Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Witches, haunted houses, and a few non-horror shows coming to TV this October

Witches, haunted houses, and a few non-horror shows coming to TV this October

Photo: The Romanoffs (Christopher Raphael/Amazon), Charmed (Dean Buscher/The CW), Dancing Queen (Jake Giles Netter/Netflix), Flight Of The Conchords (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS), Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

Darkness falls across the land; the midnight hour is close at hand. Also: The last handful of network premieres, a cauldron’s worth of spooky streaming options, and an encore from the people who brought you 2007’s boldest and most groundbreaking addition to the modern TV canon. We speak, of course, of Flight Of The Conchords. (What, did you think we meant Matt Weiner and all the Mad Men alums who worked on The Romanoffs?)


October 1

The Neighborhood (CBS, 8 p.m.)

As in “There goes…”: Cedric The Entertainer plays Calvin Butler, a man who takes pride in his barbecue technique, his auto-repair shop, and his family’s deep roots in a historically black Los Angeles neighborhood. At least that was the block’s demographic makeup until the Johnsons, an eager-to-please white family from Michigan, moved in next door. The cast is stacked—sitcom veterans Tichina Arnold, Max Greenfield, and Beth Behrs; Sheaun McKinney and Marcel Spears, last seen stealing scenes on Great News and The Mayor, respectively—but the way the pilot mashes the culture-clash button makes it seem like a contemporary CBS multi-camera comedy might not be the best venue to tackle these themes. Then again, topical sitcoms are having a moment, and CBS was once the network of Norman Lear, so maybe the conflict-resolution specialist played by Greenfield will succeed at getting The Neighborhood’s tone and subject matter to a place of agreement. [Erik Adams]

Happy Together (CBS, 8:30 p.m.)

Meanwhile, Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens-West are dealing with their own, more conventionally zany fish-out-of-water situation. Happy Together casts them as Jake and Claire, a married couple who’ve settled into a groove. She does interior design for chain restaurants; he’s an accountant to the stars, one of whom, pop heartthrob Cooper James (Felix Mallard), is going through a breakup and needs a place to hide from the paparazzi—and so he picks Jake and Claire’s house. Far-fetched as it sounds, there’s some basis in fact here: While he was still a member of One Direction, Harry Styles asked his fellow Happy Together executive producer Ben Winston if he could stay in his attic for a couple of weeks. He stayed for a year and half, but at least Winston got a sitcom pitch out of the deal—all his on-screen counterparts get are some hangovers from partying with a celebrity and a famous voice on their outgoing voicemail message. [Erik Adams]

October 4


Superstore (NBC, 8 p.m.)
Will & Grace (NBC, 9 p.m.)

October 5

Dancing Queen (Netflix)

Alyssa Edwards (a.k.a. Justin Johnson) might not have been able to snatch victory from her RuPaul’s Drag Race competitors, but she’s been crowned the Dancing Queen of Netflix. This new docuseries frequently finds the All Stars alum out of drag as Justin, founder of the Beyond Belief Dance Company deep in the heart of Mesquite, Texas. But don’t let the occasional lack of a lace front fool you—Justin has all of Alyssa’s killer moves, charisma, and most important, heart. Like Drag Race and streaming sibling Queer Eye, Dancing Queen promotes self-acceptance along with its central dance troupe. The sweet and often bitingly funny series feels like a natural extension of the World Of Wonder brand, just like Alyssa’s move into the solo spotlight. [Danette Chavez]

Elite (Netflix)

Class warfare is in session in Elite, a new Spanish-language original series from The Protected creators Dario Madrona and Carlos Montero that looks a lot like a deadlier Gossip Girl. When three students from working-class families are admitted to a posh private school (is there any other kind for teen drama purposes?), they fully expect to confront some prejudice. Instead, they become suspects in the murder of one of their wealthy classmates before they can attend their first formal. Like Veronica Mars, Elite makes great use of the murder mystery as teen drama template, showing the darkest side of adolescent insecurities. The series also offers some fast-flying dialogue and grade-A burns, which are thankfully not lost in translation. [Danette Chavez]


Big Mouth (Netflix)
The Man In The High Castle (Amazon)

October 6

Flight Of The Conchords: Live In London (HBO, 10 p.m.)

