Autumn just keeps on coming, with another week of TV ranging from very good to potentially best of the year. The Muppets are back for the umpteenth time, continuing to flog their resurgence for all it’s worth, along with Lady Gaga acting in a major TV show, the BBC getting all Dark Ages on us, and a guy flipping burgers for twenty minutes each week. Why can’t it be Autumn all the time?
Up first is a show that ascribes to probably the loosest interpretation of the word “new”: The Muppets. The show, made in America for ABC, sees all your favourite fuzzy puppet characters come together once more to put on a talk show entitled Up Late with Miss Piggy. Parodying both the late night talk shows that dominate the American TV cycle, as well the mockumentary style filmmaking from The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family, the series follows the muppets working behind the scenes on Miss Piggy’s show, and features a number of celebrity guests each week. It’s first four episodes have already aired in the US, where they received largely positive praise (despite being made by the guys responsible for The Big Bang Theory). It premieres on Sky1, at 8pm on Monday.
If you stick around after The Muppets has finished, you’ll get the chance to see the return of one of the few long-lasting, popular, and funny sitcoms still on air: Modern Family. Returning to the UK for its seventh season, the show follows an extended family living in suburban L.A. and the various antics in which they are involved. It’s one of the rare series’ nowadays that manages to be infectiously uplifting episode after episode without it seeming forced (kinda like Parks and Rec), it’s all progressive and shit (but seriously, shows that are progressive without being all in your face about it are always welcome), and it’s won a bunch of Emmys. It might not be the most cerebral thing ever, but it’ll make you smile, which is always nice. The show airs on Sky1, Mondays at 8:30pm.
A third thing-me-doo is coming on Monday (You don’t like Mondays? Screw you Bob Geldoff – MondayLivesMatter). The critically acclaimed Fargo returns for its second season of strange goings on, Minnesotan accents (“eh”, so much “eh”), and the most tenuous connection to its source material ever. Set a good thirty years before the first season, and featuring a whole new cast – including Kirsten Dunst, Jean Smart, and Ted Danson – the second season sees a husband and wife attempt to cover up a hit-and-run, while a triple homicide is investigated, and Ronald Reagan comes to visit. So pretty much just an average year in the town of Fargo. The season has already received the same kind of reception as its first (that is, overwhelmingly positive), and everyone you know will mention the show at least once, so just watch the damn thing (on Channel 4, at 9pm on Monday).
Leaving Monday behind, only to stumble and land on Tuesday, the next show out this week is the return of the American horror story, American Horror Story. The anthology series sets out for its fifth season, subtitled Hotel, and follows the spooky spooky goings on at a haunted hotel in L.A. where, among others, a drug addict and a crossdresser are prevented from leaving by a number of entities roaming the corridors. Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Wes Bently and Angela Bassett return to the cast from last season, alongside newcomer Lady Gaga (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, also music). Despite the shows fans continuing to bang on about how good the series is, the fifth season has received only mixed reviews from critics, so I don’t know, think about that. The show airs at 10pm on Fox (UK).
Cartoons, now. Everyone likes cartoons. Or rather, small children and adults like cartoons, and they like very different cartoons (apart from the strange, strange people who watch My Little Pony and aren’t five). Anywho, the following is a big people cartoon. Bob’s Burgers, made by Fox, and starring the voice of Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), follows a guy called Bob, who makes burgers. Hilarity ensues? That’s usually how these things work, anyway. Everybody loves it regardless. The series has been consistently lauded by critics, and hailed as one of the best cartoons ever made, as well as winning Emmys and stuff. Returning for its third season in the UK, it airs on Comedy Central, at 10pm on Wednesday.
Wrapping things up this week as our second new show (making a kind of show sandwich – where new is the bread, and returning is the filling. I’m totally not clutching at straws here), the BBCs second (or maybe third) attempt at Game of Thrones: The Last Kingdom. Based on Bernard Cornwell’s historical novel series The Saxon Stories, the show is a story about some Saxons, particularly the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that make up what is now England, being attacked and occupied by Danes (not Great Danes like dogs, Danes like Vikings). It stars Matthew MacFadyen (Spooks, Pride and Prejudice, Ripper Street), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Escape from Sibibor, Sin City) and a bunch of people that nobody knows. The first couple of episodes have already aired across the pond on BBC America, where they received largely positive criticism, and it’s the Beeb, after all, it’s probably going to be good. The series premieres on BBC Two, at 9pm on Thursday.