This November on TV, it’s time for Animaniacs, Moonbase 8, Mangrove, and more

This November on TV, it’s time for Animaniacs, Moonbase 8, Mangrove, and more

Photos of actors Kaley Cuoco, Gemma Arterton, Letita Wright, and Midori Francis in The Flight Attendant, Black Narcissus, Small Axe, Dash & Lily
The Flight Attendant (Photo: HBO Max), Black Narcissus (Photo: Miya Mizuno/FX), Small Axe (Photo: Amazon Studios), and Dash & Lily (Photo: Netflix)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Television productions have slowed, stopped, started up again, and stalled once more, which has required networks and streamers to get ever more creative with their new monthly offerings. November’s TV premieres reflect the different strategies, from picking up British series currently running on Sky like the Maisie Williams/Sian Clifford two-hander Two Weeks To Live to moving forward on a delayed trip to No Man’s Land to walking the line between film and TV with Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology. But even with all the wheeling and dealing, we’re left with a standard assortment of shows, including multi-cam sitcom B Positive, the star-led comedy of Moonbase 8, and the eagerly awaited Animaniacs revival.

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Two Weeks To Live (HBO Max): Premieres November 5

Two Weeks To Live (HBO Max): Premieres November 5

Maisie Williams and Sian Clifford star in Two Weeks To Live, a new HBO Max series directed by Al Campbell, fresh off Peacock’s Code 404 and The CW’s Dead Pixels. (Don’t feel bad if those titles are just words to you; there is a lot of TV.) In this dark, picaresque comedy, Williams plays Kim Noakes, a young woman raised by her survivalist mother, Tina (Fleabag’s Sian Clifford), who, thanks to a prank, believes she only has two weeks to live. Like a certain other father-less girl, Kim decides to spend her last days getting revenge. Those plans are hindered by Tina, some unknown foes, and a sweet guy named Nicky (Mawaan Rizwan, a British actor who’s also written for Sex Education). Williams and Clifford as a badass daughter and mother is a promising combination that could keep this high concept afloat. [Danette Chavez]

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B Positive (CBS): Premieres November 5

B Positive (CBS): Premieres November 5

Thomas Middleditch needs a kidney in this multi-cam sitcom from Chuck Lorre and series creator Marco Pennette. In B Positive, the Silicon Valley alum stars as Drew, a tightly wound therapist and divorced dad who ends up even more on edge after he finds out he’s in renal failure. It seems Drew is about as adept as Richard Hendricks at cultivating lasting relationships: He has no real friendships, and his dynamic with his daughter, Maddie (AJ And The Queen’s Izzy G), is best described as “fraught.” But Drew might get another lease on life, thanks to Gina (Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford), an old high school acquaintance who, for some reason, is willing to part with her kidney for someone who looks down on her (for most of the premiere, anyway). Early episodes of B Positive suggest Gina and Drew will learn to look at life from each other’s perspectives, making organ jokes along the way. [Danette Chavez]

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Moonbase 8 (Showtime): Premieres November 8

Moonbase 8 (Showtime): Premieres November 8

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Moonbase 8 will be marked as “that comedy about the incompetent Americans trying to go to space—no, not Space Force, the other one, on Showtime.” Which is a shame, because it looks like Moonbase 8 might be exactly the kind of stupid-smart Stepbrothers-esque absurdism that will draw in viewers underwhelmed by Space Force’s gentler chuckles. The cast is unimpeachable when it comes to comedy bona fides: Tim Heidecker, Fred Armisen, and John C. Reilly star as a trio of eager wannabe astronauts undergoing isolated training at NASA’s Moon Base Simulator in the Arizona desert, hoping to prove they’re worthy of being launched into orbit. The trailer opens with a broad drinking-piss joke, which is a pretty clear suggestion of the level this thing’s humor is pitched at. But this six-part series was co-written by the three leads and Baskets co-creator Jonathan Krisel (who also directs), which is a pedigree that pretty much makes this a must-watch. [Alex McLevy]

