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Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Sept. 18, 2017

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Star Trek: Discovery” makes its long-awaited debut, and “Better Things” continues its critically-acclaimed second season.

“Jerry Before Seinfeld,” Netflix, Tuesday

Jerry Seinfeld brings his comedy to Netflix in this new special. It features Seinfeld performing at The Comic Strip, one of the New York comedy clubs that helped launch his career. It will also feature never-before-seen material, including a library of legal pads with every joke Seinfeld’s written since 1975, childhood videos, and more.

“The Good Place,” NBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

The hit comedy returns for its second season this week. The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman who enters the afterlife, and thanks to some kind of error, is sent to the Good Place instead of the Bad Place. While hiding in plain sight from the angelic Michael, she’s determined to shed her old way of living and earn her spot. The show also stars William Jackson Harper,  Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and D’Arcy Carden.

Better Things,” FX, Thursday, 10 p.m. (CRITICS’ PICK)

It’s hard to break down why this season of “Better Things” is so fantastic. Laying out specific plot points doesn’t really capture it: It’s about quicksilver moments and ambiguous reactions, and the show’s ability to create an emotional impact without ever being manipulative. As was the case last season, Sam (showrunner and sole director Pamela Adlon) is raising three girls with distinct temperaments and trying to sustain her career as an actress. Having been raised by a mouthy, independent and intelligent mom, Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood) and Duke (Olivia Edward) give Sam no quarter. But they’re real; they’re not sassy TV kids who exist to deliver hugs, sentiment and punchlines. As it raises its game this season, “Better Things” allows its stories to breathe and percolate. It lets us wonder what’s coming next, and those few seconds of silence make the subsequent moment a thing to be savored. And when it comes to that perfectly timed next beat, “Better Things” never disappoints. Do not miss the perfectly paced second episode of the season, which airs Thursday. It’s not just hilarious and moving, it’s nothing short of magical. 

“Fuller House,” Netflix, Friday

Part one of Season 3 of the follow-up series debuts this week. The show follows the recently widowed D.J. Tanner-Fuller, who finds herself living in her childhood home with younger sister and aspiring musician Stephanie Tanner and DJ’s lifelong best friend/fellow single mother Kimmy Gibbler, along with their children. The show reunites much of the main cast of “Full House,” including Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, as well as guest appearances by John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and Bob Saget.

Star Trek: Discovery,” CBS, Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

CBS is boldly going back to where no man has gone before with this brand new installment in the “Star Trek” TV franchise. Plot details for the show have been kept under wraps, but it is known that the series takes place in the years before Captain James T. Kirk was at the helm of the Enterprise. “The Walking Dead” alum Sonequa Martin-Green stars alongside Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, and Anthony Rapp among others. The series premiere will also be available on-demand on CBS All Access and the second episode of the series will be available on the service that same night immediately following the broadcast premiere. After premiere night, all new episodes will be available on-demand weekly on Sundays exclusively for CBS All Access subscribers in the U.S. The 15-episode season will be released in two parts. The first eight episodes will run from Sept. 24 through Nov. 5. The season will then resume in January 2018.


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