Well here we are: The last month of one of the strangest, scariest, sad and stressful summers we have ever had. More than ever TV continues to provide a much-needed respite. And even though TV production has been shut down for months, there are still many new shows to talk about as streaming services like Britbox bring UK productions stateside, streaming platforms like AppleTV+ have new shows in their coffers, and producers find innovative ways to film new content while social distancing.
HBO debuts its much-anticipated Lovecraft Country on August 16 while CBS All Access offers up Star Trek: Lower Decks on August 6. Netflix brings the long awaited fifth season of Lucifer on August 21. And—get this—Quibi has a new version of The Fugitive starring Kiefer Sutherland. Who knew? And more importantly who is watching Quibi?
As always, we don’t want you to miss a thing. Here are five new under-the-radar shows you can’t miss this August:
Executive Producers: Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken
Stars: Rob Lowe, Rachael Stirling, Bronwyn James
Premiere Date: August 4 on Britbox
Does Rob Lowe literally ever stop working? Lowe, who currently headlines the Fox series 9-1-1: Lonestar and hosts the podcast Literally! with Rob Lowe, took a trip across the pond to star as Bill Hixon, a police officer who loses his job in the US and moves to England to head up East Lincolnshire Police Force. His arrival is not welcome by the police force or his constituents. His 12-year-old daughter (Bronwyn James) is also less than thrilled with her dad’s new job. Amid this personal strife, Bill must solve cases—first up, the decapitated head of a long missing woman is discovered.
Executive Producers: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster and Nick Mohammed.
Premiere Date: August 14 on AppleTV+
Are you noticing a trend? Here’s another story of American fish out of water in the UK. Based on a series of commercials for NBC Sports, Sudeikis stars as the title character, a college football coach from Kansas who comes to London to coach a professional British football team. The problem being, of course, that football in England is soccer and Ted Lasso knows nothing about soccer. Sudeikis brings a sweetness to the role of a man who wants to do right by his players even if they are not happy to have an American in their locker room. Executive produced by Bill Lawrence, the creative force behind the beloved Scrubs, the series promises to offer a mix of witty, biting humor and a lot of heart. Could this be the hit AppleTV+ has been searching for?
Executive Producers: Joanna Johnson, Christine Sacani, Robyn Meisinger, Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson
Stars: Leslie Odom Jr., Nicolette Robinson, Tommy Dorfman, Rainey Qualley, Gil Bellows, Rya Kihlstedt, Ava Bellows and L. Scott Caldwell
Premiere Date: August 22 at 8 p.m. on Freeform
Even as some shows return to production, no one quite knows when and how TV can resume again in full force. Many TV showrunners are thinking very creatively. Joanna Johnson, the producer behind Freeform’s hits The Fosters and Good Trouble, offers up this two-night, four-episode event. The series was filmed in the cast’s actual homes which is beyond impressive. Five months into the quarantine and my house isn’t even ready for the neighbors to visit let alone prime time viewing. Love in the Time of Corona follows James (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Sade (played by Odom’s wife Nicolette Robinson) as a couple forced to take a serious look at their marriage now that James is no longer travelling all the time for work. Other stories include Paul (Gil Bellows) and his wife Sarah (Bellow’s wife Rya Kihlstedt) who try to hide the fact that they are separated from their daughter Sophie (the couple’s daughter Ava Bellows) who has returned home from college and Nanda (L. Scott Caldwell) who is determined to see her husband on their 50th wedding anniversary even though he’s in a rehab facility that is allowing no visitors. The show’s title, of course, is a nod to Gabriel García Márquez’s 1985 novel Love in the Time of Cholera.
Executive Producers: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Martin Kove
Premiere Date: August 28 on Netflix
We are cheating a bit because Cobra Kai debuted on YouTube Red (later rebranded as YouTube Premium) back in 2018. But the problem is you probably didn’t know that! So few people knew about or watched this show. Now the series moves to Netflix which will air the first two seasons before launching the already filmed but not yet aired third season. Please allow me to wax on about this fantastic series. When a TV series based on The Karate Kid story was first announced, the whole thing sounded like a joke: at best a campy, kitschy paean to 1980s nostalgia, at worst a crass money grab. But the series is neither. Instead, it’s a rich story that revisits Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) 34 years after Daniel’s crane kick won him the karate tournament. But, as suggested by the title—which takes its name from Johnny’s dojo—the show has flipped the script, putting Johnny at the center. “My whole life went downhill with that kick,” Johnny says in the series premiere.
One of the biggest takeaways is that it’s all about perspective: A favorite moment in Cobra Kai finds Johnny re-telling the entire plot of the first movie from his point of view. The result is a highly entertaining and remarkably nuanced blast. Against the backdrop of an homage to the 1980s (gotta love those slow-motion action sequences and music montages), the series brings in a new set of younger characters to carry the story forward to the next generation. Daniel opens the Miyagi-Do as a tribute to his sensei, Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita). Johnny, reunited with his own sensei, Kreese (a still sinister Martin Kove), struggles with how to teach his students honor while living by his creed of no mercy. The young cast is terrific and Macchio, who must have a portrait in the attic aging somewhere, is great. But I must call specific attention to Zabka, who brings such depth to his role—balancing humor and Johnny’s great one-liners with the struggles of a man for whom life hasn’t worked out the way he planned. Here’s hoping that the move to Netflix will finally give Zabka’s performance the attention it deserves. —Amy Amatangelo
Executive Producers: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Premiere Date: August 30 at 9 p.m. on Showtime
Anyone who has ever dated knows there are bad dates and then there are BAD dates. But perhaps the worst are potential mates who seem good, almost too good, but are truly evil. For 20 years, Richard Scott Smith conned women out of money by purporting to love them. There were whirlwind courtships, extravagant engagement rings and promises of travel, new homes and new careers. This four-part documentary series, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, follows the hunt for Smith in real time as his past girlfriends band together with a bounty hunter to track down Smith and reclaim their money and their dignity. It’s the first time documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have made the foray into series television, and the results will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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