Politics, class differences, gender issues: They’ll all be on television’s agenda in the next several months.
And not just on Roseanne, which returns to ABC in March, nearly 21 years after its polarizing finale, with a new generation of Conners and its own take on a divided America.
Rise, inspired by the story of the drama program at Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown, is one of the most anticipated shows on NBC’s schedule. Premiering in March, it’s less overtly political than Roseanne but no less topical.
They’re just two of the dozens of new and returning shows coming our way before summer, including some you may not want to miss:
Homeland (9 p.m. Sunday, Showtime). The seventh season opens with President Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) still at war with the intelligence community she blames for the attempt on her life. As Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) works to free the 200 people the president had arrested, her old boss, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), gets an offer from an unexpected quarter.
Here and Now (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO). New dramedy from Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) stars Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins as the heads of a multiethnic family in Portland, Ore., trying to cope with a variety of challenges, including a grown son (Daniel Zovatto) who’s suddenly started seeing things no one else can.
Mozart in the Jungle (Feb. 16, Amazon). In the fourth season of the classical-music comedy, Hailey (Lola Kirke) is working to be taken seriously as a conductor while the maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), now officially her boyfriend, tries to keep his own mojo alive. The show’s always been a human-resources nightmare, but I can’t wait to have it back.
Seven Seconds (Feb. 23, Netflix). The first season of this new anthology drama from Veena Sud (The Killing) is a binge waiting to happen. After a 15-year-old boy is hit while riding his bicycle and left for dead in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, his grieving parents (Regina King and Russell Hornsby) are left with plenty of questions that the young prosecutor (Clare-Hope Ashitey, Shots Fired, Doctor Foster) assigned to his case can’t answer. Adapted from a Russian film, The Major, it includes an episode directed by Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia), filmed a few months before his death in April.
Good Girls (10 p.m. Feb. 26, NBC). Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Retta (Parks and Recreation), and Mae Whitman (Parenthood) star as suburbanites whose half-baked plan to rob a local grocery store to pay some bills goes, not unexpectedly, awry. This new series from Jenna Bans (Desperate Housewives, Scandal) might be far-fetched, but it manages to make the characters’ plights — pre-felony, at least — all too relatable.
McMafia (10 p.m. Feb. 26, AMC). Think The Godfather, but with Russians. James Norton (Grantchester, Happy Valley) plays Alex Godman, son of an exiled Russian mobster. Alex’s efforts to operate a strictly legitimate business are running into problems even before his family’s threatened and he’s forced to consider his options. Worth seeing for the international locations alone — Alex’s family is based in London but the show really gets around.
The Looming Tower (Feb. 28, Hulu). Jeff Daniels, Tahir Rahim, and Peter Sarsgaard star in a limited series adapted from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and about the failure of a divided U.S. intelligence community to prevent them.
Atlanta (10 p.m. March 1, FX). Emmy winner Donald Glover is back at last from that galaxy far, far away playing Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and we’ll just have to see what he has in mind for Atlanta’s second season, which he recently told reporters was inspired by Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation. He’s also calling it Atlanta Robbin’ Season, a reference to a period around the winter holidays when thefts supposedly rise in the city. So — I don’t have a clue. Let’s just say I really liked the first year, and I remain hopeful about this one.
American Idol (8 p.m. March 11, ABC). How much did you miss the show that was once TV’s most powerful ratings force for Fox? ABC’s hoping new judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan and returning host Ryan Seacrest, will bring the fans again.
Rise (10 p.m. March 13, moving to 9 p.m the following week, NBC). Just as he did with H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, creator Jason Katims has adapted Michael Sokolove’s nonfiction book Drama High, about Levittown’s Truman High and its legendary drama teacher Lou Volpe, into a fictional series that retains much of the spirit, if not the details, of the original, while delving into issues involving alcoholism, sexuality, and gender. (Katims also moves the action to a fictional community much closer to Pittsburgh than Philadelphia.) Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) stars as Lou Mazzuchelli, who causes waves with his first production, Spring Awakening, and Rosie Perez plays his often antagonistic — and more practical — assistant, Tracey Wolfe. Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), and Damon J. Gillespie are among several standouts on the student side.
