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Here’s what to watch on fall TV

It will be a season of alternate universes, glimpses back in time, and pure drama, including the ‘Sopranos’ prequel, and ‘The Wonder Years’ with Don Cheadle.

In the "Many Saints of Newark," old and new actors join the drama, including Corey Stoll, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Michael Gandolfini, Gabriella Piazza and Alessandro Nivola.
In the "Many Saints of Newark," old and new actors join the drama, including Corey Stoll, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Michael Gandolfini, Gabriella Piazza and Alessandro Nivola.Read moreBarry Wetcher

Fall TV is back!

And it will be a season of alternate universes, glimpses back in time, and pure drama. Bring on the trashy guilty pleasures.

So many favorites are returning: Season 4 of A Million Little Things will premiere 10 p.m. Wednesday on ABC. Is Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) really going to whup Sophie’s (Lizzy Greene) smutty music teacher’s behind? Queen Latifah will reprise her title role on CBS’s The Equalizer at 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10. (There is something about Latifah rolling down the street listening to old-school hip-hop and taking bad boys out that makes me hype.)

Because of the pandemic, a lot of openings are still unpredictable, and we expect that many will change. Check the schedule to confirm dates and times.

Grey’s Anatomy season 18 will kick off at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, on NBC. The final season of Issa Rae’s Insecure will start 10 p.m. Oct. 24, on HBO and Succession will return to the premium channel in October, too.

The 2021-2022 TV season also promises the return of Netflix’s Ozark and the final season of ABC’s This is Us, and because TV is a lot like fashion these days, dropping bomb limited-edition series throughout the year, we know there will be more surprises along the way.

Here is a list of must-sees you can watch in real time or binge on your own time.

American Rust

(10 p.m. Sundays, Showtime). A small Pennsylvania town. A mystery murder. A family that constantly makes bad decisions. No, I’m not talking about Mare of Easttown. This is the premise of a nine-episode arc starring Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney based on Philipp Meyer’s book. The drama debuted Sept. 12, so if you start watching now, you will still have plenty of time solve the mystery.

What If...?

(3 a.m. Wednesdays, Disney+). In this Marvel Cinematic Universe animated series, actor Jeffrey Wright is The Watcher, the omnipresent narrator of alternate universes in which our favorite Marvel superheroes live. Possible what-ifs: What if Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) are best friends? What if Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is the first super soldier, instead of Captain America Steve Rogers? Get your tissues ready because when you hear Chadwick Boseman’s final voice-over in the what-if T’Challa becomes Star-Lord episode, you’re gonna get misty-eyed. The season finale is set for Oct. 6.

Ordinary Joe

(10 p.m. Monday, NBC). What if you could see the ends of the roads in life you didn’t take? (See a pattern here?) That’s the premise of this new drama starring James Wolk as protagonist Joe Kimbreau living three different lives in parallel universes. How does he fare following his dad’s footsteps as a Chicago police officer? Does he lose himself in the fame when he is a professional rock star? Can he save his troubled marriage when he’s a workaholic? Is there ever really a right choice?

NCIS: Hawai’i

(10 p.m. Monday, CBS). The fourth spin-off of Donald P. Bellisario’s NCIS crime fighting franchise will star Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent Jane Tennant. Lachey will be NCIS’s first female lead, a role she’s not taking lightly. It looks like Hawai’i will live up to the fans’ expectations as Tennant balances managing an elite team with motherhood and what we know will be an interesting personal life.

Our Kind of People

(9 p.m. Tuesday, FOX.) Oak Bluffs, Mass., has long been an enclave for the Black elite. But this beachy burg is getting a lot of pop-culture shine lately thanks to the The View host Sunny Hostin’s easy read, Summer on the Bluffs and Lee Daniels’ juicy prime-time drama, Our Kind of People. The soapy serial stars Yaya DaCosta, Joe Morton, and Morris Chestnut and borrows its name from the late Lawrence Otis Graham’s 1999 nonfiction best seller that shined a light on the Black upper class.

