Fall TV preview: Jodie Whittaker, Hasan Minhaj and Florence Pugh are among the faces to watch

Jodie Whittaker
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

With the fall promising its usual deluge of new choices here are a few faces — some familiar, others less so — who could be on the cusp of a breakout.

For the record:

11:15 a.m. Sept. 13, 2018For the Record: An earlier version of this story mistakenly listed the premiere date of AMC’s “Little Drummer Girl as November 18. The limited series debuts on Nov. 19.

Florence Pugh

Star of “Little Drummer Girl,” Florence Pugh, photographed in 2017.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Where you can see her: Leading the AMC miniseries “The Little Drummer Girl” (Nov. 19), the latest intrigue-heavy John le Carré adaptation, which costars Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgård. The network struck Emmy gold last year using a similar formula with the stylish “The Night Manager.”


Where you may have seen her: The Oxford-born Pugh has already racked up some high-profile roles, including Cordelia in a feature-length contemporary update of “King Lear” that aired in the U.K. this spring and a breakout role in the (non-Shakespearean) 2017 critical favorite “Lady Macbeth.”

Why she matters: A BAFTA winner early this year in the audience-voted rising star category, the 22-year-old Pugh has shown impressive acting chops, and she has a similar chance to shine in this production directed by Chan-wook Park (“Oldboy”).

Hasan Minhaj

Where you can see him: Entering the late-night topical comedy stand-off with “Patriot Act” (Oct. 28), a weekly Netflix series that will, according to the streaming service, “explore the modern cultural and political landscape with depth and sincerity.”

Where you may have seen him: In addition to being the last correspondent hired by Jon Stewart at “The Daily Show” — you may have heard of a few graduates of that comedy college — Minhaj excelled as lead roaster at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2017 along with his own Netflix special “Homecoming King,” which featured a strong sense of personal storytelling on its way to winning a Peabody Award.

Why he matters: The first Indian American to host his own comedy show, Minhaj has proven to be a fearless comic voice. In a political climate of rising Islamophobia and ongoing concerns about immigration at the federal level, he should have a distinct perspective on current events.

Jodie Whittaker

Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and the first woman in the title role on "Doctor Who."
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

FULL COVERAGE: 2018 fall TV preview »

Where you can see her: As the thirteenth and first female Doctor in the long-running cult favorite sci-fi series “Doctor Who,” which begins Oct. 7 on BBC America.

Where you may have seen her: Most likely in the grim U.K. crime-drama “Broadchurch,” where Whittaker portrayed the mother of a murder victim in a series that coincidentally featured another “Doctor Who” connection in tenth doctor David Tennant.

Why she matters: Funny, earnest and acutely aware of the significance of “Doctor Who” making a long-overdue shift in perspective, Whittaker already won over the show’s devoted fans at this year’s Comic-Con. With a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall (also of “Broadchurch”) and a storytelling perspective that’s promised to be more inclusive, the show might win over some new ones as well.

Jay Hernandez

Jay Hernandez takes over the role of Magnum previously played by Tom Selleck.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Where you can see him: Under a Detroit Tigers cap (but minus a mustache) in the rebooted “Magnum P.I.” on CBS (Sept. 24).

Where you may have seen him: In addition to playing Curtis Pryce in the last season of “Scandal,” Hernandez appeared behind some facial ink as El Diablo in 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and was tormented in Eli Roth’s “Hostel” (2005) a few years after his breakthrough alongside Kirsten Dunst in “Crazy/Beautiful” (2001).

Why he matters: Executive producer Peter Lenkov stepped in it when he recently claimed that it was too “hard to find” writers of Latin descent when asked about the diversity of the writers room at “Magnum P.I.,” but the significance of casting the Mexican American Hernandez shouldn’t be ignored.

Sarayu Blue

Where you can see her: On the Amy Poehler-produced “I Feel Bad” (NBC, Oct. 4), a half-hour comedy created by Aseem Batra and drawn from Orli Auslander’s similarly titled 2017 book about working women’s efforts to “have it all.”

Where you may have seen her: Up and down the dial with roles on “Big Bang Theory,” “Veep” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” as well as this year’s sleeper teen comedy “Blockers.”

Why she matters: The Wisconsin-born Blue has already proven to have a deft hand with comedy, and the show’s honest perspective about the many conflicts that come with balancing a family and a career isn’t common on network TV.

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.


Jodie Whittaker meets the Comic-Con masses as ‘Doctor Who’ enters a new era

The Amy Poehler-produced ‘I Feel Bad’ looks at the challenges facing working women — including in the writers room

CBS highlights ‘Murphy Brown’ revival and ‘Magnum P.I.’ reboot in fall schedule