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Plus: Jake Gyllenhaal... talks on the phone!
Everyone loves a good comeback, and this week there are four -- OK, maybe three, but four for me -- big returns to television. Headlining the week is Jon Stewart's new show The Problem With Jon Stewart, which probably needed a comma in the title, as he says in the trailer. The Sopranos is also back, sorta! The Many Saints of Newark is a feature film following a young Tony Soprano before the bada even had a chance to bing. Big time silly action returns to broadcast TV in NBC's La Brea, which is like Fox's 2011 series Terra Nova but maybe even worse. And for me, and maybe just me, Steve Dildarian is back with the animated comedy Ten-Year-Old Tom on HBO Max, his first show since the fantastic The Life and Times of Tim.
Our list of editors' picks for the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2 is below, but if that's not enough and you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, check out our picks for last week or sign up for our free, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox. You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, as well as our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.
Sunday at 9/8c on CNN
There's nothing like a documentary that makes you scream, "WHAT!?!?!?" That happened in CNN Films' Three Identical Strangers, a riveting documentary about identical triplets separated at birth, and it looks like it might happen again with The Lost Sons, which comes from the creators of Three Identical Strangers and follows a man who was kidnapped as a baby from the hospital he was born in as he dives into his past and unearths some big secrets about who he his. You should always go into docs that promise unbelievable twists and turns with some skepticism, but this one has the pedigree to make you feel confident about getting your mind blown. [TRAILER]
Sunday at 10/9c on HBO/HBO Max
This intimate three-part docuseries examines a landmark custody battle, told through the perspective of director Ry Russo-Young. In the early '90s, years before anyone was really having conversations about gay couples raising children, Russo-Young's mothers were sued by Thomas Steel, the man who had donated his sperm for her contraception and wanted to be legally recognized as her father. Nuclear Family is unique for the way it provides empathy to all sides of the dispute, making it one of the more fascinating documentaries of the year. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]
Series premiere Tuesday at 9/8c on NBC
Remember when every broadcast TV fall season had at least one big spectacle show featuring aliens, dinosaurs, mysterious events, superpowered children, or something else designed to suck at the teat of Hollywood's biggest blockbuster movies? TV has chilled out a bit since then, but NBC is giving it another go with La Brea. The action drama has a wackadoodle premise: A giant sinkhole opens up in the middle of Los Angeles, trapping people in a prehistoric middle Earth below the ground. It's incredibly hokey with effects that look like they were made on a Playstation 3, but it is the biggest swing -- and possibly swing-and-miss -- of the fall season. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't bring this show to your attention. [TRAILER]
Series premiere Thursday on Apple TV+
Jon Stewart has pretty much been teasing a return to television ever since he gave up The Daily Show mantle to Trevor Noah. All these years later, he's finally making good on that promise with a new hosting gig, now on Apple TV+. His new series is less Daily Show and more Last Week Tonight, the reduced schedule (new episodes drop every other week as opposed to every night) giving Stewart a way to take longer deep dives into the topics that are plaguing America today. It will also feature interviews and sketches and, if the short trailer is any indication, Stewart nodding very seriously and sympathetically at his guests. I don't know, all these shows are kind of the same to me, but Stewart did help form the mold, so maybe he's earned this latest venture. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]
Season 18 (Grey's Anatomy) and Season 5 (Station 19) premiere Thursday starting at 8/7c on ABC
It's another crossover event to kick off the return of TGIT, and the premieres of Station 19 and Grey's Anatomy promise once again to be a doozy as The Phoenix Festival descends upon Seattle. Outside of someone inevitably doing something incredibly dumb with fire, we have to finish the drama from last season! Station 19 will have to reveal the fallout of Bishop (Danielle Savre) being put on administrative leave after Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe) sold her out to the Chief. The rest of the station is definitely going to have feelings about that, especially if Sullivan finds himself back in a position of power. On Grey's, we'll find ourselves in a post-COVID world (imagine that!), dealing with the repercussions of Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) turning down Link's (Chris Carmack) proposal. Yeah, that's definitely going to get messy for everyone but a soapy delight for TGIT fans. –Megan Vick [TRAILER]
Series premiere Thursday on HBO Max
Not many remember The Life & Times of Tim, an awkwardly drawn and deliriously funny animated series on HBO (three seasons, 2008-2012) that followed a sheepish 20-year-old adult-in-training and the wild cast of characters orbiting his life, but I sure do because it's gosh darn hilarious (and because I like his name). Creator Steve Dildarian finally returns to show biz with a new series, and he's really not changing much except a letter here and a generation there. Ten-Year-Old Tom retains Tim's unique animation and perspective, but I'm guessing there will be less hookers in this one. [TRAILER]
Friday on Netflix
If you enjoy watching celebrities like Jake Gyllenhaal talk on the phone, do I have the movie for you! The latest from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua stars Gyllenhaal as a 9-1-1 operator who gets a call from a kidnapped woman that he just can't shake, so he goes out of his way to help her out. But -- DUN DUN -- things aren't what they seem. The Guilty is based on a 2018 Danish crime thriller and was adapted by Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote True Detective. If you watch this with a friend and want to impress them with some trivia, tell them Fuqua directed the entire thing from a van after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID. [TRAILER]
Miniseries premieres Friday on Netflix
This adaptation of Stephanie Land's memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive isn't what I would call a cheery series even though it's billed as a comedy-drama. Margaret Qualley -- the main reason to watch -- captures the struggle of a single mother living in Washington state who escapes an abusive relationship by taking up housecleaning to pay bills and provide for her daughter. Early episodes are a non-stop parade of depressing events, but that's kind of the point. Maid wants to show the mental and physical exhaustion of living below the poverty line, and how the poor are marginalized in society while they serve the rich. There are some questionable optics, though: The lead character is an attractive white woman who has access to means and support, whereas many POCs in her same situation do not. Prepare for some hot takes! [TRAILER]
Premieres Friday on HBO Max (and in theaters)
As far as reboots/revisits/reimagines/re-whatevers of beloved properties go, The Many Saints of Newark -- the Sopranos prequel film that promises to give us the Tony Soprano origin story we've been waiting years for -- seems like it will be among the more promising ones. Even if it's not perfect, it's still has a lot going for it: the involvement of Sopranos creator David Chase (he pulled double duty on the film as screenwriter and producer), a stacked cast led by James Gandolfini's son Michael (cue my tears), and narration provided by Christofuh himself, Michael Imperioli (though the character only appears on screen as a baby). The film takes us back to 1960s New Jersey when Tony was just a teenager learning the ropes from his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a conflicted mobster dealing with his own host of personal and professional issues. (Sound familiar?) The starry ensemble is rounded out by Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Leslie Odom Jr., and Corey Stoll. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]