Rest assured, there will be a fall 2020 TV season — of some kind. (Unless you’re The CW, which has officially moved its next new TV season to January.) But even with the country slowly starting to re-open the pandemic-frayed economy, and Hollywood committed to figuring out the best, safest methods to get entertainment production underway again (germ-zapping robots are a leading contender), it’s still very unlikely that a fall TV season is going to look anything like the fall TV seasons of years past.
Most obviously, though scripts may be ready to go, with many TV writers having had quite a bit of quality writing time on their hands in the last few months, batches of stories do nothing to make sets and other production spaces virus-free. And face masks, barrels of hand sanitizer, and social distancing don’t make for smooth filming either. So solving the logistics of how to make great shows while keeping everyone from cast to crew healthy is both the most important and most difficult issue to tackle.
And without that issue addressed, and filming on new programming getting a greenlight to resume soon, we might be facing a primetime schedule full of a lot more shows filmed remotely. That’s been novel — and in some instances even creative and fun (The Disney Family Singalong and Saturday Night Live at Home were two high-profile examples) — but how many more concerts do you want to watch from your couch? Ditto the alternatives the networks have come up with for MIA pro sports. We’ve had celebrity horse basketball tournaments, ultimate tag, and, we swear, while channel surfing last weekend, we saw a televised cornhole event — yes, the lawn game. Cornhole, people!
About sports on TV: ESPN’s decision to move its riveting Michael Jordan–Bulls docuseries The Last Dance up from its original June premiere to the spring made for a much-needed chance for viewers to bond over a program, one that you didn’t even have to be a sports junkie or Jordan fan to enjoy. Documentary makers can’t travel back in time and gain the kind of unprecedented access that made The Last Dance extra special, but we do hope networks are thinking about the interviews they can do, and some they maybe have in their archives, that can be the core of other such soothing, informative, entertaining trips down memory lane. And they sure beat watching tag until MLB, the NBA, the NFL, and other sports leagues figure out how and when to get games safely back on the air. The NBA has a plan that will bring the playoffs and finals to ESPN and TNT: They’re going to Disney World!
Other ways networks have hinted they will fill their schedules in the fall should fresh shows not be available include borrowing shows from other networks and even borrowing from their own lineups. The CW, for instance, has the rights to air Tell Me a Story, the recently-canceled CBS All Access anthology series, while Fox picked up the rights to air Spectrum’s drama L.A.’s Finest. Fox, meanwhile, will also pepper its fall schedule with two series, A.I. thriller Next and the soapy family drama Filthy Rich, that it had originally scheduled to air as part of its own summer 2020 lineup.
With some of the networks yet to announce their final plans for fall, and so much uncertainty remaining about TV land’s immediate future, the closest thing we may have to a certainty about fall TV is that even “final” plans are probably going to require some tinkering. Survivor, for example, is the latest planned programming to fall off the schedule, as “Producers … are continuing to work with officials in Fiji on the appropriate time to start production on its next edition, with health and safety matters the top priority for everyone involved,” CBS said in a statement on Tuesday.
Here’s a look at the new fall schedules the broadcast networks have announced so far, as well as some highlights from cable and streaming. We’ll update the lineup as more titles are announced. New titles are in bold with descriptions.
8 p.m.: Dancing With the Stars
10 p.m.: The Good Doctor
8 p.m.: The Bachelorette
10 p.m.: Big Sky
Who: Kylie Bunbury, Ryan Phillippe, Katheryn Winnick, John Carroll Lynch, Brian Geraghty, Dedee Pfeiffer, Natalie Alyn Lind and Jesse James Keitel
What: The thriller was created by visionary storyteller David E. Kelley, who will write multiple episodes and serve as showrunner in its premiere season. Private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. But when they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.
