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Julia Roberts, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette, and more are coming to your TV in November

Julia Roberts, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette, and more are coming to your TV in November<em></em>
Photo: My Brilliant Friend (HBO), Homecoming (Amazon Studios), Escape At Dannemora (Showtime), Graphic: Rebecca Fassola
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Series premieres slow down as the broadcast networks move into the November sweeps period, favoring new episodes over new shows for most of the month. But this is November 2018 we’re talking about, so the streaming services are still pumping fresh content into your feeds, beginning with the Amazon thriller that drops an Oscar winner into the jittery compositions of a Peak TV maverick. And going hand in hand with the paranoia of Homecoming and the final season of House Of Cards, there’s a spate of political documentaries looking to channel some of that midterm electricity; how things play out on November 6 might determine how willing you are to delve back into Watergate, Bill Clinton’s impeachment, or the long-standing tension between the FBI and the White House. Which is to say, please take a break from watching all of this TV and vote.

November 2

Homecoming (Amazon)

Julia Roberts makes her first foray as a TV series regular in this stylistic thriller, based on the Gimlet podcast of the same name. As Heidi, she’s a diner waitress trying to escape her time as a caseworker at the experimental Homecoming Transitional Support Center, which is aimed at helping American soldiers re-enter civilian life. When she’s tracked down by the Department Of Defense, she’s forced to reopen this unsettling chapter from her past. Directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail in unsparing shades of brown and gray, the series has a bleak graininess that effectively transmits a looming sense of despair, as the facility is bound to be far from the benevolent service it’s billed as. Roberts is bolstered by a supporting cast that includes Bobby Cannavale, Sissy Spacek, and her old My Best Friend’s Wedding co-star Dermot Mulroney, but she’s solid as Homecoming’s center, the uneasy force the series’ conspiracy mystery is spun around. [Gwen Ihnat]

Watergate (History)

“If there be no accountability, another president will feel free to do as he chooses,” closes the ominous trailer for History’s very of-the-moment reflection at the Watergate scandal. A sort of “Where are they now?” look back at the players you may remember from All The President’s Men, Watergate is a comprehensive accounting of the presidential abuses of power that ended with the resignation of Richard Nixon. The History Channel is, for a change, presenting a real history lesson that couldn’t be more timely. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


House Of Cards (Netflix)

November 3

Shut Up And Dribble (Showtime, 10 p.m.)

New Laker LeBron James continues his takeover of every industry in Los Angeles with Shut Up And Dribble, a three-part documentary purporting to explore the intersection of politics and sports, with a particular focus on the NBA. It takes its title from a comment by conservative pundit and full-time dumbass Laura Ingraham, who clutched her pearls at Lebron’s occasional anti-Trump statements. James is executive-producing alongside business partner and longtime friend Maverick Carter; their other recent prestige TV project—HBO’s talk show The Shop—is an intermittently entertaining enterprise. [Clayton Purdom]

November 4

Axios (HBO, 6:30 p.m.)

The news site co-founded by Politico expats Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei, and Roy Schwartz is the latest online property to follow Vice, 2 Dope Queens, and Pod Save America through the gears of the HBO web-to-TV-conversion machine. One key difference here: None of those shows enabled fascism in an attempt to drum up publicity. Maybe it’ll look different in context, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse pre-premiere look than Axios’ Jonathan Swan asking President Trump about his plan to terminate birthright citizenship via executive order, than not pushing back against Trump’s lie that the United States is the only country in the world that recognizes jus soli, and then trumpeting that little bit of unconstitutional mendacity as an exclusive on social media. (At least Swan’s interview partner, Jim VandeHei, is somewhat firmer—to a point—in holding the president to account for repeatedly calling the press the “enemy of the people.”) All that, plus a look at the week ahead in politics, tech, and business, when Axios premieres on HBO. [Erik Adams]


Outlander (Starz)

November 7

Clique (Pop)

Uptight Holly and her free-spirited childhood best friend, Georgia, begin university with a galvanizing speech from an economics professor followed by a quick slide into coke-fueled pool parties. The two are related in ways that Holly will uncover throughout the six-episode miniseries, as she and Georgia go after an elite internship helmed by their economics professor, one that promises both real-world work experience and entrance into the titular clique. It’s a darker turn on The Bold Type, if that had been set in a Scottish university, and if the one adult in the room weren’t possibly evil. Clique looks to be ultimately forgettable, but thrilling fun while it lasts. [Laura M. Browning]

November 8

The Cry (Sundance Now)

Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who, Victoria) stars in British import The Cry as a new mother whose son is abducted while she and her husband are traveling in Australia. The drama unfolds over only four episodes, but is a bit of a slow burn, and it’s burdened by a flashback-heavy structure that makes for some choppy, sometimes confusing, viewing. But Coleman brings both subtlety and depth to this emotionally heavy role, and the early, exhausting days of motherhood are unvarnished and unglamorous. [Laura M. Browning]

November 9

Westside (Netflix)

Just in time for you to get over your post-A Star Is Born blues (it’s the fourth version of this story—surely you knew how this was going to turn out), here comes the unscripted story of nine stars being potentially born in the process of putting together a nightclub revue in Los Angeles. The musicians represent a wide range of styles and experience levels: There’s an American Idol finalist and a guy who’s been duking it out in the singer-songwriter trenches for more than a decade, but also someone who just rolled off the bus from Illinois. Songs will be written, personalities will clash, and glossy music-video interludes will contribute to the heightened-reality factor of a show where every frames looks like it has an Instagram filter on it. [Erik Adams]


Patriot (Amazon)
Room 104 (HBO)

November 11

Sally4Ever (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)

HBO follows its own, Americanized version of Julia Davis’ Camping with the latest comedy from the Nighty Night creator. Catherine Shepherd plays the Sally of the title, a marketing professional who begins questioning her beige existence and flatlining relationship with dweeby David (Alex Macqueen) when she meets and hooks up with aggressive performer type Emma (Davis). Sally’s in need of a new start, but in true Davis fashion, Emma is more wrecking ball than refresh button, bringing new meaning to the protagonist’s life while also totally consuming it. It’s a look at romance, sexual fluidity, and infatuation in the modern age that eventually expands to include Sally’s co-workers (The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt among them) and whose dips into cringe and shock humor might prove to be just as polarizing on the remade Camping. [Erik Adams]

November 12


Mars (National Geographic)  

November 13

She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power (Netflix)

Eisner Award-winning cartoonist and animation producer Noelle Stevenson brings the fun, inclusive approach of Lumberjanes to her reboot of She-Ra: Princess Of Power. The animated series charts a similar origin story, with a teenage Adora (Aimee Carrero) learning she’s been fighting on the wrong side of the battle for Etheria. That revelation comes with a kick-ass sword and some seriously enhanced abilities, which of course, put Adora/She-Ra, Princess Of Power, on everyone’s radar, including the princess rebellion. At this point, we’ve only seen the trailer, but the new look and tone—a bit more abrasive than before—suits the source material and the latest generation of viewers. [Danette Chavez]

November 14

Origin (YouTube)

A sci-fi thriller that sounds like Lost aboard the USCSS Nostromo, Origin looks like YouTube’s big attempt to draw in viewers from outside the site’s already sizable viewership. Tom Felton and Natalia Tena (Draco Malfoy and Tonks from the Harry Potter movies) star as passengers on a spaceship headed to a new world—but something goes wrong; this group with sordid pasts must work together or perish. The production values look high, even if the story winds up being derivative. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

November 16

The Bisexual (Hulu)

There are tons of L Word references in The Bisexual, a sexy, self-effacing comedy from Desiree Akhavan, but the actor and filmmaker—whose The Miseducation Of Cameron Post took home the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year—clearly wants to expand LGBTQ representation on TV beyond that Showtime drama. Akhavan leads the series as Leila, a Persian-American expat in London who’s caught between cultures, relationships, and, possibly, sexual orientations. Leila has a job, but no real direction; a longtime girlfriend (Silk’s Maxine Peake) she’s taking a break from; and, most disconcertingly for her lesbian friends, a “sudden” desire to have sex with men. Akhavan and her co-writer, Cecilia Frugiuele, have loads of fun at the expense of their flawed but lovable characters—Leila’s own intense self-centeredness is great comedic fodder. But The Bisexual is just as invested in offering a nuanced depiction of its eponymous orientation, which is all too often dismissed as being a phase, or worse, nonexistent. [Danette Chavez]

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)

Sitcom impresario Chuck Lorre continues to draw Oscar-winning talent for his recent Netflix experiments; hot off the cancellation of Kathy Bates’ Disjointed, Lorre has roped in Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin for his single-camera shot at the “old guys saying funny, cranky stuff to each other” crown. Douglas plays a veteran acting coach who spends most of his time sleeping with young women, while Arkin is his agent and buddy, dealing with the recent death of his wife. Lorre looks to be going for somewhat realer emotions here than he usually taps into, while cast additions like Nancy Travis, Sarah Baker, and Lisa Edelstein do their best to help the Method feel like more than just “Grace And Frankie, but for dudes.” [William Hughes]


