2021 Summer TV Preview: All the Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy to Stay at Home With

Vampires, superheroes, supernatural hijinks, interstellar blunders, and... men *and* kids with horns? Oh summer TV, you’re so silly.
Vampires, superheroes, supernatural hijinks, interstellar blunders, and... men *and* kids with horns? Oh summer TV, you’re so silly.
Image: Netflix, HBO Max, Marvel Studios, and CBS

Like the movie industry, the realm of television is still in the process of clawing its way back from covid-related delays. While some new seasons, hiatus returns, and debuts will need a little more time to make it to the airwaves, rest assured there’s still plenty of fresh summer TV on the way.

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If you missed our gargantuan summer movie preview, make sure you check that out. TV choices this summer aren’t quite as numerous but that doesn’t mean you’ll be lacking in entertainment options. Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that—also like the movie industry!—all dates here are subject to change, and more titles may be coming that have yet to be announced.


MAY

Nick Zano as Nate Heywood, Shayan Sobhian as Behrad, Jes Macallan as Ava, Lisseth Chavez as Esperanza “Spooner” Cruz and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory on Legends of Tomorrow.
Nick Zano as Nate Heywood, Shayan Sobhian as Behrad, Jes Macallan as Ava, Lisseth Chavez as Esperanza “Spooner” Cruz and Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory on Legends of Tomorrow.
Photo: The CW

Legends of Tomorrow: The kookiest show in the Arrowverse is already in progress as it returns for its sixth season, which promises all manner of deliciously ridiculous alien hijinks as well as episodes themed around ALF, Clue, and 1990s animated Disney princesses. Check out some thoughts on that revealing premiere here. (May 2 on the CW)

Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Out of the ashes of The Clone Wars comes the next Star Wars animated series, following the titular elite group of genetically enhanced Clone Troopers as the Clone War ends and the Rise of the Empire begins. Our premiere review is already up (plus an interview about that big cameo) but the second episode is already arriving this Friday. (May 4/May 7 on Disney+)

Jupiter’s Legacy: What happens when the world’s superheroes decide it’s time for their kids to step into their shoes... and the younger generation isn’t quite up to the challenge? This adaptation of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s comic—with a cast that includes Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, Elena Kampouris, Andrew Horton, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter, and Ian Quinlan—aims to find out. (May 7 on Netflix)

Mythic Quest: Rob McElhenney’s workplace comedy set at a gaming company returns for its second season, with the characters going back to the office after quarantine to bicker, flirt, scheme, and occasionally work on the expansion of Raven’s Banquet. (May 7 on Apple TV+)

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Castlevania: The beloved, bloody animated take on Konami’s supernatural video game franchise returns for a fourth and final season, as the myriad forces at play in the wake of Dracula’s death finally make their plays—with Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard caught in the crossfire. (May 13 on Netflix)

Love, Death, & Robots: The adult animated anthology series, a riff on Heavy Metal, returns for a second season of futuristic, violent, but often darkly humorous short tales. This season draws from stories by Harlan Ellison, John Scalzi, Joe Lansdale, J.G. Ballard, Neal Asher, and others. (May 14 on Netflix)

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Superman & Lois: Smallville’s finest are back for the rest of Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch’s debut spinoff series, as the Kent-Lanes still try to balance smalltown life with the stresses that come with being the Last Son of Krypton’s family. (May 18 on the CW).

Adventure Time: Distant Lands—Together Again: The epilogue/continuation series continues with a new adventure for Jake and Finn as they end their break from adventuring to go further beyond their homes than ever before. (May 20 on HBO Max)

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Camp Cretaceous’ Kenji, Darius, Sammy, Brooklyn, and Yaz.
Camp Cretaceous’ Kenji, Darius, Sammy, Brooklyn, and Yaz.
Image: Netflix

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous: The animated, in-canon extension of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World universe returns for its third season, with the surviving campers still trapped on Isla Nubar with rampaging dinosaurs, including a new creature that no doubt hopes “screaming teens” is on the menu. (May 21 on Netflix)

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Marvel’s MODOK: Patton Oswalt voices the title character of this stop-motion animated series, which follows the giant-headed supervillain as he tries to balance his flailing career with his family life. Other voices include (Aimee Garcia, Ben Schwartz, Melissa Fumero, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Beck Bennett, Jon Daly, Sam Richardson, John Hamm, and Nathan Fillion. (May 21 on Hulu)

Solos: This seven-part anthology series aims to “illuminate the deeper meaning of human connection” with sci-fi and futuristic tales about time travel, intergalactic travel, memory transplants, and more. To go with that high concept comes an all-star cast, including Uzo Aduba, Nicole Beharie, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Anthony Mackie, Helen Mirren, Dan Stevens, and Constance Wu. (May 21 on Amazon)

