12 TV shows to watch this November

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(Credit: FX)

Caryn James picks out the biggest offerings – from the final series of The Crown and a new season of Fargo to a Squid Game reality show and new Doctor Who specials.

(Credit: Netflix)

1. All the Light We Cannot See

This adaptation of Anthony Doerr’s 2014 bestselling novel about Marie-Laure, a young blind woman working for the French Resistance, and Werner, a German soldier drawn to her radio broadcasts, received tepid reactions when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Indiewire called it “schmaltzy” as well as “speedy, tear-jerking and handsome enough”. But that might not bother the book’s many fans, who can now appreciate the appealing cast as well as the dramatic story. Newcomer Aria Mia Loberti, who has impaired vision herself, received high praise as Marie-Laure. The Hollywood Reporter called her “radiant”. Mark Ruffalo plays her devoted father, and Hugh Laurie the uncle they stay with during the Nazi occupation. Written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) and directed by Shawn Levy (best known for the Night at the Museum films), the four-part series comes with World War Two intrigue, family emotion and a built-in audience. 

All the Light We Cannot See premieres on 2 November on Netflix internationally

(Credit: Paramount +)

2. Lawmen: Bass Reeves

Executive producer Taylor Sheridan adds another Western saga to his empire with this anthology series, each season featuring a different real-life hero. The initial season has familiar genre tropes, all those cowboy hats and horses, but a bracingly different story. David Oyelowo (Selma) plays the US Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, famous for having arrested more than 3,000 men. An enslaved man who was forced to fight for the Confederacy in the US Civil War, he escaped, and became one of the first black US Marshals. It’s a story Oyelowo, also a producer of the show, has wanted to make since 2015, before Sheridan’s company was involved. As he told Vanity Fair, Reeves lived “at a time that in many ways defines who and what America is”, a history viewed here “through the personal eyes of one black man and his family”. The supporting cast includes Donald Sutherland, Garrett Hedlund and Yellowstone regular Moses Brings Plenty.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves premieres on 5 November on Paramount+

(Credit: Apple TV+)

3. The Buccaneers

It’s set in the 1870s, but feels like today, with pop music and champagne-swilling bridesmaids setting off the action. Based on Edith Wharton’s posthumous, unfinished novel and a real-life phenomenon, The Buccaneers follows young US women with fathers who have become newly, fabulously rich. They go to England to find aristocratic husbands, whose families welcome a cash infusion to save their historic estates. The groom brings status to the marriage; the bride brings dollars. At the centre is the guileless Nan St George (Kristine Froseth), whose four brash friends are out of their depth amidst British customs and etiquette. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) plays Nan’s mother, trying to shepherd her and her sister, Jinny (Imogen Waterhouse) through a world she herself doesn’t understand. There is scheming on both sides of the culture clash, many romances and even more period costumes and wigs in a series that asks what giddy young women and impoverished dukes and lords will do for money or love.

The Buccaneers premieres on 8 November on Apple TV+ internationally

(Credit: Apple TV+)

4. For All Mankind

For three seasons, this alternate history series about astronauts has been one of the best under-the-radar shows on TV, an absorbing drama about the space race that is also about society, the cost of ambition, and the now-timely theme of private companies launching their own rockets. In this fictional world, in the 1970s the Soviet Union became the first country to land on the moon, which really annoyed and motivated the US team at Nasa, including the bold astronaut Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman). The fourth season is set in 2003, when Ed and his team are part of an international colony on Mars. The show has claustrophobia in space stations, endless empty expanses on Mars, and lots of family problems back on Earth. The returning cast includes Wrenn Schmidt as Margo Madison, the former Nasa head last seen in Russia after the US discovered she was a Soviet spy.

For All Mankind premieres on 10 November on Apple TV+ internationally

(Credit: Paramount+)

5. The Curse

Nathan Fielder, creator of the mind-bending series The Rehearsal, and indie director Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems) created and star with Emma Stone in this uncommon satire of television, do-goodism, ego and culture clashes. Stone and Fielder are Asher and Whitney, a married couple starring in a home-improvement show, fixing up the town of Espanola, New Mexico, while dealing with their own fertility issues. Everyone has issues, including Safdie’s character of their self-absorbed producer. When a young girl puts a curse on Asher, the series explodes into the realm of the absurd, or might be making the point that life was absurd to begin with. Barkhad Abdi (the “I am the captain now” pirate in Captain Phillips) plays the girl’s father. Stone, in the same year as her Oscar-tipped performance as a Frankenstein-like creature in Poor Things, takes on another audacious role as the funny, multi-layered, slippery Whitney.  

The Curse premieres on 10 November on Paramount+

(Credit: FX)

6. A Murder at the End of the World

High-tech meets Agatha Christie in this smart, atmospheric drama, with Emma Corrin (the younger Diana in The Crown) as Darby, a famous hacker and amateur detective who is invited by a tech billionaire named Andy, played by Clive Owen, to join other guests at his isolated retreat in Iceland. If you think that ends well, you’ve never seen a murder mystery or Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion. As Andy asks Darby in the trailer, “Why is it wherever you go, death follows?” The series is especially promising because it was created by Brit Marling (who also plays a guest at the retreat) and Zal Batmangli, the team behind the Netflix series The OA and the 2013 film The East, an underrated thriller. Flashbacks take Darby and her former partner Bill (Harris Dickinson) to the desert, even as the bodies keep piling up in the icy present.  

