What’s new and coming up on TV in the era of COVID-19
The new fall TV season is underway. The fact that there’s new programming at all is a minor miracle unto itself, given that the bulk of series halted production in March and still haven’t restarted. As for when viewers can expect to see new episodes of returning favourites, the only answer to be offered is... who knows?
Yet there’s still plenty of fresh content coming our way in the next few months. Most of this, however, comes not from the traditional television networks but from streaming services and cable specialty channels, with enough produced series in the pipeline to keep viewers satiated until TV production on scripted series can safely get underway again.
These new series are drawn from a variety of sources. Fox’s two new offerings, Next and Filthy Rich, are actually leftovers, originally slated to air earlier this year but pushed back until fall so the network would have something fresh to debut. Others—such as The CW’s Devils and AMC’s Gangs of London—are pre-existing series that aired in Europe, but are “new to you” for North American viewers.
Another factor is the launch of two new streaming services in the midst of the pandemic, HBO Max and Peacock, both of which bulked up on new programming to bolster their respective launches. While neither is available in Canada, some Peacock series are coming to Corus-owned Showcase, while many of HBO Max’s offerings are being made available on Crave and other Bell Media properties.
Meanwhile, a new HBO movie is actually leaning into quarantining and social distancing. Coastal Elites consists of monologues delivered by actors, filmed separately in their respective homes. Then there’s Drew Barrymore’s new daytime talk show, premiering this week, which is unlikely to look like a traditional talk show given that the familiar live-in-front-of-a-studio-audience concept is something that probably won’t be returning anytime soon.
In the meantime, there’s still a lot of new TV coming up. Read on to learn all about it…
1. Transplant – Tuesdays, 9 p.m., NBC | Premiered September 1
NBCSTARRING: Hamza Haq, Laurence Leboeuf, John Hannah, Torri Higginson, Ayisha Issa, Sirena Gulamgaus
This new-to-NBC medical drama should prove familiar to Canadian viewers, given that it’s a made-in-Canada production that originally aired last season on CTV. When charismatic Syrian immigrant Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed (Haq, Quantico) flees his war-torn homeland for Toronto, he and his younger sister Amira (Gulamgaus) must struggle to rebuild their lives in an often-inhospitable new country. To regain his career, Bash faces the daunting task of redoing his medical training from the ground up, with obtaining a residency position practically impossible. But when a horrific truck crash nearly kills a senior doctor (Hannah, Spartacus) right in front of him, Bash’s battle-tested medical skills save the man’s life, landing him a residency in the emergency department at Toronto’s premier hospital.
2. Raised by Wolves – Thursdays (Stream), Crave & Fridays 6 p.m., CTV Sci-Fi | Premiered September 3
CraveSTARRING: Amanda Collin, Abubakar Salim, Travis Fimmel, Niamh Algar, Jordan Loughran, Matias Varela, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Aasiya Shah, Ivy Wong
Ridley Scott (Gladiator) produces this ambitious sci-fi series, and directs the first two episodes. The story focuses on two androids, known as Mother (Collin) and Father (Salim), tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. After the arrival of a rogue element (led by Vikings’ Fimmel), their brave new world threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, and the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans, even children, is a treacherous task.
3. Away – Netflix | Premiered September 4
NetflixSTARRING: Hilary Swank, Josh Charles, Ato Essandoh, Mark Ivanir, Ray Panthaki, Vivian Wu, Talitha Bateman
Described as “a thrilling, emotional drama on an epic scale that celebrates the incredible advancements humans can achieve and the personal sacrifices they must make along the way,” this streaming series follows American astronaut Emma Green (two-time Oscar-winner Swank) as she prepares to lead an international crew on the first mission to Mars. Alas, she must reconcile her decision to leave behind her husband (The Good Wife’s Charles) and teen daughter (Bateman) at a time when they need her most. As the crew’s journey into space intensifies, their personal dynamics and the effects of being away from their loved ones back on Earth become increasingly complex, demonstrating that in order to reach for the stars, we sometimes must leave home behind.
