Yep, that’s right: much as I’ve done every summer since 2007, I’m coming to you straight from the Television Critics Association press tour. Unlike previous years, however, I’ve got my daughter with me this time around, since her birthday fell smack dab in the middle of the trip. As you can imagine, this is keeping me pretty busy, but I wanted to bring you at least a little bit of the TCA experience while I’m out there…and, rest assured, next week’s column will provide much of the same, since I’ll still be here then.
At this point, we’ve had panels for PBS, Fox, NBC, NBC’s subsidiary networks (Oxygen, E!, etc.), and a few locations on the web (Yahoo!, YouTube). I’m not in a position to go into great detail about everything I’ve seen and heard – I’ve got a little girls birthday to celebrate, after all – but you can find some key moments via my Twitter feed. I’ve had a few enjoyable close encounters here and there, talking to Sir Kenneth Branagh (PBS’s “Wallander”), William Forsythe and Zeljko Ivanek (Fox’s “Mob Doctor”), and Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito (NBC’s “Revolution”), and I’m looking forward to chatting with Lily Tomlin on ABC’s day and Kyle MacLachlan when CBS’s panels roll around. For the time being, however, I’ve pulled together some of the highlights from Fox’s panels. Hope you enjoy!
Nigel Lythgoe on why there’s never been a proper “So You Think You Can Dance” best-of DVD: “We’ve looked at doing it. It’s the music clearance is just really difficult, as well you know, in this country. There are no blanket agreements like there are in Europe. You can’t just use anything that’s been out there. If you want to use an Eagles track, you have to ask the publisher, the writer, every single Eagle. It just, at the end of the day, doesn’t make money because you’re laying so much money out on that early stage.”
Mindy Kaling on headlining her own show, “The Mindy Project”: “It’s awesome. Even more (than I imagined it would be). I mean, like, every day I wake up and I’m, like, ‘Oh, I’m the star of my own show that has my name in it and I get to write it and hire people, actors that I’ve loved for such a long time.’ It’s amazing. I’m going to turn into a monster. Like, I can’t handle it.”
Zach Gilford on his lack of job security on “The Mob Doctor”: “I think on a show like this, if someone wants to get back at (Jordana Spiro’s character), they could take out one of us. So you’ve got to not be an asshole on set and say the lines just right, because we’re all expendable.”
The competition: Dancing with the Stars (ABC), How I Met Your Mother / 2 Broke Girls (CBS), The Sing-Off (NBC), Gossip Girl (The CW)
Starring: Jason O’Mara, Stephen Lang, Shelley Conn, Andon Liboiron, Naomi Scott, Mido Hamada, Christine Adams, Allison Miller
Executive producers: Brannon Braga, Alex Graves, Rene Echevarria
What the network says: “In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in doubt, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past. When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past – a second chance to rebuild civilization and get it right this time.
The Shannon family joins the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet forbidding land. Jim Shannon, a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Shannon, is a trauma surgeon and the newest addition to Terra Nova’s medical team. Josh Shannon is their 17-year-old son who is angry to leave life as he knows it behind; upon arriving at the settlement, he finds himself instantly drawn to the beautiful and rule-breaking Skye. Maddy Shannon, Josh’s endearingly awkward 15-year-old sister, hopes Terra Nova will give her a new chance to reinvent herself. Although Elisabeth’s medical training secured the family a spot on the pilgrimage, a secret involving their five-year-old daughter, Zoe, soon endangers their place in this utopia.
Upon the Shannon’s arrival, they are introduced to Commander Nathan Taylor, the charismatic and heroic first pioneer and leader of the settlement. Taylor, along with his right-hand man, Guzman, warn the travelers that while Terra Nova is a place of new opportunities and fresh beginnings, all is not as idyllic as it initially appears. Along with blue skies, towering waterfalls and lush vegetation, the surrounding terrain is teeming with danger – and not just of the man-eating dinosaur variety. There is also a splinter colony of renegades led by the battle-hardened Mira, who is vehemently opposed to Taylor and his leadership. Even more threatening than what lies outside the protective walls of the colony is the chilling possibility that something sinister is happening inside Terra Nova. The Shannons will come to suspect that not everyone on this mission has the same idea of how to best save mankind; in fact, there may be forces intent on destroying this new world before it even begins.”
What we say: Critics began sharpening their knives when they heard that Fox was delaying the premiere of the series by several months in order to make sure everything was ready to roll without having to rush, but as a sci-fi geek, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of the premise and the unrolling of the series’ mythology. Anyone concerned that the whole thing is little more than a bunch of haphazardly-thrown-together plot ideas covering up a bunch of big-budget CGI dinosaurs needn’t be worried. Not that there aren’t quite a few rampaging dinos on the premises, but there’s also a nice amount of family drama, intriguing characters brought to you by established sci-fi guys like O’Mara (ABC’s “Life on Mars”) and Lang (“Avatar”), and a mystery about this strange alternate-universe past the Shannons and their fellow colonists have found themselves in. Fox used to be really awful about letting sci-fi series catch their breath and find a groove, but with the way they’ve kept “Fringe” alive for the past few seasons, there’s a very real possibility that “Terra Nova” will have an opportunity to build a fanbase beyond just the gawkers who want to see dinosaurs.
Our man Will Harris is in Los Angeles for the latest gathering of the Television Critics Association and he’s been reporting on all the turmoil in TV land. The hot story of course surrounds NBC and the recent decision to cancel Jay Leno’s prime time show. He also reported that Simon Cowell will be leaving “American Idol.”
Of course, the NBC decision has now led to complete chaos, as the NBC brass decided that they wanted to keep Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon in their late-night lineup. All of the late-night comedians are having a field day with the situation, but Conan had some of the best zingers in a recent monologue that you can see above.
Will just reported, however, that the situation is now breaking down completely, as Conan released a statement claiming that he won’t stay on as host of “The Tonight Show” if the start time is moved back to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno show. Good for him! As Will says, “you should absolutely read it in full, as it’s a ballsy missive that’ll make a whole lot of his fellow comedians (not to mention quite a few TV critics, including myself) stand up and cheer.”