TCA 2014: Quick Takes From CBS’s TCA Presentations for MADAM SECRETARY, NCIS: NEW ORLEANS, SCORPION, BATTLE CREEK, STALKER

M_Secretary_NTFav_104659_162_1b_1620_1080_640x360

On Day 10 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, CBS introduced its new programming and the following is a snapshot-look at a few of its new series debuting Fall 2014.

MADAM SECRETARY
“Madam Secretary” is CBS’ new political drama starring Tea Leoni, as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst who is the newly appointed Secretary of State. Co-starring is Tim Daly, as her husband, and Zeljko Ivanek, as the White House Chief of Staff, the show offers a strong portrayal of life inside and outside the White House, as well as its thorny interoffice politics. The show is a fast-paced and finely-tuned political thriller with a bit of a dark-side when another layer of the story comes to light. One of the more interesting features is that Leoni and Daly’s characters share a very supportive and loving relationship, which is rarely seen in television marriages. It is refreshing and helps the audience feel like their characters are worth rooting for in the midst of global politics, which can get very ugly and cut-throat. The multi-faceted characters and multi-layered storylines make this one of the strongest new shows debuting this Fall. Point of interest: Morgan Freeman, who co-starred with Tea Leoni in the film “Deep Impact,” is one of the show’s executive producers along with Barbara Hall (“Homeland,” “Joan Of Arcadia”). (Premieres on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8:00 pm.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the Studio Press Visit Day (feat. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, GOTHAM and THE LOTTERY)

B99.Andy.Andre.2shot

On Day 9 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, Universal and Fox invited press to visit the set of their comedy series BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, and Warner Bros and Fox invited press to attend a special theater screening of GOTHAM and the Q&A with the cast of Lifetime’s new drama THE LOTTERY, and the following is a snapshot-look at those special behind-the-scenes events.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
Fox’s comedy series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was an out of the gate hit with critics last year. Believing in the strength and appeal of the show, Fox is moving “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. this Fall, starting September 28th, leading into its animation comedy block. From the press Q&A on set, two things were immediately obvious: (1) the writers are finely in-tune with their stars’ comedic strengths, and (2) the show recruited an amazingly gifted comedy ensemble who can ad-lib with quick quips and funny one-liners as if on cue. The entire press corp was in stitches just listening to the writers and actors live-riff — as if it were the easiest thing in the world — and the women were just as quick as the men. It was also clear that everyone is having a blast working on the show. They are all getting paid to do what they love and that energy and enthusiasm is evident. However, while they were all quick to share a joke, they were much more circumspect and tip-lipped about spoilers of their upcoming storylines to be featured in Season 2. But if the glint in everyone’s eye was any indication, it is going to be hilarious and fun. The producers did reveal that they will address quickly the fact that Jake (Andy Samberg) went undercover after declaring his feelings for Amy (Melissa Fumero), and that Gina (Chelsea Peretti) and Charles (Joe Lo Truglio) ended up in bed together. They also stated that the perception of Charles as a “relentless pursuer” of Rosa was never intended to be seen as a stalking problem because Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) at no point felt threatened or took his pursuit very seriously. Executive producer Dan Goor joked, “We wrote it sweet, then the actor brought the creepy.” He then clarified, “We felt like we could play his obsession in a way that didn’t feel like it was dangerous and creepy.” Point of interest: Andre Braugher received an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy nomination for his performance on the show. (2nd season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is Sept. 28, 2014.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From ABC and ABC Family’s TCA Presentation

rs_634x1024-140409100751-634.Chasing-Life-JR-4914

On Day 8 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, ABC and ABC Family introduced their new programming, and the following is a snapshot-look at a few of their new series.

ABC FAMILY
“Chasing Life” is a remarkable new TV series that debuted in June on ABC Family Channel about a young woman who finds out she has cancer. What should be a tough subject to bring levity to, “Chasing Life” found a unique and charming way to introduce us to the life of April Carver, fantastically portrayed by Italia Ricci. The show starts out with the very day April’s life starts to take off with a cool job opportunity and meeting a dashing young man, she finds out she has leukemia. The show has embraced April’s struggle to keep everything she has worked so hard to attain and to still pursue her dreams, while depicting the trials of dealing with cancer too. The show features a strong heart-warming family at the center and April’s family has their own hilarious and heart-tugging storylines as well. They emphasize that, just because someone has cancer, it does not mean that life stops for everyone. So “Chasing Life” reveals how this amazing family comes together and still tackles their own daily challenges. Confession: From the first episode this show captured my heart. I fell head over heels for it and am so grateful that this show was given a chance to bring its wonderful story and incredible characters to my television screen. Point of interest: Italia Ricci co-starred with Jordan Gavaris (“Orphan Black”) in the Cartoon Network series “Unnatural History.” It was another family-friendly show that I loved whole-heartedly and miss to this day. (“Chasing Life” premiered in June and continues to air new episodes on Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. on ABC Family Channel.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From USA Network, CNBC, Bravo and Syfy’s TCA Presentations

628x471

On Day 7 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, USA Network, CNBC, Bravo and Syfy introduced their new programming, and the following is a snapshot-look at a few of their new series.