4. Barkskins – Sundays, National Geographic | Premiered September 6
National GeographicSTARRING: David Thewlis, Marcia Gay Harden, Aneurin Barnard, James Bloor, Christian Cooke, Tallulah Haddon, Zahn McClarnon
This Quebec-shot miniseries opens on the unforgiving wilderness of 1690s New France, where a mysterious massacre has threatened to throw the region into all-out war. Likely suspects abound—the English, the Hudson’s Bay Company and a band of Kanien’kehá:ka (Iroquois), who may be aligned with the British to push the French out. Thewlis stars as wealthy landowner Claude Trepany, whose controversial religious beliefs may hinder achieving his vision for New France, while Oscar-winner Harden is innkeeper Mathilde Geffard, a sly power player who knows everyone’s secrets.
5. Julie and the Phantoms – Thursday, September 10, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixSTARRING: Madison Reyes, Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada, Cheyenne Jackson
Choreographer-turned-director Kenny Ortega (whose credits include the hit Disney Channel franchises High School Musical and Descendants) is executive producer of this dramedy about a teen named Julie (Reyes) whose passion for music vanished after the death of her mom. When the ghosts of three young musicians who died back in 1995 suddenly appear in her life, she becomes the lead singer in their band, awakening her long-dormant voice.
6. The Duchess – Friday, September 11, Netflix | Season Premiere
NetflixSTARRING: Katherine Ryan, Kate Byrne, Rory Keenan, Steen Raskopoulos, Michelle de Swarte
U.K.-based, Canadian-born comedian Ryan is the star/co-creator of her first scripted sitcom, starring as a “fashionably disruptive” single mother raising her daughter, Olive, in London. Given how well Olive turned out, she debates whether she should have a second child with her ex, Shep (Keenan of Peaky Blinders fame), as she tries to overlook what a complete jerk he is. Complicating matters is her current boyfriend (Australian comedian Raskopoulos), who wants to take their relationship to the next level.
7. Coastal Elites – Saturday, September 12, HBO Canada
HBO CanadaSTARRING: Sarah Paulson, Bette Midler, Dan Levy, Issa Rae, Kaitlyn Dever
A TV movie for our times, this HBO satire was shot remotely at the actors’ own homes via Zoom, featuring an array of self-isolated characters “coping with politics and the coronavirus pandemic.” The truly enviable cast includes two-time Oscar-nominee Midler, Emmy-winner Paulson, Schitt’s Creek creator/star Levy, Insecure creator/star Rae and Justified breakout Dever. Directing it all is Jay Roach, best known for Austin Powers, Meet the Parents and a couple of other politically charged HBO flicks: Recount and Game Change. Screenwriter Paul Rudnick began penning this script well before the pandemic hit, and yet, being forced to adjust for pandemic-era filming turned out to be more of a benefit than a hindrance. “I was trying to figure out a way into that material, into that level of emotion. And these monologues sort of burst forth. These were people who demanded to be heard, who had stories,” says Rudnick. “Ultimately, that so lent itself to this format because when you have this extraordinary group of actors and you’re with them one-on-one and you watch their faces... you see how hilarious and deeply moving they are.”
8. Brave New World – Sunday, September 13, 9 p.m., Showcase | Series Premiere
ShowcaseSTARRING: Jessica Brown Findlay, Kylie Bunbury, Alden Ehrenreich, Hannah
John-Kamen, Harry Lloyd, Demi Moore, Sen Mitsuji, Joseph Morgan, Nina Sosanya
This new adaptation of the classic Aldous Huxley novel hails from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, and tells a dystopian tale that feels pretty relatable right about now. The series is set in a seemingly idyllic society that has managed to achieve peace and stability—but at a high cost, prohibiting monogamy, privacy, money, family and even history. As citizens of New London, Bernard Marx (Game of Thrones’ Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Findlay, Downton Abbey) embark on a vacation to the Savage Lands, where they become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion. They find themselves rescued by a man known as John the Savage (Ehrenreich, previously seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story), who escapes with them back to New London. John’s arrival in the New World soon threatens to disrupt its utopian harmony, leaving Bernard and Lenina to grapple with the repercussions of what their erstwhile saviour has wrought.
