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Fall TV preview: Get ready for reboots, revivals and spinoffs — and a few farewells

By Brian Lowry, CNN

The post-Labor Day period traditionally brings an onslaught of new TV programs, a practice dating back to the infancy of broadcast television. But in the pressure to gain attention, an inordinate number of new shows are variations of old or existing ones, with reboots, revivals and spinoffs, until we can party like it’s 1989.

As baseball player Yogi Berra famously said, it’s déjà vu all over again. Familiar intellectual property (or “IP,” as the studios like to call it) is only one of the trends this fall, which also includes a fair amount of music-themed programming and a number of programs saying farewell. While series finales usually wait for the end of the official TV season in May, in the age of streaming, there’s a whole lot of everything, year round.

In terms of throwback-Thursday vibes, nothing says it more than new versions of “The Wonder Years” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” staples of ABC’s schedule from the late ’80s into the ’90s. The first returns with a predominantly Black cast to its former network, while the latter becomes “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.,” with “Andi Mack’s” Peyton Elizabeth Lee as the teenage doctor, on sibling streamer Disney+.

Joining the long list of returning shows, CBS also revives “CSI” as “CSI: Vegas” with several familiar faces and a few new ones, joining spinoffs “FBI: International” and “NCIS: Hawaii,” in a lineup that again looks as if it gets a discount on abbreviated titles.

“Dexter” also returns in November, with the producers and star Michael C. Hall saying they hope to expunge the memory of what’s considered among the worst series finales ever, eight years after the serial killer/vigilante signed off.

Finally, just to prove everything old — like, really old — is new again, Jay Leno will host a syndicated version of the game show “You Bet Your Life,” originally fronted by Groucho Marx in the 1950s. Leno told the Los Angeles Times that comics have to “change with the times,” but in TV? Not always so much.

In terms of other fall trends to watch, here are a few:

So long, farewell.

While the fall is normally associated with beginnings in TV terms, several long-running shows will sign off during the fourth quarter.

After having been rescued by Netflix, “Lucifer” — which started its hellish journey on Fox — will air its sixth and final season, starting Sept. 10. Ditto for “Dear White People” (Sept. 22), another Netflix show; and Amazon’s “Goliath,” starring Billy Bob Thornton, which begins pleading its final case on Sept. 24.

HBO’s “Insecure” returns with its last batch of episodes in October. As for broadcasters, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” — which made the leap from Fox to NBC — will end its eight-season patrol Sept. 16, and the CW’s “Supergirl” took off for its final 13-episode flight on Aug. 24, after its season was interrupted by Covid.

Music, music, music.

Undaunted by the struggles of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” on NBC, music will again play a part in the networks’ primetime lineups, beyond the customary reality competition formats.

In that latter category, Fox will pair “The Masked Singer” with another new singing show, “Alter Ego,” this time having contestants compete as their “dream avatar,” using visual effects to create their on-stage appearance.

On the scripted side, Fox’s most ambitious effort might be “The Big Leap,” a show-within-a-show about a dancing competition series, and the lives and dreams of the people trying out for it, as well as the producers behind it.

ABC, meanwhile, offers a new show with some thematic similarities to the Peacock series “Girls5eva,” about the grown-up members of a ’90s girl group. “Queens” similarly focuses on a group of women (Brandy, Eve, Naturi Naughton and Nadine Velazquez) who try to mount a comeback, in this case to their days as hip-hop stars.

It’s worth noting, too, that the month of September will include Apple TV+’s presentation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical “Come From Away,” and the movie musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” which lands on Amazon Sept. 17 after a brief theatrical window.

Not to be left out, Netflix will present “Diana: The Musical” (Oct. 1), a filmed stage production of the Princess Diana musical; and “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation (and directing debut) of a biographical musical about “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson, hitting theaters and the streaming service in November.

They’ll notably have more company in theaters, with “Dear Evan Hansen” — the musical that beat out “Come From Away” at the Tony Awards in 2017 — followed in December by Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story.”

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