Nine years after wrapping the show that brought us “If You’re Into It,” “Business Time,” and “I’m Not Crying (It’s Just Been Raining… On My Face),” New Zealand’s fourth-most-popular guitar-based digi-bongo a cappella-rap-funk-comedy-folk duo reunite on HBO for a new comedy special. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement performed a new song on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, a spot-on Cat Stevens riff called “Father And Son,” that sees the pair playing a father and son devolving into discussion of new stepdad Trevor. It’s a strong indication that Live In London will be just as surreally funny as any of McKenzie and Clement’s previous output. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

October 7

Star Wars Resistance (Disney Channel, 10 p.m.)

The latest in a long lineage of well-received computer-animated series set in the galaxy far, far away, Resistance is most notable (for continuity nerds, at least) for when it’s set: the rise of The First Order, the army of fascist-lite Galactic Empire wannabes who just sort of showed up at the start of The Force Awakens, undoing happy endings and blowing up planets all over the place. Specifically, the series will examine their origins through the eyes of rookie pilot Kaz Xiono, tasked by galactic heartthrob Poe Dameron (an occasionally guest-starring Oscar Isaac) to act as his spy on a backwater refueling station populated by quippy, colorful outcasts. The show has already drawn some attention—not all positive—for its art style, a slightly garish mixture of anime and shading that looks beautifully fluid in motion, but a bit rougher in static shots. But then, DisneyXD’s last Star Wars series, Rebels, faced some growing pains, too, before ultimately proving how successful galactic storytelling could work on the small or streaming screen. [William Hughes]


Doctor Who (BBC America, 1:45 p.m.; encore at 8 p.m.)
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.)

October 9


The Flash (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Black Lightning (The CW, 9 p.m.)

October 10

All American (The CW, 9 p.m.)

Call it Friday 90210 Lights, with some O.C. amid the TDs: Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) is the gridiron star of South Crenshaw High, who catches the eye of a football coach from Beverly Hills. Billy Baker (Taye Diggs) brings Spencer under his wing and into his posh zip code, but Spencer’s new teammates—Billy’s son, Jordan (Michael Evans Behling), and pointy-haired douche Asher (Cody Christian)—don’t take so kindly to his presence. Moving in with the Bakers puts one more obstacle between Spencer and the end zone, testing his allegiances to teams, homes, and families in the latest addition to Greg Berlanti’s ever-expanding empire of telegenic teens with melodramatic lives. [Erik Adams]


Riverdale (The CW, 8 p.m.)

October 11

Salt Fat Acid Heat (Netflix)

Illustration for article titled Witches, haunted houses, and a few non-horror shows coming to TV this October

Samin Nosrat’s best-selling, James Beard Award-winning cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat broke cooking down to those four essentials in a visionary, joyful appreciation of food and cooking. In her four-part Netflix series, Nosrat brings her philosophies and infectious enthusiasm to kitchens in Mexico, Italy, Japan, and California. In each, she and the chefs she visits guide viewers through the component parts of salt, fat, acid, and heat, teaching us how an understanding of the basics creates the best food. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

October 12

The Romanoffs (Amazon)

Matthew Weiner’s $70 million Mad Men successor looks every bit as ambitious as you could expect, with a never-ending cast and a globe-trotting story about people who think they are related to the titular royal family. Sounds… pretty weird, to be honest, but the trailers suggest it’s delivered with wry wit, masterful production design, and impeccable performances. Beyond the anthology format and that broad description, the show’s pretty much a mystery. After the first two episodes release, the rest will trickle out at a weekly schedule, so we’ll figure out what this thing actually is in real-time. [Clayton Purdom]

Light As A Feather (Netflix)

TV teens are bound to be angstier than ever this fall, as they ward off malevolent forces both earthly and supernatural. This adaptation of a Zoe Aarsen story offers the latter: After five teenage girls play a game of “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” they start dropping like flies. As the girls try to cheat death, they start to wonder if the killer is actually among them. Creator R. Lee Fleming Jr.’s visuals are standard horror stuff, from the dripping blood to other ominous dark fluids flooding the school’s hallways. Of the two “imperiled teens” series debuting this month—the other being Netflix’s EliteLight As A Feather is the less stylish option. But if Fleming Jr. and director Alexis Ostrander can work the same allegorical magic as Ginger Snaps, then Hulu might have something more than a Pretty Little Liars knockoff on its hands. [Danette Chavez]

The Curious Creations Of Christine McConnell (Netflix)

