Summer 2022’s smackdown will be a Westeros vs. Middle Earth dueling.
In late summer, two mega fantasy franchises will fight it out for TV dominance in a very expensive battle of the streaming wars. On August 21, “Game of Thrones” spinoff “House of the Dragon” will premiere on HBO (and stream on HBO Max), and 12 days later, Amazon’s ambitious “Lord of the Rings” own prequel series, “The Rings of Power” will debut. It will be a dragon-filled swords-and-sorcery bonanza for fantasy fans.
But other TV shows are worth checking out that aren’t about lords or thrones. The season’s best new TV shows include a misanthropic medical drama, a new Marvel hero origin story, a blinged-out workplace sitcom, an adult animated Antichrist series, a Chicago chef drama and an autobiographical series about a standup comedian.
Just a few things to tide you over with until “Dragon” and “Rings” are ready:
‘This Is Going to Hurt’
AMC+ (Thursday; weekly on Thursdays)
Ben Whishaw (the voice of Paddington Bear) stars in this understated BBC drama about an obstetrics doctor working in Britain’s National Health system in the mid-2000s. It’s based on the memoir by Dr. Adam Kay; Whishaw plays the overworked OB-GYN with pithy asides to the audience and an extra dose of cynicism. Medical dramas are a dime a dozen, but “Hurt” stands out for its rather unflashy approach to portraying hospital life. Kay’s job is often dreary, patients and superiors often treat him poorly and he doesn’t get to help people as much as he wishes he could. But don’t worry, Whishaw’s innate charm and wit keep the tone from becoming too depressing.
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Disney+ (Wednesday; weekly on Wednesdays)
Get ready to hear a lot more about Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani). Disney+’s latest Marvel series captures the spirit (if not every detail) of one of its most groundbreaking comic book characters: a Pakistani American, Muslim teen girl from New Jersey. Kamala’s journey of self-discovery, her conflicts with protective parents and romantic entanglements make it the ideal teen superhero series, a female Spider-Man of sorts. Vellani, a newcomer destined for at least one Marvel movie after this six-episode show, is a joy to watch and certain to inspire a new generation of young girls to try on a cape.
Exclusive sneak peek:Muslim teen ‘Ms. Marvel’ brings new perspective in Disney+ series
Hulu (June 23)
Despite its outdoorsy-sounding title, this new Hulu drama from FX is about a gourmet chef (Jeremy Allen White, “Shameless”) who leaves his swanky restaurant job to run his family’s Chicago steak sandwich shop after an unexpected death. Fast-paced, tense and wickedly funny, “Bear” storms out of the gate as a fully formed, entertaining series. The intricacies of its restaurant kitchen will delight fans of cooking shows, and the tense conflict will draw in fans of family dramas.
Apple TV+ (June 24; weekly on Fridays)
Maya Rudolph leads the cast of this workplace comedy from “Master of None” producer Alan Yang. She plays a billionaire who goes through a midlife crisis and decides to dedicate herself to her charity foundation, much to the chagrin of the people who already work there. The cast, which also includes Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Joel Kim Booster, Nat Faxon and Ron Funches, is wonderfully appealing. Rudolph’s character could use a little more comeuppance to make the series work even better, but it’s a strong start to a show that balances silly and serious.
Netflix (August 24)
Comedian Mo Amer, best known for a supporting role in Ramy Youssef’s Hulu series, “Ramy,” gets his own star vehicle in his new sitcom (also produced by Youssef). In the semi-autobiographical series, Amer plays Mo Najjar, a Palestinian refugee seeking asylum while living in Texas most of his life. Mo is a man in limbo, who’s never able to hold down a job or get health care because of his immigration status, and the way he casually flits through his life is reflective of that reality. Amer mines great comedy from this unique situation, and he surrounds himself with a strong and charming supporting cast.
FXX (August 25, Thursdays at 10 EDT/PDT, and streaming on Hulu)
The newest entry in FXX’s adult animation slate imagines what might happen if the Antichrist was an awkward teen girl going through puberty. Satan’s daughter Chrissy may have mystical powers, but she also has trouble making friends and has a strained relationship with her mom (Aubrey Plaza). The comedy is dense with laughs, cartoon violence and action, but perhaps the best part is the real father-daughter connection between Satan and Chrissy: They’re voiced by Danny DeVito and his daughter Lucy.
Other shows we’re excited about…
- “For All Mankind” (Apple, June 10): Apple’s alternate history about a world where the US- Soviet space race never ended is consistently the best show on TV, and returns for Season 3 in an alternate version of the 1990s when the competition to put astronauts on Mars is on. Tense, emotional and epic, there’s no other show quite like it.
- “Evil” (Paramount+, June 12): This moody, horror-tinged drama from the creators of “The Good Wife” is back for a third season with even more darkness and terror. The series, about a group of investigators of the supernatural for the Catholic Church, gets weirder and more daring with each season.
- “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu, June 28): This murder-mystery/comedy will stream its second season less than a year after the first, and who can blame Hulu for getting us more of the lovely trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez sooner? Season 1 ended with the three podcasting amateur detectives arrested for murder, but all is not what it seems.
- “Reservation Dogs” (FX, August 3): This lackadaisical but sharp comedy, about irreverent Indigenous teens living on a reservation (and desperately trying to get out) was a delightful surprise in its first season and its second should cement its status as one of the best comedies around.
- “House of the Dragon” (HBO, August 21): Can you say “Game of Thrones”? HBO is trying to party like it’s 2019 again with the first of several potential spinoffs of its juggernaut fantasy epic. This one, about the Targaryen family hundreds of years before the events of “Thrones,” stars Matt Smith (“The Crown”) and Rhys Ifans.
- “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Amazon, September 2): Coming in hot on the heels of “Dragon” is another long-in-the-works prequel to a beloved fantasy property. Amazon’s take on the JRR Tolkien classic has very little to do with the Peter Jackson films, but will try to woo viewers with new characters from the ancient past of Middle Earth.