Instinct (8 p.m. March 18, CBS). I love Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) more than I do the first episode of his new show, inspired by a James Patterson novel, in which he plays Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a CIA agent-turned-professor. He gets talked into working with a New York police detective (Bojana Novakovic, I, Tonya) who believes there’s a killer using the professor’s book as a guide. The first network drama to feature a gay character as the lead — the professor’s husband, Andy (Daniel Ings), wanted him out of his old field — I’d say it’s otherwise a middle-of-the-road CBS procedural. It’s Cumming who makes a second episode worth a look.
Station 19 (8 p.m. March 22, shifting to 9 p.m. on March 29, ABC). This Grey’s Anatomy spinoff is a firehouse drama from Shonda Rhimes’ company, written by Grey’s veteran Stacy McKee, that ABC hopes will tap into the phenomenally loyal audience for the turbulent doings at the Seattle hospital now known as Grey Sloan Memorial. Set in a firehouse not far away, it stars Jaina Lee Ortiz, Grey Damon, Barrett Doss, and Jason George, whose Grey’s character, Ben Warren, is a surgeon who’s decided he’d like to be a firefighter.
Trust (10 p.m. March 25, FX). Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World won’t be the last we’ll hear of billionaire J. Paul Getty and his seemingly cursed clan. The first season of what’s envisioned as a multiyear family saga also covers the 1973 kidnapping of Getty’s teenage grandson John Paul Getty III (Harris Dickinson), but in ways different enough from the movie to remind us how slippery history can be. Written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Danny Boyle, who directed the first three episodes, it stars Donald Sutherland as the elder Getty, whose refusal to pay his grandson’s ransom made international headlines, Hilary Swank as the boy’s desperate mother, and Brendan Fraser (in a cowboy hat) as the former CIA agent Getty dispatches to Rome to make a deal with the kidnappers.
Roseanne (8 p.m. March 27, ABC). She’s back, and she voted. People who remember Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) as a working-class progressive may wonder about the character’s current political posture, which has put her at odds with her sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). Or maybe they’ll simply recognize their own families. The two episodes I’ve seen, which make up the hourlong premiere, eventually move beyond presidential politics to focus on the still-growing Conner clan, led by Roseanne and Dan (John Goodman). (As you’ve probably heard, Dan is not dead after all. Which is great.) This is a show so inclusive it not only features a grandson (Ames McNamara) who prefers to wear dresses to school, it’s found roles for both the actresses who played Becky, Lecy Goranson and Sarah Chalke.
Splitting Up Together (9:30 p.m. March 27, ABC). Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Oliver Hudson (Nashville) play a couple of parents whose divorce may bring them closer, and not only because they’ll continue to share a home. It’s a funny, heartfelt comedy whose only problem could be viewers’ unwillingness to wait seven or so seasons to see these two (maybe) get back together.
The Americans (10 p.m. March 28, FX). Prepare for a time jump as the sixth and final season of the 1980s-set Russian spy drama begins. If you’ve come this far with Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), you’ll know enough to be ready for anything.
Killing Eve (8 p.m. April 8, BBC America). Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) stars as Eve, a spy agency employee who’s dying to do some actual spying — and who just may die in the attempt — in this black and clever comedy from Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag). Jodie Comer (The White Princess) costars as Villanelle, an international hit woman who may enjoy her job a bit too much and who’s about to take an interest in Eve.
Scandal (10 p.m. April 19, ABC). Can the soul of Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) be saved? Is Olivia’s salvation even the point? Those who know aren’t saying how the series will end, but here’s what we do know: The final four episodes of the final season move to 10 p.m. Thursdays, starting March 29, and Havertown’s Tom Verica, an executive producer who recently moved from Scandal to a new Shondaland legal drama, For the People (premiering at 10 p.m. March 13 on ABC), is scheduled to return to direct the April 19 finale.
The Handmaid’s Tale (April 25, Hulu). Elisabeth Moss returns as Offred in the second season of the Emmy-winning drama, inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a post-U.S. society in which women have been stripped of all civil rights, with the still-fertile among them forced to bear children for others. The second season starts out looking even darker, if you can imagine such a thing. (Don’t have Hulu? The first season arrives on DVD and Blu-ray March 13.)
Little Women on Masterpiece (8 p.m. May 13, 20, PBS). This mini-series based on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved, and very American, novel aired on Britain’s BBC in late December and was filmed in Ireland, but try not to hold any of that against it. Adapted by Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife), it stars Emily Watson as Marmee, Angela Lansbury as Aunt March, Michael Gambon as Mr. Laurence, and Maya Hawke as Jo March.