2018 Emmy Nominations: Luke Warm Take

Primetime Emmy Nominations, Los Angeles, USA - 14 Jul 2016The 2018 Emmy nominations were handed out this morning and by and large there weren’t a lot of surprises. TVLine has a great post on the snubs of the year but I am more interested in who and what was nominated.

In this era of “peak TV” where there is more prestige content available than anyone has the ability to digest, what the academy chooses to recognize is always fascinating. It doesn’t hew solely to critical opinion or even to viewer opinion. They seemed to recognize streaming content right away, but simultaneously stick fiercely to their old warhorse nominees long past when the consumers of those shows have stopped caring (I’m looking at you Modern Family for the past few years).

The Drama categories are largely unchanged and expected with The Handmaid’s Tale and This is Us taking the most spots. Westworld made quite a strong showing with acting nominations in all but the supporting actor and guest actor races. For such an intensely dense show I love that these actors are getting recognized for what they’re doing. Thandie Newton especially is brilliant and deserves all this and more.

I am a little surprised by Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) getting a best actress nod as (and I don’t watch that show as an avowed I-hate-to-be-scared viewer) I haven’t really seen (in clips) a ton of “acting” from her so much as intense staring into the middle distance.

Comedy though is very interesting. Series nods for GLOWBarry, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with acting nods for stars of all three. Also, Ted Danson (The Good Place), Allison Janney (Mom), Pamela Adlon (Better Things), and Issa Rae (Insecure) all scored lead acting nominations. Perennial nominees William H. Macy (Shameless) and Larry David (Curb your enthusiasm) are back too lest you think the Emmys went really crazy.

But the supporting actress category is driving me nuts! Nearly the entire female cast of SNL (Leslie Jones, Aidy Bryant, and Kate McKinnon) Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz, Mrs. Maisel‘s Alex Borstein, and GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin all against 90s throwback nominees Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and cancelled-in-disgrace Roseanne‘s Laurie Metcalf. And, don’t get me wrong, I love Metcalf and I think she is a powerhouse, but she had NOTHING to do in that 10-episode revival and considering the circumstances of that show ending I am very surprised to see her on this list (the series also got an outstanding editing nomination.) Not to get into snub territory but I was particularly surprised not to see a nod for D’Arcy Carden (The Good Place) who is fantastic on that show (and Barry by the way) and plays a totally unique character brilliantly (DISCLOSURE: I should mention I went to high school with D’Arcy and was in a terrible play with her when I was 12. But I don’t think we’ve spoken in 20 some odd years. I was thrilled when when I saw her in the trailers for The Good Place and am so happy for all her success. Also she is completely fantastic).

Tiffany Haddish earned her first Emmy nomination for hosting SNL, and the limited series categories are filled with Black Mirror (the terrifyingly delightful “U.S.S. Callister” episode earned nominations for the episode itself and Jesse Plemons in it) and nominations for everything Ryan Murphy has been involved in, including nearly the entire cast of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story save Cody Fern.

In the reality area, the big story is the continued applause for Rupaul’s Drag Race (12 in total including series and host), but the inclusion of Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night) in the hosting category is shocking as NBC treats that show like some sort of dirty secret.

Obviously there are a ton of nominees I didn’t get to (Lily Tomlin! Sandra Oh! Diana Rigg! John Legend! Adina Porter! Letitia Wright!) as well as all the technical and behind the scenes categories and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. The Emmys are my favorite show as TV is my favorite thing. I love the they’re trying to get some new and interesting people in there and hopefully it’s the beginning of a positive trend. The Emmy awards ceremony will air on NBC on Monday September 17

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Maiden Voyage: Marvel’s Inhumans

Even the poster looks…off…somehow.

The growing Marvel Cinematic/Television universe has been very successful on Netflix. 5 series with multiple buzzy seasons, they are getting a return on their investment. The ABC series though have been a mixed bag with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D both feeling the fall-out from the films and doing everything they can to never mention anything that happens in the films at all ever. Then there’s Agent Carter which was 2 seasons of delightfulness that ABC just could not figure out how to market. Oh, and let’s not forget Most Wanted, the pilot that never went anywhere (twice!), which was supposed follow Lance and Bobbi (Nick Blood and Adrianne Palicki) after they left S.H.I.E.L.D (Both are fine by the way. Palicki is now on the wonderful The Orville while Blood is returning to S.H.I.E.L.D this season.) Why that show failed to ever appear and Marvel’s Inhumans did is surprising. There is no way Most Wanted could have been worse.

Inhumans was always going to be a hard sell, in the comics the characters are weird and (until recently) pretty fringe. But, because of some outside factors, Inhumans became the best way to have characters with super powers in the MCU. Conceptually introduced on S.H.I.E.L.D as regular people with alien genes that, when activated, cause all kinds of powers and weirdness, the Inhumans we follow on the show are the Royal Family who live in their city Attilan on the moon. It is said in the pilot that this society left Earth long enough ago and their “descendants” are the Inhumans we have seen thus far.

