.
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
The results haven’t always been great, but hope springs eternal among Philip K. Dick fans whenever one of the sci-fi master’s novels is adapted for the big or small screen. It helps to have “X-Files” vet Frank Spotnitz in charge.
Master of None (Netflix)
From his stand-up to his role on “Parks and Recreation” to the amusing toothbrush story he’s written for Chipotle bags, Aziz Ansari is always worth a look.
The Mindy Project (Hulu)
The good news for Mindy Kaling is that her show’s new home on Hulu means she won’t have to make each episode the same exact length, separated into four evenly timed acts. The challenge is that Hulu is so enthusiastic that it’s ordered 26 episodes, a supersize season for the fourth-year show.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
The initial season of “Kimmy” was produced for NBC before the series moved to Netflix. So the upcoming season is the first to be written and filmed without broadcast network restrictions in mind.
The Affair (Showtime)
The first season came out of nowhere to win the Golden Globe for Best Television Series — Drama, upping the stakes for Season 2 of the Dominic West/Ruth Wilson drama exposing two different perspectives on an extramarital dalliance.
Ash vs. Evil Dead (Starz)
Director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell teamed up for three cult classics in their “Evil Dead” film trilogy, so horror-comedy fans should have a blast watching Campbell kicking what Raimi calls “a truckload of monster butt.”
After a season widely celebrated as a return to quality, Claire Danes‘ Carrie Mathison will skip forward two years, leave the CIA and relocate to Berlin, while the series looks to keep up the momentum.
Steven Soderbergh‘s rich period drama ended its first season on a dark, troubling note, which should give Soderbergh, Clive Owen and a top-notch ensemble cast plenty to work with this time around.
The Leftovers (HBO)
Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta have retooled and relocated their post apocalyptic series and moved beyond the events in Perrotta’s novel, making the 10-episode second season an intriguing opportunity to reinvigorate a series that has left viewers divided.
We haven’t seen much to tell us what this series about rock ‘n’ roll in the ’70s will be like–but with Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terrence Winter all involved, it’s got to be worth a spin.
The political comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus might be the funniest show with the best comic ensemble on television, but can it survive the loss of its wickedly talented creator and showrunner, Armando Iannucci? We won’t know until spring, unfortunately.
Code Black (CBS)
Michael Seitzman has taken ER physician Ryan McGarry’s 2013 documentary and turned it into a drama series of the same name–and given the source material, this promises to be a medical drama with more grit than McDreamyesque melodrama.
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
After 17 years with Jon Stewart at the helm of the series that redefined how many Americans got (and thought about) their news, a new guy will take over on Sept. 28. Talk about a hard act to follow–but, of course, former “Daily Show” correspondent Stephen Colbert will experience the same thing when he takes over David Letterman‘s seat four weeks earlier.
Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
“The Walking Dead,” now entering its sixth season, is TV’s highest-rated cable series ever. So the pressure is on this spinoff/prequel to deliver the scares and live up to expectations.
Heroes Reborn (NBC)
The Muppets (ABC)
Kermit, Miss Piggy and crew are back in a new show that uses the mock-doc format–but really, there’s no genre that wouldn’t be better after a little Muppetizing.
Putting a feminine twist on the testosterone-heavy superhero genre.
Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo (HBO)
The Queen of Comedy goes back to her roots in a standup special filmed at Harlem’s historic theater, which ought to provide some fodder for her to address the criticism she’s drawn for for race-themed jokes and diversity on her show.
Childhood’s End (Syfy)
In an original three-part miniseries, Matthew Graham tackles an Arthur C. Clarke novel that presaged “2001: A Space Odyssey” and remains one of the most brilliant and moving pieces of science fiction ever written.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90201 Story and The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story (Lifetime)
Of course they’re going to be cheesy, but you know you want to watch them.
Untitled U2 Documentary (HBO)
Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim has directed a documentary about the Irish rock band’s spectacularly inventive iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour, airing on Nov. 7.
Untitled U2 Concert Special (HBO)
And a week later, HBO will air a live concert from Paris for those who didn’t get enough of Bono and the boys.
The Wiz Live! (NBC)
No, NBC’s live TV productions of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” were not good, but they were campy if cringeworthy fun–and while this cast doesn’t sport anyone as delicious as Christopher Walken as a somnambulant Captain Hook, we should get some energy from Common, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and David Alan Grier.