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Fall TV Preview 2017: What to Watch This Season

Alias Grace
Netflix; Nov. 3 premiere
It’s a golden era for Margaret Atwood adaptations. “Alias Grace,” written and produced by Sarah Polley, is Netflix’s answer to Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — though not so dystopic. Atwood’s style is distinctive, but this is quite a different story from “Handmaid’s”: For one, it’s a period piece; for another, it’s a closed-ended miniseries. “Alias Grace” is set in 1943 in Canada and based on the real-life story of an Irish housemaid who kills the man she serves. — Sonia Saraiya

Better Things
FX; season two, Sept. 14 premiere
The first season of this series was excellent, but this year, “Better Things” ascends to another level. The second episode alone is a tour de force, full of quotable lines, unexpected but fascinating turns and poignant moments that hit like a ton of bricks. With the second season of this unmissable, funny, insightful and deeply humane show, Pamela Adlon takes her place as one of the most important storytellers on the TV scene. — Maureen Ryan

BoJack Horseman
Netflix; season four, Sept. 8 premiere
Everyone’s favorite talking horse returns for another season of poor coping mechanisms and animal puns — and while “BoJack Horseman” is always a treat, this year finds a way to dig into the characters’ issues with a humanity that’s at odds with all the animalia on display. BoJack (Will Arnett) heads up to Michigan for a retreat, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) tries to make her functional adult relationship work, and Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) runs for governor. — Sonia Saraiya

The Crown
Netflix; season two, Dec. 8 premiere
There’s no more engrossing period drama on TV than “The Crown.” Sure, the history of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is well-documented, but the Netflix series shows us what was going on behind the castle walls with the young monarch as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and sovereign strategist. We know world events will test the Commonwealth’s mettle when the saga resumes. What we really want from season two is to see how Elizabeth (Claire Foy) handles it all on the inside. — Cynthia Littleton

Curb Your Enthusiasm
HBO; season nine, Oct. 1 premiere
The return of Larry David is enough to stop the (digital) presses, but following a year in which he played Bernie Sanders, pitch-perfectly, on “Saturday Night LIve,” the ninth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” feels like a gift from above to carry us all through these trying political times. Six years after its eighth-season finale, “Curb” returns for more awkwardness than ever — thank merciful heaven. — Sonia Saraiya

The Deuce
HBO; Sept. 10 premiere
David Simon teams up with HBO again for this period drama about the burgeoning pornography industry, starting with the lives of the sex workers in Times Square in the ’70s. Like so many of Simon’s shows, “The Deuce” has such captivating characters — including fantastic turns by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco — that you’re sucked into the story without really understanding what’s happening. With an atmosphere like this, who cares? — Sonia Saraiya

The Good Place
NBC; season two, Sept. 20 premiere
After a first season that went in totally unexpected directions, “The Good Place” ended with a cliffhanger that opened the door for season two to be funny and quite possibly terrifying. It’s going to be exciting to watch the show continue its metaphysical games — and to watch Eleanor (Kristen Bell), now with wiped memory, try to figure out once more what Michael (Ted Danson) is scheming, with just one scrawled clue hidden in her house: “FIND CHIDI,” referring to the character played by William Jackson Harper. — Sonia Saraiya

The Last O.G.
TBS; Oct. 24 premiere
This TBS sitcom takes a look at gentrifying Brooklyn as it follows ex-con Tray (Tracy Morgan), who is trying to reintegrate into his old neighborhood 20 years after he left for prison. Everything has changed — the buildings have turned into glass condos, the neighbors have turned into hipsters and his ex-wife (Tiffany Haddish) has married someone else. Morgan’s return to a scripted series is already exciting; as it looks at shifting demographics in Brooklyn, “The Last O.G.” promises a fascinating new angle on the otherwise overexposed city. — Sonia Saraiya

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Amazon; premiere date TBD
One crucial element in the magic that was “Gilmore Girls” was creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s trademark so-fast-and-so-witty dialogue, which challenged viewers to keep up with her. She’s bringing those enviable skills to her latest effort, about a ’50s housewife (Rachel Brosnahan) who discovers a talent for stand-up comedy. Amazon is so confident about this project, it’s ordered two seasons. And that’s no laughing matter. — Debra Birnbaum