Every night is like Halloween night for creepy confectioner Christine McConnell, who’s garnered an online following with the intricately designed, lavishly photographed desserts that are but one of the eerie attractions of this streaming series. McConnell stars as a fictionalized version of herself, a hostess with the mostest macabre sensibility, who keeps a remarkably clean kitchen in the gothic manse she shares with a menagerie of hairy beasts (and one mummified chihuahua). Think At Home With Amy Sedaris with less Mary Hartman and more Lily Munster, and a supporting cast from the workshops of the Jim Henson Company’s adult-oriented imprint, Henson Alternative. (Just don’t think about how Henson Alternative was also responsible for The Happytime Murders.) [Erik Adams]

The Haunting Of Hill House (Netflix)

Although it opens with a recitation of the famous first paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s classic in the use of subtlety in horror, Mike Flanagan’s new Netflix version of The Haunting Of Hill House might be the most radical take the 1959 novel has ever received. (And yes, that includes the one where Owen Wilson gets his head knocked off by an evil fireplace.) Flanagan—whose credits include Ouija: Origin Of Evil and Netflix’s recent Gerald’s Game—has reimagined Jackson’s quartet of disconnected researchers and “sensitives” as a family of damaged people, all traumatized by the time they spent in the titular structure as children. Timothy Hutton leads the cast as their dad, dealing with his own demons, and trying to stop the house from getting a taste of his kids. Flanagan looks to be mostly eschewing big spooky jump scares in favor of a more dreamlike atmosphere, and the firm belief that no ghost can be scarier than your own fucked-up kin. [William Hughes]

Titans (DC Universe)

Where do you go from “Fuck Batman”? That’s one of several questions this latest TV take on DC’s Teen Titans franchise is going to have to answer, including, “Hey, aren’t these the same guys from the funny fart cartoon?” and “This is what you plan to launch your big fancy streaming service with?” Early promos for the show have focused on the friendship between violent vigilante Robin (Brenton Thwaites) and young magic-user Raven (Teagan Croft), which seems to consist mostly of the pair of them brooding from the depths of various puffs of CGI smoke. Anna Diop and Ryan Potter co-star as Starfire and Beast Boy, but despite dropping the “Teen” from its name, there’s something decidedly adolescent about DC Universe’s first big stab at a flagship program. [William Hughes]

Pod Save America (HBO, 11 p.m.)

HBO’s second experiment in converting a popular podcast into a series of late-night specials (after 2 Dope Queens) finds the former Obama administration aides of the biweekly political chat Pod Save America on the road ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In a four-part series, speechwriters Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett (the former of whom is not that Jon Favreau, the latter of whom also worked on The Newsroom and created 1600 Penn), senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer, and National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor visit the battleground states of Texas, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania to discuss the key issues of the election with the people who have put those issues on the ballot or taken them to the streets. [Erik Adams]


Dynasty (The CW, 8 p.m.)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW, 9 p.m.)

October 14

Charmed (The CW, 9 p.m.)

This Charmed reboot from Jennie Snyder Urman and Jessica O’Toole faced some backlash early on—not over the usual “lack of originality” argument that comes up whenever any reimagining is announced, but for calling the feminist bona fides of the original series into question. But fans old and new shouldn’t let some poorly thought-out marketing discourage them from checking out this Latinx-led supernatural drama, which focuses on sisterhood (again, just like the original). Melonie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock, and Sarah Jeffery have great chemistry and make a believable family, and the series looks to have the same power of three off-screen, thanks to Urman, O’Toole, and Urman’s Jane The Virgin colleague Amy Rardin. [Danette Chavez]

The Alec Baldwin Show (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Alec Baldwin has moonlighted as a modern-day Dick Cavett for years, indulging a taste for conversation with an ongoing WNYC podcast and a late-night MSNBC program—the latter of which was pulled from the air following one of the occasional public tirades that are the Emmy winner’s primary qualification for impersonating Donald Trump. The show kicked off as a post-Oscars special split between chats with Jerry Seinfeld and Baldwin’s SNL sparring partner Kate McKinnon, but expect the guest bookings on the eight episodes airing this fall to go beyond showbiz into the realms of literature, journalism, public service, and other corners of the list of people who Alec Baldwin hasn’t pissed off yet. [Erik Adams]

Camping (HBO, 10 p.m.)

