Your TV GPS, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s look at the week ahead in television, appears every Monday morning on BostonGlobe.com. Today’s column covers Aug. 15-21.
Here we go, folks. HBO’s first spinoff of its most golden of gooses, “Game of Thrones,” arrives on Sunday at 9 p.m. (also on HBO Max). Here’s the scoop on the series, called “House of the Dragon.”
IT’S A PREQUEL: The show is set about two centuries before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen, and it’s about the history of her family. So, you know, expect plenty of whitish blond hair.
THE CENTRAL CONFLICT: It’s complicated, of course, and HBO is not forthcoming. But it appears to involve relatives Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Prince Daemon Targaryen and their battle to be heir to the Iron Throne from King Viserys. Think of that other HBO hit, “Succession,” but with sharp swords instead of sharp words.
STARRING: The two competitors for the throne mentioned above are played by Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith. She has been in “Wanderlust” and “Truth Seekers.” He’s best known for playing the 11th incarnation of “Doctor Who” and Prince Philip in “The Crown.” Meanwhile, Viserys is played by Paddy Considine, who was in “The Outsider” and “The Third Day.”
BACKSTAGE: Ryan Condal (“Colony”) and George R.R. Martin co-created the show, based on Martin’s “Fire & Blood.” Miguel Sapochnik, who directed landmark episodes of “Thrones” including “The Long Night,” will serve with Condal as co-showrunners. D.B. Weiss and David Benioff from “Thrones” are not involved in the new series.
THERE WILL BE: Dragons.
THERE WILL NOT BE: Clear heroes and heroines. Martin told the Hollywood Reporter, “There’s no Arya — a character everybody’s going to love. They’re all flawed. They’re all human. They do good things. They do bad things. They’re driven by lust for power, jealousy, old wounds — just like human beings.”
THE MUSIC: The series may sound a little like its predecessor; Ramin Djawadi, the two-time Emmy winner from “Thrones,” is scoring it.
AND THE REST: The cast is large, and it includes Olivia Cooke, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best, Tom Glynn-Carney, Steve Toussaint, and John Macmillan.
WHAT I’M WATCHING THIS WEEK
1. The blackly comic “Bad Sisters” — here’s the trailer — is a 10-episode English-language adaptation of a Belgian series about five sisters who may have murdered someone. Premiering Friday on Apple TV+ and set in Ireland, it follows the insurance company’s twisty investigation of the death — but the real draws are the actresses playing the sisters: Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, Eve Hewson, and show creator Sharon Horgan (of “Catastrophe”). The cast also includes Brian Gleeson and Claes Bang, as the nastiest, cruelest, most manipulative man ever.
2. Hulu’s “Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers” is a 10-part docuseries premiering Monday that covers some of the same territory as HBO’s “Winning Time” from the spring. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), it will look into one of the most iconic franchises in the sports world. Look for “exclusive access to the Buss Family and probing, revealing interviews with players, coaches, and front office execs,” according to the press release. Here is the trailer.
3. “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” which premieres Thursday on Disney+, comes straight from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to you. Tatiana Maslany, so amazing in “Orphan Black,” stars as a lawyer who gets a blood transfusion — and some magical powers — from her cousin, a fella named Bruce Banner (see her turn green). The nine-episode dramedy also stars Tim Roth, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Jameela Jamil from “The Good Place.”
4. The near future, British intelligence agents, and cyber attacks prior to an election? Starring Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, and Adrian Lester? OK, “The Undeclared War” is definitely on my list. The six-episode thriller, set in 2024, premieres Thursday on Peacock (trailer here). Created by Peter Kosminsky (“Wolf Hall”), it ran in the U.K. earlier this summer, and those reviews averaged a 62 on Metacritic.
5. After six seasons, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul” comes to a close. The AMC drama wraps on Monday at 9 p.m.
6. If you’re missing “Raising Hope,” you’re ready for “Sprung.” It’s the new comedy from “Hope” and “My Name Is Earl” creator Greg Garcia, and it premieres Friday on Freevee (which is Amazon’s free ad-supported service). Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton — both from “Hope” — star in the story of three convicts who are released early from prison because of the pandemic, and who decide to use their criminal abilities for good. In the trailer, the show has the same tone as Garcia’s other shows.
7. Get ready for some logical impossibilities. Netflix’s “Echoes,” which premieres Friday, is a seven-episode thriller about identical twins (played by Michelle Monaghan) who have been secretly swapping lives (including husbands, jobs, and children) since they were young. The whole setup is thrown into chaos when one of the twins disappears. Created by Brian Yorkey (“13 Reasons Why”), it costars Matt Bomer and Daniel Sunjata as the hubbies. Here’s the trailer.
“Inside the Mind of a Cat” A documentary about our feline pals. Netflix, Thursday
“Leonardo” Aidan Turner plays da Vinci in this eight-episode drama. The CW, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
“Uncoupled” An entertaining but shallow comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris as a newly single New Yorker. Netflix
“Surface” The twists in this amnesia thriller are fun, until they get tedious and silly. Apple TV+
“Black Bird” Dennis Lehane’s chilling prison drama stars Taron Egerton. Apple TV+
“Maggie” A pleasant but cutesy sitcom in the manner of “How I Met Your Mother.” Hulu
“The Bear” A drama set in a Chicago restaurant starring Jeremy Allen White as the chef. Hulu
“Chloe” Social media plays a role in this compelling six-part British thriller. Amazon
“Loot” Maya Rudolph is a billionaire trying to do good in this workplace comedy. Apple TV+
“The Old Man” Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow shine in this thriller. FX, Hulu
“Queer as Folk” A reboot of the LGBTQ soap opera. Peacock