This series, at least based on the 2-hour pilot (part 1 of which is titled “Behold…The Inhumans” which, really?) and the extended trailer they showed, looks terrible. From the cheap costumes, to the terrible makeup and hair, to the set design, nothing looks…modern or finished- weirder still that the pilot was a coproduction with IMAX, that money does not show up on camera anywhere. It’s all old-looking and ugly and so very cheap.

I mean…

Beyond the ugliness of the whole affair, the action as depicted both contradicts what has been established about the Inhumans and contradicts what is established in the series. As established, for an Inhuman to gain their powers (or “reveal their true self”) they undergo a process called “terregenesis” during which stuff happens. In previous versions of this process, anyone exposed to terrigen would immediately turn to stone. If you were Inhuman you would come out of this state with new powers or appearance. If you were not, you would disintegrate. Now though, there is no turning to stone so much as standing in a gilded gas chamber and there seems to be a group of Inhumans who undergo this process and nothing happens (spoiler: if the comics are followed at all then someone without powers is a liar) and they are then thrown into the mines because of the strict and ill-defined caste system of Attilan. I say ill-defined because half the people we see in this lower caste have clearly been altered in some manner and yet they are still miners even though it is implied that that should not be the case. Maybe you’re only free from the mines if you have a cool power as defined by the “Genetic Council” that everyone is so reverent of?

As for the internal inconsistencies, at least 3 characters completely forget that they either have powers or how to use them in a lifesaving way. For example, Medusa (Serinda Swan) who’s power of super strong prehensile hair becomes useless when someone holds her down by the shoulders for some reason. Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) completely forgets her elemental powers at any point where it might be useful, instead blowing up a breakfast tray in a fit of petulance. And then there’s Karnak (Ken Leung) who’s canonical ability to “see the flaw in everything” is displayed as him being a total dick to a servant but he also falls off a cliff because he misses a step — which should be impossible for him. But, maybe powers don’t work the way they do in the comics, Auran’s (Sonya Balmores) powers for example are totally different than her source material. I have no issues with changes to the characters as long and those changes are consistently portrayed (in which case Medusa must know about Auran’s powers and if that is the case the big twist ending is significantly deflated).

Finally, the show is deeply boring because there are simply no stakes. See, the whole series follows a coup initiated by Maximus (Iwan Rheon), brother of King Black Bolt (Anson Mount). The audience is told that Maximus is a man of the people who wants to upend the social order of the caste system because he has no powers after his terregenesis and should be a miner but Royal privilege saved him. Maximus also wants the Inhumans to return to Earth which Black Bolt is against (because…?) So, coup. The entire Royal Family (including Mike Moh’s Triton and Eme Ikwuakor’s Gorgon) are sent to Earth while Maximus takes over Attilan (even though Earth is where he wants to go anyway…) The Royal Family is cut off from Lockjaw (their giant CGI teleporting dog/best thing about the show and no I am 100% not kidding) but still have their advanced technology communicators- which we find out also have tracking devices on them so why is anyone lost?- and presumably someone will remember that there is another teleporter in Attilan that can bring them back- the bad guys have to have a way to get back home. At the end of the 8-episode run there are only 3 likely scenarios: the caste system that already makes no sense is abolished and Attilan is at peace while Maximus is jailed, the Inhumans go to Earth- which is what Maximus wanted anyway- with the caste system abolished and Maximus jailed, or status quo is restored making the entire affair useless. And, the audience is likely to root for Maximus- the BAD GUY- because the caste system (again, makes no sense) is largely racist. So this is not a “good triumphs over evil” story, nor is it a “hooray for the social good” story as Maximus is clearly out for himself, it might become a “new society comes to Earth” story but that will only work out if the bad guy’s goals are all met which won’t happen because he is the bad guy! Unless I am missing something, this is a poorly conceived story that can either go nowhere and/or let “evil” win acted out by poorly dressed (mostly) bad actors who can’t even sell the shitty dialogue enough to make the “story” even vaguely compelling.

I read a lot of press coverage. I tried not to let any of that influence me and judge the show purely on its own. This show is bad. Not the worst thing I have ever seen, but easily the worst of the Marvel/Marvel Adjacent series. Everyone involved should have known better, done better, or even gave the show the appearance of having tried. This show is forced, humorless, ugly, poorly planned, and feels as if it were rushed to air without any thought to an exit plan. Or even an entrance plan frankly. Much like the source material, the show seems to be trying to be obtuse for the sake of obtuseness without ever really explaining what the hell is even happening or why. Hell, it already angered the deaf community when Anson Mount bragged that he invented his own sign language for Black Bolt to use to be more alien. Why? Why is that needed? Just use ASL or something already established in reality. But, no, we have to be unusual. Maybe that is the whole crux of the show and I am the idiot who doesn’t think a show where they have written themselves in a corner by episode 2 and being forced to root for the bad guy is terrible planning and I am not respecting the power of the unusual approach they are taking. Or maybe their unusual approach is just terrible, boring, and badly dressed.

