Caryn James picks out the biggest offerings – from the new series of Loki and reboot of Frasier to a four-part documentary about David Beckham.
Today, David Beckham is best known as the head of a celebrity family, husband of Victoria and father of Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper, almost famous for being famous. This four-part documentary, co-produced by Beckham’s own production company, looks back at what made him famous in the first place, his career as an astonishingly good athlete, whether he’s called a footballer as in the UK or soccer star as in the US. The series goes back to his childhood, with comments from his mum and dad, moving through his grapples with fame and success and on to the present. Actor Fisher Stevens, known for playing the slimy communications tsar Hugo in Succession, directs, but he is no newcomer. His previous films include the 2016 climate change documentary Before the Flood and the 2021 drama Palmer, with Justin Timberlake. It may well offer an intimate portrait of its subject, though possibly not an objective one.
Beckham premieres on 4 October on Netflix internationally
2. Everything Now
Fresh from contacting spirits by toying with an embalmed hand in this summer’s hit horror film Talk to Me, Sophie Wilde has a much more down-to-earth role in this new Netflix series as teenaged Mia, who has spent months in a hospital recovering from an eating disorder. When she returns to school, she realises she has missed so much that she creates a bucket list to catch up. The items she is determined to check off that list include getting drunk, doing karaoke, going on a first date, and breaking the law. She is very determined. Everything Now is the latest show to take teenagers’ real-life issues as a starting point, then exaggerate enough to be entertaining without losing relevance. Glamour UK captured the tone when it called the show a must “if you loved the cheeky high school angst of Sex Education and Heartstopper”. Stephen Fry is the other notable cast member, as Mia’s therapist.
Everything Now premieres on 5 October on Netflix internationally
Tom Hiddleston’s shape-shifting Loki, with his many manifestations and timelines, has made this series among the most mind-bending of Avengers spinoffs, and also one of the most playful and engaging. In season two, along with the Time Variance Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) or at least some version of Mobius from season one, Loki will try to track down missing variants and enemies – including Jonathan Majors as Victor Timely, a version of Kang the Conqueror – and try to keep the universe on a stable timeline. Good luck with that. Leaping through time, Loki and company turn up at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and a 1980s McDonald’s. Ke Huy Quan, the Oscar winner from Everything Everywhere All at Once, joins the season as OB, a tech expert who designs and fixes all the gadgets at the TVA. EW calls him the “quirky repair guy”. He could be Marvel’s answer to the always-welcome Q in the James Bond franchise.
Loki premieres on 6 October on Disney+ internationally
Reboots of classic series are plentiful, but historically hit or miss. Paramount+ is giving it a go with Kelsey Grammer returning as the psychiatrist and fussbudget Dr Frasier Crane, last seen hosting a radio show in Seattle in 2004. Now he has returned to Boston, where his character was a beer-drinking centrepiece of Cheers before he was spun off to a sitcom of his own. Frasier and Lilith’s (Bebe Neuwirth will be a guest star) grown son Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott) is a major character, but two staples of the classic show are missing. John Mahoney, who played Frasier’s lovable working-class dad, died in 2018, and David Hyde Pierce, who played his equally fussy brother, Niles, chose not to join. Whether the new series thrives or not will likely depend on how well Freddy and some new friends fill that void.
Frasier premieres on Paramount+ on 12 October in the US and 13 October internationally
5. Boiling Point
This spinoff of the 2021 film with Stephen Graham as Andy Jones, a chef at an upscale London restaurant, comes with a big spoiler. At the end of the film, after a typically fast-paced, high-stress night at the restaurant, Andy had collapsed and his fate was unresolved. The series’ reveal: he lived. Eight months later, he is at home recuperating from a heart attack and advising Carly (Vinette Robinson), his second in command, who has become head chef at a new restaurant, and the show’s main character. Carly is smart, efficient and at times exploding with anger, all the qualities viewers seem drawn to in television chefs, from the fictional Carmy in The Bear to the real-life Gordon Ramsey in his kitchen shows. The film’s director, Philip Barantini, returns for the series, and has said that – while it will open with an 11-minute one-take shot – the single-take approach that won praise for the film will not extend through the series, the better to explore its characters.
Boiling Point premieres on 1 October on BBC1 in the UK
6. The Fall of the House of Usher
Mike Flanagan has become Netflix’s go-to creator of horror with The Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass. Now he teams up with Edgar Allan Poe, using Poe’s 1839 story as the title and inspiration for this contemporary series about the Usher family, owners of what has quickly become one of today’s stock on-screen villains, a Big Pharma company. Bruce Greenwood plays Roderick Usher and Mary McDonnell his sister, Madeline, surrounded by family, enemies and supernatural demons squabbling about inheritances and the company’s future. The large cast includes Mark Hamill, Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino, who plays Verna, a shape-shifter. The series borrows freely from many other Poe works, creating a playful mash-up of references. There is a raven, and Roderick actually says “Nevermore”.
