As the online home for three major TV networks, many cable channels and its own original shows, Hulu has a very busy month of season premiers in September. Some returning shows are very well established (the Simpsons is beginning Season 27), so we're focusing on newer shows you may have missed last year, as well as brand-new shows. Warning on the latter: We made our best guesses based on teasers from the networks, but we can't guarantee they will all be winners. If you find such a grenade, tell us in the comments.
Hulu also introduces new episodes of its own shows, including former Fox show The Mindy Project, which Hulu has taken on for the program's fourth season. (Note: Hulu's original animated comedy, The Awesomes, is a stinker you can skip.)
Film offerings aren't much to tweet about. Hulu brings in many new titles this month, but most are plucked from the B-movie bin. But stay tuned next month, as Hulu has just inked a deal with Epix to bring a slew of recent films to the service starting on Oct. 1. That batch will include recent titles such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Transformers: Age of Extinction, World War Z, Wolf of Wall Street and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
Salad Days: A Decade Of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90) (Sept. 3)
When you hear "punk music," you may rightly think of New York City or London. But Washington, D.C.? As improbable as it sounds, the U.S. capital was the cradle of hardcore punk in the Carter, Reagan and (George H.W.) Bush years, and this documentary follows those days. Not all the top acts went on to global fame, but they exerted major influence. Take a group called Bad Brains: This Rastafarian band pioneered hardcore punk while also killing it later on with reggae, funk, heavy metal, hip-hop and soul. Three Jewish teens from New York so loved Bad Brains that they decided to pick a name with the same initials — B.B. — for their new band: the Beastie Boys.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, Series Premiere (Sept. 16)
This live variety show featuring funnyman and all-around champion-MC Harris promises a bit of everything, including stunts, games, pranks and comedy skits. The focus is on making everyday viewers into participants in the antics.
Shark Tank, Season 7 (Sept. 26) and Beyond the Tank, Season 2 (Sept. 28))
Shark Tank is a highly entertaining celebration of the modernized American dream — convincing angel investors to fund your startup company. The hit show begins its seventh season this month. September also sees the Season 2 premiere of Beyond the Tank, a documentary-style look at what happens to the companies that pitched on Shark Tank. Did they make it?
Blindspot, Series Premiere (Sept. 21)
Imagine that Memento and The Bourne Identity had a baby, and it's a girl. A woman shows up in Times Square with no memory or clothes but a body covered in tattoos that are clues to some mystery, including why she has such badass secret-agent fighting skills.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 3 (Sept. 28)
Like M*A*S*H in its early days, Nine-Nine mixes screwball characters with just enough real-life drama — in this case, of a Brooklyn police precinct — to still feel genuine. It could have been just an Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) vehicle, but other talented comic actors including Melissa Fumero (One Life to Live) and Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age) make for a strong ensemble cast.
Empire: Season 2 (Sept. 24)
A decade ago, in Hustle & Flow, Terrence Howard played a nobody trying to make it big as a rapper. In Empire, he plays Lucious Lyon, a rap mogul trying to keep his music label, Empire Records, on top while facing his own imminent demise from a recent diagnosis of ALS. While Lucious tries to decide which of his three sons should take over the company, his ex-wife and co-founder, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson from Person of Interest), is released from a long prison sentence and stakes her own claim to Empire Records. Lucius was nearly bumped from the picture at the end of Season 1, and rumors say that Cookie will play an ascendant role in the new season.
Fargo: Season 1 (Aug. 27)
Fargo slipped onto Hulu at the end of August, and it's well worth your time this month. Taking a break from playing a befuddled Englishman, Martin Freeman (Sherlock) plays a befuddled Minnesotan, Lester Nygaard, in this dark dramedy inspired by the equally grim 1996 film. Nygaard's perpetual loser life takes a violent turn when he meets Lorne Malvo, played with creepy precision by Billy Bob Thornton. Enjoy Season 1 this month before FX launches Season 2 in October, with a new faux true-crime tale.
Fresh Off the Boat: Season 2 (Sept. 23)
Based on the memoir of New York restaurateur Eddie Huang, Fresh off the Boat is a hysterical exploration of the "ethnic" experience, told from the perspective of a hip-hop–loving Taiwanese-American boy, Eddie, in '90s Florida. Equally baffled by his immigrant parents' cluelessness about American culture and other kids' cluelessness about the world outside of Florida, Eddie tries his best to navigate the confusion of a multiracial existence. Fresh Off the Boat doesn't have the mockumentary style of fellow ABC show Modern Family, but it's clearly targeted at the same comic sweet spot.
Gotham: Season 2 Premiere (Sept. 22)
This Batman prequel takes place while Bruce Wayne is still a child and explores the backstories of the colorful villains that he will someday grow up to battle. In this tale, a young Jim Gordon (decades before becoming police commissioner) plays the crusader. Looking like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's long-lost brother, Ben McKenzie captures detective Gordon's fierce idealism as he battles a Gotham underground populated by proto versions of rascals like the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor).
Heroes Reborn: Series Premiere (Sept. 24)
The original show Heroes burst onto the scene in 2006 as a kind of sexier, edgier alternative to the X-Men. Genetic mutations seemed more common than normal DNA, with new characters constantly flooding in to replace those who were getting picked off. It was very exciting for a while, and then it just became a confusing mess that left fans disheartened. This miniseries reboot brings back some of the original cast, such as teleporting Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) and mind-reading Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg). The biggest edition is Zachary Levi (Chuck), surrounded by a gang of mutant kids that looks like the freshman class at the Xavier Institute.
The Muppets: Series Premiere (Sept. 23)
In the '70s, Jim Henson used a group of zany puppets to poke fun at pop culture with a parody of the ubiquitous variety shows of the day. Henson collaborator Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) is reviving the Muppet Show as a riff on the mockumentary-style shows of today. It tells a behind-the-scenes story of a late-night talk show hosted by Miss Piggy. If they get it right, it could be brilliant. If they don't, it will crush some of my fondest childhood memories.
The Mysteries of Laura: Season 2 (Sept. 24)
This is a rather different role for Debra Messing than she had in Will & Grace. In this crime procedural, she plays a New York homicide detective trying to balance her intense career with her role as a mother of two, navigating a separation from her husband. It's great to see a woman — and one with some years behind her — rocking the traditionally male role of "hotshot detective." Season 1 ended with a gunshot cliff-hanger. You can catch up on Hulu before season two drops on the 23.
The Player: Series Premiere (NBC)
No, this isn't the one with Tim Robbins. We have our doubts about the quality of acting and dialog in new NBC show The Player. But the action scenes look awesome! Philip Winchester (Strike Back) plays a security consultant (and former military operative) persuaded by "Johnson" (Wesley Snipes) to be a kind of hero charged with stopping terrible crimes before they happen. The perverted twist: An elite clientele takes bets on whether he can accomplish each mission. Of course, the show is based in Vegas.
Scream Queens: Series Premiere (Sept. 23)
Cross Mean Girls with Scream (the movie), and you have this campy sorority serial-murder series. American Horror Story and Glee creator Ryan Murphy brings together alumni from those shows, including Emma Roberts, Skyler Samuels and Lea Michele. To the mix, he adds Abigail Breslin, Nick Jonas and the queen of teen horror, Jamie Lee Curtis.