8 p.m.: The Goldbergs
8:30 p.m.: Black-ish
9 p.m.: The Conners
9:30 p.m.: American Housewife
10 p.m.: Stumptown
8 p.m.: Station 19
9 p.m.: Grey’s Anatomy
10 p.m.: A Million Little Things
8 p.m.: Shark Tank
9 p.m.: 20/20
8 p.m.: Saturday Night Football
7 p.m.: America’s Funniest Home Videos
8 p.m.: Supermarket Sweep
Who: Host Leslie Jones
What: The fast-paced and energetic series follows three teams of two as they battle it out using their grocery shopping skills and knowledge of merchandise to win big cash prizes.
9 p.m.: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
10 p.m.: The Rookie
Call Your Mother
Who: Kyra Sedgwick, Rachel Sennott, Joey Bragg, Patrick Brammall, Emma Caymares and Austin Crute
What: The multicamera comedy follows an empty-nester mom who wonders how she ended up alone while her children live their best lives thousands of miles away. She decides her place is with her family and as she reinserts herself into their lives, her kids realize they might actually need her more than they thought.
8 p.m.: The Neighborhood
8:30 p.m.: Bob Hearts Abishola
9 p.m.: All Rise
10 p.m.: Bull
8 p.m.: NCIS
9 p.m.: FBI
10 p.m.: FBI: Most Wanted
8 p.m.: The Amazing Race
9 p.m.: SEAL Team
10 p.m.: S.W.A.T
8 p.m.: Young Sheldon
8:30 p.m.: B Positive
Who: Thomas Middleditch, Annaleigh Ashford, Sara Rue, and Kether Donahue
What: The Chuck Lorre comedy revolves around a therapist and recently-divorced dad (Middleditch) who bonds with his kidney donor (Ashford), a woman from his past.
9 p.m.: Mom
9:30 p.m.: The Unicorn
10 p.m.: Evil (pictured)
8 p.m.: MacGyver
9 p.m.: Magnum P.I.
10 p.m.: Blue Bloods
8 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
9 p.m.: Crimetime Saturday
10 p.m.: 48 Hours
7 p.m.: 60 Minutes
8 p.m.: The Equalizer
Who: Queen Latifah, Chris Noth, and Lorraine Toussaint
What: In a remake of the CBS series (and the Denzel Washington movies), Queen Latifah plays a mysterious woman who uses her extensive set of skills to help those with nowhere else to turn.
9 p.m.: NCIS: Los Angeles
10 p.m.: NCIS: New Orleans
Who: Rebecca Breeds, Kal Penn, Michael Cudlitz, Nick Sandow, Lucca De Oliveira, and Devyn A. Tyler
What: What happened to FBI Agent Clarice Starling after her time with Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs?
8 p.m.: L.A.’s Finest
9 p.m.: Next
Who: John Slattery, Fernanda Andrade, Michael Mosley, Jason Butler Harner, Eve Harlowe, Aaron Moten, Gerardo Celasco, Elizabeth Cappucino, and Evan Whitten
What: A Silicon Valley pioneer teams up with a cybercrime agent to stop a powerful artificial intelligence invention … one he is responsible for creating.
8 p.m.: Cosmos: Possible Worlds
9 p.m.: Filthy Rich (pictured)
Who: Kim Cattrall, Gerald McRaney, Aubrey Dollar, Corey Cott, Benjamin Aguilar, Mark L. Young, Melia Kreiling, Steve Harris, David Denman, and Olivia Macklin
What: The primetime soap revolves around a wealthy Southern family who own a Christian TV network. After the death of the patriarch, the family is scandalized to find out he had three illegitimate children.
8 p.m.: The Masked Singer
9 p.m.: MasterChef Junior
7:30 p.m.: Fox NFL Thursday
8:20 p.m.: Thursday Night Football
8 p.m.: WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown
7 p.m.: NFL on Fox
7:30 p.m.: The OT/Fox Encores
8 p.m.: The Simpsons
8:30 p.m.: Bless the Harts
9 p.m.: Bob’s Burgers
9:30 p.m.: Family Guy
Call Me Kat
Who: Mayim Bialik, Swoozie Leslie Jordan, Kyla Pratt, Cheyenne Jackson, and Julian Gant
What: Bialik is Kat, a 39-year-old woman who doesn’t want society, or her mother, to dictate how she should live her life. Which is why she uses her life savings to open a cat café in Kentucky.
