This fall, everything old is old again.
Do you like military shows? There are three, so interchangeable they might as well be called Gun Go Bang. There are three more superhero shows, all from Marvel, and three reboots — Dynasty, S.W.A.T. and Will & Grace — with a fourth, Roseanne, due later this season.
In other words, if you thought last fall’s creative standouts This is Us, Atlanta, Speechless and Insecure were going to spur the TV industry to ever greater heights — they didn’t. Every season has its high points, but as a whole, this one is shaping up to be far less impressive than the last.
Still, there are some good options out there, spread among broadcast, cable and streaming networks. Finding them in this era of near-daily premieres, however, is the trick — which is why USA TODAY’s Robert Bianco offers this guide to fall’s 10 best bets, in chronological order. Mark your calendars and plunge in.
HBO, Sept. 10 (Sundays, 9 ET/PT)
James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this incredibly evocative series about the birth of the porn industry in a decaying, decadent early-1970s New York City. While that sounds interesting, here’s what should put the show on top of any must-see list: It’s co-produced by David Simon, who gave us what might be TV’s greatest drama series, The Wire. Which means that once the eight-episode season gets going (and it’s a somewhat slow starter) you can count on it being about much more than just porn and sex and the ’70s, delving deep into where we are as a society today.
The Vietnam War
PBS, Sept. 17 (Sundays through Thursdays, 8 ET/PT, times may vary)
With their latest film for PBS, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tackle what may be their most controversial topic yet: a war that ripped apart our nation’s social and political fabric, creating divisions that exist to this day. For 18 hours over 10 nights, they attempt to explain the war and its effects, offering as many perspectives as possible while trying to answer a question that still haunts so many who lived through the conflict: “How could this have happened?” It’s a hard question to face, but the wounds may never heal if we don’t.
Star Trek: Discovery
CBS All Access, Sept. 24 (first episode airs on CBS, Sunday at 8:30 ET/PT)
Fans have seen no more than a trailer so…