A Murder at the End of the World premieres on 14 November on Hulu

(Credit: Netflix)

7. The Crown

It’s the end of the (fictional) monarchy, as the series that has tantalised viewers by imagining decades of life inside the British Royal Family begins its final season, which will be broken into two parts. The four instalments arriving in November pick up in 1997 after Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) divorce, and they finish with her death and funeral. As always, rumours have swirled about what real-life events the show will depict. This time, there was added speculation that Diana would appear as a ghost, an idea that series creator Peter Morgan instantly refuted. She is not a ghost, he said, but there are scenes in which she appears to Charles and Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton) in their imaginations. The six episodes coming in December go through 2005, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the marriage of Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams). William, Kate and Harry are characters, but their marriages are in the series’ distant, un-Crowned future.

The Crown premieres on 16 November on Netflix internationally

(Credit: Apple)

8. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

“This is the world we live in. Monsters are an inescapable reality,” a lead character says in this show. It’s easy to take that metaphorically, but she means actual Godzilla-type monsters, like the one that crushed San Francisco in the 2021 film Godzilla vs Kong, the lead-up to this series. Part of the Monsterverse franchise loaded with those behemoths and other lesser-known creatures, the series includes the expected all-out action scenes as well as conspiracies and a search for the truth of a family’s past, as Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) and her brother Kentaro (Ren Watabe) try to unravel their family connection to the secret government organisation Monarch. Anders Holm and John Goodman play younger and older versions of the siblings’ grandfather. And in a delightful bit of stunt casting, Kurt Russell plays Lee Shaw, a former army officer who can help reveal Monarch’s secrets, and his real-life son, Wyatt Russell, plays the younger Shaw in scenes set in the 1950s.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters premieres on 17 November on Apple TV+ internationally

(Credit: Hulu)

9. Fargo

Each season of Noah Hawley’s Fargo has a different story, but they all channel the sensibility of the original Coen brothers movie with its droll depiction of crime, a fraught family dynamic and a lot of small-town nosiness. This season takes place in 2019, with Juno Temple as Dot Lyon, apparently an ordinary wife and mother in suburban Minnesota, until her self-defence during an attempted kidnapping suggests that she must have some kind of killer past. Jon Hamm, in an over-the-top role, plays the other main character, Sheriff Roy Tillman, a sexist and a religious zealot who proclaims to FBI agents that he is the law in his North Dakota town, and they can go on their way with their actual US laws. Jennifer Jason Leigh is Dot’s rich, disapproving mother-in-law, and Joe Keery (Stranger Things) plays Tillman’s son and deputy sheriff, Gator. It doesn’t take long to see that the Tillmans are in pursuit of Dot, as the series takes some delirious turns.

Fargo premieres on 21 November on Hulu

(Credit: Netflix)

10. Squid Game: The Challenge

As voyeuristic as the original, raising just as many questions about who on Earth would want to play this, Squid Game: The Challenge is an actual contest based on the megahit Netflix series from Korea, with similar games but without the lethal consequences. The players – 456 of them from the US, UK and other countries – compete to win $4.56m. Viewers of the original series will recognise the guards in pink jumpsuits, and Young-hee, the creepy, giant animatronic doll controlling the Red Light, Green Light game. A new twist is that contestants can be voted out, Survivor style. The series was shot at Cardington Studios, a former RAF base in the UK, and has already made headlines because some contestants complained about suffering in the bitter cold there. Netflix responded that precautions were in place, and no one was seriously injured. Everyone agrees that the black liquid blood oozing from the losers is fake.

Squid Game: The Challenge premieres on 22 November on Netflix internationally

(Credit: ITV)

11. Archie

Jason Isaacs plays one of the most dashing stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age in this four-part biopic about Archibald Leach, better known by the name a movie studio gave him, Cary Grant. The series goes back and forth between 1961 and the past, with several younger actors also playing Archie, and Harriet Walter as his mother. The series’ writer, Jeff Pope (co-writer of The Lost King and Philomena), has said that Grant’s impoverished childhood in Bristol was “the key to everything” in his future. Grant’s former wife, Dyan Cannon, and their daughter, Jennifer Grant, are executive producers of the show. Photos suggest that Isaacs, whose many varied roles include Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, really captures Grant’s look. How? “I play him in his 80s, so that’s a lot of prosthetics,” Isaacs told Empire magazine. “When he’s much younger, there’s lots of architectural things pulling me up with hooks and strings”.

Archie premieres on 23 November on ITVX in the UK, and in December on Britbox in the US

(Credit: BBC)

12. Doctor Who  

The 60th anniversary of the time-travelling Doctor Who is upon us, and it may seem as if the teases for its new anniversary specials have been coming for just as long. Finally, David Tennant returns for all three specials, not as the 10th Doctor he used to play, but regenerated as a new, 15th Doctor. Catherine Tate also returns as Donna Noble, whose wiped-out memory of her days with the Doctor might be coming back, and Neil Patrick Harris joins as the villainous Toymaker. Russell T Davies (It’s a Sin), who gave new life to the series as showrunner in the 2005-10 seasons, has written the specials, which Tennant has said are “unlike any Doctor Who episode ever”, calling them “Russell off the leash”. The first, The Star Beast, arrives in November, with two more in December, leading to the arrival of the next series and Doctor played by Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education).

Doctor Who premieres on 25 November on BBC in the UK and Ireland and on Disney+ internationally

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