9. Intelligence – Sunday, September 13, 10:00 p.m., Showcase | Series Premiere
ShowcaseSTARRING: David Schwimmer, Nick Mohammed, Sylvestra Le Touzel
This workplace comedy from the U.K. is set within Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters—described as “a kind of weedier, geekier, more bureaucratic version of MI5 and MI6, where they tackle international and domestic Cyber Crime from a desktop.” Enter pompous maverick NSA agent Jerry Bernstein (Friends vet Schwimmer), on loan to the agency from the U.S., who enlists tactless computer analyst Joseph (Mohammed) for a bold power grab that threatens to disrupt the team’s ability to combat cyber-terrorism.
10. Hitmen – Sunday, September 13, 10:30 p.m., Showcase | Series Premiere
Showcase STARRING: Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins
Jamie (Giedroyc) and Fran (Perkins) star in this U.K. import as best friends who only have each other to rely on as they make their way in the world. They’re also professional assassins, who kill people for a living, which doesn’t always go well when their juvenile antics and silly bickering derails their jobs, leading them into bizarre misadventures populated by eccentric oddballs and unanticipated dilemmas.
11. The Drew Barrymore Show – Monday, September 14, 3:00 p.m., Global | Series Premiere
GlobalSTARRING: Drew Barrymore
Daytime talk shows are notoriously competitive, known to chew up and spit out stars such as Queen Latifah, Anderson Cooper and Harry Connick, Jr., to name just a few. Entering the fray for arguably the least predictable TV season ever is Ms. Barrymore, who (according to the show’s press release, at least) is aiming to deliver “optimism TV, bringing information, inspiration and entertainment to the daytime audience this fall.”
12. The Third Day – Monday, September 14, HBO Canada | Series Premiere
HBO CanadaSTARRING: Jude Law, Naomie Harris, Katherine Waterston, Emily Watson, Paddy Considine, Paul Kaye
A unique, ambitious multimedia experiment from HBO tells three stories connected by one strange English isle. The first three episodes, titled “Summer,” star Law as a man in crisis who finds himself unexpectedly drawn to Osea Island, where something is just a little bit off—the residents seeming alternately friendly and aggressive toward this outsider, while also practising some bizarre rituals. Eager for a return to the mainland, a series of suspicious obstacles arise to keep him in their clutches. Those three episodes lead into a live theatrical event titled “Autumn,” which is also set to be broadcast on HBO, featuring Law along with various other cast members. Then comes another three-episode block, titled “Winter,” which follows Skyfall’s Harris as a struggling mother who brings her two daughters to the island. All told, it’s a mind-bending meditation on grief and trauma, with shades of The Wicker Man; and per co-creator Dennis Kelly, viewers are in for a singular experience in each of its three parts: “Summer and Winter look very, very different. They’re very different beasts,” he explains. “Really, what we ended up with was three distinct stories that all speak to each other. Together, they all make one whole, but each one of them has their own characteristics. Winter isn’t a version of Summer; it’s a completely different thing. And Autumn isn’t just ‘Summer, but live.’ It has a different feel to it.”
13. Devils – Wednesday, September 16, W Network | Series Premiere
W NetworkSTARRING: Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi, Laia Costa, Kasia Smutniak, Lars Mikkelsen, Malachi Kirby, Paul Chowdhry, Pia Mechler, Harry Michell, Sallie Harmsen
Based on the novel I Diavoli by Guido Maria Brera, this international thriller follows Massimo Ruggero (Borghi), the charismatic yet ruthless head of trading at NYL, one of the world’s biggest investment banks. When his mentor, NYL CEO Dominic Morgan (former Grey’s Anatomy star Dempsey) appoints another colleague over Massimo following a bitter promotion battle, Massimo is shocked to find that he’s become the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Fighting to clear his name, Massimo becomes involved in an intercontinental financial war and is forced to make a tough choice: support Dominic’s plans or go to war with him.