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Industry (HBO): Premieres November 9

Industry (HBO): Premieres November 9

“I only want to be judged on the strength of my abilities.” These are the famous last words uttered in the trailer for HBO’s Industry, an eight-part drama that follows a group of high-achieving B-school graduates as they begin to make their way through the even more competitive world of corporate finance. Desperate to be the newest recruits at an influential London investment bank, these bright-eyed professionals will do, say, and take anything to come out on top. First-time series creators Mickey Down and Konrad Kay shepherd the cast—including Myha’la Herrold, Marisa Abela, Harry Lawtey, David Jonsson, and Nabhaan Rizwan—through the sex-, drug-, and anxiety-fueled setting that looks even more ruthless than Succession. Get ready to see at least half of these earnest, driven individuals eaten up by the “meritocracy” they believe in. [Danette Chavez]

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Dash & Lily (Netflix): Premieres November 10

Dash & Lily (Netflix): Premieres November 10

Dash & Lily: Somehow not a YA take on real-life writing soulmates Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellman, this is instead about a pair of young writers, based on the YA novel Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. In a bustling New York Christmas season, two lonely teens begin corresponding via a red notebook hidden in the Salinger section at The Strand, dropping clues and challenges for each other as the stakes get raised. Obviously, this is all leading up to their eventual and inevitable meeting, and since this is a holiday series on Netflix, we’re pretty sure we know how this is all going to play out. But the ride is fun, thanks to Austin Abrams’ brooding snarkiness as Dash, and Midori Francis’ tinsel-decked optimism as Lily. Hey, the grown-ups get an annual avalanche of Netflix holiday rom-coms, why shouldn’t the teens take a turn? [Gwen Ihnat]

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A Teacher (FX on Hulu): Premieres November 10

A Teacher (FX on Hulu): Premieres November 10

Hannah Fidell’s expanded on her 2013 indie film, A Teacher, for an FX on Hulu limited series of the same name. Kate Mara and Nick Robinson star as two people a generation apart in age, but who find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. At more than five times the length of the feature film it’s based on, A Teacher is poised to explore in greater detail the imbalance of power in relationships between teens and adults, as well as the fallout of infidelity and breaking the community’s trust. As Claire and Eric, respectively, Mara and Robinson make for compelling leads in this tabloid-eque tale. They’re supported in the cast by Ashley Zukerman (who plays Claire’s supportive but distracted husband), Marielle Scott, Shane Harper, and Adam David Thompson. But A Teacher will have to go beyond its source material—which was more character study than ensemble drama—to find new lessons to offer viewers on abusive relationships that look anything but. [Danette Chavez]

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The Liberator (Netflix): Premieres November 11

The Liberator (Netflix): Premieres November 11

The story at the heart of Netflix’s new animated drama, The Liberator, is a familiar one, and not just because it’s adapted from Alex Kershaw’s The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey. A diverse group of soldiers—played by a cast that includes Bradley James, Jose Miguel Vasquez, Martin Sensmeier, and Billy Breed—form life-affirming bonds as they fight alongside each other during World War II. But series creator Jeb Stuart finds innovation in the details of The Liberator, centered on the famous 45th Infantry Division, which played a key role in the Italian Campaign, including the invasion of Sicily. This four-part animated series boasts Trioscope™ Enhanced Hybrid Animation, which, according to Netflix, is “a new patent-pending technology combining state-of-the-art CGI with live-action performance” developed by Grzegorz Jonkajtys and L.C. Crowley. Like Amazon’s Undone, The Liberator has the surreal look of a drawing come to life and a memory being turned into art. [Danette Chavez]

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Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun (Netflix): Premieres November 11

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun (Netflix): Premieres November 11

