Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue in "Gotham" (Jessica Miglio/Fox)
Autumn is just around the corner, which means TV networks have a whole crop of programming, both new and old, to satisfy your viewing needs. Below is a list of shows from the upcoming fall season that merit your interest.
“Boardwalk Empire” – Returns Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. on HBO
Produced by Martin Scorsese and created by Terence Winter (writer of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street), “Boardwalk Empire” is entering its fifth and final season. Though often misrepresented as a gangster show about violence and grudges, “Boardwalk” is deceivingly complex and increasingly political in nature. Sure, it features elements of violence and revenge and all those juicy tropes we’ve come to expect from gangster productions (particularly those of Mr. Scorsese), but those are merely bridging points between the show’s ambitious scope. Featuring impressive performances from Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald, among others, “Boardwalk” is set to go out with a bang.
“Gotham” – Premieres Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. on Fox
Comic books and their adaptations have been all the rage since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man hit theaters in the summer of 2002. Almost 15 years later, not only are comic books still being adapted, but they’re being scheduled as theatrical releases six years from now. It seems only natural that the medium would start spilling into TV; in fact, there are two additional new comic-book adaptations coming out in the forms of “The Flash” (the CW) and “Constantine” (NBC), though “Gotham” seems to be best slated for success. Featuring impressive visuals and a detailed knowledge of the canon, “Gotham” rides on the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy without stepping on its toes. With a story described as a prequel to Gotham’s superheroes and supervillains, the show’s central focus is Commissioner Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland” and “The O.C.”) and his attempts at keeping the city clean.
“Key and Peele” – Returns Sept. 24 at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele worked together on “MADtv” long before joining comedic forces to create the show of their namesakes. Though they didn’t quite hit the nail on the head on “MADtv,” “Key and Peele” showcases the duo’s comedic strengths both in front of the camera and behind it. With sketches ranging in subject matter from race and politics to pop culture and sheer absurdity, there is something for everyone to like. The show’s pilot earned Comedy Central its highest ratings for a premiere since 2009 and has even gained the praise of our own President, Barack Obama, himself the subject of more than one sketch. This series comes with the federal seal of approval and is all but guaranteed to be one of the funniest shows this season.
“Black-ish” – Premieres Sept. 24 at 9:30 p.m. on ABC
Just the other day I was talking with some friends when the question popped up: What ever happened to Anthony Anderson? Like a message from the universe, the next day I saw a trailer for his new show, “Black-ish.” Created by and starring Anderson, “Black-ish” deals with race and identity in a way that hasn’t been done before on television. Though Anderson’s character is firmly set in his own identity as a black man, he has trouble seeing eye to eye with his family who are much more eclectic in their cultural identity. With a supporting cast featuring Laurence Fishburne and Tracee Ellis Ross, this show’s concept and originality alone are enough to warrant a watch.
“How To Get Away With Murder” – Premieres Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. on ABC
I’m not entirely sure how, but “Grey’s Anatomy” is entering its 11th season and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With it and “Scandal” still running strong, it’s a wonder that creator Shonda Rhimes has to time to do anything else, let alone conjuring up a whole other series. Yet, here we are, and the new show in question is quite intriguing. It follows a law professor specializing in the death penalty, who along with her students, somehow find themselves involved in a murder plot. Using only the law and their wits, together they must lawyer their way out of guilt. The premise is interesting, and the title is gimmicky enough that it deserves at least one viewing. Add Academy Award-nominated Viola Davis as the lead, and you’ve got one hell of an idea with plenty of potential.
“Homeland” – Returns Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. on Showtime
“Homeland” begins its fourth season with more curiosity than any of its previous beginnings. After sweeping the Emmys in its first season, taking home Best Lead Actor and Lead Actress in a Drama Series as well as Best Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, “Homeland” took a significant dip in quality and realism with its second season. Responding to critical backlash, the showrunners – previously known for their hit show “24” – responded with a noted increase in effort and thoughtfulness, if not completely successful in its attempt at higher quality. It could be the case that this show was doomed to deteriorate after its stellar beginning, but following last season’s finale, in which one of its central characters was killed off, one can only hope that a fresh beginning will jumpstart the narrative and return the show to its former glory.
“Mulaney” – Premieres Oct. 5 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox
It seems like every up-and-coming comedian reaches a point in his or her career when he or she is given a TV show. Though “Seinfeld” is the obvious example, many others have tried and found great success doing this, such as Drew Carey, Tim Allen, Louis CK (twice) and many others. John Mulaney is the latest standup to get the sitcom treatment, playing a fictionalized version of himself as a comedian in NYC trying to make it big, with or without the help of his crazy neighbors. Though his surge in popularity gives credence to him having his own show, the generic premise leaves some big, gaping shoes to fill. Hopefully he can live up to it and set himself apart.
“The Affair” – Premieres Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. on Showtime
One of this season’s more interesting concepts comes from Showtime’s new series “The Affair.” The show follows how cheating can affect a relationship, documenting both perspectives of the cheaters and those who are cheated on, as well as their dishes on the side. It seems like TV has an overabundance of infidelity and tarnished romances, though this show looks like it might actually have something to say by exploring the often-complicated psychology of going astray. Led by talented actors in Dominic West, best known for his role on “The Wire,” and Ruth Wilson of “Luther,” this show stands a good chance of being informative as well as entertaining.
Well, folks, that’s it for our guide to the fall season. hopefully this year’s crop will be enough to satisfy us ’til summer. Until then, happy viewing.