From sitcoms to documentaries to reality TV, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Keeping Up With the Kardashians – Sunday, September 24, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., E!
When you stop to think about what you’ve done over the past 10 years of your life, odds are you’ve been through some pretty monumental shifts. And, along the way, thanks (or not) to the E! network, you’ve shared those ups and downs with the selfie-snapping spawn of O.J. lawyer Robert Kardashian. That’s right: it’s been a decade since viewers first welcomed (albeit not always with open arms) the Kardashian Klan into their homes via TV screens, marking a pretty big shift (some might say decline) in pop culture. These days, the camera-hungry bunch is everywhere, with spinoffs, makeup lines and various other merchandising endeavours, not to mention their constancy in the tabloid headlines.
Kris, Kim and the rest of the gang seem to be aware of just how much they owe their success to the original show, though, which is why they’re celebrating it with a decade-spanning special this week. The champagne will be flowing as the family revisits some of the most memorable moments from their original series, along with the spinoffs that came afterwards.
Executive producer and creator Ryan Seacrest will also be on hand to moderate the chat, which breathlessly promises to reveal the usual “never-heard-before” secrets and anecdotes. And, although Rob Kardashian is missing from the festivities, everyone else in the brood—including Scott Disick and younger sisters Kendall and Kylie (both of whom were just kids when the original pilot premiered)—will all make appearances. Of course, this is all just fodder for the actual 10th season premiere, which hits TV screens in early October. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
2. Who Shot Biggie & Tupac – Sunday, September 24, 8 p.m., Fox
There are few events that impacted the rap world, and indeed pop culture as a whole, the way Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur’s untimely deaths did back in the late 1990s, to the point where conspiracy theories about their survival remain intact today.
While the two-hour special doesn’t promise to get into all of that, it does delve into the details surrounding the men’s murders and the police investigations that followed. Featuring never-before-seen interviews with former private investigators, informants and hip-hop insiders alike, the special also features an on-camera reunion between Lil’ Cease and E.D.I. Mean as the pair discuss the friendship between their dead colleagues and the subsequent East Coast/West Coast fallout. Rap icon Ice-T and news anchor Soledad O’Brien host.
3. The Big Bang Theory – Monday, September 25, 8 p.m., CTV & CBS | Season Premiere
After waiting all summer, viewers finally learn Amy’s answer to Sheldon’s proposal. Meanwhile, Howard and Bernadette get some news and Ramona (guest star Riki Lindhome) returns, as does Stephen Hawking.
4. The Voice – Monday, September 25, 8 p.m., CTV2 & NBC | Season Premiere
It’s fall, which means it’s also time for another round of the popular singing competition that judges potential contestants on their voices alone. Back in the mentor mix are Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, who will be joined by incoming female mentors Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus.
5. Young Sheldon – Monday, September 25, 8:30 p.m., CTV & CBS | Series Premiere
Although they’ve become a major part of movie franchises in recent years, you don’t tend to see that many prequels on the television landscape, and you almost never see them for sitcoms. Still, it’s remarkably easy to imagine the CBS suits drooling at the mere mention of the words “Young Sheldon,” and that’s because just about anyone who’s watched The Big Bang Theory on a regular basis has probably wondered exactly what Sheldon Cooper must’ve been like as a kid. Unsurprisingly, Jim Parsons has a few thoughts on the matter, and as an executive producer of the series, not to mention its narrator, he’s in a position to discuss the character with the youngster who’s playing the show’s titular character, Iain Armitage.
“When we shot the pilot, I was able to interact with Iain a lot and kind of discuss certain things that are peculiar to this character,” Parsons said during the panel for the series at this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour. “And whether it was just lines or moments in general or Sheldon’s take on the world, it’s an interesting topic for us to go over together.”
Finding Armitage was total stroke of luck: his audition video was filmed on his mother’s iPhone, but his performance scored big. “We laughed,” said Chuck Lorre, executive producer of the series, during the panel. “We looked at it and went, ‘Oh my God, we can’t possibly be this lucky.’ He was just spectacular. And we sent the video to Jim, and we said, ‘I think we just got extremely lucky.’”