It’s been 15 years since Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain’s utterly brilliant Stella aired its one and only season on Comedy Central, but now—finally—a new trio of weird comedy guys have come together for a show about roommates having absurd adventures and meeting a surprising number of famous people. This time around, the trio is Australian comedy troupe Aunty Donna (a.k.a. Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane), and they’ve got a new Netflix show called Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun that counts Ed Helms and Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman among its producers. The Aunty Donna guys are up-and-coming stars in the comedy world, so much like with Tim Robinson’s excellent I Think You Should Leave last year, Netflix could have another breakout absurdist hit on its hands. [Sam Barsanti]

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Alex Rider (IMDb TV): Premieres November 13

Alex Rider (IMDb TV): Premieres November 13

Based on the best-selling books by Anthony Horowitz, Alex Rider is the first original drama series from IMDb TV, which, if you didn’t already know, is Amazon’s free streaming service. This Sony Pictures Television-produced series is a genre mashup, a YA spy thriller that follows the eponymous Alex (Clash Of The Titans’ Otto Farrant), a seemingly ordinary London teen who was born into the world of espionage without realizing it. When he starts investigating his uncle’s mysterious death, though, Alex’s previously untapped spy skills all come to the fore, the better to help him elude henchmen and his school’s headmaster. Though it’s certainly reminiscent of Kingsman: The Secret Service (albeit much less profane), all the gadgets, travel, and intrigue could make Alex Rider a high-spirited romp ideal for bingeing. Stephen Dillane and Vicky McClure co-star. [Danette Chavez]

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Murder On Middle Beach (HBO): Premieres November 15

Murder On Middle Beach (HBO): Premieres November 15

The true-crime docuseries wave keeps on cresting with Murder On Middle Beach, an intimate look at an unsolved homicide. First-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg investigates the death of his mother, Barbara Hamburg, who was killed when he was a teenager. The crime, which investigators initially believed to be a crime of passion, rocked the affluent town of Madison, Connecticut. Hamburg spent eight years interviewing his family members, and his unflagging commitment to the project appears to have taken some toll. Murder On Middle Beach is full of personal revelations—about Barbara, about the director, and about the kind of darkness that can lurk beneath the idyllic exterior of a remote town. [Danette Chavez]

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Big Sky (ABC): Premieres November 17

Big Sky (ABC): Premieres November 17

HBO isn’t the only network partnering with David E. Kelley this fall—ABC has reteamed with the Practice and Ally McBeal creator for Big Sky, a new procedural drama based on C.J. Box’s 2013 novel, The Highway. (This also marks the second adaptation for Kelley this year, as The Undoing is based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s You Should Have Known.) The disappearance of two teenage girls in Montana uncovers a series of similar crimes, leading to one massive manhunt. Big Sky’s already being touted as having Twin Peaks vibes, with its endangered young women, remote setting, and great character actors like John Carroll Lynch. The drama also stars Ryan Phillippe, Kylie Bunbury, Katheryn Winnick, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Jade Pettyjohn. Big Sky’s first trailer debuted to great interest, racking up over 25 million views in its first three days online. We’ll have to see if that translates to big audience numbers in this new, programming-starved world. [Danette Chavez]

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No Man’s Land (Hulu): November 18

No Man’s Land (Hulu): November 18

A “fish-out-of-water war drama” isn’t something that comes along especially often, but that’s exactly what Hulu’s No Man’s Land seems to be. The show stars Felix Moati as a French man named Antoine who finds evidence that his thought-to-be dead sister is alive and fighting against ISIS in Syria, so—after doing what seems to be very little research into how dangerous this idea is—he hops on a plane and heads off to find her. As it turns out, she’s joined up with the YPJ, a real-life all-female militia that preys on the fears of ISIS soldiers who don’t want to be killed by women, leaving Antoine to figure out how to get through Syria in one piece and find a group of women who are both in the middle of a war and very much don’t want to be found. [Sam Barsanti]

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Animaniacs (Hulu): Premieres November 20