All Kathryn McSorley-Jodell (Jennifer Garner) wanted was a peaceful retreat for her husband Walt’s (David Tennant) 45th birthday, planned to the minute and attended by their closest friends and relatives. A few hours in and those plans are already shot to shit: Her sister, Carleen (Ione Skye), brought her sulky stepdaughter (Cheyenne Haynes); her estranged best friend Nina-Joy (Janicza Bravo) brought some unspoken baggage; her friend Miguel (Arturo Del Puerto) has split from his wife—and Kathryn’s the last to learn about it. Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s follow-up to Girls (and the last TV product of their creative partnership) focuses on a more mature (in age, not behavior) group of narcissistic city mice, showing that self-justifying lies and unreasonable demands on other people’s time and emotions aren’t things we just grow out of. Juliette Lewis puts the all-important spark to this back-to-nature powder keg, in the role of uninvited guest played by creator Julia Davis in the U.K. original. [Erik Adams]

Eli Roth’s History Of Horror (AMC, midnight)

Eli Roth is, shall we say, a contentious figure, from his gross-out body-horror debut Cabin Fever to the more recent, kid-friendly The House With A Clock In Its Walls. But no matter what your opinion of him is, he’s at least a devoted student of the horror genre, a capacity he’ll indulge across six parts for AMC. It’s the second in their “Visionaries” series after last year’s likable-enough history of science fiction starring James Cameron, and it’s got an intriguing roster of talking heads, including Jordan Peele, Stephen King, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It’ll be worth the price of admission to watch Quentin Tarantino freak out about Halloween and hear Linda Blair talk about The Exorcist phenomenon from her perspective. [Clayton Purdom]

Harvey Birdman: Attorney General (Adult Swim, midnight)

It’s been 11 long years since Harvey Birdman—the man in the suit! The cat with the beak!—last set foot in a court of law, and America has been all the poorer in his absence. That’s made abundantly clear in the opening moments of this politically themed reunion special, which brings back Gary Cole, a wonderfully unhinged Stephen Colbert, and all the rest of the Adult Swim classic’s cast for a race against the clock to impeach—but also inaugurate—Harvey’s old boss Phil as president. The political subtext is as subtle as a lawyer running around with bird wings, but for fans who’ve been missing Peanut, Birdgirl, Avenger, and all the other weirdos who used to populate the world of Sebben & Sebben (and the series’ rapid-fire, non-sequitur-heavy sense of humor), it’s a thing they’re sending that they’ll probably be pretty happy to get. [William Hughes]


Supergirl (The CW, 8 p.m.)

October 15


Arrow (The CW, 8 p.m.)

October 16

The Kids Are Alright (ABC, 8:30 p.m.)

The Clearys are the newest family on the ABC block—well, maybe not newest, since they’re living in 1973. (As opposed to the vacancy in the Tuesday-night house next door, who only wishes it was 1973.) And there’s a ton of them, 10 in total, counting mom Peggy (Mary McCormack), dad Mike (Michael Cudlitz), and eight sons. There’s not quite enough show to go around for so many characters, but in a house where Peggy makes her own ketchup and puts it into used Heinz bottles, The Kids Are Alright knows how to stretch when resources are thin. In the pilot, that means installing middle child Timmy (Jack Gore) in the point-of-view position (makes sense, since the whole thing’s based on creator Tim Doyle’s childhood), singling out oldest son Lawrence as the symbol of youthful unrest, and then assigning archetypal traits to the rest: the hypochondriac, the tattletale, the smooth-talking rock fan who holds court in the treehouse and slurps soft drinks out of a brandy snifter. Fun fact: This ’70s show is flying under the working title for That ’70s Show, though it’s really more of an Irish-Catholic Wonder Years and/or white Everybody Hates Chris. [Erik Adams]

The Rookie (ABC)

For his return to ABC, Nathan Fillion is sticking with the familiar. Not only is he leading another procedural, but he’s reteamed with Castle writer Alexi “Noah’s twin” Hawley for The Rookie. Fillion stars as John Nolan, a divorced fortysomething whose second act leads him to the Los Angeles police department, where he’s promptly dismissed for being too old for the job. Although the premise sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen—over incompetence or ageism, take your pick—the cast makes The Rookie worth a look. The always personable Fillion brings the right amount of existential dread and earnestness to his performance, while Bishop, who broke out in 2011’s Pariah, is a joy to watch as the other half of this odd couple. [Danette Chavez]


The Conners (ABC, 8 p.m.)
Black-ish (ABC, 9 p.m.)
Splitting Up Together (ABC, 9:30 p.m.)