14. Ratched – Friday, September 18, Netflix | Series Premiere
NetflixSTARRING: Sarah Paulson, Jon Jon Briones, Finn Wittrock
This new series from American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy delves into the origins of Nurse Ratched, who famously tormented Jack Nicholson in the screen classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the bold new prequel, young Mildred Ratched (Paulson) lands a job in a controversial psychiatric facility in Northern California, run by Dr. Richard Hanover (Briones), a drug-addicted doc with a penchant for highly dangerous experimental procedures. While manipulative Mildred ingratiates herself to Hanover, her hidden agenda comes into focus, involving a high-profile patient (Wittrock) whose heinous crimes are at the centre of the upcoming gubernatorial election.
15. Long Way Up – Friday, September 18, Apple TV+ | Season Premiere
Apple TV+STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Charlie Boorman
Back in 2004, the docuseries Long Way Round chronicled the epic voyage of actor McGregor and his pal Boorman as they embarked on a journey from London to New York City—via motorcycles, a trip that took them from Europe to Asia before flying to Alaska and heading by road to their final destination. More than a decade later, the two are back with a new motorcycle adventure, this time beginning in Patagonia and winding up in Los Angeles.
16. Filthy Rich – Monday, September 21, CTV & Fox | Series Premiere
CTVSTARRING: Kim Cattrall, Gerald McRaney, Melia Kreiling, Aubrey Dollar, Corey Cott, Benjamin Levy Aguilar, Mark L. Young, Olivia Macklin, Steve Harris, Aaron Lazar
Described as a “Southern Gothic family soap,” this new dramedy focuses on the mega-rich Monreaux family. When patriarch Eugene (McRaney), owner of a lucrative evangelical TV network, perishes in a plane crash, the reading of his will results in some awkward news for his wife, Margaret (Sex and the City’s Cattrall): he fathered three illegitimate children, all of whom have been written into the will, and are now legitimate heirs to the family fortune—and, suddenly, Margaret’s new business partners.
While the setting may involve religion, series creator Tate Taylor is quick to point out that’s not really what Filthy Rich is about. “It’s about people who are all very different who otherwise would never speak to each other and what does that look like,” he explained. “In this time in our country, we are so polarized. We all know it. No one is talking, so to throw this crazy cast of characters together and you have no idea where this is going... I want this to be a fun, humorous reality check on who we are, because we have to all be different.”
17. L.A.’s Finest – Monday, September 21, Fox | Season Premiere
FoxSTARRING: Gabrielle Union, Jessica Alba, Duane Martin, Zach Gilford, Ryan McPartlin, Sophie Reynolds, Ernie Hudson
Technically not new, given that the first season aired in the U.S. last year (and in Canada on CTV), programming-starved Fox is passing off this Bad Boys spinoff as a fresh offering, in hopes not enough people saw it the first time around. The premise: Union’s cop character from the Bad Boys movies, Sydney Burnett, has relocated from Miami to L.A., where she’s partnered with polar-opposite detective Nancy McKenna (Alba). While they don’t always see eye to eye, they do know how to take down bad guys.
18. Enola Holmes – Wednesday, September 23, Netflix
NetflixSTARRING: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Fiona Shaw
After emerging as the breakout star of Stranger Things, Brown sticks with Netflix for this new film, which she also produces. The actress plays the teen sister of Sherlock Holmes (portrayed here by Superman himself, Cavill). Languishing in big brother’s shadow, Enola must embrace her own inner sleuth after her mother (Carter) goes missing; as she struggles to unravel the disappearance—which is connected to a much larger conspiracy involving a “mysterious young lord”—Enola proves she may just be the real crime-solving savant in the family.
