The notion of a fall TV season may be a semi-antiquated television concept in this age of year-round original programming, but it’s still a seasonal expectation.
Cable networks have ceased to be wary of programming new shows opposite fall launches on broadcast channels and the same is true of the growing streaming services — Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, CBS All Access, Crackle, YouTube — which will introduce a slew of new and returning series in the months ahead.
Clearly the 800-pound gorilla among streaming services, Netflix announced plans to invest $6 billion in original programming for 2016, and in July chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company will increase its programming spending in 2017.
Netflix has only been in the original series creation business since early 2012, but it quickly established itself as a player with “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black” and a raft of Marvel series.
Netflix had the buzziest show of the summer regardless of platform with “Stranger Things,” which lived up to Sarandos’ proclamation about the current state of “Peak TV,” the notion that there’s too much original television for consumers to keep up with.
“There are too many mediocre, safe shows on linear television,” Sarandos said, taking a swipe at his broadcast and cable competition for viewer attention. “But at a time when the industry bemoans a glut of scripted series that failed to have an impact, we’ve been able to give fans in multiple genres and multiple ages what they want — adventurous storytelling with original voices.”
And yet, Netflix’s most anticipated fall release may be the reboot of “Gilmore Girls” (Nov. 25), a continuation of the 2000-07 series about mother Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel).
“It’s not a story about a little girl anymore who’s in high school. It’s a story about a young woman and the struggles she faces,” Graham said during a Netflix press conference at the recent Television Critics Association summer press tour. “Yet the dynamics between these two characters — they’ve grown up, but they’re the same. And that kind of foundation of ‘Here are the people you have to rely on’ can take you through any age.”
This fall Netflix premieres additional episodes of the Ashton Kutcher-starring sitcom “The Ranch” (Oct. 7), a new season of British anthology series “Black Mirror” (Oct. 21) and its third Marvel series, “Luke Cage” (Sept. 30), the rare-for-TV story of a superhero who is African-American.
“It’s important in the landscape of television, and also I think globally, as far as symbols and when (people) look at black culture, it’s important that we have positive images,” said actor Mike Colter, who originated the Luke Cage character on Netflix’s “Jessica Jones.” “We’re just trying to tell a story about a superhero who’s going through the same kind of changes that other superheroes, who are not black, go through.”
Netflix will also court Anglophiles this fall with “The Crown” (Nov. 4), a period drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth (Claire Foy). The series is executive produced by Peter Morgan, who also wrote the 2006 film “The Queen.”
“That story of the crown landing in her lap or on her head way sooner than she ever imagined is essentially the narrative of the first season, and the terrible impact becoming queen at such a young age had on her and on all her relationships with her husband, with her sister, with her mother,” Morgan said. “We all imagine it’s a fairy tale. It’s anything but.”
Netflix tried its first talk show, “Chelsea” starring Chelsea Handler, earlier this year and will bring it back for a 90-episode second season in 2017. The service has yet to attempt sports but it will enter the reality TV genre with the still-unscheduled “Ultimate Beastmaster,” executive produced by Sylvester Stallone.
“It’s real, global television with multiple teams, multiple contestants, multiple announcers so in each country the show will air, it will air as local programming in the local language but all produced simultaneously in Santa Clarita, Calif.,” Sarandos said.
And Netflix, like all streaming services, is betting heavily on kids programming, which is seen as a growing market for families who want easy-access to children’s programming on all platforms and devices. HBO, for example, scooped up “Sesame Street” to broaden the appeal of HBO Now streaming.
In early 2017 Netflix will launch “Julie’s Greenroom,” starring Julie Andrews and a cast of puppet characters, and a series based on the “Llama Llama” books. In August Netflix launched “Beat Bugs,” a children’s show featuring famous pop stars covering the music of The Beatles.
The No. 2 online streaming service brings back four established series — “Transparent” (Sept. 23), “Red Oaks” (Nov. 11), “Mozart in the Jungle” (Dec. 9) and “The Man in the High Castle” (Dec. 16) — with plans to introduce three more scripted half-hour shows and two one-hour shows this fall.