Narcos (Netflix)

November 17

Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle (Sundance)

Sundance TV gets into the true-crime documentary game with Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle, a two-part docuseries based on investigative journalist Jeff Guinn’s 2017 book The Road To Jonestown: Jim Jones And Peoples Temple. Guinn’s book not only documents the infamous massacre that claimed the lives of more than 900 people—some of whom went willingly, and some of whom didn’t—at charismatic cult leader Jim Jones’ jungle compound on November 18, 1978, it also probes deeply into Jones’ life and the inner workings of his Peoples Temple in an attempt to find out why. The documentary series aims for a similar level of detail, interviewing journalists, former Peoples Temple members (including a handful of Jonestown survivors), and two of Jones’ sons alongside re-enactment footage (tastefully done, of course). For those who crave even more minutiae, Sundance is also releasing a companion podcast for the show, hosted by a name that will be familiar to true-crime enthusiasts—Amanda Knox, who launched a career as a true-crime host with a Vice-sponsored webseries interviewing women about public shaming earlier this year. [Katie Rife]

November 18

Queen America (Facebook Watch)

It’s a busy TV month for the marriage that Traffic built: Less than a week after Michael Douglas begins teaching The Kominsky Method on Netflix, Catherine Zeta-Jones begins her reign as Queen America. Zeta-Jones stars as Vicki Ellis, a legendary pageant coach gets the challenge of her career when she’s sought out by Samantha (Belle Shouse), who has the looks but none of the poise to be Vicki’s new star client. Facebook Watch is looking a little more poised itself as of late, with Zeta-Jones and the wonderful, the esteemed Judith Light crowning Queen America after Elizabeth Olsen’s platform-legitimizing turn in Sorry For Your Loss. [Erik Adams]

Enemies: The President, Justice & The FBI (Showtime, 8 p.m.)

The surest sign yet of Alex Gibney’s domination of the TV documentary field: The Going Clear director has his name on two high-profile docuseries premiering tonight, both of which tell timely stories pertaining to the presidency. The title of Enemies: The President, Justice & The FBI refers to no single politician for good reason: This isn’t a chronicle of our current dipshit-in-chief’s legal troubles, but rather a way of contextualizing the Mueller investigation and the firing of James Comey within the long history of skirmishes between the Oval Office and the bureau. What keeps the leader of the free world from acting like they’re above the law? And is that type of question undermined when it’s being posed by a filmmaker who’s practically colonized an entire format? [Erik Adams]

The Clinton Affair (A&E, 9 p.m.)

And now, one last docuseries combining the power of a “how did we get here?” narrative with the allure of political wish fulfillment is this three-night A&E event, directed by Blair Foster (Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge) and produced by the aforementioned Gibney. Return to a far-away time when partisanship wasn’t interfering with federal checks and balances on a daily basis, when the president’s sexual misconduct finally caught up with him (and nearly got him booted from office), and the whole damn country ran a White House intern through the wringer. Monica Lewinsky herself is among the sources who sat down with Foster and her team, a lengthy list of insiders and observers that also includes independent counsel Ken Starr, Clinton strategist James Carville, and other names and faces you may recall from faded headlines and half-remembered Saturday Night Live parodies. [Erik Adams]

My Brilliant Friend (HBO, 9 p.m.)

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels present a daunting task for anyone looking to adapt them—the Naples setting could easily fuel the imagination of a cinematographer, but Ferrante’s forthright and intensely personal prose is harder to translate, as so much of the story unfolds internally, in reverie. Elena’s (or Lenu) private thoughts as she gets to know Rafaella (or Lila) are fascinating to read, but could easily become unwelcome in a voice-over narration. Luckily, My Brilliant Friend director Saverio Costanzo uses the latter sparingly in his Italian-language series, which debuts on HBO later this month. My Brilliant Friend tells the story of a most unforgettable friendship, between two girls who would seem to have nothing in common but a desire to disrupt their bucolic existence. But it’s also a specific tale of a female friendship that’s been bettered and fortified by conflicts on a personal and global scale. That’s a lot to rest on the shoulders of Elisa del Genio and Ludovica Nasti, the young actors who play the friends in childhood, but they are more than up to the challenge. [Danette Chavez]

Escape At Dannemora (Showtime, 10 p.m.)

