On the busiest day yet of fall’s official Premiere Week, ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy Abbott Elementary anchors a night of premieres including Reba McEntire and Jensen Ackles joining the Big Sky ensemble, new seasons of reality stalwarts Survivor and The Amazing Race and all-new Chicago dramas. Disney+ provides a Star Wars backstory for Rogue One’s Andor. American Horror Story’s Evan Peters enacts the real-life horror of Jeffrey Dahmer in a Netflix series. Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson Meet Cute on Peacock.
Winner of three Emmys for writing (creator/star Quinta Brunson), casting and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s wonderful supporting performance as formidable kindergarten teacher Barbara, last year’s breakout comedy hit Abbott is back in session with no sign of a sophomore slump. But first, it’s development week, as the teachers and staff of the beleaguered Philadelphia public school return to prep for the new school year, and Janine (Brunson) is, as usual, brimming with optimism that’s challenged on all fronts. Putting on a brave face as her best-laid plans keep falling apart, including on the personal front, Janine along with new full-time teacher Gregory (Tyler James Williams) will soon learn that as long as they all have each other’s backs—and that sometimes even includes the outrageous principal Ava (Janelle James)—they might be able to make it to recess.
Abbott is the anchor of an all-new night of ABC comedy, which includes the 10th season of The Goldbergs (8:30/7:30c), picking up several months after the passing of father Murray (Jeff Garlin) with all the kids still living at home, including a pregnant Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and Adam (Sean Giambrone), having deferred film school for now, bunking with brother Barry (Troy Gentile). The Connors (now at 8/7c) opens its season with newlyweds Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Ben (Jay R. Ferguson) on a joint honeymoon with also-newly-married Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) and Neville (Nat Faxon). On the Season 3 opener of Home Economics (9:30/8:30c), there are more uneasy family ties when Tom (Topher Grace) learns his wealthy brother Connor (Jimmy Tatro) is the new owner of the firm publishing his new novel.
The stars have aligned in Montana for what looks like a promising third season for the mystery thriller based on C.J. Box’s page-turners. Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) is settling in as the new sheriff, Beau Arlen—yes, there’s considerable chemistry with his undersheriff, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick)—while PI Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) is on the trail of a missing backpacker who we learn early on has met an unhappy fate. The season’s casting coup: Reba McEntire as backcountry outfitter Sunny Barnes, whose family business arranges luxury camping excursions for tourists, including someone close to Beau. There’s danger up in those mountains, naturally, and Sunny’s got a dark secret. Saddle up for the fun.
The latest Star Wars-inspired series provides a gritty action-packed introduction to Cassian Andor (the charismatic Diego Luna), the rebel hero of Rogue One. Set five years before that 2016 film, Andor (from filmmaker/showrunner Tony Gilroy) reveals how Cassian joined the rebellion against the Empire in a tale populated by outlaws and vagabonds. The series launches with three episodes, the rest following weekly.
The 43rd edition of the pioneering reality competition begins with a two-hour introduction to the 18 new castaways in Fiji, split into three tribes whose members include a U.S. Paralympian, a pet cremator, a reformed gang member and a pediatric nurse. Followed by the Season 43 premiere of The Amazing Race (10/9c), for the first time starting the race outside the U.S. in Munich, Germany. Another first: no non-elimination legs, so there’s much less margin for error. It’s a true game-changer.
A full night of Windy City first-responder drama, starting with Med’s Season 8 opener, picking up in the wake of Will Halstead’s (Nick Gehlfuss) apartment building fire. On Fire, Season 11 rejoins newlyweds Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) on their honeymoon, spoiled by a sinister home intruder in their cabin. P.D. kicks off its 10th season with the team reeling from the death of Voight’s (Jason Beghe) informant, an event that puts a strain on Hailey’s (Tracy Spiridakos) marriage to Jay Halstead (soon-to-depart Jesse Lee Soffer).
Inside Wednesday TV:
- The Masked Singer (8/7c, Fox): The masquerade’s eighth season features a series-high 22 costumed contestants (include the Bride, Harp and Avocado) and a new twist: two unmaskings each week. Followed by a third season of LEGO Masters (9/8c).
- The Challenge: Untold History (8/7c and 9/8c, MTV): A docuseries details the creation and evolution of the long-running competition series.
- Ending HIV in America (9/8c, PBS): A special edition of NOVA explores the progress made by scientists in the treatment of HIV and its potential eradication. But the stigma of the virus and issues of accessibility to treatment continue to challenge communities across the U.S.
- Escape from Kabul (9/8c, HBO): An immersive documentary relives the moment-by-moment chaos of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan over 18 days in August 2021 and the ensuing airlift of 124,000 desperate citizens from the besieged Kabul airport.
On the Stream:
- Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (streaming on Netflix): Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) and frequent collaborator Ian Brennan tell a true-life tale of horror in a docudrama series reliving the gruesome reign of terror by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (Horror regular Evan Peters). His body count of 17 victims over more than a decade was enabled by systemic institutional failure by police, warned repeatedly by a Dahmer neighbor (Niecy Nash). The cast includes Richard Jenkins, Molly Ringwald, Penelope Ann Miller and The Waltons’ Michael Learned as members of Dahmer’s mortified family.
- Super/Natural (streaming on Disney+): On a much more wholesome note, Benedict Cumberbatch narrates a six-part nature series, executive produced by James Cameron, that reveals super senses and secret powers of creatures from bees to glow-in-the-dark squirrels.
- Meet Cute (streaming on Peacock): In this romcom with a fantasy twist, The Flight Attendant’s Kaley Cuoco and Saturday Night Live alum Pete Davidson are Sheila and Dave, whose love-at-first-sight story isn’t what it seems. Because Sheila is using a time machine to return over and over to their meet-cute to make it perfect. What could go wrong?
- Shadowland (streaming on Peacock): Joe Berlinger’s alarming six-part docuseries profiles people across America who’ve embraced conspiracy theories as they move from the fringe of society to the mainstream.
- Designing Miami (streaming on Netflix): Husband-wife interior designers Eilyn and Ray Jimenez tend to their South Florida clients, expressing very different aesthetics in competing firms in a flashy reality series.
- The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist (streaming on Netflix): A three-part docuseries about the young home-invasion burglars who targeted celebs such as Paris Hilton in the early 2000s appears to be giving these criminals more of what they truly desired: attention.