USA TODAY TV Critic Kelly Lawler breaks down her must-see TV shows of the spring and talks about how the pandemic is affecting production.
Ah, summer TV. Continuing to social distance leaves us with a lot of time on our sanitized hands.
Thankfully, television is here to offer a distraction – and we should relish it while it lasts. Given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on production, fall’s offerings are expected to be slimmer than usual. But in the coming days, there are still releases to be excited about. If reality TV is what you crave, August brings the return of the long-running “Big Brother” and the third season of Netflix’s real estate reality show, “Selling Sunset.” In addition, Shark Week swims ashore Aug. 9
Looking ahead to September, Starz’s “Power Book II: Ghost” premieres, beginning a journey where “Power” left off. Netflix enters a “Jurassic” period with its new animated program, “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.”
Our calendar of major highlights ensures you won’t miss the return of your favorite series or the start of a new show you’ll fall in love with. (All times EDT/PDT.)
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“Big Brother” (CBS, premiere at 9, Wednesday. After the debut, it will air Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8): An all-star cast assembles for the reality program’s 22nd season.
“Star Trek: Lower Decks” (Thursdays on CBS All Access): A new animated comedy, the first in decades for the “Trek” franchises, centers on the U.S.S. Cerritos’s support crew.
“Selling Sunset”: Season 3 (Netflix)
“Howard” (Disney+): The documentary makes viewers a part of Howard Ashman’s world. The late lyricist wrote the lyrics for tunes from beloved Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” in addition to creating musicals.
Howard Ashman (Photo: Courtesy Disney+)
“Shark Week” (Discovery Channel, Aug. 9 through Aug. 16): The 32nd annual Discovery event includes specials “Tyson vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef” (Aug. 9, 9 EDT/PDT) and “Will Smith: Off The Deep End” (Aug. 11, 9 EDT/PDT).
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV+): Jason Sudeikis stars as a football coach hired to oversee a British soccer team.
“World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” (Amazon Prime): Bear Grylls hosts the reality competition, in which 66 teams face-off.
“Lovecraft Country”: (HBO, Sundays at 9): The drama takes its inspiration from 2016 Matt Ruff’s novel, set in the 1950s. Jonathan Majors portrays Freeman, who partners with his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), a pal from childhood. They embark on a road trip to find Atticus’ dad, Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams), who has gone missing and also encounter racism and horrifying monsters.
“Lucifer”: Season 5 (Netflix)
“Love Fraud” (Showtime, Sundays at 9): This four-part docuseries explores the cons of Richard Scott Smith, who romanced and swindled several women, prompting them to turn to a bounty hunter for revenge.
“The Boys”: Season 2 (Amazon Prime)
“Power Book II: Ghost” (Starz, Sunday at 9 (then 8 as of Sept. 13)): This new series, featuring Mary J. Blige, begins where its predecessor “Power” left off. Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey Jr.) is facing a new reality where his mom Tasha (Naturi Naughton) is being charged with the death of Tariq’s father. In order to pay for her defense attorney he “turns to the familiar drug game.”
“Undercover”: Season 2 (Netflix)
“Woke” (Hulu): Cartoonist Keith Knight serves as co-creator and an executive producer for the comedy inspired by the artist. Lamorne Morris stars as Keef, a cartoonist on the brink on success when an incident upends his life.
“The Third Day” (HBO, Mondays at 9): The limited series is broken into two parts: Jude Law stars in the “Summer” half of the episodes, while Naomie Harris is at the center of the series’ “Winter” shows.
“We Are Who We Are” (HBO, Mondays at 10): A pair of American teens residing in Italy on a U.S. military base are depicted in the eight-part series looking at adolescent life from Luca Guadagnino (“Call Me By Your Name”).
“Archer” Season 11 (FXX, Wednesdays at 10)
“Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (Netflix): The new animated series, which counts Steven Spielberg as an executive producer, is centered on a group of six teens selected to attend a special camp. But, as is typical with “Jurassic” projects, it’s never just a walk in the park…
“Pen15” Season 2 (Hulu)
‘Hello? Hello?’: Distressed campers under attack in ‘Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous’ trailer
An image from the animated series “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (Photo: Courtesy Netflix)
“Flesh and Blood” (PBS, Sundays at 9): The four-part series explores the deadly sins challenging a family in the “mystery about the perils of late-life romance.”
“NeXt”: (Fox, Tuesdays at 9): John Slattery plays a Silicon Valley trailblazer who partners with a cybercrime agent played by Fernanda Andrade to do battle with a uniquely terrifying opponent.
“Star Trek: Discovery” Season 3: (CBS All Access, Thursdays)
“The Undoing” (HBO, Sundays at 9): Nicole Kidman stars as therapist Grace Fraser, who is married to the dedicated Jonathan (Hugh Grant) in this limited series created by David E. Kelley (“Big Little Lies”). The couple’s idyllic life is upended following a death and a missing spouse.
