Ah, September. The air turns cool, the leaves begin to change, and absolutely everything is suddenly pumpkin flavored.
I can still remember the utter thrill of receiving the fall preview issue of Entertainment Weekly. I would study it and carefully map out my viewing schedule. Of course, those days are long gone. No one has a viewing schedule anymore. We all have a “what should we watch on [insert name of streaming platform here] tonight” schedule.
But, in many ways, the traditional networks (bless their hearts) still adhere to the traditional TV season of September through May. Many of our favorite network shows (hi Grey’s Anatomy) will return this month and the networks will debut their new series after the Emmys air on Sunday, September 19 on CBS.
Therefore, this month we show the networks some love. After all without them none of the other TV would be here. Here are the five under-the-radar shows you can’t miss this month (but starting, of course, with a streamer):
Executive Producers: Kourtney Kang, Melvin Mar, Jake Kasdan, Dayna Bochco, Jesse Bochco, Erin O’Malley, Matt Kuhn, Justin McEwen
Stars: Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Jason Scott Lee, Matthew Sato, Wes Tian, Emma Meisel, Mapuana Makia, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
Premiere Date: September 8 on Disney+
We’ve already had Mighty Ducks and Turner & Hooch—now, Disney+’s trip down memory lane continues with its newest homage the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Peyton Elizabeth Lee (the one and only Andi Mack) stars as Lahela Kamealoha, a 16-year-old doctor balancing adolescent woes (a first date with a cute surfer, curfew) with a burgeoning medical career where her mom (Kathleen Rose Perkins) is her boss. Everyone is Lahela’s world remembers the beloved Neil Patrick Harris series, which earns her the nickname “Doogie.” Series creator Kourtney Kang, who was born in Hawaii to a Korean dad and an Irish mom, brings some of her childhood experiences into the show. The series was shot on location in O’ahu, and guest stars this season include Max Greenfield, Randall Park, and Margaret Cho. A new episode will air every Wednesday.
Executive Producers: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon
Stars: Hana Ali, Rasheda Ali, Khalilah Ali, Veronica Porche, Rahaman Ali
Premiere Date: September 19 at 8 p.m. on PBS
This four-part documentary series from prolific producer Ken Burns delves into the life of one of the greatest sports stars of our time. Burns is joined by his daughter Sarah Burns and David McMahon, whose previous collaborations with Burns include The Central Park Five and Jackie Robinson. The first episode follows Ali’s life from 1942-1964 as he rose from amateur boxer to heavy weight champion. But Ali was much more than “the greatest of all time,” he challenged people’s views on race and religion and was a pioneer for athletes speaking out on what they believed in. The series, which will unfold over four consecutive nights, features interviews with Ali’s children, brother, childhood friends, and spouses, as well as sports stars, historians, and journalists.
Executive Producers: Liz Heldens, Jason Winer, Sue Naegle
Stars: Scott Foley, Teri Polo, Piper Perabo, Simone Recasner, Ser’Darius Blain, Jon Rudnitsky, Raymond Cham Jr., Mallory Jansen, Kevin Daniels ,Anna Grace Barlow
Premiere Date: September 20 at 9 p.m. on FOX
TV continues to come full circle with this fictional show about a reality show. In The Big Leap, Scott Foley stars as Nick Blackburn, a take-no-prisoners producer charged with casting a competitive reality show that will ultimately lead to a production of Swan Lake. What could possibly go wrong with that idea? Like any reality show producer, Nick isn’t just looking for good dancers, he’s looking for dancers with melodramatic back stories. Keep an eye out for relative newcomer Simone Recasner who stars as Gabby Lewis, a single mom who put her dancing dreams aside when she became pregnant right after high school.
Executive Producers: Lee Daniels, Karin Gist
Stars: Yaya DaCosta, Morris Chestnut, L. Scott Caldwell, Nadine Ellis, Debbi Morgan
Premiere Date: September 21 at 9 p.m. on FOX
Based on Lawrence Otis Graham’s book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” this new drama from the executive producer of Empire is set in the tony community of Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Yaya DaCosta stars as Angela Vaughn, a single mom who comes to the Massachusetts enclave ready to infiltrate the social scene and promote her haircare line much to the chagrin of Oak Bluffs’ matriarch Olivia (L. Scott Caldwell) and her son Raymond (Morris Chestnut). Showrunner Karin Gist promises a big reveal as the season progresses.
Executive Producers: Lee Daniels, Saladin K. Patterson, Fred Savage, Marc Velez
Stars: Don Cheadle, Elisha “EJ” Williams, Dulé Hill, Saycon Sengbloh, Laura Kariuki, Julian Lerner, Amari O’Neil ,Milan Ray
Premiere Date: September 22 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC
Continuing the “everything old is new again trend,” ABC premieres a new iteration of The Wonder Years. The series is still set in the turbulent time of the late-1960s and now focuses on the Williams, an upper middle class Black family in Montgomery, Alabama. Elisha “EJ” Williams stars as 12-year-old Dean Williams and Don Cheadle narrates as the now-adult Dean reflecting back on his youth. Dule Hill and Saycon Sengbloh star as Dean’s parents trying to help him navigate an ever changing world. The pilot episode was directed by Fred Savage, who, of course, headlined the original The Wonder Years. ABC will feature much of that original cast in their comedies starting October 13, with Savage on The Conners, Danica McKellar on Home Economics, and Dan Lauria on The Goldbergs.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer and a member of the Television Critics Association. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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