The fall television season kicks off with duelling fantasy spinoffs, milking some of the most valuable fire-breathing franchises in Hollywood. On Aug. 21, HBO releases a “Game of Thrones” prequel, “House of the Dragon,” which follows the ice-blond Targaryen clan as it attempts to tame scaly beasts some two hundred years before the start of the original series. Then, on Sept. 2, Amazon Prime Video débuts a big-budget “Lord of the Rings” prequel, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,” following the rise of the nefarious wizard Sauron. Which will be the one binge to rule them all? Only time—and Nielsen ratings—will tell.
In general, this season of television is all about rebooting, remixing, or resuscitating existing intellectual property—so much so that you might wonder if anything is truly new at all. On Sept. 9, Showtime airs a series remake of the 1980 neo-noir film “American Gigolo,” with Jon Bernthal stepping into the Richard Gere role of an élite male escort embroiled in a murder case. On Sept. 19, NBC débuts a remake of “Quantum Leap,” and on Oct. 2 AMC releases a series-length adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel “Interview with the Vampire,” starring Sam Reid as the sybaritic vampire Lestat and Jacob Anderson as his erudite mentee. The CW has its own reboot in “Walker: Independence” (Oct. 6), a prequel to the meanderings of the Texas ranger, and Showtime has yet another rehash on deck with an updated version of the chilly vampire drama “Let the Right One In” (Oct. 9). On Disney+, Warwick Davis returns as “Willow,” in a pastoral fantasy series set two decades after the events of the 1988 Ron Howard film (Nov. 30). The revamps are so plentiful that they have become the punch line of a brand-new comedy: “Reboot” (Sept. 20, Hulu), a romp from the creator of “Modern Family,” starring Rachel Bloom, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer, and Johnny Knoxville, follows the cast of a beloved nineties sitcom as they reunite to make new episodes.
If fresh content is what you’re after, there are several intriguing offerings featuring major actresses. Samantha Morton plays a scheming Catherine de Medici in “The Serpent Queen” (on Starz, starting Sept. 11). Hilary Swank stars as a struggling journalist in ABC’s “Alaska Daily” (Oct. 6), created by Tom McCarthy, who directed the film “Spotlight.” Riley Keough channels a bohemian nineteen-seventies rock singer in “Daisy Jones & the Six” (Amazon Prime Video, fall date to be announced); Susan Sarandon plays a country-music matriarch in “Monarch” (Fox, Sept. 11). And the great Lesley Manville steps into the role of a book editor turned amateur sleuth in a much anticipated PBS adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s suspenseful novel “Magpie Murders” (Oct. 16).
Perhaps the most exciting show of the fall season is one that is not new but has been gaining steam: hot on the heels of nabbing seven Emmy nominations, Quinta Brunson’s kindhearted teachers’-lounge comedy, “Abbott Elementary,” is back in session (on ABC) on Sept. 21. If you haven’t yet leaped into Brunson’s warm, tender, and breezily funny world, now is the time to do your homework.