TCA 2014: Quick Takes From the Ovation, Aljazeera America and National Geographic TCA Presentations

"A Young Doctor's Notebook"
“A Young Doctor’s Notebook”

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.


“Young Doctor’s Notebook” 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.)


A news network that launched August 2013 with goal of providing uncensored, real world news. Winning two Peabody Awards in its first year, Aljazeera has established itself as a competitive news source in a world where right now real news feels more elusive and filtered than ever. They ask the questions that do not always have real answers, but at least they are asking them. They also strive to be bias-free in a world where it seems the conservative and liberal viewpoints control the news we are allowed to see. Aljazeera turns the camera lens on issues that effect us all in our lives, no matter how remote they may seem initially. We live in a global community and Aljazeera makes sure that the news stories they feature is relevant for everyone.

Point of interest: They also feature the Oscar-winning docu-series “Edge of 18” where a dozen teens took them into their lives to accurately portray what graduating teens are facing on the cusp of their futures today. (Premieres September 7, 2014.)

Other featured segments include: “Texas Running Dry,” “Sinkhole,” “The Other America,” “Detroit Seamstress,” “Haiti in a Time of Cholera.” (Note: Aljazeera America is a subsidiary of the Qatar government-owned news organization that broadcasts around the world.)


National Geographic explores lives less-ordinary, as well as showcasing the truly miraculous beauty and extraordinary things discovered in the remotest regions of the world. It goes where you only dream of. In their recent achievements, it recent new series “COSMOS” pulled in 125 million viewers worldwide.

Also their critically-acclaimed series “Brain Games” truly bends your mind to help you see the actual world we live in, not as our brains perceive it. (Returns July 14, 2014.)

Another fun brain-teasing series is “Mapology” hosted by Kal Penn, which makes its debut Spring 2015. Who knew maps were so much more interesting in today’s digital world when combined with virtual data?

In addition, National Geographic’s latest big venture is a docu-series “American War Generals,” looking back at the U.S. presence in military actions over the past few decades. (Premieres September 14, 2014.) That combined with the new docu-series “9/10: The Final Hours” is an unflinching look at one of the most painful time in American recent history. (Premieres September 7, 2014.)

“Sleepless in America” examines the circadian clock coded in the DNA of humans, animals and plants and how literally the entire planet is controlled by daylight and sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation has led to the most horrific and tragic disasters in human history, as well as linked to being the cause of serious health risks, like obesity, Alzheimers, cancer and heart attacks. This series takes an in-depth look at just how deadly sleep deprivation is for everyone. Point of interest: Who knew that Benjamin Franklin was the first to say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”? (Premieres November 2014.)


The Nat Geo Wild series “The Secret Lives of Cats” offers a fun look inside the world of cats — their habits, their discoveries, their personalities. You may just think your cat is just sitting there, but cats have richer lives than we ever suspected. Point of interest: looks to be highly addictive. You are warned.

Then its series “Urban Jungle” documents how traditionally wild animals such as cougars, bears and coyotes have adapted to the modern world by moving into our urban areas and cities. Such as bears in Lake Tahoe have moved in by digging under people’s homes and making their hibernating caves just beneath basements. Then currently around the Los Angeles area there are approximately 30 cougars moving in closer and closer each year. Mother Nature is not just fighting back, she has figured out how to move big animals into our backyards — and they are sneaky. (Premieres August 3, 2014.)

That is a wrap on Day 1 at TCA! Look for more upcoming snapshots from TCA Summer 2014 on the new shows and TV specials coming up for Fall 2014.


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