The Fall of the House of Usher premieres on 12 October on Netflix internationally
7. Lessons in Chemistry
Brie Larson takes the lead as Elizabeth Zott, chemist, star of a television cooking show and a woman facing down 1950s sexism in this adaptation of Bonnie Garmus’s wildly successful 2022 novel. Lewis Pullman plays Elizabeth’s love and research partner, the brilliant chemist Calvin Evans, in a series full of dramatic ups and downs and enjoyable period details (boxy televisions, big clumsy cars). Fans of the book will find some very familiar elements and some conspicuous changes in characters and plot. Aja Naomi King (Michaela in How to Get Away with Murder) plays Elizabeth and Calvin’s friend Harriet, who fights city hall about a zoning change that targets a black neighbourhood. And one episode is narrated by BJ Novak as the voice of Elizabeth’s dog, Six Thirty. Larson holds the series together as Elizabeth softens, finds love, and makes her way through her career at a time when the idea of a female chemist was still considered improbable.
Lessons in Chemistry premieres on 13 October on Apple TV+ internationally
8. Fellow Travelers
In this miniseries based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel, Matt Bomer stars as Hawk Fuller, a closeted man trying to forge a US State Department career in the 1950s, while living in the shadow of the anti-gay threats of firing and blacklisting that were then rampant in Washington DC. Moving back and forth in time over decades, it sees Hawk get married to Lucy (Allison Williams), but also go on grappling with his long, secret relationship with his great love Tim (Jonathan Bailey, better known as Anthony from Bridgerton), which carries on through the turbulent politics of the 1960s and the Aids crisis of the 1980s. The series was created for television by Ron Nyswaner, whose many screenplays include 1993 Oscar-winner Philadelphia. Among the distinctive traits that set Fellow Travelers apart from most decades-spanning series is the character of Hawk, who is the hero but not always heroic, and the fact that the show does not shy away from sex scenes. The intimacy coordinators really earned their salaries.
Fellow Travelers premieres on 27 October on Showtime in the US
9. The Gilded Age
The old-money Agnes Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and the nouveau-riche Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) go on sparring in season two of Julian Fellowes’ delicious period piece. The new season picks up soon after the last, in 1833. As one of its executive producers, David Crockett, told Vanity Fair, the entire season is “wrapped around this story of duelling opera houses”, mirroring a real-life situation that occurred when the society doyenne Mrs Astor attended the Academy of Music and Mrs Vanderbilt planned the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House on the same night. High society was never the same. Fellowes is not above melodrama, though. As the last season ended, Agnes’s former assistant, Peggy (Denee Benton), learned that the child she thought had died had actually been put up for adoption by her father, and she was about to search for her son. Prepare for many more class skirmishes, romances and personal trials, upstairs and down.
The Gilded Age premieres on 29 October on Max in the US and 30 October on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK
10. Little Bird
This topical drama draws attention to the “Sixties Scoop”, the name for the period from the 1950s to 1980s when thousands of indigenous children in Canada were taken from their homes and placed with white foster parents. The heroine, Bezhig Little Bird (Darla Contois), was seized from her reservation at the age of five, and adopted by a couple in Montreal, who renamed her Esther Rosenblum. In her 20s, in 1985, with vague memories of her early years, she sets off to find her birth parents and siblings, in a journey of personal and cultural discovery. Lisa Edelstein plays Little Bird’s adoptive mother in the series, first shown in Canada and now getting a US premiere. The cast and crew include many indigenous members who found personal resonance in the story. “Every indigenous person in this country was affected by the Sixties Scoop or by residential schools,” Contois told The Toronto Star. Her father was one of those taken children.
Little Bird premieres on 12 October on PBS in the US
11. The Burning Girls
Samantha Morton plays Jack, a vicar who doesn’t know the mess she’s about to get into, in this adaptation of CJ Tudor’s 2021 horror novel. After a personal trauma, Jack, a widow with a teenaged daughter, Flo (Ruby Stokes), is reassigned to a church in the fictional English village of Chapel Croft, where she soon learns that the place is famous for the Sussex Martyrs, women burned at the stake as heretics in the 16th Century. But the trouble didn’t end there. Thirty years ago, two young women disappeared, the cause never discovered. And it was always a bad omen that the vicar preceding Jack took his own life in the church. As she tries to unravel the village’s mysterious, terrifying history, Jack deals with her own troubled past. In addition to the always compelling Morton, the cast includes Rupert Graves, another plus.
The Burning Girls premieres on 19 October on Paramount+ internationally
Fame, money, a hit reggaeton recording – the three Latinx friends in this comedy-musical series have none of those things, but they want them so much that they move from a small Florida town to Miami, and live in their car while trying to break into the music world. The showbusiness dream story may not be inventive, but putting it in the world of reggaeton and infusing the series with its music – mixing reggae, Latin dancehall and hip-hop – gives it fresh appeal. The friends are played by relative newcomers Tyler Dean Flores, Emma Ferreira and Jordan Mendoza, but there is some musical power behind the scenes. The soundtrack, featuring original songs, is overseen by Tainy and One Six, a trio of producers that includes the Grammy-winner Tainy. The characters are exuberant and lively, but music is the point. The series’ playlist has already dropped on Spotify and Apple Music.
Neon premieres on 19 October on Netflix internationally
If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.