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TV for Grownups: Fall 2013

16 new series worth watching as a new season begins

CABLE GEMS WORTH WATCHING

There are notable debuts taking place in the non-network world, too.
Here are four we like for airing (or streaming) this autumn.

Halifax (Courtesy of Antony & Cleopatra Series Ltd.)

Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi, Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire — Antony & Cleopatra Series Ltd. 2012

Last Tango in Halifax

PBS, Sundays at 8 (check local listings), premieres Sept. 8

The romantic drama about two septuagenarians and former childhood sweethearts who reconnect via Facebook and rekindle their love after being separated for six decades was an enormous hit in the UK last year, garnering big ratings and the BAFTA award for Best Drama Series. Derek Jacobi, 74, and Anne Reid, 78, play the couple at the center of the six-episode series that's all about reuniting and feeling good.

Derek. (Netflix)

Yes, that is Ricky Gervais. — Photo courtesy of Netflix

Derek

Netflix, premieres Sept. 12

Ricky Gervais' comedy has always tiptoed on the razor's edge of propriety, from the cringefest of The Office to Life's Too Short, which poked gentle fun at little people. He's at it again in this bittersweet show. Gervais plays the mentally dim middle-aged title character, who works with seniors at a retirement home."It's my favorite thing I've ever created or worked on. I love Derek," Gervais, 52, said when the show premiered in England last spring. "I wish I were more like him."

MASTERS OF SEX (Craig Blankenhorn/SHOWTIME)

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan — Showtime 2012

Masters of Sex

Showtime, Sundays at 10, premieres Sept. 29

If you remember the groundbreaking books of the pioneering sex researchers Masters & Johnson, you won't want to miss this titillating new drama based on Thomas Maier's biography of the couple. Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) plays Dr. William Masters, and Lizzy Caplan (New Girl) is Virginia Johnson, the research assistant he eventually married. Beau Bridges recurs as a university president appalled at the duo's research and the elevation of the study and discussion of sex from smut to science.

Witches. (Sergei Bachlakov/Lifetime)

Julia Ormond — Sergei Bachlakov/Lifetime

Witches of East End

Lifetime, Sundays at 10, premieres Oct. 6

Julia Ormond, seen in movies such as Legends of the Fall and Sabrina, seems a natural TV star; in addition to her new role as a Long Island, N.Y., witch, she's been delightfully droll in a recurring Mad Men spot. A supernatural soap about Ormond and her two daughters (Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Rachel Boston) has promise because of the twist: Mom's never told her girls about that whole witch thing. Things gets complicated, especially when people in their Hamptons hamlet keep turning up dead.

Austin O'Connor writes about entertainment, travel and personal technology for AARP Media.

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