Boardwalk Empire Watch trailer
(Sundays at 9p starting September 25)
After earning a mere 18 Emmy nominations for its debut season, Boardwalk Empire returns for a second set of 12 episodes riding a wave of acclaim. Joining the cast on a part-time basis this year is Sopranos veteran Dominic Chianese (he'll play a contemporary of Dabney Coleman’s Commodore Louis Kaestner), while a former Deadwood actress may appear in a surprising role (spoiler here).
Bored to Death Watch trailer
(Mondays at 9p starting Oct. 10)
Season 3 of Bored to Death finds the low-key detective comedy on a new night. The increasingly busy cast of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis returns, and the upcoming season is loaded with guest stars, including Oliver Platt, John Hodgman, Mary Steenburgen, Dick Cavett, Sarah Silverman, Chris Elliott, Patton Oswalt, Stacy Keach, and Olympia Dukakis.
Enlightened Watch trailer
(Mondays at 9:30p starting Oct. 10)
While HBO's most promising new shows won't arrive until midseason (see below), one fall newcomer has top talent behind and in front of the camera. Completing the network's new Monday comedy block, Enlightened stars Laura Dern as a business executive who undergoes a spiritual awakening after experiencing a very public meltdown at work. Luke Wilson and Dern's real-life mother Diane Ladd also star, and the series comes from writer-director Mike White (Chuck & Buck, School of Rock).
Angry Boys (Fall tbd) Watch trailer
Summer Heights High writer, creator, and star Chris Lilley fills those positions once again on his latest Australian mockumentary series, a co-production with HBO. Angry Boys will examine what it means to be a "21st-century boy," with Lilley again playing multiple roles (including an American rapper, a Japanese mother, and a surfer).
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Two-part film airs Oct. 5 and 6) Watch trailer
Martin Scorsese's nearly four-hour documentary about the former Beatle will debut on HBO in October. The film, which chronicles Harrison's entire life and includes previously unseen footage, features interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, George Martin, Tom Petty, and Phil Spector.
How to Make It in America (Sundays at 10:30p starting Oct. 2) Watch trailer
HBO's under-the-radar comedy series about a pair of New York hustlers (Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk) trying to make it in the fashion business returns for an eight-episode second season. Luis Guzman, Lake Bell, and Kid Cudi also star, and Pharrell Williams and Pusha T will guest.
Hung (Sundays at 10p starting Oct. 2) Watch trailer
Season three of the gigolo comedy jumps forward eight months, when Thomas Jane's Ray Drecker will face new competition from rival gigolo Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries). Drecker will also cross paths with a former student (Kaitlin Doubleday), and take on a transgender client (Jamie Clayton).
Coming in midseason: January brings HBO's most anticipated new show of its 2011-12 season: the horse racing drama Luck is created by David Milch (Deadwood) and directed by Michael Mann (Heat), and stars Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, and Nick Nolte ... The latest BBC-produced mockumentary from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Life's Too Short follows fame-seeking little person Warwick Davis (playing a version of himself); the show may not air on HBO until next fall. (A third season of The Ricky Gervais Show will also air in 2012.) ... Veep is a new political comedy from Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, The Thick of It) starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president of the United States ... Meanwhile, you're probably counting down the days until Game of Thrones returns for a second season, which it will do in the spring with new cast members Stephen Dillane (John Adams), Natalie Dormer (The Tudors), Liam Cunningham (Outcasts), Gwendoline Christie, and Gemma Whelan ... The Judd Apatow-produced comedy Girls is created by and stars Tiny Furniture's Lena Dunham ... Eastbound & Down will move to Myrtle Beach for a third and final season in 2012, with Jason Sudeikis joining the cast in a recurring role and Will Ferrell and Matthew McConaughey returning as guests ... Treme will also return for a third season sometime in 2012 ... The Peter Berg-produced documentary series On Freddy Roach follows the famed boxing trainer.
The Onion News Network (Tuesdays at 10p starting Oct. 4) Watch clips from season 1
America's least trusted news network returns for an expanded second season of 16 episodes.
Coming in midseason: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret returns stars David Cross and Will Arnett and adds Mad Men's Jon Hamm when it returns for six new episodes in January ... Also returning for a second season in January is the sketch show Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.
Beavis and Butt-Head Watch trailer
(Thursdays at 10p starting Oct. 27)
For the first time since 1997, new episodes of Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head will air on MTV this fall. Much like the original, the new series will be half animated sketches, half mocking commentary over MTV programming. But since MTV doesn't actually show many music videos these days, Beavis and Butt-Head will expand their viewing (and commentary) to also include reality programs like Jersey Shore and YouTube videos, while mixing in a few movie reviews. And, yes, Cornholio will return.
