As the summer slows down, people start looking for TV shows – preferably ones with scripts and plots and characters and such.
Not to worry; a surge of FX productions is coming, ranging from a demonic animate show (shown here) to a therapist held hostage. “We’re just about doubling the output,” John Landgraf told the Television Critics Association.
Landgraf used to oversee shows for one channel, FX. Some of them – “Fargo,” “Pose,” “Justified,” “Sons of Anarchy”– became classics. Now he pushes shows in three directions; the surge includes:
— Shows going only to the Hulu streaming service. “Reservation Dogs” is Wednesdays, starting Aug. 3; it’s the second season for a quirky series that scored big — including Peabody and American Film Institute awards – its first year. And coming Aug. 30 is “The Patient,” with Steve Carell as a therapist whose patient chained him to a basement bed.
— Shows going to FXX (and to Hulu the next day). Coming are animated shows for grown-ups. Aug. 24 brings the start of the 13th season of “Archer,” the sexy spy spoof. The next day debuts “Little Demon,” with a 13-year-old learning that her father is Satan (played, of course, by Danny DeVito).
— And ones going to FX (and Hulu the next day). On Sept. 15, “Atlanta” starts its fourth and final season; the first two seasons drew Emmy nominations for best comedy.
Also, FX has non-fiction films of all types. “Children of the Underground” is a grim marathon Aug. 12 (8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.), with moms and daughters who fled from alleged sex abusers … “Superspreader” (Aug. 19) traces a Florida doctor accused of spreading Covid misinformation … “Welcome to Wrexham” (Aug. 24) follows the Welsh soccer team bought by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney … “Dear Mama” (later this year) profiles the late Tupac Shakur and his mother.
There’s more coming, including “Fleishman is in Trouble” (a Jesse Eisenberg mini-series) and “The Kindred” (science fiction). Filming has started for “Justified: City Primeval” and concluded for “Shogun,” a lush 10-parter that airs next year. And scripts are set for the next “Fargo.”
All of that is under the FX label, which covers a broad range. “It’s a brand logo – not unlike the Marvel label or the Pixar label,” Landgraf said.
It also reflects Landgraf’s habit of letting gifted producers bend a show around their quirks. “The Patient,” for instance, is an oddity – a half-hour drama. Except that it might run longer. “We’re in this (era) when shows don’t have to” start and stop at precise times,”said producer Joel Fields.
That’s true for streaming shows like “The Patient,” but it’s also been true for shows on FX, including Fields’ “Americans” and “Fosse/Verdon.” Shows have been free to sprawl well past their time.
And they’ve been free to go in odd directions. Some viewers criticized the surreal twists of “Atlanta,” but Donald Glover, the creator and star, holds firm. “It’s very difficult to make something that’s either brilliant or a piece of trash,” he said. “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”
That’s what FX has with “What We Do in the Shadows” (10 p.m. Tuesdays) and “Atlanta” and more. “If it’s not for you, it’s not for you,” said Stephen Glover (Donald’s brother), an “Atlanta” producer. “There are a million things to watch on television.”
Or hundreds. Landgraf said the number of scripted shows (TV, cable or streaming) in 2022 will top the record of 559. “Nobody ever needs another good show. But the world does need another great show.”