The Mayor
ABC; Oct. 3 premiere
“Hamilton” breakout Daveed Diggs brings his humor and musical talent to new comedy “The Mayor,” on which he is executive producer in addition to writing original music. Brandon Micheal Hall, who stood out among the talented cast of TBS’ dark comedy “Search Party,” will lend his charisma — and apparent rap skills — as the series lead, while Yvette Nicole Brown shines as Hall’s mother. — Joe Otterson

The Mick
Fox; season two, Sept. 26 premiere
“The Mick” started as a fish-out-of-water story for the titular Mickey (Kaitlin Olson), who became a guardian to her spoiled niece and nephews after their parents fled the country to avoid being charged with tax fraud. The show didn’t shy away from giving the kids heavy lifting, and it proved to be one of the strongest ensemble families on broadcast TV. Watching them maneuver around their new station in life was funny in the first season, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. Now that cherubic Ben (Jack Stanton) has burned down the mansion and they truly have to start over, the laughs are guaranteed to be magnified. — Danielle Turchiano

The Orville
Fox; Sept. 10 premiere
The Orville,” created by and starring “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane, taps into his love of comedy and the “Star Trek” universe. The new sci-fi series offers a mix of both, tackling serious issues with aplomb and a healthy amount of humor. The show also has “Trek” alums Brannon Braga and David A. Goodman as executive producers and “Deep Space Nine” actress Penny Johnson Jerald among the cast. “The Orville” boasts top-notch production design and makeup effects on par with any “Trek” series to date. — Joe Otterson

Shameless
Showtime; season eight, Nov. 5 premiere

Almost a year after the Gallagher clan buried their mother, Showtime will see a return to the South Side of Chicago with the eighth-season of “Shameless” in November, marking the perfect time for a homecoming (it is the month of Thanksgiving, after all). The Family members are still rough around the edges, but they are trying so hard to get their lives together it’s impossible not to root for them to survive their circumstances, whether it’s Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her new business, Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) in military school, or Debbie (Emma Kenney) as a teenage mom. — Danielle Turchiano

Stranger Things
Netflix; season two, Oct. 27 premiere
No one knew what to expect when “Stranger Things” dropped on Netflix in 2016. The series became a sleeper hit, with its 1980s aesthetic and young, largely unknown cast capturing the attention of viewers and critics alike. After nabbing 18 Emmy nominations, the show is due back with what promises to be an even deeper dive into its dark mythology. Unless the group of young heroes is able to stop the invading monsters, things certainly look like they’re going to turn Upside Down. — Joe Otterson

This Is Us
NBC; season two, Sept. 26 premiere
The true test of a show often comes in its second season: Can it deliver on the potential and promise of the first? Creator Dan Fogelman is all too aware of the high stakes ahead, and the show’s millions of fans are eagerly anticipating what narrative tricks he has planned. It’s not just the mystery of the death of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) — we will wait, (im)patiently for answers — but also the emotional hooks that grab us. In a world that grows increasingly fraught, an hour with the Pearsons is the perfect antidote. — Debra Birnbaum

The Vietnam War
PBS; Sept. 17 premiere
For their 10-part, 18-hour exploration of the American war in Vietnam — and the historical run-up to it, beginning with European colonization in the 19th century — Ken Burns and long-time collaborator Lynn Novick gained unique access to the modern Southeast Asian nation and veterans and survivors of the conflict there. Their stories and those of Americans at war and at home are told in balance against a soundtrack of period rock music and a contemporary score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross — Daniel Holloway

Will & Grace
NBC; Sept. 28 premiere
Chemistry is a fickle science: Either a cast as it or it doesn’t, and that magic alchemy can make the difference between a one-and-done run or sitcom Shangri-la. The fab foursome of Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen may have ended their first stretch more than 10 years ago, but it took just 10 minutes — with that pin-sharp election video — to prove that their formula still works. Let the hilarity ensue. — Debra Birnbaum

You’re the Worst
FXX; season four, Sept. 6 premiere
FXX’s edgy romantic comedy is starting its fourth season with its core couple split up after Jimmy (Chris Geere) proposed to Gretchen (Aya Cash) but then left her staring at his taillights. What the show does best is explore the broken pieces of its characters, and this season is poised to do so in spades, from Jimmy running away to a retirement trailer-park-village to Gretchen’s manic spinout. Seeing how they can grow (ha) from here is where the series’ heart will emerge. — Danielle Turchiano

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