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Rugrats: Nickelodeon’s upcoming Rugrats reboot’s straightforward enough that its new adventures featuring talking babies will strike a nostalgic chord for people who grew up watching the original series. But what’s interesting about the reboot is that while the surviving cast members of the original will all be reprising their roles as Rugrats’ babies, all of the adults are now being voiced by a slew of comedians including Nicole Byer, Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, and Timothy Simons. (May 27 on Paramount+)

Lucifer: The supernatural detective-slash-romance series returns for the second half of its fifth season, bringing with it a holy war between Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and his creepy twin brother, Michael (also Tom Ellis). Also, we can finally watch that musical episode the show’s been teasing for ages. (May 28 on Netflix)

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JUNE

Lego Masters: The Lego-building team competition returns for a second season, again hosted by Will Arnett. (June 1 on Fox)

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Lisey’s Story: Based on the Stephen King novel (King wrote all the episodes) and produced by J.J. Abrams, this miniseries is more “psychological horror” than full-on horror. But still... Stephen King! Julianne Moore stars as the widow of a famous author (Clive Owen) whose past becomes tangled with her present as she’s cleaning out his office. (June 4 on Apple TV+)

Sweet Tooth: Post-apocalyptic stories are usually so downbeat, for obvious reasons, but Sweet Tooth takes the idea of most of the people on the planet dying and gives it a fantastic twist, in more ways than one. It seems that horror may have been caused, or started, by a rise in babies born has hybrids of humans and animals. One such deer boy, the titular character, teams up with a survivor to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s based on the DC comic by Jeff Lemire and produced by Robert Downey Jr. The first trailer blew us away. (June 4 on Netflix)

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War of the Worlds: Now in its second season, this “reimagining” of H.G. Wells’ classic alien invasion story is set in present-day Europe and stars Gabriel Byrne, Bayo Gbadamosi, and Daisy Edgar-Jones. (June 6 on Epix)

Wunmi Mosaku (as Hunter B-15) and Owen Wilson (as Mobius) in Marvel and Disney+’s Loki.
Wunmi Mosaku (as Hunter B-15) and Owen Wilson (as Mobius) in Marvel and Disney+’s Loki.
Photo: Chuck Zlotnick
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Loki: Marvel’s attempts to dominate the streaming space continue with this post-Endgame Tom Hiddleston vehicle, with the actor portraying the... *checks timelines* Avengers-era version of the titular god of tricks, last seen in Endgame snatching the tesseract out its intended timeline. Naturally, shenanigans like that cause a bit of a temporal mess, and Loki’s been recruited by the Time Variance Authority to help clean up. Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country, His House) also star. (June 9 on Disney+)

Tuca & Bertie: Netflix who? Cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt’s cult-beloved adult animated series has shifted over to Adult Swim for its second season, which promises more hijinks (“Just be warned, you’ll never look at plants the same way again!”) with the best bird friends voiced by Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong. (June 13 on Adult Swim)

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Rick and Morty: It’s still incredible that we’re getting a new season of Rick and Morty (the series’ fifth) so soon after the previous season ended (just last year!). As usual, we don’t know much about what to expect from the smartest guy in the universe and his somewhat less-smart family (and their clones, as the case may be), but Hellraiser appears to be involved. (June 20 on Adult Swim)

The Mysterious Benedict Society: Tony Hale and Kristen Schaal head up a cast of mostly young actors in this adventure tale about orphans who must band together at their boarding school to save the world. It’s based on the YA bestseller by Trenton Lee Stewart. (June 25 on Disney+)

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JULY

Monsters at Work: Set soon after the events of Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.—when Monstropolis is shifting to being laugh-powered rather than scream-powered—this animated series follows a young mechanic (voiced by Ben Feldman of Mad Men and Superstore fame) who idolizes Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman). (July 2 on Disney+)

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Wellington Paranormal: The What We Do in the Shadows spin-off finally arrives for easy stateside viewing. It’s executive produced by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, and follows the two cops seen in the 2014 mockumentary as they investigate paranormal goings-on around Wellington. (July 11 on the CW/HBO Max)

Chip N’ Dale: Park Life: This series of animated shorts follow the chipmunk pals as they cause shenanigans in and around the big-city park they call home. Word is some classic Disney characters, including Pluto and Butch, will show up too. (July 23 on Disney+)

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Roswell, New Mexico: The rebooted tale of aliens masquerading as humans (and humans sometimes behaving like monsters) is back for a third season of extraterrestrial intrigue. (July 26 on the CW)