October 19

Wanderlust (Netflix)

Constellations playwright Nick Payne adapts his acclaimed production for the screen, dropping Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh into a marriage that’s lost its heat. They agree to try sleeping with other people, which is a lot trickier than it sounds, especially when it comes to explaining the situation to their kids and friends, who are all fumbling with intimacy and sex themselves. The six-part series is already rolling out in the U.K., so be careful while Googling, lest you find out how Wanderlust’s experiment in polyamory goes before it even premieres in the States. (Also, be careful cueing it up on Netflix if you’re expecting a shaggy David Wain comedy about Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd dropping out of the rat race and into a commune run by Justin Theroux.) [Erik Adams]


Lore (Amazon)
Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix) 
Making A Murderer (Netflix)

October 23

Native America (PBS; check local listings)

With scripted dramas like Downton Abbey and Poldark, PBS has proven it’s not just the vegetables in your pop culture diet. But even the public broadcaster’s nonfiction series like Art In The 21st Century balance creative presentation with enlightening content. The latest in this long line of “edutaining” offerings comes from Julianna Brannum and Gary Glassman, who take us on a journey through Native America. The Band’s Robbie Robertson narrates the four-part series, which spans millennia and two continents to trace the origins of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. It’s part travelogue, part history lesson: You can marvel at footage of the pyramids in Teotihuacán and Cuzco, then delve into the cosmological principles that shaped their construction; or learn about Native American mythology before hearing about present-day struggles from their civic and spiritual leaders. Using a mix of gorgeous animation and a series of interviews, Native America brings the past to life while tying it directly to the present. [Danette Chavez]


The Guest Book (TBS, 10 p.m.)

October 25

Legacies (The CW, 9 p.m.) 

The Legacies in the title of this supernatural-horror drama refer to Hope Mikaelson’s (Danielle Rose Russell) bloodlines—a potent mix of witch, werewolf, and vampire—but they could also point to its many obvious points of inspiration. Yes, this is another Vampire Diaries spin-off from Julie Plec, creator of The Originals, but Legacies also has shades of the Harry Potter series, the X-Men franchise (comics and film), Romeo And Juliet, and hell, even Twilight. (The first teaser begs the question: If vampires play baseball during a storm to mask the powerful blasts of their bats, then what are these shirtless hunks playing soccer in the daytime up to?) At the center of all these references is Hope, a “tribrid” who learns to harness her many powers under some Professor X stand-in (Vampire Diaries’ and The Originals’ Matthew Davis)—with sexy and scary results. [Danette Chavez]


Deutschland 86 (Sundance, midnight)

October 26 

Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina (Netflix)

The premise is sublimely simple: What if you take famous teenage witch Sabrina and imagine her as a student of actual witchcraft, dabbling in satanic rituals alongside goat-headed demons and creepy dolls? Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa originally explored the territory in comic book form, and is now bringing it to Netflix as a spiritual cousin to his dark Archie redux Riverdale. (The two were originally conceived as explicitly related, but network rights have scuttled that.) Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka stars in the titular role for the show, which already has a second season ordered, so expect a cliffhanger ending, at the very least. [Clayton Purdom]


Castlevania (Netflix)
Midnight, Texas (NBC)
Channel Zero (Syfy)

October 28

Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj (Netflix)

With a 32-episode order for Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj, Netflix is really banking on the Daily Show alum to get a toehold in the late-night market. Minhaj is the latest former best-fake-news-team correspondent to get his own topical series, and like his peers John Oliver, Samantha Bee, and Wyatt Cenac, he’s taking a longer view of current events. Netflix hasn’t dropped a teaser yet, but the Homecoming King comedian has reportedly been piloting the format of his show while on his Before The Storm stand-up tour (which explains why there’s been a strict no-phone rule). Expect a multimedia display and Minhaj’s energetic and precise delivery, as well as his compelling mix of the personal and political. [Danette Chavez]

Busy Tonight (E!, 10 p.m.)

Kim Kelly is your friend four nights a week in this talk show fronted by Freaks And Geeks and Cougar Town alum Busy Philipps. It’s the ever-candid Philipps’ chance to weigh in on the entertainment happenings of the day, while also playing host to celebrity guests and participating in the occasional comedy bit. It’s been four years since Chelsea Lately went off the air, and Busy Tonight feels like E!’s best bid yet for a successor: Anyone who’s clicked through one of Phillips’ densely packed Instagram stories or listened to her podcast, We’re No Doctors, knows that she isn’t one to hold back, and showrunner Caissie St. Onge is coming off of a long run at Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. [Erik Adams]

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