Who: Lisa Kudrow, Clea Duvall, Nat Faxon, Sharon Horgan, Will Forte, Tony Hale, Jason Mantzoukas, Sam Richardson, Bresha Webb, and Greta Lee
What: The all-star cast provides the voices for a group of neighborhood animals who display human neurosis and dysfunction in this animated comedy.
The Great North
Who: Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Megan Mullally, Paul Rust, Aparna Nancherla, Will Forte, and Dulcé Sloan
What: A single dad tries to raise his eclectic bunch of kids while operating the family’s fishing boat biz in this animated comedy.
8 p.m.: The Voice
10 p.m.: Manifest
8 p.m.: The Voice
9 p.m.: This Is Us
10 p.m.: New Amsterdam
8 p.m.: Chicago Med
9 p.m.: Chicago Fire
10 p.m.: Chicago PD
8 p.m.: Superstore
8:30 p.m.: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9 p.m.: Law & Order: SVU
10 p.m.: Law & Order: Organized Crime
Who: Chris Meloni (pictured)
What: The L&O: SVU alum returns as Elliot Stabler, who comes back to battle organized crime with the NYPD after a devastating personal loss.
8 p.m.: The Blacklist
9 p.m.: Dateline NBC
8 p.m.: Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
10 p.m.: Saturday Night Live (encores)
7:20 p.m.: Football Night in America
8:20 p.m.: Sunday Night Football
The Kenan Show
Who: Kenan Thompson, Punam Patel, Dani Lockett, and Andy Garcia
What: Thompson is a recently widowed host of Atlanta’s No. 2 morning show who struggles to balance his job, his young daughters, and a father-in-law who “helps” in the most inappropriate ways.
Who: Ted Danson, Bobby Moynihan, Holly Hunter, Vella Lovell and Mike Cabellon star, and Tina Fey and Robert Carlock write and executive produce.
What: Danson stars as a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of Los Angeles for all the wrong reasons. Once he wins, he has to figure out what he stands for, gain the respect of his staff and connect with his teenage daughter — all while controlling the coyote population.
Who: Dwayne Johnson
What: Inspired by and starring Johnson, also known by his wrestling name The Rock, the single-camera series will chronicle his formative years.
Not every cable network has detailed its fall plans, but below are some of the bigger titles that have been announced.
Gangs of London
Who: Joe Cole, Sope Dirisu, Colm Meaney, Lucian Msamati, Michelle Fairley, Paapa Essiedu, Pippa Bennett-Warner
What: Set in the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic and multicultural cities, Gangs of London tells the story of a city being torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of the international gangs that control it and the sudden power vacuum that’s created when the head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated.
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The Old Man
Who: Jeff Bridges
What: Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, the drama is centered on “Dan Chase” (Bridges), who absconded from the CIA decades ago and has been living off the grid since. When an assassin arrives and tries to take Chase out, the old operative learns that to ensure his future he now must reconcile his past.
Who: Kate Mara and Nick Robinson
What: The miniseries examines the complexities and consequences of an illegal relationship between a young teacher at a suburban Texas high school, and her student.
Who: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Edgar Ramirez
What: Grace and Jonathan Fraser (Kidman and Grant) are living the only lives they ever wanted for themselves. Overnight a chasm opens in their lives: a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations. The series, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known, is created and written for television by David E. Kelley, who also serves as showrunner.
Who: Cynthia Erivo (pictured), Courtney B. Vance
What: Genius is an Emmy-winning anthology series that dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. The third season will explore Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion; she is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.