“Roadkill” (PBS, Sundays at 9): Hugh Laurie embodies a crooked politician in this four-part drama.
“Deadwind”: Season 2 (Netflix)
“Say I Do” (Netflix): Interior designer Jeremiah Brent, fashion designer Thai Nguyen and chef Gabriele Bertaccini have said “I do” to making couples’ surprise wedding dreams come true.
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“The Baby-Sitters Club” (Netflix): Stoneybrook’s young entrepreneurial minds introduced in “The Baby-Sitters Club” books are at the center of a new series in which Alicia Silverstone portrays Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer, mom to Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace).
“Hanna”: Season 2 (Amazon Prime)
“Outcry” (Showtime, Sundays at 10): The docuseries investigates the conviction of high school athlete Greg Kelley for sexually assaulting a young boy, and his subsequent 25-year prison sentence.
“Tough As Nails” (CBS, Wednesdays at 8 and CBS All Access): A dozen competitors, whose day jobs include welding, farming, fighting fires, roofing and other occupations requiring physical strength, are put to the test.
“Stateless” (Netflix): Four unacquainted people meet at an immigration detention center in Australia.
“Was It Love?” (Netflix): A single mom, who has long been unattached, crosses paths with four men, and gets back in touch with herself.
“Expecting Amy” (HBO Max): The docuseries captures comedian Amy Schumer during her difficult pregnancy with her son, Gene, who was born in May 2019.
“Down to Earth with Zac Efron” (Netflix): Efron crosses the globe with wellness expert Darin Olien “in search of healthy, sustainable ways to live.”
“Greatness Code” (Apple TV+): The victories of legendary sports figures are examined.
“Little Voice” (Apple TV+): Bess (Brittany O’Grady) chases her dreams of being a star while experiencing rejection, family drama and a bumpy dating life.
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“Brave New World” (Peacock): Demi Moore joins the cast of the sci-fi drama based on Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel.
“The Capture” (Peacock): A detective investigating a case against a British soldier discovers a conspiracy.
“Intelligence” (Peacock): David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed star in the comedy created by Mohammed in which the “Friends” alum plays an NSA agent who partners with a computer analyst to investigate cyber crimes.
“Skin Decision: Before and After” (Netflix): Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, and Nurse Jamie, a skin-care expert with a celebrity following, help clients look their best.
“House of Ho” (HBO Max): The unscripted series depicts generations of the Ho family. Through effort and determination, Vietnamese immigrants Binh and Hue Ho have become very successful Houstonians.
“Cursed” (Netflix): Katherine Langford assumes the role of Nimue in the fantasy drama based on Thomas Wheeler’s book.
“Absentia”: Season 3 (Amazon Prime)
Katherine Langford as the sword-toting Nimue in “Cursed.” (Photo: Netflix)
“The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” (TNT, Sundays at 9): The second season of the period drama.
“United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN, Sundays at 10): The fifth season of the docuseries debuts with an extended premiere exploring white supremacy.
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“Street Food: Latin America” (Netflix): Examining the cuisine of six Latin American countries, with stops in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Corporate” (Comedy Central, Wednesdays at 10:30): The comedy will end with its third season, during which Matt (star/co-creator Matt Ingebretson), Jake (star/co-creator Jake Weisman), Grace (Aparna Nancherla) and their colleagues at Hampton DeVille combat the challenges of their workplace.
“Love on the Spectrum” (Netflix): The project looks at the dating lives of those on the autism spectrum.
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“The Dog House” (HBO Max): Dogs that come to Wood Green, the British animals shelter, and are placed with new owners are at the heart of this series.
“In the Dark”: Season 2 (Netflix)
“Jim Gaffigan: The Pale Tourist” (Amazon Prime): The comedian delivers two specials, performing stand-up personalized to each location, incorporating his experiences in Spain and Canada.
“Room 104” (HBO, Fridays at 11): The anthology series begins its goodbye with its fourth and final season.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan (Photo: Courtesy Amazon)
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“In My Skin” (Hulu): Depicts the life of teenager Bethan (Gabrielle Creevy), who struggles with the challenges of adolescence.
“The Umbrella Academy”: Season 2 (Netflix)
“Black is King” (Disney+): Beyoncé serves as writer, director and executive produced for the visual album, which is based on “The Lion King: The Gift,” the soundtrack album from the live-action remake of “The Lion King,” “This visual album from Beyoncé reimagines the lessons of ‘The Lion King’ for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns,” an announcement says.
“Muppets Now” (Disney+): The debut season features six episodes of unscripted Muppets content with celebrity guests.
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