In this Ben Stiller-directed retelling, the story of a real-life prison break from 2015 turns into a gritty ’70s thriller. Paul Dano and Benicio del Toro star as two lifers at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York who manipulate a prison guard into aiding their escape. But that guard, Tilly Mitchell (Patricia Arquette), is no innocent pawn; she understands her limited power, and wields it every chance she gets to ward off the despair of living in a one-horse town. There’s a battle of wills among this core trio, each of whom tries to get the upper hand as their plan comes together. Dano and del Toro bring different levels of devious charm and amorality to their roles, but this is Arquette’s show from our first introduction to Tilly, whose anger and resentment is just barely kept at bay. Stiller fully commits to the grime-and-crime vibe of urban crime dramas like Dog Day Afternoon and The Taking Of Pelham 123, but Escape At Dannemora also uncovers the underbelly of small towns, where gossip heats up as many homes as kerosene. [Danette Chavez]

November 19

The Little Drummer Girl (AMC, 9 p.m.)

We’ve reached a point in prestige TV where we can practically play Mad Libs with the names of A-list actors and directors—e.g., “Jude Law is The Young Pope” or “Meryl Streep playing Reese Witherspoon’s mom in Big Little Lies”—without ever creating a cast or premise too far-fetched. But the combination of Park Chan-wook directing a John le Carré adaptation starring Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh, the latter of whom captivated our own Katie Rife in Lady MacBeth last year, is especially piquant. Based on le Carré’s 1983 spy novel of the same name, The Little Drummer Girl is a pulpy thriller full of thorny politics and several exceptional performances, including another breakout turn from Pugh. As Charlie, a winsome actress with radical leftist politics, Pugh is to be the honeypot in an operation led by Mossad agent Martin Kurtz (Michael Shannon). Chan-wook’s direction, which captures every sunrise gradient and panoramic vista the Italian and Greek countrysides have to offer, seduces the viewer as readily as Charlie lands her prey. If you were ensnared by The Night Manager, expect to fall for The Little Drummer Girl. [Danette Chavez]

November 20

The Final Table (Netflix)

Netflix’s food TV offerings have almost kept apace of the network’s broader release schedule, delivering new series from David Chang and Samin Nosrat, new episodes of Chef’s Table and The Great British Baking Show, and low-stakes competitions like Sugar Rush and Nailed It! in 2018 alone. But with The Final Table, Netflix debuts its most ambitious and—from the looks of its pause-filled, Master Chef-like trailer—most dramatic food series yet. The Final Table, apparently, is a group of the “greatest chefs from around the globe” represented by the likes of Chef’s Table vets Enrique Olvera and Grant Achatz, Helena Rizzo, and more. Twelve teams of two chefs are competing for a spot at that table by attempting to master a different country’s cuisine every episode. Food critics and celebrity ambassadors like Dax Shepard, Hasan Minhaj, and Alessandra Ambrosio will be on hand to help judge and keep the hyperbole up. [Kelsey J. Waite]

November 22


Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Netflix)

November 25

Dirty John (Bravo, 10 p.m.)

One of last year’s most buzzed-about crime podcasts, Dirty John, gets a TV adaptation this fall. That isn’t all that unusual in itself. What is unusual is the format: Instead of going with a standard docuseries, Bravo is adapting Dirty John into a scripted drama. Eric Bana stars as “Dirty” John Meehan himself, alongside Connie Britton as Debra Newell, the Newport Beach, California interior decorator whose bourgeois life gets turned upside down by the titular con man. Early trailers for the show seem to point toward the type of overwrought (but not quite campy) performances and flat, slick lensing typically seen in Lifetime movies—a format whose audience overlaps quite a bit with true crime, to be fair. [Katie Rife]

November 27


Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath (A&E)
Adam Ruins Everything (truTV)

November 28


Vikings (History)

November 30

1983 (Netflix)

Although early teasers for 1983 have more plunky piano playing than plot info, we’ve dug up enough info on Netflix’s first Polish-language series to know it’s going to be a doozy. This eight-part political thriller, created and written by Joshua Long (who’s also executive-producing the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark film), is set in an alternate reality wherein the Iron Curtain never fell and Poland remains a Soviet state. As a scrappy law student and a disillusioned (and disgraced) police investigator race to prove a conspiracy, they come up against a government dead set on keeping the truth of a 1983 bombing hidden. The subject matter is pertinent, to say the least, but we’re also excited to see that Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland—who helmed multiple episodes of The Wire, Treme, and House Of Cards—will direct the series along with her daughter Kasia Adamik (Spoor). [Danette Chavez]