Documentary Now! Season 53: Everything We Know So Far About The New Season

Documentary lovers, rejoice! The preeminent high-concept documentary parody series will be back soon after over three years off the air. As always, the new batch of episodes is set to include star-studded guest casts, clever writing from frequent series contributors, and wonderfully niche comedy meant to tickle the funny bones of the doc fans among us. As one of them, I have to admit that it's been a long three years spent sitting through great new docs (and "My Octopus Teacher"), envisioning the "Documentary Now!" parodies of them that seemed like they may never actually arrive.

Luckily, the fake news magazine about fake documentaries based on real documentaries is making its triumphant return for what Dame Helen Mirren calls its 53rd season. With a release date in sight and a whole new slate of docs the show intends to skewer, "Documentary Now!" is shaping up for a grand re-introduction. Here's everything we know so far.

When and where to watch Documentary Now season 4

This season, which despite faux-show host Mirren's assertions, will actually be the fourth, is set to kick off with a two-episode premiere in October. It's set for a two-episode premiere on October 19, 2022 at 10 p.m. ET. Historically, the show has always dropped episodes weekly, so it will likely switch to that format afterwards, meaning we'll probably get five straight weeks of great doc parodies. While past seasons of the show have always included seven episodes, The AV Club reports that this one will have six.

Unlike past seasons, this one is also set to stream on AMC+. The streamer was launched in 2020, after season 3 ended, and includes IFC titles in its catalogue. If you haven't tried out AMC+, it's $6.99 a month and the site offers a one-week free trial so you can poke around and see what you like. Since it's also a hub for Sundance Now, AMC, and Shudder content, there are also lots of actual documentaries you can check out while you wait for "Documentary Now!"

What Documentary Now season 4 will be about

So far, details about five of the season's six episodes have been shared via Deadline. The season is set to start with "Soldiers of Illusion," a play on Les Blank's famous documentary "Burden of Dreams," which follows filmmaker Werner Herzog through one of the most difficult projects of his career. Part two of the premiere is "Trouver Frission," a mockumentary in the style of the late, great French filmmaker Agnès Varda. You can catch a glimpse of the Varda-like character, named Ida Leos, in a whimsical shot in the promo, getting patted on the head by what looks like a giant paper mache hand.

There's also "My Monkey Grifter," which will follow a character called Benjamin Clay who finds himself in a profound and emotional relationship with a monkey who might not have his best interests at heart. This, hilariously, is a riff on the Netflix doc "My Octopus Teacher," an intimate story about a man and an octopus that gained lots of attention — and inspired lots of jokes — after winning an Oscar in 2021.

Another entry this season is "How They Threw Rocks," a "When We Were Kings"-style examination of the (fake) Welsh sport Craig Maes, or "Field Rock" that's set to include several legendary Welsh actors. Finally, "Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport" looks to be the most creative and offbeat documentary fusion of the season, riffing on both the 1994 TV documentary "3 Salons at the Seaside" and the Anna Wintour doc "The September Issue."

What we know about the Documentary Now season 4 cast and crew

Though this season's cast is as stacked as ever, the most buzzed-about ensemble comes in the premiere, which stars "The Northman" actor Alexander Skårsgard and "Succession" breakout Nicholas Braun, according to Deadline. August Diehl, AKA Dieter Hellstrom from "Inglourious Basterds," will costar in the episode that has Skårsgard playing the single-minded filmmaker working through impossible conditions. Kevin Bishop, Gana Bayarsaikhan, Matthias Rimpler, and series co-creator Fred Armisen will also appear, while Deb Hiett narrates.

"Trouver Frisson" stars "Call My Agent!" actor Liliane Rovère and "Hunters" actor Ronald Guttman, while the intrepid primate-befriending documentarian in "My Monkey Grifter" will be played by "The Afterparty" actor Jamie Demetriou (who also directs). Also, Armisen is playing a detective in that one, so I hope it's secretly also a "The Tindler Swindler" parody.

"Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport" will bring back "Documentary Now!" alum Cate Blanchett, who previously starred in a season 3 episode, to play a new character. Harriet Walter ("Killing Eve") will co-star, as will Armisen, naturally. Finally, "How They Threw Rocks" stars "The Two Popes"actor Jonathan Pryce, "Lord of the Rings" franchise actors Trystan Gravelle and John Rhys-Davies, and famed singer Tom Jones. That last bit of casting is presumably huge news for series executive producer John Mulaney, who once famously tortured a diner full of strangers with one of Jones' songs.

Mulaney will return to write for this season, as will co-creator Seth Meyers. Producers Matt Pacult and Tamsin Rawady are also writing on an episode this season. Meanwhile, Micah Gardner, Rhys Thomas, and Alex Buono will direct. There's no word yet on series co-creator and frequent guest star Hader's involvement this season — after all, he's pretty busy with "Barry."