The Comey Rule – airs on Sunday, Sept. 27 and Monday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m.
Who: Jeff Daniels, Brendan Gleeson
What: Daniels plays former FBI Director James Comey and Gleeson appears as President Donald J. Trump in the two-part, four-hour limited series. Adapted for the screen and directed by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Billy Ray, The Comey Rule is an immersive, behind-the-headlines account of the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, which divided a nation.
The Good Lord Bird – Sundays, starting Oct. 4
Who: Ethan Hawke, Joshua Caleb Johnson
What: Based upon the National Book Award-winning novel by James McBride, the limited series is told from the point of view of Onion (Johnson), a fictional enslaved boy who becomes a member of Brown’s (Hawke) motley family of abolitionist soldiers and eventually finds himself participating in the famous 1859 raid at Harpers Ferry.
The Comedy Store (working title) – Sundays, starting Oct. 4
Who: comedian-turned-director Mike Binder
What: A five-part documentary series that chronicles the evolution of comedy from within the walls of the iconic L.A. club.
The Reagans – Sundays, starting Nov. 15
Who: director Matt Tyrnauer
What: A four-part documentary series that explores the many surprisingly unexamined aspects of the Reagan White House and how Nancy Reagan’s paper-doll image was at odds with the power she ultimately wielded throughout her husband’s presidency.
Belushi [movie] – Sunday, Nov. 22
Who: director R.J. Cutler
What: Cutler’s feature documentary examines the too-short life of the once-in-a-generation talent John Belushi, who captured the hearts and funny bones of devoted audiences.
The Spanish Princess, season 2
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Sure to drop some surprises, the streamers have announced a few titles we can expect in the fall.
The Mandalorian, season 2
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, season 1
Who: Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Brühl
What: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson / Falcon (Mackie) and Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier (Stan) team up in a global adventure that tests their abilities — and their patience — in Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The all-new series is directed by Kari Skogland; Malcolm Spellman is the head writer.
Who: Michael Keaton
What: Empire co-creator Danny Strong is the writer for the eight-episode series, which examines the opioid crisis in America.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Who: Tony Hale
What: Based on the novel of the same name, the series is the story of four gifted orphans who are recruited by a benefactor to go on a secret mission at a boarding school.
Who: Kate McKinnon
What: The story of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos.
Only Murders in the Building
Who: Martin Short and Steve Martin
What: From This Is Us producer Dan Fogelman, the series follows three New Yorkers who find they have a mutual interest in solving true crime, but limit their amateur sleuthing to only murders in their building.
Who: Amy Schumer
What: Inspired by Schumer re-reading her teenage diaries, she says “it made me remember the time when I had all this confidence and life was fun and full of possibility. So, I really wanted to make a show about a woman who blows her whole life up and returns to the things that really make her happy.”
Who: Lamorne Morris
What: The semi-animated live-action series, inspired by the life and art of cartoonist Keith Knight, follows Keef (Morris), a Black cartoonist living in San Francisco who is finally on the cusp of mainstream success when an unexpected incident changes everything.
Y: The Last Man
Who: Diane Lane, Ben Schnetzer, Imogen Poots, Lashana Lynch, Juliana Canfield, Elliot Fletcher, Marin Ireland, and Amber Tamblyn
What: Based on the DC Comics series of the same name by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, and set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates all but one cisgender male, Yorick Brown (Schnetzer), and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.
American Horror Stories
Who: producer Ryan Murphy
What: A weekly anthology series that will feature a different horror story each episode.
Books of Blood (a Huluween special) [movie]
Who: Anna Friel, Rafi Gavron, Britt Robertson and Yul Vazquez
What: Based on Clive Barker’s acclaimed and influential horror anthology, Books of Blood takes audiences on a journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three uncanny tales tangled in space and time.
Bad Hair (a Huluween special) [movie]
Who: Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, and Kelly Rowland
What: A horror satire set in 1989 follows an ambitious young woman who gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career comes at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.
