Fall TV Preview

With the summer pretty much winding down in every way except the temperature, our thoughts are starting to turn towards the fall line-up. Over the next week or two as the festival season gears up, we're going to be casting our eye on what to expect not just from Venice, Telluride and TIFF, but also the rest of the movie season in general.

But of course, movies aren't all that will be available to watch. With TV going through something of a golden age (and our coverage of the medium growing), we wanted to kick off our fall preview week by looking at some of the most exciting TV shows that are set to debut over the next six months or so. Below you'll find ten shows that should premiere on the networks and cable channels in the near future. And given the increasing popularity of British shows like "Downton Abbey," "Luther," "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who" in the U.S., we've also added a bonus five from across the pond. Read on for more, and let us know what you'll be looking forward to yourselves on the small screen in the near future.

Ray Donovan
1. "Ray Donovan"
The latest movie star to make his way onto the small screen (something that you'll see being a recurring theme on this list) is Liev Schreiber. The excellent character actor (most recently seen in "Goon") dipped his toe into TV waters a few years back with a four-episode arc on "CSI," but has now plunged into the waters properly by taking the title part in "Ray Donovan," which will air on Showtime in the new year. The "Salt" star plays a South Boston native who tries to juggle his job as a fixer for LA's rich and famous with the needs of his troubled, tempestuous family. Schreiber tops off a pretty great cast that inlcudes Jon Voight as his father, Eddie Marsan and Dash Mihok as his brothers, Paula Malcolmson ("Deadwood") as his wife, and Elliott Gould as his mentor. That's certainly a cast we're prepared to watch every week. The premise seems a touch generic -- somewhere between "Entourage" and "House of Lies" -- and the previous credits of creator Ann Biderman ("Copycat," "Primal Fear," "Public Enemies") aren't glowing, but this is certainly one of the more promising shows in the works.
When? Most likely January once "Homeland" finishes its run.

Masters Of Sex
2. "Masters of Sex"
"Masters of Sex" is Showtime's other big new drama of the year, and you can imagine from the title alone that it'll be controversial fare. Appearing like a mid-point between "Mad Men" and "Kinsey," and based on the book "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love," it sees Michael Sheen (in his first regular TV gig, having replaced the originally cast Paul Bettany) and Lizzy Caplan play Masters and Johnson, pioneering researchers into the field of human sexual response, who also began an affair with each other during their work. It's likely to wind up the moral majority, but also more liberal types (the pair ran a program to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality), but there seems to be more than enough potential for drama in the premise that we can see this being fascinating stuff, particularly with two excellent actors (joined by Emmy-winner Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges) in the lead roles. The script comes from Michelle Ashford ("The Pacific," "John Adams"), while "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" director John Madden helmed the pilot.
When? Also January. We imagine Showtime will pair it with "Ray Donovan" on Sunday nights.

Mads Mikkelsen
3. "Hannibal"
Given the popularity of serial killer procedurals on TV, and that Hannibal Lecter has led to four hit movies over the years (discounting the terrible prequel "Hannibal Rising"), it's surprising that no one has ever thought to put the two together. Until now, that is, as "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller has been masterminding "Hannibal," a new NBC series that will do just that. And a movie-caliber cast has been assembled, with "Martha Marcy May Marlene" star Hugh Dancy as FBI Agent Will Graham (previously played by William Petersen and Edward Norton), Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Dennis Farina and Scott Glenn's old role, and, most excitingly of all, Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself. It appears that the plot will intially revolve around a pre-capture Lecter consulting on cases, before building towards Graham discovering his secret, and it's at least a side of things that hasn't been seen on screen before, and we certainly trust Fuller to give an interesting new twist on the material, although it remains to be seen whether it'll be elevated above your average crime procedural. David Slade ("30 Days Of Night") is directing the pilot.
When? Shooting hasn't started yet, and the 13 episode first season is intended for mid-season, so the new year seems like a good bet.

The Americans
4. "The Americans"
The Cold War seems to be the new TV trend these days, and Aaron Paul is attached to star in a spy drama set in the period at HBO once "Breaking Bad" is done, but first up is this new drama on FX, a collaboration between Joseph Weisberg ("Falling Skies") and Graham Yost ("Justified"). "The Americans" stars Keri Russell ("Felicity") and Matthew Rhys ("Brothers And Sisters") as a seemingly ordinary married couple in suburban DC who are actually KGB spies. Technically an arranged relationship, the two are falling in love, but things are complicated both by his growing love for American values and capitalism, and by their new neighbor (Noah Emmerich), a spy-hunting FBI agent. It's certainly a potent premise and while FX's dramas can be inconsistent, the presence of Yost drama bodes well, as does the fact that the pilot was directed by "Warrior" helmer Gavin O'Connor. FX recently picked the show up for a full 13 episode first season, so they've clearly got a lot of faith in it.
When? Early 2013. It could well be paired with "Justified" on Tuesday nights when that show returns.

Mockingbird Lane
5. "Mockingbird Lane"
Bryan Fuller is a busy man. He doesn't just have "Hannibal" on the cards (as well as writing a "Pinocchio" movie for Tim Burton), but he's also looking after another mid-series show for NBC, namely a long-gestating reboot of monster sitcom "The Munsters" going by the title "Mockingbird Lane." You may sigh, and rightfully so, but the show is actually somewhat intriguing. Fuller is taking it in a darker, more dramatic direction, assembling a pretty interesting cast, led by Eddie Izzard as the vampire grandfather, with British actress Charity Wakefield as Marilyn, Jerry O'Connell as the Frankenstein-like Herman, and Portia de Rossi as his wife Lily. It's clearly going to be a tricky one to get the tone right on (hence the extended development process), but with Fuller involved, and Bryan Singer directing the pilot, we're certainly willing to check it out.
When? It hasn't technically been picked up for a series, but given the talent involved, we imagine it won't be long. Look for it in 2013.