The summer TV drought will soon be over.
This weekend marked the big Television Critics Association press tour, where stars offered looks at their latest shows as networks gear up for the new fall TV season.
With high-end cable networks like AMC and streaming content studios like Netflix now in the mix, primetime TV stakes are as high ever, with networks sinking big-budgets into shows and landing big-names for their 2015 programming lineups.
Here’s a look at 10 of the fall series it’s time to start getting excited about.
The Muppets (Sept. 22, ABC)
The Muppets remain one of America’s great TV treasures. As their latest celebrity break-up-inspired promotional campaign goes to show, after four decades on the air, Jim Henson’s quirky creations can still manage to pull off some of pop-culture’s sharpest satire. From the early trailers, the new ABC reboot looks to have all of the self-awareness and subversive humor we’ve come to love. The new show is a send-up of the primetime form itself, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the production of Up Late with Miss Piggy while parodying the state of TV, celebrity culture and Hollywood itself.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (Sept. 15, NBC)
In the modern era of television, the variety show, with its mix of comedy, music and wacky games, has become a lost art. Neil Patrick Harris hopes to change that. Based on the British hit Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Best Time Ever brings some of the light-hearted, sketch-comedy-hour-meets-talk-show style fun back to a primetime lineup bloated with heavy hospital dramas and violent action series. If anyone is up to the task, it’s NPH.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (Mid-Season, CW)
Set in the same comic book universe as CW hits The Flash and Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow is sort of DC’s version of (a young) Avengers team: The show features a group of superheroes, joining together to fight the evil-but-awesomely-named Vandal Savage from destroying the universe. But the series’ real appeal isn’t the (somewhat generic) comic storyline. It’s CW’s stylish approach to TV-making that has managed to do something Marvel isn’t always great at: Making superheroes cool.
Heroes Reborn (Sept. 24, NBC)
NBC is hoping that Hollywood’s recent superhero craze can help the network recapture the magic of one of its biggest action hits. Based on the original Heroes, which debuted in 2005 and ran for four seasons (or, in this case, five “Volumes”), Reborn is a 13-episode miniseries that follows more regular people who discover they suddenly have extraordinary powers. Along with an appearance by some of the original’s familiar faces, the miniseries will star Judith Shekoni (she played the vampire Zafrina one of the Twilight movies) and will be the primetime network comeback for Chuck-star Zachary Levi.
Minority Report (Sept. 21, Fox)
Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report remains one of the era’s underrated movies, so hopefully Fox’s sequel series can live up to the film’s (and the original novel’s) legacy. The new series is set 15 years after the first movie, in a futuristic world where the elite “Pre-Crime” fighting team is no more. One young “Precog,” Dash, though, continues to use his future-seeing abilities to fight crimes before they happen, while also looking for a missing sibling. It’s an ambitious undertaking for network show, but early teasers look promising.
Project Greenlight (Sept. 13, HBO)
It’s been 10 years since the filmmaking reality show has been on the air, and since then, two of the series’ high-profile producers, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, have gotten even more well-known. As the teaser shows, the competition will feature all of the drama, conflict, tension and stress of the movie business, even though contestants will have comedy big-wigs The Farrelly Brothers on-hand as mentors. In era of exploitive reality TV and goofy competitions, Project Greenlight has long stood out as one of the most interesting and rewarding takes on the genre.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Sept. 8, CBS) / The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (September 28, Comedy Central)
This fall, two long-running late night institutions are getting new hosts, ushering in a new era of late night comedy. On Comedy Central, the young, relatively unknown comedian Trevor Noah is taking the reins of The Daily Show from Jon Stewart after 16 years. And if an early controversy surrounding some of his old Twitter jokes are any indication, Noah’s not afraid to go edgy.
On the network side, Stephen Colbert is making the jump from Comedy Central to fill the incredibly large shoes left behind by David Letterman on CBS’ The Late Show. Both shows—and new hosts—are facing big expectations from long-time fans, and no matter how they end up faring with critics, The Late Show and The Daily Show will two of this fall’s must-see reboots.
Of Kings and Prophets (Midseason, ABC)
Violence, betrayal, sex … the Bible. This season’s big primetime Bible drama doesn’t have the beginning-to-end scope of The Bible miniseries, instead, focusing only on the Books of Samuel and the dramatic lives of Saul and David. The real story of the rival kings is one of the Old Testament’s most intense stories, and seems tailor-made for the small screen. The production though, has already faced its own drama. The series debut was pushed back several months by ABC after executives wanted a creative overhaul of the pilot.
Fear the Walking Dead (Aug. 23, AMC)
A spin-off series to one of cable’s most successful series of all time, Fear the Walking Dead takes place during the same nightmarish zombie outbreak—accept in a different city—as The Walking Dead. What makes the show so interesting is that it is essentially taking all of the key elements from the first series (which, in addition to flesh-eating zombies also means themes like family, faith, God and survival) and seeing if they can work with different characters. Considering it’s from the same mastermind behind The Walking Dead graphic novel, Robert Kirkman, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a fan of AMC’s original zombie soap opera.
Narcos (Aug. 28, Netflix)
From its first trailer, Netflix’s new original series looks like a mix between Breaking Bad and Scarface, telling the true story of the rise of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. During the cocaine wars of the early ‘80s, Escobar’s Medellin Cartel raked in billions by smuggling drugs into the U.S. But this series, told from the perspective of a young D.E.A. agent, looks more concerned with close looks at interesting characters than just focusing on the high-level story arc.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.