New TV shows worth watching

Thursday, September 20, 2018

By Lynn Elber

AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES

There’s more new television to watch than is humanly possible. But everyone has to make a time-allocation decision in the end, and that’s what we’re here to help with.

Consider the list below a tip sheet to get you going on the fall TV season. Each of these shows has something of note to offer, and some have the potential to be season (or beyond) standouts.

“MURPHY BROWN”

The unexpected success of “Roseanne” last season (before its sudden implosion due to star Roseanne Barr) would be enough to make this revival intriguing as another onetime TV hit eager to prove its relevance.

The original CBS sitcom starring Candice Bergen as a broadcast TV news anchor and reporter was unabashedly in the middle of politics and social issues when it aired from 1988-98, including going toe-to-toe with Vice President Dan Quayle over unwed motherhood.

Creator Diane English has said it was the chance to weigh in on Trump-era politics that persuaded her to put Murphy back to work, this time on the cable news side and with a bone to pick about so-called “fake news.” She’s joined by her former colleagues including Corky (Faith Ford), Frank (Joe Regalbuto) and Miles (Grant Shaud).

Do we sense a real-world Twitter storm gathering on the horizon? The show debuts 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27.

“THE ROMANOFFS”

The Amazon Prime Video drama series makes the cut even without virtue of an early screening, thanks both to its pedigree and ambitions. It was created, written, directed and produced by Matthew Weiner of “Mad Men” glory and marks his return to series TV after his Emmy-showered drama ended in 2015.

An eight-episode anthology series, “The Romanoffs” promises a kaleidoscope of tales about people who fancy themselves descendants of the royal Russian family that fell victim to revolution. The cast changes from episode to episode, starting with Marthe Keller and Aaron Eckhart in “The Violet Hour” and Corey Stoll and Kerry Bishe in “The Royal We.”

“The Romanoffs” was shot on location in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Fair to say the bar is set for high – if not excessive – expectations. The first two episodes debut Friday, Oct. 12.

“MY BRILLIANT FRIEND”

HBO’s first nonEnglish language series is based on the internationally best-selling novel of the same name, the first of four books by Elena Ferrante.

The production is impressive, from the casting of the actresses playing friends Elena and Lila as girls (newcomers Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti) and as teenagers (Margherita Mazzucco, Gaia Girace) to its re-creation of the tough, unforgiving neighborhood that served as their incubator.

There’s fidelity to the novel overall in the episode provided, a promising start for the extended series that will adapt the novels in full and which, hopefully, will air here. This season’s eight episodes are coming in November (date to be announced).

“WARRIORS OF LIBERTY CITY”

The Starz documentary about a youth football program near Miami, founded by 2 Live Crew frontman and activist Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, that’s helped launch Antonio Brown, Teddy Bridgewater and others into NFL careers.

While the twin football controversies of kneeling and concussions play out at a distance, the series provides intimate glimpses of Liberty City Warriors players on and off the field as they pursue the distant dream of a pro career and, more immediately, a winning season.

The six-episode series created and directed by Evan Rosenfeld had a powerful ally: LeBron James was among its executive producers. It debuts 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16.

“THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT”

This comedy about a working-class, Irish-Catholic family in the 1970s is sharply written, charming and boasts laugh-out-loud scenes.

Created by Tim Doyle, whose background mirrors that of the fictional Clearys, “The Kids Are Alright” gives the lovingly strict parents of eight (well-cast) sons their dignity as well as foibles as they navigate parenthood in a tumultuous decade.

Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz are actors best known for drama but shine as mom and dad, with McCormack getting the best punchlines in the debut episode and delivering them with aplomb. Begins 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16.

“THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL”

A six-part miniseries based on a John le Carre novel stars Alexander Skarsgard (“Big Little Lies,” “True Blood”) and English actress Florence Pugh (”Lady Macbeth”) in a 1970s tale of espionage and intrigue. He’s a mystery man, she’s an actress with secrets of her own, and hovering over all is spy mastermind Kurtz (Michael Shannon, “The Shape of Water”).

As with any respectable international thriller, it was filmed on location in scenic locations including London, Prague and (bonus!) at the Acropolis and Temple of Poseidon in Athens.

The drama airs Nov. 19-21.