The Mercury News

August serves up 5 new shows we can’t wait to see

New ‘Fantasy Island,’ documentar­y look at Oakland High

- By Chuck Barney cbarney@ bayareanew­

And the TV shows just keep on coming.

We’re still more than a month away from the start of the new fall broadcast season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to watch in August.

There are still a few more days of competitio­n in the Olympics, which wind down with the closing ceremony (Sunday, NBC). Also, the final seasons of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (Aug. 12, NBC) and “The Walking Dead” (Aug. 22, AMC) both launch in the coming days.

For football fans, there’s “Hard Knocks with the Dallas Cowboys” (Tuesday, HBO). For lovers of dating shows there’s “Bachelor in Paradise” (Aug. 16, ABC). And for those of you looking for some scares, “American Horror Story” (Aug. 25, FX) is back in all its gory glory.

In addition, here are five brand-new offerings that have us excited for August.

‘Fantasy Island’

Yes, we’re pretty much fed up with TV’s relentless obsession with reboots. On the other hand, they occasional­ly pique our curiosity.

Such is the case with this update in which Roselyn Sánchez (“Devious Maids”) plays Elena Roarke, a descendent of Ricardo Montalbán’s iconic character and steward of a mysterious tropical resort. There, guests have their deepest desires fulfilled, but rarely in a way they expect. Per the Fox synopsis, Elena has “set aside her own ambitions, and even the love of her life, to uphold her family’s legacy.”

Our only question: Will there be someone around to shout “De plane! De plane!”? DETAILS >> Premieres Tuesday on Fox.


Oakland High School’s class of 2020 is the subject of this provocativ­e and inspiring 90-minute documentar­y from director Peter Nicks.

Nicks takes a fly-on-thewall approach to chronicle the resilient OHS seniors as their special year suddenly brings unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces and anxious uncertaint­y amid a rapidly developing pandemic. Meanwhile, a group of students passionate­ly work to remove police officers from their campus against the backdrop of growing nationwide demands for systemic change.

“Homeroom,” executivep­roduced by Bay Area native Ryan Coogler, is Nicks’ final chapter in a trilogy of Oakland-based films, following “The Waiting Room” (2012) and “The Force” (2017). All three examine the challenges faced by struggling institutio­ns, including Highland Hospital and the Oakland Police Department. DETAILS >> Premieres Aug. 12 on Hulu. (“The Waiting Room” and “The Force” will also be available on Hulu.)


Even people who don’t closely follow pro wrestling know names like “The Rock” and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. But megawatt superstars are the rare exception in a brutal business that finds many of its warrior hulks toiling far from the TV spotlight — for paltry pay — in the hardscrabb­le indie circuit.

That world is the setting for this saga about two sibling rivals (Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig) in Georgia who spar over the leadership of their family’s small-town wrestling league after the death of their father.

So which one is the “good guy,” and which one is the “heel” — the name given to ring villains?

DETAILS >> Premieres Aug. 15

on Starz.

‘Nine Perfect Strangers’

The first time Nicole Kidman teamed up with screenwrit­er David E. Kelley and Aussie author Liane Moriarty, it resulted in the blockbuste­r miniseries “Big Little Lies.” Could they have another big hit on their hands?

Kelley adapts Moriarty’s novel about nine city dwellers who arrive at a secluded health and wellness resort seeking to reinvigora­te their lives. They soon realize that this place — and the mysterious woman who runs it (Kidman) — are nothing like they expected.

The impressive cast includes, among others, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Regina Hall and Bobby Cannavale.

DETAILS >> Premieres Aug. 18 on Hulu.

‘The Chair’

Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Killing Eve”) has done plenty of drama in her career. Now she takes a shot at headlining a satirical comedy.

For this six-episode series, Oh plays Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, the newly appointed chair of the English department at a university faced with declining enrollment and a host of other challenges. We’re in a “dire crisis,” she proclaims. Can she fix it? Bring on the clashes, scandals and comedic mishaps.

Jay Duplass and Holland Taylor also star. The series is written by Amanda Peet and includes former “Game of Thrones” show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss among its executive producers.

DETAILS >> Premieres Aug. 20

on Netflix.

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