12:00pm PT by Rick Porter
This Week in TV: First Presidential Debate, 'SNL,' 'Walking Dead'
The homestretch of the presidential campaign begins in the week of Sept. 28 — as does a new season of Saturday Night Live, which will surely be making scores of jokes about said campaign in the run-up to the election. There are also a good number of season and series premieres across all platforms as the fall rollout starts to gather steam.
Here is The Hollywood Reporter's rundown of some of the coming week's highlights. It would be next to impossible to watch everything, but let THR point the way to worthy options each week. All times are ET/PT unless noted.
The Big Show
With under six weeks until Election Day, the first presidential debate of 2020 is set for this week. President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will meet in Cleveland for a 90-minute debate covering COVID-19, the Supreme Court, the economy and their respective records. Chris Wallace of Fox News is the moderator. The debate airs at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT Tuesday on the big four broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — PBS, Telemundo, C-SPAN and the cable news channels.
Also on broadcast …
Saturday Night Live returns to its New York City studio on Saturday (11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT) to open its 46th season, with Chris Rock as host, Megan Thee Stallion as musical guest and all of last season's cast returning along with three new featured players.
Two election-themed comedy shows are set for this week. First up is Let's Be Real (9 p.m. Thursday, Fox), a puppetry sketch comedy special from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog creator Robert Smigel. At 10 p.m. Oct. 4, ABC's Black-ish will air a two-part election special — the second half of which is animated — ahead of its seventh season premiere later in October.
The week's broadcast debuts are new unscripted series Emergency Call (10 p.m. Monday, ABC), a revival of the game show Weakest Link (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC), CBS' long-running Undercover Boss (9 p.m. Friday) and The CW's sci-fi drama Pandora (8 p.m. Oct. 4).
On cable …
Returning/new: The Walking Dead returns to AMC at 9 p.m. Oct. 4 to air the "finale" of its 10th season, six months after the last episode airs. The word finale is in quotes because AMC has also ordered six additional episodes it's still calling part of season 10, but that won't air until early next year, ahead of the show's two-part final season. Following that episode, spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond debuts at 10 p.m. The two-season show, set in Nebraska 10 years after the zombie apocalypse, focuses on the first generation to come of age in the changed world.
Also new: Showtime's limited series The Good Lord Bird (9 p.m. Oct. 4) adapts James McBride's novel and stars Ethan Hawke as abolitionist John Brown. Docuseries The Comedy Store (10 p.m. Oct. 4, Showtime) delves into the history of L.A.'s famed comedy club. CNN explores the lives of First Ladies (10 p.m. Oct. 4) with a six-part series.
Special: South Park has yet to set a premiere date for its 24th season, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone will serve up an hourlong Pandemic Special at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Comedy Central. It will touch on the kids returning to school and Randy coming to terms with his role in a COVID-19 outbreak.
Returning: The second season of Cinemax's period martial arts drama Warrior premieres at 10 p.m. Friday. The show is among the last remaining original series on the WarnerMedia channel, which has lately focused its premium efforts on HBO and HBO Max.
On streaming …
New: The COVID TV series' moment has arrived. A month or so after Freeform's Love in the Time of Corona, Netflix will debut Social Distance, an eight-episode, short-form anthology set during the first months of the pandemic. (NBC has a similarly premised show, the comedy Connecting…, coming a week later.) Created by Hilary Weisman Graham (Orange Is the New Black) and executive produced by Jenji Kohan, the series will celebrate the human spirit in the face of isolation and uncertainty. The cast includes OITNB's Danielle Brooks, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Steven Weber, Asante Blackk, Guillermo Diaz and a host of others.
Also new: Ryan Murphy executive produces a new version of The Boys in the Band (Wednesday, Netflix) featuring an A-list cast. Acclaimed British dramas Gangs of London and The Salisbury Poisonings debut Thursday on AMC+, ahead of 2021 on-air premieres. Anthology Monsterland (Friday, Hulu) is based on Nathan Ballingrud's North American Lake Monsters. Paul Rudd narrates nature series Tiny World (Friday, Apple TV+). Darren Star's Emily in Paris, initially slated for Paramount Network, debuts Friday on Netflix. Popular podcast Song Exploder becomes a TV series (Friday, Netflix).
In case you missed it …
We could all use more cute animals in our lives. To that end: BBC America's Animal Babies is available on demand and via the cable channel's digital outlets (and is not to be confused with the similarly titled Animal Babies: First Year on Earth, available on PBS platforms). There's also Magic of Disney's Animal Kingdom, a National Geographic-produced series highlighting the multitude of species and their human caretakers at Walt Disney World. It's streaming on Disney+.