We’re into September. Labor Day is in the rearview mirror. College football is in full swing. The NFL kicks off tomorrow. And the traditional network Fall kickoff begins in two weeks. In short, Fall is upon us, and we’re starting to see that reflected in the series we’re being offered. Not sure what you should make time to watch between football games, PTA meetings and seasonal decorating activities? Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Fall.
Only Murders in the Building, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered August 31)
About: When you see the names Steve Martin and Martin Short, it moves the needle. Martin co-created the series with John Hoffman, which centers on three different people living in an affluent building in New York City. When a murder is committed in the building, the trio—Martin, Short and Selena Gomez—realize they are all fans of the same True Crime podcast and decide to craft their own show dedicated to looking into the case. Martin, Short and Gomez make for a unique combination of leads, but they work here. The series has some humor but also plenty of intrigue and a great style. There is more to the story than it at first appears, and this one ends up being a great showcase of that exploration. The first three episodes dropped on Tuesday with subsequent episodes dropping on future Tuesdays. Each is around a half an hour and I was really taken with the first couple episodes, the way the story built and the chemistry between the characters. I enjoyed the backstory and I was drawn into the mystery. This is a fun new Fall series.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B
Dug Days, Now Streaming on Disney+ (Premiered September 1)
About: This new animated series is a collection of shorts, the further adventures of Dug (Bob Peterson) the dog at the center of the Pixar film Up. This one takes on added significance as Ed Asner, who voices Carl, passed away on August 29. This five-episode release features a set of small episodes that feature his fun and adventures. It’s a light, easy watch that will be family friendly. But it’s also a piece of nostalgia hearing the voice performances of Asner, who was great in this role and film.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+
American Rust, Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime (Premiers September 12)
About: This new Showtime drama makes its debut Sunday night but the network released the pilot early via its app. It’s based on the novel of the same name from Phillipp Meyer, who helped adapt the pilot. The series was created by Dan Futterman and directed by David Gordon Green. The cast includes Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney, with a plot set in a small Pennsylvania town called Buell. It follows a local police chief (Daniels), a local woman (Tierney), her son (Alex Neustaedter), his friend Isaac (David Alvarez) and a murder. The pilot is about introducing the characters and the world, setting the pieces in place for the building mystery. This one has a strong cast and an interesting feel, creating a slow build. We saw that work earlier this year with Mare of Easttown. I don’t know if this will have as rich a narrative and experience, but I’m curious to see where it goes. I like Daniels and Tierney, and I think there’s some good potential here.
Pilot Grade: C+
Q-Force, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered September 2)
About: This one is an adult cartoon set in the world of espionage. It centers on Steve (Sean Hayes), who graduated at the top of his class for spy school but due to coming out of the closet has been benched for 10 years. He’s assembled some top tier talent in a similar situation and they’re just looking for an opening. It finally comes, and when they succeed, there is no choice but to give them field agent status. They report to V (Laurie Metcalf) and are saddled with a veteran straight agent in Rick Buck (David Harbour), but Q-Force is officially in the field. The pilot is about getting established, where the rest of the episodes launch into the weekly missions. For those looking for stories of inclusion, or a different kind of comedy take on the world of spy craft, this will likely work fine. I’m not big on animated series, and this one didn’t have the kind of hook that will keep me coming back. All 10 episodes of the first season, about 30 minutes each, are now available to stream.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.