19. Utopia – Friday, September 25, Amazon Prime Video | Series Premiere
AmazonSTARRING: Ashleigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd, Jessica Rothe, Desmin Borges, Javon Walton, Rainn Wilson, John Cusack
Amazon’s new conspiracy thriller, inspired by a British series, follows a group of comic-book-loving nerds who try to prevent the destruction of humanity after finding clues that point to a genocidal biological weapon hidden in the pages of a comic called Utopia.
20. A Wilderness of Error – Friday, September 25, FX Canada
FX CanadaSTARRING: Errol Morris, Clay Boulware, John Morgan, Gina Mazzara, Bryan King
In what may just be your next true-crime obsession, FX adapts Errol Morris’s book about Jeffrey MacDonald, the U.S. Green Beret/Army surgeon who in 1979 was convicted of murdering his wife and two daughters. Morris himself is an accomplished documentarian, having brought us The Thin Blue Line, Tabloid and so many more. Here, however, he cedes filmmaking duties to Andrew Jarecki and Marc Smerling (the duo behind HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst); over the course of five episodes, they use interviews—with Morris and others—and dramatic recreations to examine a deeply fraught case that may have left an innocent man rotting in prison for almost four decades and counting.
21. Weakest Link – Monday, September 28, NBC | Series Premiere
NBCSTARRING: Jane Lynch
Originally a huge hit on British television, this brain-busting game show offered up a U.S. version back in the early 2000s, with original host Anne Robinson dismissing failed contestants with her snarky trademark, “You are the weakest link—goodbye.” Former Glee star Lynch (who also serves as host of another NBC game show, Celebrity Game Night) will step into Robinson’s shoes in this all-new rebooted version.
22. Gangs of London – Thursday, October 1, AMC | Season Premiere
AMCSTARRING: Colm Meaney, Joe Cole, Lucian Msamati, Michelle Fairley, Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Sope Dirisu
A massive hit when it aired on British TV earlier this year, Gangs of London follows the drama after the leader of London’s most powerful crime family, Finn Wallace (Meaney), is assassinated. The result is a power vacuum that sends the heads of the city’s various gangs into lethal competition to take down his heir, impulsive Sean Wallace (Cole).
23. Connecting – Thursday, October 1, NBC
NBCSTARRING: Otmaro Marrero, Parvesh Cheena, Keith Powell, Jill Knox, Shakina Nayfack,
Eli Henry, Preacher Lawson
Blindspot exec producers Martin Gero and Brendan Gall are the driving force behind this new pandemic-produced series, an ensemble comedy about a group of friends. Since they’re all quarantining separately, the pals attempt to stay close and keep each other sane via video chats, sharing the highs and lows of living la vida COVID. Given the premise, the actors film their respective scenes individually.
24. Cobra – Sunday, October 4, KCTS & WTVS | Series Premiere
KCTSSTARRING: Robert Carlyle, Victoria Hamilton, David Haig, Richard Dormer, Lucy Cohu
Despite the title and the fact it’s airing on PBS, viewers shouldn’t assume Cobra is a docuseries about snakes. In fact, this political drama follows the British Prime Minister (Carlyle) as he enters Cabinet Office Briefing Room A (COBRA) to meet with contingency planners and senior politicians as they must put aside their differences and figure out the next steps when a solar flare causes electrical outages that plunge much of Britain into darkness.
25. Soulmates – Monday, October 5, AMC | Series Premiere
AMCSTARRING: Sarah Snook, David Costabile, Sonya Cassidy, Malin Akerman, Charlie Heaton, Betsy Brandt, JJ Field
This six-episode anthology examines the nature of romance from a very unique perspective, set 15 years in the future, when science has made a discovery that changes the lives of everyone on the planet by creating a test that unequivocally identifies a person’s soulmate. Each episode explores how the results of this test impact the lives of various people. Meanwhile, there’s good news for viewers who tune in and like what they see; AMC has already renewed Soulmates for a second season.
