The week in watching: Who’s up, who’s down this fall, a dozen Dems debate, and lots of Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd plays two versions of his character in Netflix’s “Living With Yourself.”
Eric Liebowitz/Netflix
Paul Rudd plays two versions of his character in Netflix’s “Living With Yourself.”

Your TV GPS, Globe critic Matthew Gilbert’s guide to what’s on television, appears at the beginning of each week at This column covers Oct. 14-20.

Fall TV is still kicking in, with a group of new cable and streaming shows premiering this week, including HBO’s “Watchmen,” Amazon’s “Modern Love,” and Netflix’s “Living With Yourself.” But most of the networks’ fall series have already arrived and, while it’s still much too soon to know which ones will ultimately perform well, a few things seem clear based on how interested audiences were initially.

 Fox’s “Prodigal Son” — about the profiler son of a serial killer — has already gotten a full-season order after drawing particularly well in the 18-49 demographic.

  Fox’s bizarre “Almost Family,” about the daughters of a fertility doctor who used his own sperm on patients, did not impress ratings-wise (or critic-wise). Don’t get too attached.


  Three other dramas have opened with some promise, along with “Prodigal Son.” Cobie Smulders’s “Stumptown” on ABC rose to the top of the total-viewers list during premiere week, and the ABC thriller “Emergence” wasn’t far behind. Both have benefited from strong DVR gains. The CBS legal procedural “All Rise” has also had good total viewership.

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  Among comedies, ABC’s “mixed-ish” and three new CBS sitcoms, “Carol’s Second Act,” “The Unicorn,” and “Bob Hearts Abishola,” had solid starts.

 NBC’s two new comedies — Kal Penn’s “Sunnyside” and Bradley Whitford’s “Perfect Harmony” — did not have solid starts. Let’s see if they’ll catch on slowly.


1. A dozen candidates will share the stage at Otterbein University in Ohio on Tuesday at 8 p.m. for the next Democratic Presidential Debate. Here’s the list: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard, and, making his primary-debate debut, Tom Steyer. CNN and The New York Times are co-hosting, with CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett and Times national editor Marc Lacey moderating.

Cristin Milioti in Amazon's “Modern Love,” an anthology series inspired by the New York Times column of the same name.

Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios

Cristin Milioti in Amazon's “Modern Love,” an anthology series inspired by the New York Times column of the same name.

2. If you’re a romantic comedy devotee, you’ll find a lot to like in “Modern Love.” The Amazon anthology series, from John Carney of “Once” and “Sing Street,” is based on The New York Times column about love and all its countless ways. The eight separate episode-long stories feature some vivid one-off work from Anne Hathaway, Cristin Milioti, John Slattery, Tina Fey, Dev Patel, and Mr. Hot Priest himself, Andrew Scott. The season is available on Friday.


3. The tears of a clone: In his new Netflix series, “Living With Yourself,” Paul Rudd plays a depressed guy as well as a cheerier version of himself. Rudd’s good, and Aisling Bea is too, as his wife caught in the middle. The story tries to undo the myth of easy answers, but ultimately it’s also, to use my colleague Isaac Feldberg’s word, “rudderless.” It debuts Friday.

4. Hulu’s miniseries “Looking for Alaska,” premiering Friday, is based on John Green’s novel about a boy who transfers to a boarding school and falls for a girl named Alaska. Charlie Plummer and the intriguing Kristine Froseth star, with Ron Cephas Jones and Timothy Simons adding expert support as teachers. There are boarding school cliches, but also lovely moments between the bright but struggling kids.

5. Like “Homecoming,” “Limetown” is adapted from a fictional podcast — this one about a radio reporter looking into the disappearance of over 300 people at a neuroscience research facility in Tennessee. Jessica Biel was riveting in “The Sinner”; let’s see if she is here, too, as the reporter. Stanley Tucci and Marlee Matlin are also onboard. There are 10 half-hour episodes, premiering Wednesday on Facebook Watch.

Jeremy Irons in the HBO series “The Watchmen.”
Mark Hill/HBO
Jeremy Irons in the HBO series “The Watchmen.”

6. Damon Lindelof of “Lost’ and “The Leftovers” has adapted — or, as he put it, “remixed” — the comic-book series “Watchmen” for HBO. It’s set in an alternate 2019, under President Robert Redford, with white supremacists conflicting with cops in Oklahoma. Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, Jean Smart, and Tim Blake Nelson star. It premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.

7. It’s spreading. The “Bourne” fever that developed in movie theaters is coming to a TV near you, Tuesday at 10 p.m. on USA. “Treadstone” is about the program that uses behavior modification to turn recruits into assassins — the same program that created Jason Bourne. The first season will follows sleeper agents who “awakened” to resume their deadly missions. The series is from Tim Kring of “Heroes,” and the cast includes Brian J. Smith, Michelle Forbes, Omar Metwally, and Patrick Fugit.


8. The Netflix movie “The Laundromat” opened in theaters recently, and on Friday it will be available on the streaming service. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, it’s a comedy-drama involving greed, corruption, and a performance by Meryl Streep. The cast also includes Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone, David Schwimmer, Jeffrey Wright, Larry Wilmore, and Antonio Banderas. Globe critic Ty Burr gave it 2 1/2 stars.


“Lodge 49”

The season finale. AMC, Monday, 10 p.m.

“Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”

Melissa McCarthy and Eric Stonestreet get the treatment. WGBH-2, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

“Jay Leno’s Garage”

Matt Damon guests on the season finale. CNBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

“Sid & Judy”

A documentary look at Judy Garland’s relationship with Sid Luft. Showtime, Friday, 8:05 p.m.


“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” is nicely done, but slight and unnecessary.

“Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh” finds the locally bred comic sharing truths about depression.

“The Unicorn” stars Walton Goggins as a widower surrounded by an ensemble of friends who starts to date.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.