The start of the fourth quarter means there’s a glut of fresh TV viewing to look forward to. And frankly, during days drenched in bad and bizarre news, the screen offers a smidgen of escape we could all do with — a tiny, fleeting dose of miracle and wonder.

Leading the pack is The Crown season 3 (starring HRH Olivia Colman), which premieres in mid-November. There’s also a final turn from the Modern Family cast on the near horizon, and the latest instalments of The Good Place, Empire, The Blacklist and Peaky Blinders. Plus, of course, there’s a bevy of hot new shows to make excuses to stay in for. They include HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s cult fantasy novels, His Dark Materials, and Netflix’s outlandish dark comedy The Politician, which will make you look at high school politics in a new light.

In the meantime, and before these new gems hit our streaming devices, here’s what we’re watching right now and can recommend — a wildly divergent selection of programmes that’ll resonate no matter what stage of life you are in.

The Kominsky Method

Talking about on-screen chemistry, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin have it in spades. The Hollywood legends play old friends Kominsky (an acting coach, perfectly portrayed by Douglas) and his long-suffering agent, Norman Newlander. The latter has just lost his wife, the former has money and love troubles. In short, they are a pair of absolute menschen. The dialogue in this series is super-smart. It’s funny and warm. And the list of cameo appearances reads like a who’s who of Tinseltown royalty. Catch up now because a new season is due in a month or two.

The Letdown

Audrey has just had her first baby and her world is unravelling. She doesn’t know what she’s doing, her marriage has taken a knock, she hasn’t slept in weeks and she’s longing for her existence pre-kid. Often the darkest or most mundane patches of life make for the sharpest comedy. Which is exactly the case in this stellar Aussie series. Sure it centres on parenting, but the brilliant script and actors (including Alison Bell, who co-wrote the show and plays struggling Audrey) make it universally relevant. Drug dealers dishing out breast-feeding advice, sleep training breakdowns and modern corporate conundrums — it’s got it all.

Friends from College

Here’s a great show to binge-watch as all 16 episodes are currently on Netflix. As the name suggests, the story centres on a group of mates who met at Harvard but are now hitting their 40s in New York. Their lives are complicated, intertwined and very entertaining. The ace cast includes Keegan Michael-Key, Cobie Smulders and Fred Savage (yes, he of The Wonder Years). Expect some outrageous off-the-wall humour, harsh reality and real poignancy.