TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the AMC, MTV, Pivot, Starz, WE and Sundance TCA Panels

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Day 4 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour started off with introductions of new programming from MTV, Pivot, Starz, WE, AMC, Sundance. The following is a snapshot look at their new series, as well as what was noteworthy from the featured presentations.

AMC
“Better Call Saul” is the spinoff series from AMC’s wildly successful series “Breaking Bad.” It is a prequel series taking place 6 years prior to the meth-adventures of Walter White, starring Bob OdenKirk and Michael McKean. Also super cool is the casting of Michael Mando (“Orphan Black”) and Patrick Fabian (“Veronica Mars,” “Joan of Arcadia”) to the show. Then keeping with the dark comedy flavor of “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” will continue to explore the seedy under-belly of a life of crime and the drug trade that laid the foundation for Walter White’s criminal activity. (Premiere set for early 2015 with 10 episodes on AMC and 13 episodes for the second season.)

MTV
“Finding Carter” is a surprisingly charming and fun look at a young teen who finds out that she was kidnapped as a young child and that the woman who raised her is not her mother and who is actually her abductor. The twist in the story seems to be the fact that Carter genuinely loves her “mother” and chafes under the fact that she has been placed back in the middle of a family she does not remember. Starring Kathryn Prescott as Carter, the show sparks with her lively spirit and it is easy to feel her anguish of losing the only life she has known and her struggles to acclimate to a seemingly ready-made family that remembers her more than she remembers them. Carter also has a twin and that dynamic as a rich texture to the show as we see how different each of the girls are having been raised separately. Carter’s twin is portrayed by Anna Jacoby-Heron and it is fascinating watching the twins interact now that they are under the same roof. There is also a budding love-quadrangle that also adds to the complications between the twins and their desire to figure out who they are together and yet still maintain the lives they have always known all on their own. Then one of the over-arcing mysteries of the show is exactly why Carter was abducted. Point of interest: Carter’s dad, portrayed by Alexis Denisof, is secretly writing a book about Carter. So do not be fooled by his warm and welcoming facade. (Premiered July 8, 2014 on MTV.)

“Happyland” is a modern fairytale kind of story about a girl who works at an amusement park and falls for a prince — well, who that dresses up as one. But then she finds out that her prince might actually be her biological half-brother, which immediately puts the breaks on that “true love” tale. It is an absolutely hysterical and charming look at how our dreams of a fairytale life lead us to do crazy things. Point of interest: the entire cast is just adorable. So put this show on your “must watch” list for Fall. (Premieres September 30th at 11:00 p.m. on MTV.)

“Awkward” and “Faking It” return with new episodes on September 23, 2014 at 10:00/10:30 p.m. respectively. Then “Happyland” will air behind them starting on September 30, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.

Also upcoming on MTV is the new series on Terry Brook’s fantasy series “Shannara.” Look for that to debut in 2015.

PIVOT
“Human Resources” is a comedic look at a real business, TerraCycle, that creates innovative ways to repurpose trash. They do not just recycle, they find ways to up-cycle, re-use, and transform things that people throw away into products that are useful and beneficial to everyone. It is one of the fastest growing companies in the world on a mission to make the world more “green” friendly. Like they take bullet shells and make jewelry. They take old t-shirts and make colorful hipster skirts and dresses. And what they can do with cigarette butts and dirty diapers will make your jaw drop. Who knew that trash could be converted into things we need and use in our lives? Point of interest: one prominent toothpaste company came to them to find a way to make toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes recyclable and repurposed into something else. (Premieres August 8, 2014 on Pivot.)

“Fortitude” is a new scripted drama starring Stanley Tucci, who plays a detective who is imported to investigate a shocking, brutal small town murder in the Arctic town of Fortitude. (Premieres January 2015 on Pivot.)

STARZ
“Outlander” has a sneak peek of its first episode which will made available online as of August 2nd. Look for it at Starz.com, YouTube and on the Starz Facebook page. Then on August 9th is the Season 1 premiere, followed by eight new episodes and the remaining eight episodes will air in early 2015. The previews look extraordinary. Beautifully filmed, perfectly cast and with a sweeping romance that spans centuries as a young newlywed WWII nurse finds herself falling through a crack in time and landing in 1743 Scotland. The show tagline: “What if your future was the past?” is perfect. Fans of the books are going to love the show and new viewers are also going to fall under the spell of “Outlander.” Point of interest: Starz CEO Chris Albrecht feels confident “Outlander” could go years as a series. That’s promising. Starz is incredibly excited about the “Outlander” book fans bringing new viewers to their network. (Premieres August 9, 2014.)

“The Missing” is an intense and compelling look at a family whose son disappeared 8 years before whose is case reopened. It explores issues of child trafficking and whether a family should ever give up hope of finding their lost children. It will air later this Fall on Starz.

“Black Sails” is likely getting a Season 3 renewal. So be on the look out for that announcement shortly.

WE
“The Divide” is the first scripted drama of WE, which explores a potential wrongful conviction of a white man for the murder of a black family. With 17 days before his execution, a passionate caseworker at The Innocence Initiative, races against the clock to find a way to save his life. But reopening a previously thought “iron-clad” case is a political hot-bed that explodes as everyone involved has something to hide. The tagline of the series is: “Everyone is guilty of something.” Point of interest: one of the producers of the series is Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”), who also produced the similar themed film “Conviction.” (Premieres July 16, 2014 with 8 episodes for Season 1.)

SUNDANCE CHANNEL
“The Honorable Woman” is an 8-part limited series about a woman appointed to the British House of Lords and how it sparks controversy due to the fact her father used to be an arms dealer, who was assassinated years before, and she inherited his business. The tagline is: “Do you trust me?” In the vein of other British intrigue and spy series, this tale explores a complex tale of what is really going on. It always feels like there is a slight-of-hand at play. So many secrets, so many betrayals. Point of interest: “The Honorable Woman” stars Maggie Gyllenhaal. (Premieres July 31, 2014 on Sundance Channel.)

That is a wrap on Day 4 at TCA. Look for more upcoming snapshots from TCA Summer 2014 on the new shows and TV specials coming up for Fall 2014 here at TheTVaddict.com.

Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).

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