The heated debates, the unexpected renewals, the big castings, the new trailers, the controversies. Here’s all the top news from the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena, California, from the past two weeks. There were roughly 140 panels covering new and returning shows across nearly two weeks. Here’s what we learned:
RENEWALS: Lot of shows coming back, like Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Fox’s Scream Queens and Empire, BET’s Being Mary Jane, TV Land’s Younger, Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer and Broad City, Showtime’s Shameless, TruTV’s Billy on the Street, USA’s Playing House, and NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers.
CONTROVERSY: It wouldn’t be TCA without some friction between reporters and talent, or controversial issues being addressed: NBC said Jimmy Fallon doesn’t have a drinking problem (“that any of us know about”), the panel for CBS’ series version of the Rush Hour films defended their “stereotypical” characters, CBS’ new entertainment president defended the network’s diversity, producing legend Norman Lear said TV has become too politically correct, NBC defended cozying up to Donald Trump (after dumping him), the X-Files creator admitted the second movie was a mistake, ABC’s Of Kings and Prophets was desperate to be compared to Game of Thrones, Hannibal Buress shut down questions on Cosby, and Caitlyn Jenner had a reply for Ricky Gervias’ Golden Globes joke. (On a lighter note, Eva Longoria and America Ferrera addressed their hilarious Globes bit.) Ryan Murphy also defended his track record on race at the panel for FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (which Khloé Kardashian wants to watch even though the Kardashian kids are mostly sidelined).
REBOOTS: Fox ordered a 24 pilot (without star Kiefer Sutherland), a Prison Break miniseries (with stars Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell), TNT’s bringing back Tales From the Crypt (with or without the Crypt Keeper), but Judd Apatow is not bringing back Freaks and Geeks (with or without James Franco, because he does everything).
NEW SHOWS: Okay, take a deep breath, there are quite a few: NBC’s latest Chicago franchise spin-off, Showtime’s Melissa Leo-starring comedy series I’m Dying Up Here, TBS’ alien abduction comedy People of Earth, TV Land’s stand-up comedy series Nobodies, Starz’ Cuban-set supernatural drama, History Channel’s drama series SEAL Team Six, A&E’s cult-themed anthology series, NatGeo’s sex documentary Original Sin, NBC’s The Office-meets-S.H.I.E.L.D. comedy Powerless, and FX’s new Tracy Morgan project. And finally, our favorite title: Comedy Central’s Time Traveling Bong, which is exactly what it sounds like.
CANCELLATIONS: The deadpool was fed as reporters finally got answers on whether certain struggling shows were coming to a close: NBC’s Heroes: Reborn, CBS’ Mike & Molly, TNT’s live-action Teen Titans project, Sundance’s Rectify, TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles, and CBS’s Person of Interest is on its final season — or is it? Also oddly uncertain: If American Idol might continue somewhere else.
J.J. ABRAMS: The Force Awakens director showed up to promote his new Hulu time-travel series 11.22.63, so naturally we tackled him in the post-panel scrum with our Star Wars questions. We got his take on the lack of Rey toys (preposterous!), his feelings about Force Awakens‘ Oscar odds, his plans for The Force Awakens DVD, and him politely telling us not to bug him about Rey’s parentage (or a Felicity reboot, for that matter). Oh, and here’s the trailer for his new show.
MAKING A MURDERER: Netflix’s true-crime serial was the “Have you watched it?” title of the conference. Here’s our panel coverage (which got a bit contentious as filmmakers were put on the defensive about why the show didn’t include certain intel about Steven Avery’s past) and why a potential season 2 might be very different. Meanwhile, Investigation Discovery will air a “me-too” follow-up on Netflix’s doc. (Speaking of headline-making criminals, Charlie Rose also scored the first on-air interview with Sean Penn about his meeting with El Chapo.)
GAME OF THRONES: Season 6 is getting closer: There’s a premiere date, costar Michiel Huisman was cast in a miniseries, Outlander‘s author explained why she’ll never have George R.R. Martin’s deadline problems, and, biggest of all, HBO is in talks for two more seasons (with no end in sight).
CASTING: Not a lot, but a few: Jeffrey Donovan to headline Hulu’s Shut Eye, Trisha Yearwood to play Jesus’ mom on Fox’s The Passion, Tim Curry coming to Rocky Horror (at least his voice is), Michael Weatherly is not staying on NCIS, the Fuller House creator hopes to get the Olsen twins (or at least one of them) for season 2, and it’s sadly too soon for Dolly Parton to guest on Grace and Frankie for a 9 to 5 reunion.
NETFLIX DEBATE: You probably don’t care how many people watch Netflix shows, but people in the media industry are obsessed with figuring this out. First, NBC came out swinging with research showing, they say, how many people watch several Netflix titles. Then Netflix denied the report and mocked NBC. In the meantime, Netflix also fired back at FX for its “there’s too much TV” claim.
DIVERSE BACHELORS: In a year where UnREAL will feature an African-American suitor on its Bachelor-esque reality show Everlasting (and tackle feminism), ABC boss Paul Lee was forced to address why The Bachelor hasn’t actually had one in real life.
READY FOR ALL THE EVENTS? NBC’s next musical is Hairspray (not Hamilton), the network will also (sort of) host a Friends reunion, Showtime’s (delayed) Twin Peaks revival is eyeing an early 2017 debut, Fox’s Grease will feature a brand-new musical number for Frenchy (and much less filthy language), and HBO’s Deadwood movie is happening.
ABOUT THOSE ADAPTATIONS: AMC’s Preacher is very different from the comics on which it’s based, while Syfy’s The Magicians will cover the first book (and some of the second) in Lev Grossman’s fantasy trilogy.
OH, SO MANY SPOILERS: For those hoping to get info on your favorite shows, you’re in luck! Homeland‘s sixth season will take place in New York City (and Quinn will likely return). Meredith Grey will be brutally attacked on Grey’s Anatomy. Scandal is jumping ahead six months and Olivia Pope is now a changed woman. You’re the Worst‘s third season is picking up right where we left off. Mr Robot has yet to reveal its biggest season 1 secrets. The 100 already has an ending in mind. The Americans may finally get caught. Fargo‘s third season will be set in 2010 and one familiar face will return.
SUPER SHOWS: In the world of DC, Smallville‘s Supergirl, Laura Vandervoort, is heading to Supergirl — which is getting closer to a crossover with The Flash. Other new superseries Legends of Tomorrow won’t crossover with Arrow and The Flash as much as you’d hope, but it is described as Guardians of the Galaxy meets Doctor Who. Kevin Smith will helm an upcoming episode of The Flash. The CW could soon welcome a female-led superhero show. On the Marvel front, the Jessica Jones team explained why the show’s intense sex scenes are so important, and Netflix says any established character in their Marvel projects could be spun off.