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness: Capcom’s unstoppable action-horror video game/feature film franchise now has its own anime series; it takes place in 2006 and follows the characters of Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2. (July TBD on Netflix)

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AUGUST

 Yvette Monreal as Wildcat, Brec Bassinger as Stargirl, Mark Ashworth as Justin, and Cameron Gellman as Hourman in Stargirl season one.
Yvette Monreal as Wildcat, Brec Bassinger as Stargirl, Mark Ashworth as Justin, and Cameron Gellman as Hourman in Stargirl season one.
Photo: The CW
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Stargirl: After spending an entire season leading viewers and its titular heroine to believe that Sylvester Pembleton, the original Starman, was dead, Stargirl’s season one finale revealed the DC Comics hero to be alive and well, something that’s sure to cause quite a stir once the surviving members of the Justice Society of America and the Injustice Society of America find out. But along with Pemberton, Stargirl’s set to introduce its takes on classic other classic DC characters like Shade and Eclipso, meaning that when the series returns to the CW for its second season this supper, Starman won’t be alone making waves in Blue Valley, Nebraska. (August 10, the CW)

Riverdale: Riverdale returns to the CW for the rest of season five right where it left off—seven years into a new future where the 20-something crew’s returned to their hometown after having grown apart from one another. Betty, Archie, Jughead, Veronica, Toni, and Cheryl haven’t been able to help themselves from falling back into their messy old ways and finding themselves... right back in high school. But now that they’re the adults in the room, their outlandish approaches to handling life’s issues are likely to have even greater consequences. (August 11, the CW)

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Star Trek: Lower Decks: Mike McMahan’s delightful animated exploration of some of Starfleet’s most troublemaking yet heroic ensigns returns for a second season. (August 12, Paramount +)

The Walking Dead: The beginning of the end. After 10 seasons as one of the biggest, most influential shows in the history of television, this year marks the start of the final season of The Walking Dead. Not the franchise, but this original show. And the final season will be split in two, this being the first half. So it’s not like zombie killing on AMC is going way, but the version that got it started is starting to, and it’s sure to be every bit a gross and massive as it’s always been. (August 22, AMC)

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Supergirl: Supergirl season six has just one episode before it takes a little break for Kara’s cousin to return to the CW for his family drama. Things have been extremely tense so far with Lena leaving LexCorp as the only way to get back at her evil brother and Supergirl trapped in the Phantom Zone. When the series does return this summer, it’ll be for the last time to wrap up the series as a whole. Though Kara’s friends and family will be by her side as she stands off against her enemies in the series finale, Supergirl’s coming to an end may mean that whatever Kara faces may genuinely have significant consequences for the larger Arrowverse. (August 24, the CW)

Fantasy Island: Yep, it’s a reboot of the 1970s series about an island where guests can test out their fantasies with the help of some magical realism. Roselyn Sanchez stars as Elena Roarke, a descendant of Ricardo Montalbán’s iconic Mr. Roarke on the original series. (August TBD on Fox)

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Summer TBD

Chapelwaite: Set in 1850s Maine, this gothic horror series stars Adrien Brody as a widower and Emily Hampshire as an aspiring author who becomes drawn into his spooky family history when she becomes nanny to his children. It’s inspired by Stephen King’s short story Jerusalem’s Lot. (Epix)

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Motherland: Fort Salem: This alt-history supernatural drama about militaristic witches who’ve made Salem their power HQ returns for more combat magic, spells, and intense interpersonal conflicts. (Freeform)

So, you turned into a zombie...
So, you turned into a zombie...
Screenshot: Marvel
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Marvel’s What If... ?: The beauty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been that all the stories count. They’re canon. They happened. But what if, they weren’t? That’s the premise behind this highly anticipated animated series which will take popular Marvel movies and change one big thing about them, and see how it played out. Like what if Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve Rogers? That kind of thing. Almost all of the MCU actors will be lending their voices as well. (Disney+)

Aquaman: King of Atlantis: As part of its larger project of revitalizing Aquaman’s image for a new generation, Warner Bros.’ upcoming Aquaman: King of Atlantis follows Arthur Curry’s adventures as Atlantis’ new king, an authority he isn’t quite sure how to wield beneath the ocean. Though heroism may come naturally to Arthur, Atlantis’ ways don’t always, and it’s only with Mera’s help that he’s able to find his way in the underwater world. (HBO Max)

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DISCUSSION

mfaustus
m_faustus

Now I know it is popular, but is The Walking Dead really “one of the biggest, most influential shows in the history of television”?  I read a lot of the comics, but have only seen a couple of the shows.