Comedian Tig Notaro stars in “One Mississippi” (Sept. 9), a semi-autobiographical tragi-comedy about a woman returning home to Mississippi following her mother’s untimely death.
“As far as the pilot goes, I would say it was probably 85 percent real,” Notaro said. “And there were a few parts that we bridged moments together. … Having gone to series, it’s more fictional, but there’s still a lot of reality and real moments from my life.”
“Fleabag” (Sept. 16), based on a play, focuses on a woman living in London.
Woody Allen’s six-episode Amazon comedy, “Crisis in Six Scenes” (Sept. 30), follows a 1960s middle-class, suburban family
Veteran TV writer-producer David E. Kelley is behind the one-hour “Goliath” (Oct. 14), starring Billy Bob Thornton as a lawyer seeking redemption.
The 1960s-set “Good Girls Revolt” (Oct. 28), based on the Lynn Povich book of the same name, tells the story of women researchers at a newsmagazine who demand equal treatment.
On Sept. 2, Amazon will debut “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse,” a docu-series following Lagasse and his famous chef friends as they learn the history, techniques and cooking traditions in locales around the world.
Hulu recently announced plans to shift its ad-supported, free episodes of the five most recent episodes of prime-time network series to Yahoo View to focus on its subscription service and original programs, which includes another season of “The Mindy Project” (Oct. 4) and two new dramas.
Former “House” star Hugh Laurie is back in psychological thriller “Chance” (Oct. 4) playing a forensic psychiatrist. While some viewers might see similarities in his old and new show — monosyllabic titles, playing a doctor — Laurie does not.
“I’ve got to build a wall between the two things, and maybe I’m incorrect,” he said. “Maybe it would be a terrible distraction for the audience, but I hope not because, to me, the characters are massively different. Their practices are different. Their attitude to life is different, and the story that unfolds is infinitely removed from that other world (of ‘House.’)”
Jeffrey Donovan, late of USA’s “Burn Notice,” stars in “Shut Eye” (Dec. 7), about the underground world of Los Angeles storefront psychics.
CBS All Access
Coming in January, CBS All Access will be the home to a new “Star Trek” series, “Star Trek: Discovery,” set 10 years before the original 1960s series. The focus will be on a female lead character who is not a starship captain.
“We’re going to be telling a much more serialized story,” said executive producer Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies”). “(We’ll) dig deep into something that was for me always very tantalizing and to tell that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy, because for her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself, and that felt like a relatable journey that we could all go on.”
Also, “Big Brother: Over the Top” will start streaming Sept. 28. The network says fans will be able to interact with the houseguests and have access to live feeds.
Later in 2017, CBS All Access will debut a spin-off of “The Good Wife” starring Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo.
Crackle and YouTube
Sony’s Crackle debuts its sophomore scripted drama, “StartUp,” Sept. 6. The 10-episode, one-hour series follows tech entrepreneurs involved in the creation of a Bitcoin-like digital currency. The series stars Martin Freeman (“Fargo,” “Sherlock”), Adam Brody (“The O.C.”) and Edi Gathegi (“The Blacklist”).
Subscription service YouTube Red continues to play catchup with the other streamers when it comes to professional-grade online content. Many of the service’s programs feature YouTube stars including last month’s reality competition series “Fight of the Living Dead: Experiment 88.”
But YouTube is also making a play to pair its homegrown stars with more seasoned entertainment industry professionals on projects such as the recent scripted dramedy “Single by 30” starring Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee”) and the upcoming “The Thinning,” a drama set in a dystopian future starring Peyton List (“Blood & Oil”).
YouTube hired former WB, Lifetime and MTV programming executive Susanne Daniels to oversee its original content, which will include a scripted drama series based on the “Step Up” movie franchise set to debut in 2017.
Freelance writer Rob Owen: RobOwenTV@gmail.com or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV.