Breaking through in a Peak TV world of more than 500 scripted originals is a challenging task. That’s why top showrunners and stars continue to be in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming platforms look to cut through the cluttered landscape with familiar faces. Spinoffs and reboots are also in high demand, as most come with a pre-existing viewership that reduces costs associated with marketing and promotion.
Here, in a bid to navigate the Peak TV waters, THR picks the most anticipated new and returning shows every month. (Bookmark THR‘s handy guide for key premiere — and series finale — dates.) Here are some of the can’t-miss premieres for October as The CW and Halloween-themed programming enter the fray.
Doctor Who (BBC America, Oct. 7)
For the first time in the franchise’s 55-year run, there’s a woman playing the iconic Time Lord. Jodie Whittaker finds herself taking on the role amid a culture in which women are increasingly saying Time’s Up. With Whittaker already making the most of her newfound platform, all eyes shift to the screen to see if the sci-fi cult hit will also use its scripts to deliver a larger message.
The Walking Dead (AMC, Oct. 7)
The ratings behemoth faces its biggest test yet as the upcoming ninth season marks the zombie drama’s first with a new showrunner (Angela Kang) and last with series star Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes. Also look for female lead Lauren Cohan’s Maggie to ride off into the sunset after the actress’ salary standoff with AMC. Can the series survive a year of major change? Or is it just walker bait? Time will tell.
All American (The CW, Oct. 10)
One of few broadcast pilots to generate buzz out of May’s upfront presentation, Greg Berlanti-produced drama about a kid from Compton who moves to Beverly Hills to play football has been described as a mix of The O.C., Friday Night Lights and Straight Outta Compton. Will the series live up to the hype? Can The CW deliver a Berlanti drama whose spandex-clad heroes survive on the gridiron without superpowers?
The Romanoffs (Amazon, Oct. 12)
Matthew Weiner’s first scripted series since wrapping Mad Men is an individual episodic anthology about a group of people who all believe they’re descendants of the famed Russian family. The $50 million global drama, in the works for years, boasts an all-star cast (including a few Mad Men grads) and filmed in North America, Europe and Asia, with episodes set in New York, Mexico City and Paris.
Pod Save America (HBO, Oct. 12)
The hit political podcast launches with four election-themed podcasts as HBO continues to expand its late-night offerings (the specials air Fridays at 11 p.m. and run for an hour). The first special will be taped in front of a live audience in Miami and will be hosted by Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor, former aides to President Obama, who will break down the week’s events and help Americans figure out what matters and how to make a difference in these turbulent political times.
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix, Oct. 12)
Described as Netflix’s next Stranger Things (or so they hope), the horror series is based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel and centers on four people living in an 80-year-old mansion. Horror master Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus) serves as showrunner on the drama starring Game of Thrones favorite Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas and Elizabeth Reaser.
Camping (HBO, Oct. 14)
Potentially the last series from now former producing partners Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, the eight-episode comedy stars Jennifer Garner (in her first TV series regular role since Alias) and David Tennant as a couple who take on the wilderness — and their family.
The Conners (ABC, Oct. 16)
The biggest question of the fall TV season arrives as ABC will find out if fired star Roseanne Barr was the reason viewers made the Roseanne reboot a smash hit last season. Yes, Barr has already spoiled how her alter-ego is killed off but the spinoff, from returning showrunner Bruce Helford, still promises to take on topical subjects that catered to viewers in middle America.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix, Oct. 26)
Don’t expect anything that mildly resembles the former TGIF ABC comedy in Netflix’s Riverdale offshoot. Originally developed at The CW as a companion for Riverdale, the drama moved to Netflix with a two-season order. The streamer tapped Mad Men breakout Kiernan Shipka to star in the series from Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj (Netflix, Oct. 28)
Yes, Netflix doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to talk shows but the weekly comedic talk show from the Daily Show grad hopes to be the one that breaks the mold. Picked up with a 32-episode order, Minhaj becomes the first Indian-American to host a weekly comedy show as the California-reared stand-up will explore the modern cultural and political landscapes with depth and sincerity.