Helstrom (a Huluween special)
Who: Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon
What: The son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer, Daimon and Ana Helstrom have a complicated dynamic, as they track down the worst of humanity — each with their own attitude and skills.
Monsterland (a Huluween special)
Who: Kaitlyn Dever, Mike Colter, and Taylor Schilling
What: In an anthology series based on the collection of stories from Nathan Ballingrud, encounters with mermaids, fallen angels, and other strange beasts drive broken people to desperate acts.
Emily In Paris
Who: Lily Collins, Ashley Park
What: From creator, writer, and executive producer Darren Star (Younger, Sex and the City) comes the story of Emily, an ambitious twenty-something marketing executive from Chicago, who unexpectedly lands her dream job in Paris when her company acquires a French luxury marketing company — and she is tasked with revamping their social media strategy. Emily’s new life in Paris is filled with intoxicating adventures and surprising challenges as she juggles winning over her work colleagues, making friends, and navigating new romances.
Enola Holmes [movie]
Who: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, and Sam Claflin (pictured at top of section), along with Helena Bonham Carter and Louis Partridge
What: England, 1884 – a world on the brink of change. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola Holmes (Brown) wakes to find that her mother (Carter) has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts but no apparent clue as to where she’s gone or why. After a free-spirited childhood, Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock (Cavill) and Mycroft (Claflin), both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies. Refusing to follow their wishes, Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. But when her journey finds her entangled in a mystery surrounding a young runaway Lord (Partridge), Enola becomes a super-sleuth in her own right, outwitting her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history. Based on the beloved book series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes is a dynamic new mystery-adventure that introduces the world’s greatest detective to his fiercest competition yet: his teenage sister. The game is afoot.
Over the Moon [movie]
Who: Cathy Ang, Phillipa Soo
What: Fueled with determination and a passion for science, a bright young girl builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess. There she ends up on an unexpected quest, and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures. Directed by animation legend Glen Keane, and produced by Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou.
Spring is the new fall at The CW. Production on the network’s fan-favorite superhero shows was dealt a huge blow by the pandemic shutdown, so it moved its lineup to early 2021.
8 p.m.: All American
9 p.m.: Black Lightning
8 p.m.: The Flash
9 p.m.: Superman & Lois
Who: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Dylan Walsh
What: From executive producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, and Geoff Johns, it’s the story of Clark/Superman and Lois, married with children: two sons, who may or may not have inherited their dad’s superpowers.
8 p.m.: Riverdale
9 p.m.: Nancy Drew
8 p.m.: Walker
Who: Jared Padalecki, Coby Bell, Molly Hagen, Lindsey Morgan, Keegan Allen, Violet Brinson, and Kale Culley
What: The remake of Walker, Texas Ranger finds Cordell Walker (Padalecki), a widower with two kids, returning to his hometown to try to connect with his family and a new work environment after being undercover for two years.
9 p.m.: Legacies
8 p.m.: Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9 p.m.: Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9:30 p.m.: Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8 p.m.: Batwoman
9 p.m.: Charmed
Other new midseason series
Who: Olivia Liang, Tzi Ma, Shannon Dang, Jon Prasida, Gavin Stenhouse, Eddie Liu, Gwendoline Yeo and Kheng Hua Tan
What: After a sabbatical to a monastery in China, a young Chinese American woman returns to her San Francisco home to find the city overrun with organized crime. So she sets out to clean it up with the help of her friends, family, her martial arts skills, and her Shaolin values.
The Republic of Sarah
Who: Stella Baker, Luke Mitchell, Megan Follows, Hope Lauren, Nia Holloway, Ian Duff, and Forrest Goodluck
What: A high school teacher uses a legal loophole to declare independence for her town and start her own country when she and some likeminded citizens are unhappy with its direction.
Thumbnail image photo credits: Disney+; National Geographic/Richard DuCree; CBS