26. Next – Tuesday, October 6, Global & Fox | Series Premiere
GlobalSTARRING: John Slattery, Fernanda Andrade, Eve Harlow, Aaron Clifton Moten, Jason Butler Harner, Gerardo Celasco, Elizabeth Cappucino, Michael Mosley, Evan Whitten
In this tech thriller, Mad Men’s Slattery stars as Silicon Valley pioneer Paul LeBlanc, who has built both his fortune and his legacy creating world-changing innovations. When he discovered that one of his creations—a powerful artificial intelligence called "neXt"—might spell doom for humankind, Paul tried to shut down the project—only to be kicked out of his own company by this ruthless brother (Harner), leaving him with nothing but mounting dread about the fate of the world. After a series of unsettling tech mishaps points to a potential worldwide crisis, LeBlanc joins forces with Special Agent Shea Salazar (Andrade) and her team, who are now the only ones standing in the way of a potential global catastrophe as they battle an emergent super-intelligence that, instead of launching missiles, will deploy the immense knowledge it has gleaned from the data all around us to recruit allies, turn people against each other and eliminate obstacles to its own survival and growth.
27. Trickster – Wednesday, October 7, CBC | Series Premiere
CBCSTARRING: Jacob Oulette, Crystle Lightning, Craig Lauzon, Kalani Queypo, Anna Lambe, Joel Thomas Hynes, Gail Maurice, Georgina Lightning
In this CBC drama, Oulette plays Jared, an Indigenous teen struggling to keep his dysfunctional family above water by holding down an after-school job and dealing drugs on the side. His life is turned upside down, however, when he begins seeing talking ravens, doppelgängers, skin monsters and other unexplainable phenomena that make him question his sanity.
28. The Right Stuff – Friday, October 9, Disney+
Disney STARRING: Jake McDorman, Michael Trotter, Patrick J. Adams, James Lafferty, Aaron Staton, Colin O’Donoghue, Micah Stock, Sacha Seberg
This National Geographic drama (that will stream on Disney+) is based on Tom Wolfe’s bestseller about the early days of NASA’s space program, following the lives of the men who would go on to become the first Mercury Seven astronauts. Becoming instant celebrities, these brave volunteers entered an intense competition that would either kill them
or make them immortal.
29. Supermarket Sweep – Sunday, October 18, TV & ABC | Series Premiere
ABCSTARRING: Leslie Jones
Saturday Night Live alum Jones is host of this revamp of the classic game show in which contestants utilize their knowledge of grocery shopping to compete for big cash prizes.
Meanwhile, Supermarket Sweep will hold the distinction of being the first game show to be produced in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the contestant podiums being socially distanced, ditching the studio audience and heavy-duty sanitizing of the filming space. “It was like a Ghostbusters team going in and cleaning our set,” showrunner Alycia Rossiter joked to the L.A. Times.
30. The Comey Rule – Sunday, September 27 & Monday, September 28, Crave1
Crave1STARRING: Brendan Gleeson, Jeff Daniels, Holly Hunter, Michael Kelly, Scoot McNairy, Jennifer Ehle, Jonathan Banks, Peter Coyote
A four-hour, two-night TV event dramatizes the months-long clash between a newly elected Donald Trump (Gleeson) and incumbent FBI Director James Comey (Daniels). Based on Comey’s memoir A Higher Loyalty, viewers will get a behind-the-scenes tour through America’s halls of power during one of the country’s most tumultuous periods—as well as a portrait of two men “whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course.” It all culminates, of course, in Comey’s infamous dismissal, which sent shockwaves through Washington and the entire country.