6. This Is Us – Tuesday, September 26, 9 p.m., CTV & NBC | Season Premiere
On its way to evoking an ocean of tears, the first season of this uniquely affecting family drama left us with so many unanswered questions as it explored the ups and downs of everyday life, delving into issues like weight loss, career plateaus, adoption, birth and death. Now, it’s time to answer some of those questions. The biggest one, which ended up disappointing many fans in the first season’s final episode, was the question of how Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died all those years ago.
While producers haven’t promised an answer to that biggie right off the bat, they have admitted the premiere features a big and important part of Jack’s history.
“[It] will potentially set the Internet abuzz but also hopefully push that storyline’s momentum,” creator Dan Fogelman says. “I always talk about Jack’s death as this hinge upon which the family swings, and there’s a kind of before that and the after that. This season is about that hinge and that’s what we’re watching. There’s a lot of healing to be done. There’s a lot we’re going to do with Jack this season. We’ve painted the picture of the world’s perfect dad, man, husband, everything. And now we’re going to show not the dark side of that but what the struggle is of being that guy too and ultimately, I think, bring him to a kind of fully realized place.”
For his part, star Ventimiglia had this to say to Deadline: “We knew that it was pretty polarizing. Some people were satisfied with the end of the season, and there was a good amount of people that weren’t satisfied because they didn’t find out how Jack died... Hopefully, people know that we have a lot of stories to tell in a very long series career. And that’s just one of them. So, knowing what Dan said, we’re gonna find out pretty quick, but if you know anything about Dan’s style of storytelling, he may give you one answer, but that one answer’s going to come wrapped up in 20 more questions.”
7. Survivor – Wednesday, September 27, 8 p.m., Global & CBS | Season Premiere
The show that helped establish reality television as a pop-culture mainstay and made us all familiar with the mantra of “outwit, outplay, outlast,” celebrates its 35th season. Following up on the last game-changing season, which pitted returning “game-changers” against one another, comes this fresh offering—with castaways divided into three teams depending on what they do for a living: healers, hustlers or heroes.
Of the 18 new castaways there’s quite an array of occupations: football player, doctor, bellhop and fisher, to name a few. As with former seasons of the show, these contestants will enter a social game in which they’ll need to form alliances, find immunity idols and earn a chance to stay in the game for another week, all while depriving their bodies of the basic comforts of human existence.
Indeed, you might think the “heroes” would have the inside track to victory, but, as host Jeff Probst told The Hollywood Reporter, that’s not necessarily the case: “I think they may have the most work to do as a group. It would take me a moment to figure out why. When I think of them as a group, they’re all very accomplished. I could see a lot of ego coming into play. All of them have been successful at something. Sometimes, that’s hard, when you have that many leaders in a group. Everybody thinks they’re right. I’m impressed with all of them, individually. Ironically, I would say the Heroes tribe may have the toughest time gelling.”
8. Empire – Wednesday, September 27, 8 p.m., Fox | Season Premiere
The worlds of Empire and Star collide in this two-hour crossover event that begins on the season premiere of Empire and concludes in the premiere of Star, airing at 9 p.m. on Fox. Marvel as Carlotta (Queen Latifah) and her girl group enter the orbit of Lucious and Cookie Lyon (Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson).
9. Will & Grace – Thursday, September 28, 9 p.m., Global & NBC | Season Premiere
There aren’t a lot of sitcoms that could corral their entire cast into returning to their classic roles after more than a decade, but Will & Grace isn’t just any sitcom. To bring it back, creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick had to write off the original series finale as fantasy but, when the show returns, you can expect to find the same characters and chemistry that you loved in the old days. “It’s cliché but it’s like riding a bike,” said Sean Hayes, during the panel for the series at this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour. “We’ve all become brothers and sisters and family,” he added. “Anything as far as moving forward with the show, it’s so easy. Fits like a glove. It’s just a blast. It’s a gift of a lifetime to get together and do this again.”
10. Transparent – Friday, September 29, 6 p.m. & 6:45 p.m., Showcase | Season Premiere
The fourth season of the acclaimed dramedy finds the Pfeffermans taking off on a spiritual and political journey as they dig deep into family history after Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) travels to Israel to speak at a conference, where she makes a startling discovery that leads the rest of the family to join her.