Sci-Fi TV Preview: New ‘Star Wars’ & ‘Trek,’ ‘Outlander’ & Much More Coming Fall 2021
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Special Collector’s Issue, which is available for order online at SciFi2021.com and available nationwide on newsstands now.
The coming months will bring a treasure trove of new movies, series and returning favorites.
Filmgoers may slowly be gravitating back to megaplexes, but you can still see some new releases on any of your own screens at the same time the titles hit theaters. The latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s landmark sci-fi novel Dune (HBO Max, October 22) will try to turn the rich source material into a hit franchise. Director Denis Villeneuve, who helmed Arrival, hopes to have better luck than David Lynch, whose 1984 version was sandblasted by critics. In this epic tale, a family become guardians of a dangerous desert planet’s storehouse of the most valuable substance in the universe. A Game of Thrones–style power struggle leads to the rise of a messianic hero (Timothée Chalamet). Dune costars Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Charlotte Rampling, Zendaya and a load of giant sandworms.
Audiences can also plug into the highly anticipated The Matrix 4 (HBO Max, December 22), written and directed by Lana Wachowski. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return as Neo and Trinity, despite both having died at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, though Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne are reportedly not part of the action. Cast additions include Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), rumored to be playing a younger version of Morpheus.
And let’s call this one a postapocalyptic Cast Away! Like that 2000 Tom Hanks film, Finch (Apple TV+, Fall) features the two-time Oscar winner as one of the last human survivors of a cataclysmic event. Hoping to ensure his beloved dog will be cared for once he’s gone, he builds an android to watch over the pooch. The biggest challenge? Showing the robot how to “love.”
They Can Be Heroes
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand with Hawkeye (Disney+, November 24). Jeremy Renner reprises his Clint Barton/Hawkeye role, this time training sharp-witted protégée Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to take over the badass archer mantle. The action drama series also explores Barton’s time as the vengeful Ronin up until the events of Avengers: Endgame. Another MCU series, Ms. Marvel (Disney+, late 2021), centers on Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Pakistani-American teen raised in Jersey City who acquires shape-shifting powers.
Among the DC Comics adaptations on The CW: When Batwoman returns for a third season (October 13), crimson crusader Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) must deal with the knowledge that her biological mother is still alive and that a slew of rogue weapons—from Penguin’s umbrella to Poison Ivy’s vines—are on the loose! And rev up the Waverider: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow starts a fresh round October 13 on the heels of Season 6’s late-summer finale. Season 8 of The Flash arrives November 16, picking up after the reappearance of archnemesis Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh), and Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) renewing their wedding vows in front of family and friends. Meanwhile, the unlikely misfit heroes of Doom Patrol (HBO Max, September 23) next face Madame Rouge (Michelle Gomez), an eccentric new villainess who shows up at the manor to wreak havoc. On Season 3 of the animated Harley Quinn (HBO Max, late 2021/early 2022), the punk-rock villainess navigates her relationship with BFF turned paramour Poison Ivy.
Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy concluded its second season with the Hargreeves family stopping the apocalypse, only to find themselves in an alternate timeline where adoptive father Sir Reginald (Colm Feore) and former ghost Ben (Justin H. Min) are alive! In Season 3 (late 2021/early 2022), Ben becomes a Machiavellian tactician, while Reginald is the founder of the so-called Sparrow Academy, with a whole new crop of super-powered kids under his tutelage.
In a galaxy far, far away…beloved Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), who showed up in Season 2 of The Mandalorian to retrieve his armor and gauntlets and help Mando (Pedro Pascal) rescue baby Yoda from the clutches of the Empire, gets his long-awaited spinoff series, The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+, December). Ming-Na Wen joins the action as mercenary Fennec Shand.
One of the most revered characters in the Star Wars canon stands at the heart of the limited event series Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022), with Ewan McGregor reprising his role from the prequel trilogy. The action is set 10 years after 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith. The berobed, bearded Jedi Master keeps watch over young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine while facing up to his greatest defeat—the downfall of former Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker. Hayden Christensen is back as the man who became Darth Vader.
Speaking of canon heroes, the 12-episode Star Wars: Andor (2022) looks at the formative years of the Rebellion against the Empire, with Diego Luna again playing rebel spy Cassian Andor, the cocky daredevil pilot from the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Disney+ also has Season 3 of The Mandalorian in the works (2022), along with several other Star Wars spin-offs in the pipeline, including Rangers of the New Republic, Lando and Ahsoka, with Rosario Dawson as the titular female Jedi Ahsoka Tano (who appeared in the second season of The Mandalorian).
The Star Trek universe on Paramount+ continues its own bold exploration: At the end of Star Trek: Discovery’s time-jumping Season 3, hope was in abundant supply, with the Emerald Chain having collapsed, planets rejoining the Federation and Burnham promoted to Captain of the Discovery. We’ll see if the peace holds in Season 4 (November 18).…
Talk about living long and prospering! After coming out of Starfleet retirement to save the day on Star Trek: Picard, Patrick Stewart’s beloved captain Jean-Luc Picard seemingly perished from a terminal illness in the Season 1 finale. But then his consciousness was transferred into a synthetic “golem” body and he was reborn! What to do next? Head back out to the stars, of course, for Season 2, slated for February 2022.…
The animated Star Trek: Prodigy (Paramount+ and Nickelodeon, October 28) features the return of the courageous, coffee-loving Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager (voiced by Kate Mulgrew), and prequel series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022) follows the crew of the Starship Enterprise, including Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and first officer Number One (Rebecca Romijn), a decade before the events of the original series.
