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Summer's Last Binge: Your Pre-Fall Season Watch List

Eight shows worth catching up with before they return with new episodes this fall.
  • The Crown, Mr. Robot and The Good Place (Photos: Netflix, USA and NBC)
    The Crown, Mr. Robot and The Good Place (Photos: Netflix, USA and NBC)

    The new fall TV season officially kicks off September 23rd, which means we only have a couple of weeks before a slew of new shows join the long list of returning favorites all vying for a spot on your to watch list. 

    So how best to spend these last few days of (relative) quiet? How about partaking in a satisfying quick binge or two of some of the upcoming season's most eagerly anticipated returning series so that you can follow the conversation in real-time as they spool out their latest (and in some cases final) episodes?

    With that mind, here are eight suggestions for a quick Fall TV catch-up that don't require setting aside a huge chunk of time:

    The Good Place (NBC)

    Returning: 9/26 Episodes: 29

    Mike Schur’s existentialist sitcom pushes the boundaries of network comedy with a cast featuring TV veterans Ted Danson and Kristen Bell alongside new favorites Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper and Manny Jacinto. Set in the afterlife, The Good Place deals with mind-bending big questions while doubling down on the notion that people can change. Along with Schitt’s Creek, it's part of an uncynical trend that looks to the sweeter elements of humanity at a time when many of us need it most. Instead of spinning its wheels like another show dealing with death and ethics (looking at you, Lost), The Good Place is looking to go out out on a high note, and with only 29 episodes to catch up with (all conveniently available on Netflix and Hulu), there's still time for everyone to jump aboard the Good Place train before it begins its final run later this month. 

    Sorry For Your Loss (Facebook Watch)

    Returning: 10/1 Episodes: 10

    A relative newcomer to the streaming business, Facebook has already delivered a real doozy of a show. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Kelly Marie Tran, Sorry For Your Loss focuses on a young widow (Olsen) dealing with the sudden unexpected death of her husband and the secrets he left behind. If you’re looking for something to fill that Dead to Me void or you want to see Olsen deliver a searing performance, look no further than the Facebook search bar.

    Peaky Blinders (Netflix)

    Returning: 10/4 Episodes: 24

    Four seasons worth of TV may sound like a lot to watch in under a month, but luckily Peaky Blinders follows the British model of six-episode seasons. Cillian Murphy leads an all-star cast including Tom Hardy, Helen McCroy, Adrien Brody, and Sam Neil in this gritty crime drama set between World Wars in Birmingham, England. Yes it's a period drama, but it deals with issues that feel all too familiar nearly 100 years later. And if you want to find out why flat caps are so popular all of a sudden, Peaky Blinders has the answer.

    Big Mouth (Netflix)

    Returning: 10/4 Episodes: 20

    The thought of reliving the growing pains of adolescence may not feel terribly inviting, but Big Mouth takes a hilarious, heartwarming, and honest approach to this most awkward stage of life. Season 2 added the glorious Shame Wizard (David Thewlis), but it's still Maya Rudolph as Connie the Hormone Monstress who steals the show. At first glance, Big Mouth may look like another crass depiction of teen sexuality, but make no mistake: this one goes deep. It also offers up an equal amount of screentime to experiences faced by girls and boys, which feels sadly revolutionary even in 2019.

    Mr. Robot (USA)

    Returning: 10/6 Episodes: 32

    Mr. Robot came out of the gate strong, launching Rami Malek’s career and propelling him to stardom. A sophomore slump saw Sam Esmail’s computer hacking drama still deliver bold and ambitious storytelling, but certain narrative twists and turns were a bit on the convoluted side. (It seems like a fever dream now, but Alf also makes an appearance in Season 2.) A third season revealed just how far and wide the central conspiracy reaches with Bobby Cannavale delivering a quintessentially unhinged performance. If you haven't watched the show, or dropped out somewhere along the way, ahead of the upcoming final season is a great time to return to the E Corp fold,b even at its messiest, it's still incredibly compelling and inventive television.

    Riverdale (The CW)

    Returning: 10/10 Episodes: 57

    If you're new to the series, there's a lot of Riverdale to catch-up with, but you can save a lot of time by skipping the second year and diving straight into the wild trip that is Season 3. Murder, cults, a juvenile detention center called Leopold and Loeb, bear attacks, and a teen-run speakeasy. This list barely scratches the surface of what went down in Riverdale last year. Full of pop culture references and bonkers scenarios, when the writing leans into the ridiculous,Riverdale  is even more fun. One episode set in the ‘90s featured the younger actors playing their parents, another saw them taking on Heathers: The Musical (they did Carrie the previous year). We haven’t even mentioned the deadly version of Dungeons & Dragons, which goes by Gryphons & Gargoyles. It"s also worth catching up on because the Season 4 premiere will pay tribute to cast member Luke Perry, who tragically died earlier this year after suffering a stroke. His former Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannon Doherty is set to guest-star.

    Castle Rock (Hulu)

    Returning: 10/23 Episodes: 10

    As an anthology series, you could easily go into Season 2 of Castle Rock without watching the first installment, but then you would be missing one of the greatest erformances of 2018. Sissy Spacek delivered an Emmy-worthy turn in a show that is much more than just spotting Stephen King Easter Eggs. You don’t need to be an expert in King to recognize locations such as Shawshank Prison. Andre Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Glenn, and Jane Levy all make a good case for getting you to catch-up on the first season, which is both creepy and heartbreaking at the same time. The cast for the second outing is just as enticing, including Lizzy Caplan playing the infamous Annie Wilkes from Misery, Tim Robbins, Elsie Fisher, and Barkhad Abdi.

    The Crown (Netflix)

    Returning: 11/17 Episodes: 20

    When The Crown returns in November it will have been off the air for two years. It will also have an entirely new cast, with Olivia Colman taking the Elizabeth II crown from Claire Foy as the show enters the next stage of the Queen’s long reign. There's still plenty of time to catch up with the award-winning show's first two seasons, which include a breakout performance by Vanessa Kirby. Jared Harris plays Elizabeth’s father and will make you forget Colin Firth’s turn as the monarch in The King's Speech. It is a lavish affair in terms of scale, production design and story, and much like the present-day Royal Family, there is plenty of tea to drink and spill.

    Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina

    TOPICS: Binge Watching, The CW, Facebook Watch, Hulu, Netflix, USA, Big Mouth, Castle Rock, The Crown, The Good Place, Mr. Robot, Peaky Blinders, Riverdale, Sorry for Your Loss, Peak TV