31. The Boys in the Band – Wednesday, September 30, Netflix
NetflixSTARRING: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Brian Hutchison
Based on Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking, Tony-winning play, this Netflix original film centres on a group of gay men in 1960s New York who gather for a birthday bash. Big Bang Theory alum Parsons plays the host, Michael, a heavy-drinking, heavy-spending screenwriter; White Collar’s Bomer plays Donald, Michael’s troubled former lover; and American Horror Story’s Quinto is Harold, the “sharp-dressed and sharp-tongued” birthday boy. Booze and laughs flow freely, until an unexpected guest from Michael’s past (Hutchison) shows up, forcing them all to reckon with certain unpleasant truths they’d rather leave buried.
32. The Salisbury Poisonings – Thursday, October 1, AMC
AMCSTARRING: Anne-Marie Duff, Rafe Spall, MyAnna Buring, Johnny Harris, William Houston
A hit BBC miniseries comes to North America. This three-part drama recreates the mad scramble surrounding the 2018 assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal—a former Russian military officer who had worked as a double agent for the U.K.—and his daughter Yulia, who were both found unconscious on a bench in the small English town of Salisbury. Local police and the community at large struggle to come to grips with the presence of a deadly nerve agent in their sleepy little burgh; and just when it seems all has calmed down, two more people fall victim to the same poison.
33. The Good Lord Bird – Sunday, October 4, Crave1 | Series Premiere
Crave1STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Daveed Diggs, Wyatt Russell, Joshua Caleb Johnson, McKinley Belcher III
Oscar-nominee Hawke takes his talents to TV, starring in and co-creating this historical drama. It’s based on the National Book Award-winning novel by James McBride, which explores the real-life campaign of militant abolitionist John Brown (Hawke) with an incisive wit that’s drawn comparisons to Mark Twain. The story unfolds from the perspective of a Black child nicknamed Onion (Johnson), who witnesses Brown and his army do battle with pro-slavery forces in Kansas, ending in a bloody 1859 raid that served as a catalyst for the Civil War. Naturally, this miniseries and the book it’s based on have a very potent relevance for modern-day America—a fact not lost on Hawke. “In a dialogue about Ferguson, for example, you can’t understand that in a vacuum. You have to understand our country and how we arrived at these places,” the actor explains. “Here we are in 2020, and all of the things that people are bristling up against each other about are not new. And James [McBride] found a way to make us laugh and see our common humanity and see that we are all participating in something much bigger than our individuality... Storytelling can be powerfully unifying when we start to realize that all of our experiences aren’t as unique as we think.”
34. The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Friday, October 16, Netflix
NetflixSTARRING: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, William Hurt, Michael Keaton
Oscar- and Emmy-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The Newsroom) slides into the director’s chair for a second time, lending his singular loquacious wit to a star-packed biopic of the Chicago 7, who were brought up on federal charges for allegedly inciting a nation-rattling riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. This is another high-profile pic that was originally slated for theatrical release, before COVID hit and reshaped the entertainment landscape.
35. David Byrne’s American Utopia – Saturday, October 17, HBO Canada
HBO CanadaSTARRING: David Byrne, Jacquelene Acevedo, Daniel Freedman, Stephane San Juan
Talking Heads frontman Byrne brings his acclaimed Broadway show to HBO for this one-off special, offering theatrical renditions of songs from his 2018 solo album—plus a few old Talking Heads hits—as performed by Byrne himself and an array of other artists. The special is in fact a taped performance from the show’s 2019 Broadway run, as filmed by Oscar-winning director Spike Lee.
36. Enslaved – Sunday, October 18, CBC | Series Premiere
CBCSTARRING: Samuel L. Jackson, Simcha Jacobovici, Afua Hirsch
Jackson produces and stars in this docuseries, which delves into 400 years of the Atlantic slave trade, employing cutting-edge diving technology to explore sunken slave ships, as well as the first-ever positive I.D. of a sunken “freedom ship,” which ferried freed slaves to Canada. Along the way, we’re also made privy to Jackson’s personal connection to the issue, as DNA testing identifies his ancestral tribe, and he travels to Ghabon, Africa, for an official induction. Meanwhile, throughout the series, journalists Jacobovici and Hirsch offer historical context on the institution of slavery.
