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The week of Oct. 12 was to have featured the second presidential debate, but it’s been canceled. Instead, at least one of the two leading candidates will appear solo in a town hall in primetime Thursday. The week also brings a host of network premieres, a reunion special for a beloved drama series and a revival of a popular game show.
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
Thirteen years after it last aired, The West Wing will return for one time only on HBO Max. The special, a benefit for nonprofit organization When We All Vote, will feature members of the show’s original cast — including Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Janel Moloney, Dulé Hill, Richard Schiff and Bradley Whitford — performing the season three episode “Hartsfield’s Landing” on stage. This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown will play President Bartlet’s chief of staff, Leo McGarry, the role originally played by the late John Spencer.
The special will also contain information for voters, a get out the vote message from Michelle Obama (who’s a founder of When We All Vote) and appearances by Bill Clinton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Samuel L. Jackson and former West Wing castmember Elisabeth Moss. It premieres Thursday on HBO Max.
Also on streaming …
Keeping with the theme of democracy, Amazon releases a filmed version of Heidi Schreck’s award-winning play What the Constitution Means to Me on Friday. The Jenji Kohan-produced pandemic anthology Social Distance debuts Thursday on Netflix. Season three of Star Trek: Discovery also premieres Thursday, on CBS All Access. Marvel series Helstrom (Hulu), YA drama Grand Army (Netflix) and docuseries Meet the Chimps (Disney+) all drop on Friday.
On broadcast …
New/returning: Former Saturday Night Live regular Leslie Jones, a self-professed Supermarket Sweep superfan, hosts a new version of the classic game show that premieres at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 on ABC. The rest of the network’s Sunday lineup — America’s Funniest Home Videos (7 p.m.), Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (9 p.m.) and Card Sharks (10 p.m.) also premieres that night.
New-ish: The contemporary One Day at a Time makes its broadcast network debut at 9 p.m. Monday on CBS, the same place the original version of the series aired from 1975-84. Two episodes of the critically acclaimed comedy’s fourth season will air each week.
Returning: The Bachelorette (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC) filmed its season in a pandemic bubble, meaning the drama will be more contained, if still intense. Also due this week are new seasons of Finding Your Roots (8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS), The Amazing Race (9 p.m. Wednesday, CBS) and Shark Tank (8 p.m. Friday, ABC).
Specials: Originally scheduled for April, the Billboard Music Awards (8 p.m. Wednesday, NBC) will honor the past year’s top artists. In lieu of the debate, ABC has scheduled a town hall forum with Democratic nominee Joe Biden at 8 p.m. Thursday.
On cable …
Special: Viewers got a taste of David Byrne’s American Utopia when the former Talking Heads frontman was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in February. HBO subcribers can see a filmed version of Byrne’s theatrical show, directed by Spike Lee, at 8 p.m. Saturday. THR critic David Rooney notes that the “synergy between subject and filmmaker … is simply spectacular.“
Returning: Season two of Tyler Perry’s Sistas, filmed at warp speed over the summer as cast and crew quarantined at Perry’s Atlanta studios, premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on BET. The final season of Baroness Von Sketch Show debuts at midnight Wednesday on IFC, and a new run of Flip or Flop premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on HGTV.
In case you missed it …
Netflix’s Deaf U is in some ways a typical college-set unscripted show — its subjects hook up, do silly things and stress about school and relationships. But it’s filmed at Gallaudet University, the only university in the country for Deaf people, making it a “huge leap” for Deaf representation on screen, as THR critic Inkoo Kang notes, and off (Deaf people comprise about half the crew, per EP and Gallaudet alum Nyle DiMarco). The eight-episode season is streaming now.
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