Alien Invasions and Space Dramas
Seth McFarland’s sci-fi dramedy The Orville—a cheekier version of Star Trek and its progeny—moves from Fox to Hulu for Season 3 (fall).… Despite influencing Star Wars and countless sci-fi films, Isaac Asimov’s seminal Foundation book trilogy has long bedeviled potential adaptors. David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman took a stab at the ideas-packed thousand-year saga about a group of exiles who discover the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to rebel against it. The prestige project for Apple TV+ streams September 24 and stars Jared Harris, Terrence Mann and Lee Pace.…
Season 2 of the eerie Raised by Wolves (HBO Max, 2022) will hopefully answer some nagging queries, including: What’s up with that fast-growing giant snake baby that necromancer Mother (Amanda Collin) gave birth to and that Father tried to exterminate before it slithered off at the end of the first season?!… The action-packed Season 5 finale of The Expanse concluded with Allied forces learning that baddie Marco (Keon Alexander) had taken control of the Ring. Get set for all-out war in the solar system in Season 6 (Prime Video, 2022)!…
Otherworldly pop star David Bowie first played the extraterrestrial who crash-lands in the surreal 1976 cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth. The latest adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel (Showtime, 2022) stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as an alien seeking a way to save his drought-stricken home planet who arrives on Earth at a pivotal moment in history. And on the 10-episode Invasion (Apple TV+, October 22), with Sam Neill, Golshifteh Farahani and Shamier Anderson, an alien attack is seen from the perspective of multiple characters around the globe.
In the postapocalyptic world of the comics-inspired Y: The Last Man (FX on Hulu, September 13), a cataclysmic event has led to the extinction of every mammal with a Y chromosome—except for a single rudderless dude (Ben Schnetzer) and his pet monkey.…
There are burning questions galore entering Season 3 of Snowpiercer (TNT, early 2022), in which humanity’s survivors from a new ice age have amassed on an impossibly long, perpetually moving train. Did Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly) survive after she departed a weather station for certain death in the frozen wasteland while leaving behind key data about a warming planet? How is conniving Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) going to react now that rebel leader Layton (Daveed Diggs) & Co. pirated away 10 of the train cars? And what role might new cast member Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) play in the drama?…
In the futuristic dramedy Upload, in which humans have their consciousness uploaded into a virtual afterlife of their choosing, computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell) died tragically but found out his demise may have actually been murder. Nathan may still be pining after his “guardian angel” handler Nora (Andy Allo) in Season 2 (Prime Video, late 2021/early 2022), but he’s now sharing the afterlife with his ex-girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards). Awkward!
The opening episode of Stranger Things Season 4 (Netflix, 2022) concerns Hawkins High’s official Dungeons & Dragons group the Hellfire Club, run by metalhead Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), who winds up at the terrifying epicenter of this season’s mystery. At a creepy psychiatric hospital, Jamie Campbell Bower plays caring orderly Peter Ballard, and horror icon Robert Englund (aka Freddy Krueger) scares the bejesus out of viewers as a disturbed, homicidal patient imprisoned at the facility. And as we learned at the end of Season 3, the Russians are now in possession of a Demogorgon!…
Jodie Whittaker jumps back into the T.A.R.D.I.S. for the 13th season of Doctor Who (BBC America, 2021)—but not for long. The Thirteenth Doctor will exit the series (along with showrunner Chris Chibnall) after a trio of 2022 specials.… Rosamund Pike is part of a powerful, all-female cabal of magic practitioners in The Wheel of Time (Prime Video, November 19). Her character embarks on an epic journey with five young people, one of whom could be the prophesied Dragon Reborn, capable of either saving humanity or destroying it.…
The third and final season of the fantasy saga His Dark Materials (HBO, 2022), adapted from Philip Pullman’s coming-of-age novels, will be based on the award-winning third book, The Amber Spyglass.… New and familiar heroes and villains populate a highly anticipated prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings (Prime Video, 2022). The multiseason series is set during the fabled Second Age of Middle-Earth, thousands of years before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, when a long-feared evil reemerges.… Audiences will be able to unlock more terrifying secrets to the Keyhouse, whose inhabitants are stalked by a demonic entity, in Season 2 of the supernatural horror series Locke & Key (Netflix, October).…
The Victorian-era steampunk series The Nevers (HBO, early 2022), about a misfit group of mostly women who have gained mysterious abilities, returns for the rest of Season 1 to help us make sense of that bonkers Part I closer involving an alien race and warring time-travelers from the future.… Speaking of time movers, Claire and Jamie—and their centuries-spanning love story—remain center stage for Outlander Season 6 (Starz, early 2022), with the American Revolution looming and Claire recovering from the brutal assault by her captors.
The teenage and young adult characters of The CW’s Legacies—vampires, witches and werewolves among them—are all too familiar with angst. Indeed, Season 3 wrapped up with Hope (Danielle Rose Russell), Alaric (Matt Davis) and the Super Squad confronting malevolent Malivore, disguised as Landon (Aria Shahghasemi). The squad wants him to release their friends; the baddie wants something in return. We’ll find out the deal in Season 4 (The CW, October 14).…
In the world of flesh-eaters, the mother ship of AMC’s zombie franchise The Walking Dead kicked off its final season in August, while two of its spinoffs get fall premieres. The Walking Dead: World Beyond (October 3) picks up with the shadowy Civic Republic Military, led by calculating lieutenant colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond), having captured “the asset” they were pursuing, aka teenage smarty-pants Hope (Alexa Mansour). Meanwhile, Fear the Walking Dead (October 17) finds its far-flung characters, including Morgan (Lennie James), grappling with the literal fallout of 10 nuclear warheads having been launched by a doomsday cult leader in the Season 6 finale. Radioactive zombies, anyone?