Animaniacs (Hulu): Premieres November 20

As far as revivals go, Animaniacs might actually be one of the few to elicit genuine excitement. Whip-smart and packed with timeless humor, the Warner Bros. classic heads to Hulu to recapture the hearts of old fans while finding a brand-new audience. Even though it’s been 22 years since the last regular episode aired—direct-to-video movie Wakko’s Wish notwithstanding—we imagine some things will remain the same, like its penchant for topical-ish wisecracks at some of today’s most visible public figures. (Of course, the official trailer couldn’t wrap without at least one dig at Trump, so it’s certainly off to a start.) [Shannon Miller]

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The Pack (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres November 20

The Pack (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres November 20

The Amazing Race meets Dogs and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in this Amazon series. Hosted by Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn (and her dog, Lucy), The Pack unleashes pairs of human and canine contestants all around the world as they compete for $750,000, with $250,000 of the prize money going to the animal charity of their choice. The competition takes viewers through multiple countries, where the duos take on fun challenges in exotic locales that will make your sofa and your dog’s sofa look uninspiring in comparison. (Perhaps realizing all the FOMO it was about to spark, the show’s production also donated $250,000 to multiple charities and animal rescue organizations in each country that played host to the competitors.) We’ll watch, but regardless of who wins, we already know all the furry contestants are good boys and girls. [Danette Chavez]

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Marvel’s 616 (Disney+): Premieres November 20

Marvel’s 616 (Disney+): Premieres November 20

Marvel has spent the past decade-plus building a cinematic universe, but there’s decades of comic book stories that came before and paved the way for the company’s current dominance. Marvel 616 is an eight-part docuseries that, according to the press release, “explores Marvel’s rich legacy of pioneering characters, creators and storytelling to reflect the world outside your window.” Yes, that sounds an awful lot like hagiography (or an eight-part promotional reel for Marvel Comics), but some unexpected names behind the camera for these stand-alone episodes suggests there’s a chance for something more interesting. People like Paul Scheer, Alison Brie, Sarah Ramos, and Chef’s Table creator David Gelb are helming individual installments, each of which looks at a different aspect of Marvel’s legacy. The level of quality is anyone’s guess, but we’re already curious about the episode looking at “forgotten” characters. Bring us Rocket Racer! [Alex McLevy]

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Small Axe: Mangrove (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres November 20

Small Axe: Mangrove (Amazon Prime Video): Premieres November 20

Steve McQueen’s ambitious anthology film series kicks off with Mangrove, a stirring courtroom drama based on a true story of resistance in 1970s London. After a number of unprompted police raids, the titular Caribbean cafe and its owner, Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes), become the centerpiece of hostile relations between the West Indian immigrant population and the Metropolitan police. As the community rallies around Mangrove and begins to push back against the racist establishment, nine activists—including British Black Panthers leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe, played by Letitia Wright—are wrongfully arrested and accused of inciting violence. While there seems to be a rush these days to distribute content that reflects the current state of civil unrest, McQueen’s work is a reminder of how deeply entrenched and far-reaching the divide between the Black diaspora and the ruling police state has always been. Deemed the more serious entry of the five-part series, Mangrove benefits from both a sterling cast and a filmmaker who has long flexed an abiding appreciation and respect for history. [Shannon Miller]

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Between The World And Me (HBO): Premieres November 21

Between The World And Me (HBO): Premieres November 21

It’s hard to imagine what Between The World And Me—the new HBO special that adapts Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book of the same name, written as a series of letters to his teenage son—is going to look like. So much of what makes Coates’ work powerful is his evocative language that draws invisible connections between ideas, histories, and lived experiences that exist as much in abstract imagery as in the stark concrete reality of the life of a Black man in America. But if anyone can do it, Kamilah Forbes, who directed the Apollo Theater’s adaptation in 2018, is probably the right person for the job. Reportedly, this special event will incorporate aspects of that show, as well as animation, archival footage, and documentary clips from the personal lives of the actors involved. Which is one hell of a list: Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Wendell Pierce, and many others. [Alex McLevy]