Good Vibes (Thursdays at 10:30 starting Oct. 27) Watch trailer
Josh Gad and Adam Brody voice a pair of young surfers in California in this new animated comedy created by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express). The strong cast also includes Alan Tudyk, Danny McBride, Olivia Thirlby, Tony Hale, and Debi Mazar.
The Real World (tbd)
For its upcoming 26th season, The Real World returns to San Diego, the home of season 14.
Dexter Watch trailer
(Sundays at 9p starting Oct. 2)
Colin Hanks and Mos Def are among the villains facing Michael C. Hall's Dexter in season 6 of Showtime's popular crime drama. The upcoming season, which will have religion and faith as an ongoing theme, will also feature Edward James Olmos and Molly Parker, though Julia Stiles (season 5's Lumen) is not expected to return, and young Astor and Cody will not figure in the season's storyline. Don't expect this to be Dexter's final season; producers have expressed a willingness to keep the series going for a while, however implausible that sounds.
Homeland Watch trailer
(Sundays at 10p starting Oct. 2)
A bit different from Showtime's typical programming in recent years, the psychological thriller Homeland stars Claire Danes as a recently demoted CIA counterterrorism operative who suspects that an American POW (Band of Brothers's Damian Lewis) welcomed home as a hero after a nine-year absence is actually part of a planned al-Qaeda attack on U.S. soil. Morena Baccarin (V, Firefly) and Mandy Patinkin also star.
Coming in midseason: Whereas most Showtime comedies play more like 30-minute dramas, the new House of Lies (Sundays at 10p starting Jan. 8) actually goes for laughs first; the dark comedy about the world of management consulting stars Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Glynn Turman ... Though a premiere date hasn't been set, Matt LeBlanc will get another chance to play himself in a second season of Episodes next winter ... The fifth season of Californication (Sundays at 10:30p starting Jan. 8) jumps ahead three years and will find David Duchovny's Hank Moody spending time with Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos) and Natalie Zea (Justified), while Greek's Scott Michael Foster will play daughter Becca's boyfriend. ...The Borgias will likely return in April for a more violent second season that will include Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci ... Bobby Cannavale joins the cast as a tough new hospital administrator for the fourth season of Nurse Jackie ... Lone Star's James Wolk will have a recurring role in the second season of the dramedy Shameless (Sundays at 9p starting Jan. 8), which returns stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy.
Boss Watch trailer
(Fridays at 10p starting Oct. 21)
Kelsey Grammer may be the lead, but, as the picture above suggests, this isn't a comedy. Boss stars Grammer as the powerful mayor of Chicago, who must deal with numerous personal and professional issues while secretly grappling with a degenerative brain disorder that he hasn't disclosed to anyone else. Martin Donovan, Kathleen Robertson, and Connie Nielsen also star, and Gus Van Sant directs the pilot.
Coming in midseason: Spartacus: Vengeance marks the true second season of the epic series; the 10 episodes beginning in January will show off a larger budget and a new Spartacus (Liam McIntyre, replacing Andy Whitfield, who left for medical reasons) ... Dust off your Mad Men comparisons once more: the new ensemble drama Magic City is set in Miami Beach during the late 1950s, with a large cast that includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kelly Lynch, and Seymour Cassel.
The Layover (Mondays at 9p starting Nov. 21)
The most recent season of No Reservations found host Anthony Bourdain focusing more on the travel side of things than on the food. His new series, The Layover, does away with the food theme altogether, and is designed strictly as a travel show, albeit one with a gimmick: each week, Bourdain has just 24-48 hours to explore a single city, where he'll explore his favorite must-see destinations and take advantage of insider information. Don't expect another visit to Kurdistan, however.
Psych (Wednesdays at 10p starting Oct. 12)
Season 6 of USA's quirky drama is loaded with guest stars; the roster includes William Shatner, Danny Glover, Corey Feldman (in a vampire-themed episode), Malcolm McDowell, Jason Priestley, John Rhys Davies (in an episode that's an homage to Indiana Jones), Wade Boggs, and Molly Ringwald.
What do you think?
Which shows are you most looking forward to this fall? Let us know in the comments section below. And don't forget to check our night-by-night guide to the network's fall schedules, as well as our complete calendar of premiere dates for all shows.