Now that the Winter 2013 Television Critic’s Association Press Tour is finally over, it seemed like a good time to recall some of the choice moments over the 14-day star-studded event. Since it would be nearly impossible to recount all the stand-out moments and all the cool shows upcoming this year, we have selected only a few to showcase.
Nothing was more buzzed about than the unexpected kiss between stars Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy at the Fox panel for THE FOLLOWING. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but truly you had to have been there for the impact of that memorable moment to be felt. The ease with Kevin Back just casually leaned over and planted a kiss on his co-star was a testament to the strong bond between them. Viewers may be buzzing about the underlying sexual energy between their characters on screen in THE FOLLOWING, but that kiss was a pure delight for those who got to see it in person. So does anyone remember that THE FOLLOWING is a show about serial killers at this point? (THE FOLLOWING makes its debut on Monday, January 21st at 9:00 p.m. on Fox.)
A GRIMM Kiss
Thanks in part to a clueless reporter who had not been watching the show, the other kiss that made another impression was the now infamous GRIMM kiss between the characters of Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) and sleeping-beauty Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). Repeatedly over the course of the TCA press tour ignorant questions were asked, but this one topped the cake, as anyone who has been watching the show knows perfectly well, that the Renard/Juliette kiss rocked the entire GRIMM fandom –and the ripple-effects from which the entire show is still reeling. (GRIMM returns Fridays, starting March 8th at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.) But thanks to that question, no one is likely to forget about the GRIMM kiss for some time to come.
The White House Fake Phone
Who knew that the real White House in Washington, D.C. keeps a fake phone right outside the Situation Room just to prank newcomers? It seems so unbelievable that in the midst of “red alert” situations to be addressed about national security that anyone would ever think of installing, let alone using, a fake phone to prank unsuspecting visitors to the White House. It is one of those “it had to have been seen to be believed” kind of things. But it clearly tickled former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett as he installed one in the new TV comedy series 1600 PENN just to keep up with the accuracy on the show. (1600 PENN airs Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.)
A SMASH-ing Success
It may have flown under the radar for its first season, but the NBC musical drama series SMASH should break-out this season with the Oscar-winning addition of Jennifer Hudson, who vocal prowess makes the show shine a bit brighter. Preview clips just about had the entire pressroom ready to sing and dance with its rousing numbers. Viewers should give this fine show a second chance and check it out when it returns next month. (SMASH will air Tuesdays, starting February 5th at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.)
Fox’s “Honesty Is the Best Policy” Stance
With all the other television networks anxious to tout their rising demograph numbers or superiority in certain age groups, it was refreshing to have Fox chairman Kevin Reilly simply announce that they had a lousy 2012 Fall season. For years Fox has had claim to boasting rights and it was great to see that it also knew how to be graceful in defeat as well. It earned them massive love on the part of the press who were ready to pounce.
It may have been innocuously done, but the casual handing out of the press release announcing that BONES had been picked up for Season 9 definitely caused its own waves. For one, fans were instantly ecstatic. For two, it became another most talked-about moment at the TCA when the first question of the panel was whether the show had been picked up – promptly eliciting loud groans from everyone in the room as someone had clearly not read the press release right in front of them. Fortunately, the fan joy and Fox’s beaming pride made up for that one glaring gaffe. (BONES airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.)
To much surprise, the panel with Golf Channel’s David Feherty was hilarious. As regular fans of his show already know, every word out of his mouth is sardonically charming. But getting glimpses of his interviews with former President Bill Clinton, Samuel L. Jackson and Don Trump, were not only fun, it made me a Feherty fan instantly. The Golf Channel dug up pure gold when they found David Feherty. (FEHERTY airs periodically on the Golf Channel.)
Living in a JUSTIFIED World
There may have been bigger stars present at TCA, but the one panel that seemed to take everyone’s breath away was for JUSTIFIED. Clearly a favorite amongst the press, the entire room appeared to be in awe of the cast and were anxious to express their united love for the show; even the fact that star Natalie Zea will be working on two series simultaneously barely registered as it was taken with aplomb and graciousness. So fans can look forward to seeing Natalie in both JUSTIFIED and THE FOLLOWING this season, along with the clearly enamored press. (JUSTIFIED airs Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on FX.)