The Wonder Years

(8:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC). They had me at Don Cheadle. But add in Dulé Hill and a winter-pastel hued late-1960s backdrop, the reboot of the coming of age drama is a sure shot. Cheadle is the wise, grown-up voice of 12-year-old Dean Williams (Elisha “EJ” Williams) as he tries to figure out his “bag” — think personal style. Dean’s story will be as tricky as it is heartfelt as he integrates into middle school, impresses girls, and perfects his baseball swing. Fun fact: Original Wonder Years star Fred Savage is involved with the project.

Law & Order: Organized Crime

(10 p.m. Thursday, NBC). I’m still not over the loss of Elliot Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) wife, Kathy. But I continue to watch this hard-edged Law & Order spin-off to keep up with the next foul move of Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott). But what will really keep me watching the second season’s 24 episodes is the possibility that Olivia (Law & Order: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler will finally get together.

La Brea

(9 p.m. Sept. 28, NBC). A massive sinkhole opens in the middle of this suburban Los Angeles neighborhood, separating a troubled family who find themselves sucked into an alternate universe. Those in the sinkhole have to band together in a Survivor-like fashion.

The Many Saints of Newark

(Oct. 1, HBO Max). This prequel to The Sopranos is set in 1960s Newark and is the story of teenage Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini). The two-hour film is just as much about the mob wars as it is the nostalgia. The set boasts a replica of iconic Newark buildings, including the Adams Theatre marquee. Considering the popularity of Godfather of Harlem on Epix and Power Book III: Raising Kanan on Starz, mob boss prequels are definitely a thing.


(9 p.m. Oct. 7, CBS). Seemingly lucky couple Samantha and Jay (Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar) inherit a French country estate they’re set on turning into a bed and breakfast. That is until they are visited by its previous inhabitants, all of whom are dead. If this sitcom is as funny as the trailer, this will be a hilarious addition to our Thursday nights.


(9 p.m. Oct. 19, ABC). I’ve never been a fan of musicals. But I may have to make an exception for Queens, starring Philly-bred rapper Eve, singer-turned actress Brandy Norwood, and actresses Naturi Naughton (Power) and Nadine E. Velázquez (My Name is Earl). Once a racy ‘90s R&B group — think En Vogue made up of five Lil’ Kims — these ladies are on a mission to reclaim their fame. Can they do it?


(Oct. 13, Hulu). This 8-episode miniseries, starring Michael Keaton as the skeptical Dr. Samuel Finnix, is about the rise of the opioid crisis. Inspired by Beth Macy’s nonfiction book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America. The opioid crisis killed more than 500,000 Americans since OxyContin was introduced in the late 1990s. I think this fictional recount of the rise in use of prescription pills sadly will hit home for many.


(9 p.m. Oct. 25, The CW). In this update of the early 2000s sci-fi series The 4400 — “The” was dropped — scores of people reappear who mysteriously disappeared during the last 100 years. Like the original series, those who went poof haven’t aged a day and return with super powers. But unlike the earlier version, they are among society’s overlooked, undervalued and marginalized.

Colin in Black & White

(Oct. 29, Netflix). This mini-series is a look back at how Colin Kaepernick became the passionate activist and freedom fighter he is today. The former NFL player teamed up with director Ava DuVernay for the six-episode limited series that Kaepernick narrates. The young Kaepernick is played by up-and-coming actor Jaden Michael and explores what it was like for him to become a high school football star and be raised by his adoptive white parents.

Cowboy Bebop

(Nov. 19, Neflix). If you’re in to bounty hunters on the search for galactic bad guys — admittedly, I’m not — then you’ve probably been waiting for Cowboy Bebop. The live-action series, starring John Cho, is based on Shinichirō Watanabe’s popular anime series. Based on the trailers, the costumes promise to be funky. And we all know high fashion is sometimes all it takes to make a show worth watching.

» READ MORE: Find more in our complete fall arts guide