Fall TV Preview: What you're paying for with premium channels

The networks might have the sitcoms, but HBO and Showtime have the sex and violence -- for a premium price, of course.

With the first official day of fall just over a week away, the leaves are beginning to change, the air is getting crisp and TV networks are pushing out a new season of content. 

Network television fans will have plenty to look forward to with the return of old favorites, and cable viewers will get their fix of corpse-driven melodrama when AMC’s The Walking Dead returns in October.

But what lies in store for premium network subscribers and the password parasites who depend on them? This is what channels like HBO and Showtime will be offering during the off-season of current mega-hits Game of Thrones and True Detective.

Boardwalk Empire, airs Sunday nights on HBO

After an excellent first two seasons, Boardwalk Empire lost some of its Roaring Twenties flair going to its third and fourth. Despite the show's ratings remaining solid over the years, if perhaps a bit unimpressive, with this fifth season, HBO says goodbye to Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). But, as HBO put it in its tagline for the season, "No one goes quietly."

Leaving the Twenties behind, season five moved forward to the dawn of the Great Depression when it premiered on Sept. 7. With prohibition coming to an end, Nucky anticipates the legal alcohol business, but there are plenty of questions about how his story on HBO will end.

The Comeback, returns Nov. 9 on HBO

After a nine-year hiatus, HBO’s faux-reality comedy series, The Comeback, is coming back. The show stars Lisa Kudrow (Friends) as Valerie Cherish, a washed up sitcom star. Season one of The Comeback consisted of fake reality TV footage of Cherish landing a role on a cheesy sitcom called "Room and Bored."

For season two, the cameras return to follow Cherish as she plays herself in an HBO drama called "Seeing Red." So, to recap, that’s Lisa Kudrow in an HBO reality show spoof comedy playing a middle-aged sitcom actress who is starring as herself in an HBO drama. Did you follow all of that?

The Newsroom, returns Nov. 9 on HBO

Another HBO drama saying goodbye this season is The Newsroom. After a 10-episode season one and a nine-episode season two, HBO is granting a brief six-episode season two to finish off the show’s run. Perhaps executive producer Aaron Sorkin will just instruct all of his actors to deliver their sweeping, Sokinesque speeches and salvos of gapless quips a little quicker.

Executive producers Sorkin, Alan Poul and Scott Rudin welcome new producer Paul Lieberstein (The Office) in closing out the award-winning examination of the cable news business.

Homelandreturns Oct. 5 on Showtime

Showtime’s CIA drama, Homeland, drew record ratings for the network throughout its third season. But despite respectable ratings numbers, season three failed to garner the same awards buzz as seasons one and two for lead actors Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.

In season four, viewers will see the aftermath of the major shake-up that occurred in the season three finale. The risky move the writers made with the show in season three could be a fresh start for the show and especially for Claire Danes’ role, but some fans may be sent reeling from the change.

The Affair, premieres Oct. 12 on Showtime

Showtime’s new drama, The Affair, intends to probe the emotional and psychological impact of marital unfaithfulness. Set in Montauk, N.Y., the story centers on the infidelity of Noah (Dominic West), a married schoolteacher and novelist, and Allison (Ruth Wilson), a waitress whose marriage has been destabilized by a tragic event.

Maura Tierney (The Good Wife) plays Noah's slighted wife Helen, and Allison's husband Cole is played by Joshua Jackson (Fringe).

Additionally, expect the returns of HBO nurse comedy Getting On on Nov. 9 and Showtime's own Lisa Kudrow project, Web Therapy, on Oct. 22. The Starz channel's Survivor's Remorse, an examination of the guilt associated with "making it" in the showbiz world, is slated to premiere on Oct. 4.

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