Meeting THE AMERICANS
The new FX series THE AMERICANS starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys had everyone’s attention from the very first word. For one, it is startling to hear Matthew Rhys, who is Welsh transition so smoothly between an American accent and a Russian accent in rapid succession. Another startling revelation was hearing that Keri Russell scares the crap out of Matthew – and I believe him, for after seeing the ease which she kicked a stuntman’s head through a wall and the way she wields a kitchen knife, I have no doubt she would scare any man. She’s come a long way from FELICITY. For those unaware, THE AMERICANS is not your average spy story; it challenges viewers to root for the enemy, as the heroes are the Russian sleeper-agents who live seemingly idyllic lives in suburban America. That is until a CIA-agent moves in next door and their sleeper-status is revoked and they are put on active duty. From the excitement and enthusiasm of the cast about their show, not to mention the seductiveness of the first couple episodes, there should be nothing “sleeper” about this show. It should be an out-of-the-gate hit. (THE AMERICANS premieres Wednesday, January 30th at 10:00 p.m. on FX.)
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS Shockers
We kind of suspected that the younger demograph was lurking on the internet, but it was not until PRETTY LITTLE LIARS that it was proven beyond a doubt when it accounted for 52% of all Twitter activity for its third season premiere. Is there another show on television can boast those kinds of numbers?! Another fun shocker was hearing that the show had planned for Toby to be a member of the “A” team all along. According to the executive producers, it was hinted at from the very first moment Toby was introduced; but it was due to the sheer likability of star Keegan Allen that fans forgot that he could be a villain. Hence the outrage with that juicy reveal. That’s what happens when you cast a super nice actor in a dubiously evil role – everyone forgets he’s supposed to be playing the bad guy! (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS airs Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC Family.)
Who Doesn’t Love a Good SCANDAL
When inviting two bus-loads of press to visit a popular TV show set on a studio lot, it never hurts to invite them to pose for pictures in the faux Oval Office with the show’s reigning President. As if the sneak peek preview of an upcoming episode did not get everyone excited, being offered a personal photos with President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) certainly did. Having established himself as an on-screen heartthrob, the press were practically swooning while in his presence – and if you’ve been watching the show, you know exactly why. (SCANDAL airs Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.)
Long Live the GOLDEN BOY
It is with much acclaim that Greg Berlanti’s latest television drama makes its entrance into the TV arena. But after seeing the preview clips and meeting the cast, it is easy to see that it deserves every bit of it. Starring British heartthrob Theo James and the hilarious Chi McBride, GOLDEN BOY lives up to its illustrious moniker. Even the more resistant press seemed to thaw after an up-close and personal look at the show and its fun cast. (GOLDEN BOY premieres Tuesday, February 26th at 10:00 p.m. on CBS, then moves to Fridays on March 8th at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.)
It’s ELEMENTARY My Dear
One of the break-out sensations from this season, the new series ELEMENTARY rests comfortably on the shoulders of its stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. It may have met with skepticism when first announced as a pale comparison of the British series SHERLOCK. But there is nothing pale about ELEMENTARY as it continues to sizzle its way up the ratings charts and lures in more viewers each week. Clearly fans are discovering this fine show and embracing it all on its own. Even the on-the-fence press seemed to have finally joined the ELEMENTARY fan club. (ELEMENTARY airs Thursday nights at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.)
Ryan Gosling’s Many Talents
For the new Showtime series RAY DONOVAN, they tapped on the multi-talented Ryan Gosling and his band Dead Man’s Bones for their promotional song. The show about a Hollywood fixer with a dark personal history matched perfectly with Gosling’s musical sound and, if anyone remembers anything, it will be that this is the show with Ryan Gosling’s music. Even the musically curious may be tempted to check out the show just for that. (RAY DONOVAN premieres on June 30th at 10:00 p.m. on Showtime.)
Long Live THE ORIGINALS!
With the long-running success of the CW’s supernatural series THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, it was only a matter of time before they decided to spin-off some of the characters in hopes that it retains that core audience and can successfully launch a companion series. It was therefore with much giddy glee that fans found out that the CW had greenlit the pilot for THE ORIGINALS, which would star Joseph Morgan along with THE SECRET CIRCLE’s Phoebe Tonkin. Given Morgan’s massive popularity, this was a no-brainer. (If picked-up, THE ORIGINALS will hopefully air starting in Fall 2013.)
New Show Mania
As can be expected at any kind of press tour, there were lots of new television shows to tout as the next big thing. Some are and were obvious from the get-go. Others have a way to go before winning over jaded and fatigued TV viewers.