USA NETWORK
Stepping away from of their strong brand of “blue sky” shows, USA Network is dabbling in darker dramas with its slate of “Graceland” and newcomers “Satisfaction” and “Rush.” “Rush” is about a renegade Beverly Hills doctor who asks no questions and will treat anyone — for the right price — and in Beverly Hills, people have a lot of things they need to keep quiet. “Satisfaction” is about a married couple who decide to reinvigorate their marriage by engaging in sexual liaisons with other people. Point of interest: “Satisfaction” stars former “The Glades” star Matt Passmore. (“Satisfaction” and “Rush” premiere Thursday, July 17, 2014.)

“Dig” is a new series starring Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche, whose characters are FBI agents charged with investigating the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a U.S citizen abroad. The story looks into the murder of a young woman in Israel that unearths a larger conspiracy that dates back centuries. Tombs, pyramids, monuments and treasure beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings with friction-filled political and religious tensions set the backdrop for this tense new thriller. Point of interest: “Dig” comes from “Heroes” creator Tim Kring. (“Dig” is a 6-episode limited series which premieres Fall 2014.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From NBC’s TCA Panels featuring STATE OF AFFAIRS, CONSTANTINE, BAD JUDGE and A TO Z

constantine-tv-series-matt-ryan

On Day 6 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour, NBC introduced its new programming, and the following is a snapshot-look at a few of its new series.

CONSTANTINE
“Constantine” is a spooky, supernatural drama about a man gifted with the ability to see and banish demons. Based on the “Hellblazer” comic-book series, the show will incorporate much of that underlying mythology. The series stars Matt Ryan as John Constantine, a supernatural detective, and co-stars Harold Perrineau (“Lost”) as Manny, an angel of questionable intent, who keeps tabs on Constantine. Angelica Celaya was also recently cast as the new character Zed, who will be introduced in the second episode. So do not get too attached to Lucy Griffiths, who plays Liv in the first episode. Point of interest: “Constantine” will air after “Grimm” on Friday nights. (Premieres Friday, October 24, 2014.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the DirecTV and Amazon TCA Presentations

Kingdom

Day 5 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour started off with introductions of new programming from DirecTV and Amazon. The following is a snapshot look at their new series, as well as what was noteworthy from the featured presentations.

DIRECTV
“Kingdom” is a raw, gritty new series about a group of young fighters involved in mixed-martial arts. There is the ex-con who need a path to redemption and a young teen who has the raw skills to be one of the greats. Mentored by a seasoned fighter, they try to channel their inner fears and rage and use it constructively. But with personal relationships and family tugging at their heart-strings along the way, it becomes a tug-of-war to figure out how to become successful fighters and maintain their sanity in the process. Point of interest: Kiele Sanchez (“The Glades”) and Matt Lauria (“Friday Night Lights”) co-star and they sizzle on screen. (Premieres October 8, 2014 on DirecTV.) [Read more…]

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

Better-Call-Saul-01

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.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the WGN America, Discovery and BBC America TCA Presentations

manhattan wgn america

Day 2 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour started off with introductions of new programming from Discovery, WGN America and BBC America. The following is a snapshot look at their new series, as well as what was noteworthy from the featured presentations.

WGN AMERICA
“Manhattan” is a new drama series set back in the 1940’s when the U.S. government was striving to discover the secret to make an atomic bomb. It tells the stories of the men and women who were scientists, mathematicians, soldiers and the wives that had to keep this massive secret and were not even sure what the end goal was at the time. Invoking the nostalgia from the era, the show plays like a classic movie with each episode a new chapter in a dark tale of trying to live a normal life in the midst of an extraordinary situation. With secrets and classified material embruing their entire world, there is an underlying boiling tension. It becomes a question of who can you really trust and is the government telling them everything they need to know about their highly confidential mission. The show appears to captured the innate glamour of the era with classic cars and stylish clothing while merging it with the dusty, secret-filled world of a town that was not even allowed to have a name. Apparently, it was just too dangerous to even be a name on the map. (Premieres July 27, 2014.) [Read more…]

TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the Ovation, Al Jazeera America and National Geographic Panels

Notebook18

Day 1 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour started off with introductions of new programming from Ovation, Aljazeera America and National Geographic. The following is a snapshot look at their new series, as well as what was noteworthy from the featured presentations.

OVATION
“Young Doctor’s Notebook” (Pictured above) is a remaining of works of Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov set during Civil War era of Russia in 1918, and Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliff co-star. Essentially Hamm’s character revisits his younger self (Radcliff) as he pursues his early career journals. It is a comedic recollection of the circumstances that shaped him at a young age and put him on a destructive path in his life. If only we could all go back and give advice and warnings to our younger selves. Morphine addiction would top the list of warnings. Hitting on girls that have no interest would be a close second. With so many regrets, can one truly ever warn oneself from the paths that lead to dark ends? Point of interest: Radcliff was flattered that Hamm recommended him to play his younger self on the show. (Season 2 premieres August 2014 with 4 new episodes.)

“Young Marvels” is a new reality TV series that tells the story of extraordinarily gifted young teens/children pursuing the arts with tenacity and professionalism that most adult performers would envy. Clearly they follow the sage advice: “If you can dream it, do it.” Best of all: “Love it.” The 8 to 12 year olds showcased are truly amazing. (Premieres July 16th on Ovation.) [Read more…]