37. The Undoing – Sunday, October 25, HBO Canada
HBO CanadaSTARRING: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Noah Jupe, Lily Rabe, Édgar Ramirez
New York therapist Grace Fraser (Kidman) is living the dream, on the verge of publishing her first book, when all of a sudden her husband (Grant) is at the centre of an unspeakable scandal. In shock, wondering how she failed to truly see the man she was sharing her life with, Grace must find the strength to weather the storm and rebuild—for her own sake and that of her son (Jupe). This limited series marks a reunion for Kidman and her Big Little Lies boss David E. Kelley.
38. Equal – October TBA, HBO Canada
HBO CanadaSTARRING: Samira Wiley, Sara Gilbert, Cheyenne Jackson, Keiynan Lonsdale, Anthony Rapp, Shannon Purser
A new docu-drama airing throughout LGBTQ History Month celebrates gay rights pioneers from post-Second World War to just before the Stonewall Uprising, highlighting early advocacy groups like the Mattachine Society in the 1950s, transgender rights crusader Sylvia Rivera, and José Sarria, the first openly gay candidate to run for U.S. public office. Spanning all facets of LGBTQ+ life, the ensemble is also made up of a largely LGBTQ+ cast.
39. The Reagans – Sunday, November 15, Crave1
Crave1STARRING: Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan
In this four-part docuseries, director Matt Tyrnauer (Where’s My Roy Cohn?) takes us inside the White House during Ronald Reagan’s 1981-1989 run as the most powerful man on earth, offering viewers rare insight to an iconic commander-in-chief, his key advisers and his first lady—all of whom had a profound impact on their country and, of course, the world.
40. Temple – Sunday, November 15, Showcase | Series Premiere
ShowcaseSTARRING: Mark Strong, Daniel Mays, Carice van Houten, Catherine McCormack
Desperate to find a cure for his terminally ill wife, respected surgeon and family man Dr. Daniel Milton (Strong) sets up an illegal medical facility in the ancient tunnels beneath London. While trying to save the love of his life, he funds his research by treating criminals and other desperate characters who, for whatever reason, can’t avail themselves of an actual hospital.
41. War of the Worlds – Fall TBA, CBC
CBCSTARRING: Gabriel Byrne, Elizabeth McGovern, Léa Drucker, Daisy Edgar-Jones
Having already aired in the U.S. and across the pond, this eight-episode adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal sci-fi novel at last comes to Canada. We open in modern times, as astronomers in the U.K. detect an extraterrestrial signal which confirms humanity is not alone in the cosmos. Alas, this signal is a precursor to a devastating attack that wipes out most of our species, leaving a disparate array of survivors (Vikings’ Byrne and Downton Abbey alum McGovern, among others) struggling to stay alive and find some way to best their mysterious alien foes.
42. Moonbase 8 – Fall TBA, Crave1
Crave1STARRING: Fred Armisen, Tim Heidecker, John C. Reilly
Set in the isolated desert of Winslow, Arizona, at NASA’s Moon Base Simulator, this comedy follows eager astronauts Skip (Armisen), Rook (Heidecker) and their leader Cap (Reilly) as they attempt to qualify for their first lunar mission. While working vigorously to complete their training, a series of unexpected circumstances forces the astronauts to question their own sanity, their trust in each other and whether or not they’re even cut out for space travel at all.
43. Departure – Fall TBA, Global
GlobalSTARRING: Archie Panjabi, Christopher Plummer, Kris Holden-Reid, Rebecca Liddiard, Tamara Duarte, Mark Rendall, Peter Mensah, Sasha Roiz
When passenger plane Flight 716 mysteriously vanishes, brilliant investigator Kendra Malley (Panjabi of The Good Wife and The Fall) is called in to figure out what happened. She enlists the help of her mentor, Howard Lawson (Plummer, last seen in Knives Out). As competing forces threaten to undermine their inquiry, Kendra must find the truth—before disaster strikes again.