So new shows to keep an eye out for include:
DECEPTION (airs Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on NBC)
THE FOLLOWING (premieres Monday, January 21st at 9:00 p.m. on Fox)
THE AMERICANS (premieres Wednesday, January 30th at 10:00 p.m. on FX)
DO NO HARM (premieres Thursday, January 31st at 10:00 p.m. on NBC)
ZERO HOUR (premiers Thursday, February 14th at 8:00 p.m. on ABC)
GOLDEN BOY (premieres Tuesday, February 26th at 10:00 p.m. on CBS)
RED WIDOW (premieres Sunday, March 3rd at 10:00 p.m. on ABC)
HEMLOCK GROVE (March 27th release date on Netflix)
ROGUE (premieres on Wednesday, April 3rd at 10:00 p.m. on DirecTV)
DEFIANCE (premieres Sunday, April 14th on Syfy)
RAY DONOVAN (premieres Sunday, June 30th at 10:00 p.m. on Showtime)
GRACELAND (coming Summer 2013 on USA Network)
Serial Killers, Monsters, Aliens, and Pirates – Oh My!
Also looming on the 2013-2014 horizon are some very curious new series, offering serial killers, vampires, pirates, aliens, zombies and more things that go-bump-in-the-night. So you may want to put these upcoming TV series on your radar for later this year:
HANNIBAL (starring Hugh Dancy, NBC)
DRACULA (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, NBC)
CROSS BONES (starring Hugh Laurie, NBC)
BLACK SAILS (starring Toby Stephens, Starz)
HORIZON (WWII alien series from Gale Anne Hurd, USA Network)
UNDER THE DOME (Stephen King book adapted for series by CBS)
PENNY DREADFUL (horror/thriller offered by Showtime)
WAYWARD PINES (thriller brought by M. Night Shaymalan for Fox)
THE VATICAN (drama brought by Ridley Scott for Showtime)
Limited-Run TV Series
Taking a cue from shows abroad, Fox announced that it shall offer two new limited-run series: WAYWARD PINES and BLOOD BROTHERS. Understanding that viewers prefer to know exactly when a show will end before committing their precious time to a serialized story, Fox is dipping its toe into the limited-run TV series pool. It is about high time too!
Lack of “Sampling”
From ABC to Fox, viewers just did not check out new TV shows like they had in years past. New shows from FOX, like THE MOB DOCTOR, BEN & KATE and THE MINDY PROJECT went largely unnoticed. The same was true for the ABC Fall crop, such as 666 PARK AVENUE, LAST RESORT and NASHVILLE; and pink-slips were soon to follow – though ABC is currently standing behind NASHVILLE in a show of good faith that it will build its audience. It is a curious trend amongst today’s television viewers that they are just not willing to even try new TV series. Previously, they at least “sampled” new shows. But today, they are shrugging their shoulders and complaining that they already have too much to watch on TV. This ambivalence has made it incredibly difficult to launch new shows for all networks. What’s the cure? Every television executive would give a small fortune to know that answer.
A “Binge” Theory vs. “Water-Cooler” Desirability
By far, the one thing that truly caught my attention at TCA, was the “binge” theory offered by Netflix. While all the other major broadcast networks were touting the need for “water-cooler” desirability for their TV shows in order to lure viewers to watch shows LIVE; Netflix has taken note of the increasing popularity of “binge” viewing made possible by DVD’s and on-demand programming
With viewers inclined to catch-up on shows they may have missed on DVD or on-demand, they have become accustomed to watching TV shows in groupings of 3-4 episodes at a time, or even 13-22 episodes at a time. This has become known as “binge” viewing and with the popularity of it rising, Netflix is hoping to be ahead of the curve by offering its new original content series (HEMLOCK GROVE, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) as “release dates” and not making its viewers wait week-to-week for new episodes. Accordingly, for all 10-episodes of HEMLOCK GROVE being released on March 27th, viewers have the option of viewing all at once that same day, or choosing to view as many or few episodes as they chose at once.
Netflix felt it was wrong to force their viewers to wait to watch new episodes when all were available. So in an effort to lure viewers and appease their appetites for more all at once, “binge viewing” is being made possible for the new Netflix TV series. Talk about long overdue! This is music to any avid television viewer’s ears. Imagine a world where you could watch at your own pace and not subject to the broadcasting whims of networks and unexpected preemptions for weather, sports and Presidential addresses? Self-paced “binge” viewing does seem to something for networks to think about as content-makers such as Netflix begin adopting “release dates” as the new norm.
With the onslaught of news coverage and millions of Twitter tweets sent out during the 14-day press tour, there is surely a lot more to be gleaned. But these were the standout highlights. It will be fascinating to learn what new and innovative ways to broadcast and consume television shows will be available in 2013. And that’s a wrap on the TCA Winter 2013 Press Tour!
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