Stay Tuned column: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is HBO’s next must-watch series
A promo character gets a series, an expedition competition returns and a highly anticipated drama makes its debut.
Dispatches: Weekly TV news
Following in the footsteps of Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien, more late-night hosts are returning to in-studio filming after months of broadcasting their shows from home. Stephen Colbert and James Corden will begin broadcasting outside their homes this week, with Corden going back to a redesigned “Late Late Show” stage. Colbert did not announce his new filming location but told viewers it won’t be the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York.
Ski legend Lindsey Vonn and her dog, Lucy, are hosting a competition show. “The Pack” (Amazon) will follow 12 teams of dogs and their people on adventures around the world. The challenges are designed by veterinarians and dog experts and the winning human/canine team will get $500,000 and a donation of $250,000 to their favorite animal charity.
“America’s Got Talent” judge, Simon Cowell, is recovering from back surgery after an electric bike accident at his California home.
They’ll still be there for you, just a little later. The “Friends” unscripted reunion special was again delayed at HBO Max due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus’ impact on production. Filming dates are yet to be determined.
Contenders: Shows to keep on your radar
In fish out of water comedy, “Ted Lasso” (Aug. 14, Apple TV+), Jason Sudeikis plays the titular Ted, a small-time Kansas college football coach hired to lead a professional English soccer team despite having no experience with the sport. If the character seems familiar, it’s because he began life in a series of promos for NBC Sports.
Bounty hunting meets high schoolers in new comedy, “Teenage Bounty Hunters” (Aug. 14, Netflix). Twin sisters Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) try to navigate teen drama at an elite Southern high school while also managing their new jobs chasing bail-jumpers.
Mountains, jungles and oceans, oh my! The Eco-Challenge is back, this time with Bear Grylls as host. In “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” (Aug. 14, Amazon), 66 teams from 30 countries race non-stop for 11 days across hundreds of miles of harsh terrain in the ultimate test of physical and mental perseverance. The 10-episode adventure series was filmed last fall.
Ghosts, secret societies, magic and supernatural mayhem all make an appearance in HBO’s, “Lovecraft Country” (Aug. 16, 9 p.m. ET). The drama, adapted from Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, is set in 1955 and follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) a young soldier recently home from the Korean War who sets out on a road trip across Jim Crow America to investigate the disappearance of his estranged father. What he and his companions find along the way are monsters - both human and otherworldly. The series uses the horror genre to contemplate racism and the cast, particularly Jurnee Smollett, deliver strong performances. It’s an entertaining and surreal pulp fiction tale that poses deeper contemporary questions worth pondering.
Report Card: Ratings winners and losers
Winners: AMC is feeling confident about its new episodic anthology series, “Soulmates,” ordering a second season two months before its first season premieres.
Losers: Hulu canceled “High Fidelity” after one season and the CW pulled British game show “Taskmaster” after one episode.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @mcstaytuned.