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Belushi (Showtime): Premieres November 22

Belushi (Showtime): Premieres November 22

Comedy legend John Belushi was only 33 when he died of a drug overdose in 1982, leaving behind a still-felt legacy in the entertainment industry. But most of what we know about Belushi is what we see on screen in films like Animal House and The Blues Brothers, or an archive of manic and brilliant Saturday Night Live characters. Bob Woodward’s 1984 biography Wired attempted to bring Belushi’s long-hidden internal life to light, but confidants like Dan Aykroyd considered the harsh depiction “exploitative, pulp trash.” Now R.J. Cutler offers a Showtime documentary about this outwardly vocal but personally reticent star, using interviews with people in Belushi’s inner circle like Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Harold Ramis, Penny Marshall, Chevy Chase, John Landis, and his widow, Judy Belushi Pisano, to hopefully paint a more well-rounded picture of the tragic icon. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Black Narcissus (FX): Premieres November 23

Black Narcissus (FX): Premieres November 23

Adapting a famous movie for television is always risky, but Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s visually stunning, Oscar-winning 1947 classic, Black Narcissus, is an especially ambitious act to follow. But FX is trying it anyway, returning to Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel for material and tapping Danish cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen to direct this three-part extension of the tale. The result gets additional prestige bona fides from the presence of the late Diana Rigg, who appears in one of her last screen roles alongside The King’s Man and Summerland’s Gemma Arterton and Disobedience and The Art Of Self Defense’s Alessandro Nivola. Early teasers for the series seem to promise the full premium-TV experience, which is to say that the sexuality and romantic intrigue of the story will be pushed as far as basic-cable advertisers will allow. It also looks pretty darn sweeping, although again, the creative team will be working within the limitations of the small screen. [Katie Rife]

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Saved By The Bell (Peacock): Premieres November 25

Saved By The Bell (Peacock): Premieres November 25

Rounding out November is the Saved By The Bell revival, Peacock’s latest nostalgia-driven bid for your attention. The good news is that Great News creator Tracey Wigfield is behind this sequel series, which pairs (most of) the original Bayside crew—Zack, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and Slater—with a new class of rad, fourth-wall-breaking teens. With a school-closing storyline—the work of California Governor Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)—that brings together the haves and have-nots, this Saved By The Bell borders on timely. We’re not sure how well realism will go with the original series’ over-the-top attitude (whither the robot butlers?), but in these turbulent times, we’ll take any excuse to see the Zack Attack reunite. [Danette Chavez]

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The Flight Attendant (HBO Max): Premieres November 26

The Flight Attendant (HBO Max): Premieres November 26

Kaley Cuoco has a murder mystery (and a martini) on her hands in The Flight Attendant, HBO Max’s latest millennial-centered, Hitchcock-lite comedy-thriller. Developed by Steve Yockey (Supernatural, Awkward.), the series is—what else?—an adaptation of Chris Bohjalian’s 2018 novel of the same name. The Flight Attendant stars Cuoco as Cassandra Bowden, the eponymous airline worker who wakes up one day in Bangkok, Thailand next to a dead body and absolutely no memory of how it or she got there. It’s the layover from hell, basically, and that’s before the FBI investigation begins. As Cassie begins to retrace her footsteps, she’s confronted by the reality of her hard-partying ways and the once-hidden disapproval of her friends and family. Despite the familiarity of some of those broad strokes, it’s hard not to be stoked by The Flight Attendant’s cast: Michelle Gomez, Rosie Perez, Michiel Huisman, and Zosia Mamet star alongside Cuoco, who’s hot off a stellar second season of Harley Quinn. [Danette Chavez]

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Returning

Returning

The Unicorn season two, Grey’s Anatomy season 17 (November 12); The Crown season four (November 15); His Dark Materials season two (November 16)

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