Fall shows of 2017: the crazy, the desperate, and the ones so weird they might work

Every year the broadcast networks try and every year their offerings seem increasingly bizarre. In this era of “peak TV” when cable has the cream of the crop prestige content with interesting stories and strong characters and streaming has off the beaten path edgy bingeable shows with stories and characters that increasingly defy genre conventions the broadcast networks have yet to find a way to redefine themselves. And so it goes that we have a fall TV season filled with the same old same old (procedurals, military dramas, reality shows, and the odd spin off/reboot) as well as some stand out (for good or bad) glimpses of… if not innovation then the glimmer of trying to try something new. With that in mind, here’s a look at the stand outs of what is coming.

ABC


Deception

You know that the procedural genre has swelled to the breaking point when you get this plot (per Wikipedia): ”After his career as a magician is ruined by scandal, Las Vegas illusionist Cameron Black becomes the world’s first “consulting illusionist” as he works with the FBI to solve odd crimes” I don’t know who in the Now You See Me thought that this was a sustainable idea for a series but they were mistaken. And with a barely recognizable cast (Amaury Nolesco, Lenora Critchlow, and Vinnie Jones are the only ones I didn’t have to look up) I see this being a fast disappearing act (I could not resist)

Marvel’s The Inhumans

This will premiere in IMAX before premiering on network.

Now that the positive is out of the way, this looks aggressively terrible. Critics who have seen the pilot (or a version of it) have savaged it, the trailer looks somewhere between a fan film and a joke and the source material (which is related to but different from the inhumans introduced on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) is needlessly complicated and odd. There is a character that is a teleporting dog. Which, in comics is fine (and in fairness he is the character that looks the best per the trailer) but in live action is almost off-puttingly weird. Add to that the woman with living hair and the man who will never speak for the duration of the series (and he’s the top-billed actor!) This is likely to be Marvel TV’s first outright failure which I think is a good reality check that they don’t need to try to adapt all of their properties to the MCU. Marvel has some weird stuff! In Secret Wars II Spiderman had to teach a cosmic being to poop. This in canon. I’m just saying.

The Mayor

Somehow the most hyped series on ABC’s line up is this odd-looking show that I keep describing in my head as what people thought Trump was: publicity stunt the series. A struggling rapper runs for mayor to gain press for his music and oops, he wins. If nothing else, this show looks like it might be cute and if it’s a slightly more idealized version of the political outsider story it might be fun for a bit. But, I don’t think we’re talking about a show with longevity.

CBS


Star Trek: Discovery

The 1st live action Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise ended in 2005, Discovery has had a rough road to the screen. Besides the fact that it will be “airing” on CBS’ paid All-Access platform (after the pilot airs on the network) deterring a lot of people from wanting to watch, it also has had enough behind the scenes upheaval to give people pause. That said, the trailer looks gorgeous. The production value on this show is insane. Discovery is also aiming to be more diverse than any previous series having Trek’s first openly gay character in Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and his partner Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), a brand new species in the Kelpien Science Officer Saru (Doug Jones), and the series will follow not only a First officer, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) but also (apparently) 2 different ships the in the Discovery and the Shenzhou. And, all that sounds great and exciting, but the fact that the show will be locked behind a pay wall and that it takes place around 10 years prior to Star Trek is sure to deter all but the most extreme Trekkers.

Me, Myself, & I

This show, starring Bobby Moynihan, John Larroquette, and Jack Dylan Grazer as the same person at different stages in his life, seems like it could either be fascinating or a hot mess. I love Moynihan and Larroquette and I can see them having similar comic sensibilities. I question though how they will find enough themes to resonate in 3 different time periods often enough to give all 3 actors something to do episode to episode. But, it’s just high concept enough that it might be worth a look

Wisdom of the Crowd

Jeremy Piven-starring procedural about crowd sourcing crime solving. Seriously, crimes are solved with Facebook and Twitter. I get that this is possible in the age where all things are filmed and posted about, but the idea of watching an entire series about reading people’s timelines sounds deathly boring. To make it more exciting with they be zooming in and out of social networks with the CSI-type TMI cam effect? I am already so bored by this concept.

Young Sheldon

A spin-off of The Big Bang Theory focusing on the preteen version of Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage). I know that sounds terrible.

What? I have nothing more to say. It sounds awful. It’s taken 9 seasons of Theory for that character to grow beyond one-note, why regress him to a child? Were people clamoring to see some bullying? On the sparse plus side, the show will be narrated (and executive produced) by Sheldon originator Jim Parsons and Sheldon’s mom Mary will be played by Zoe Perry who is the daughter of Laurie Metcalf who plays the older version of Mary on the original series which is a nice bit of business.

The CW


Black Lightning

The latest entry into The CW’s DC Comics stable — but not part of the existing “Arrowverse” for a lot of reasons that no one has adequately explained — will be different than the others is so many ways. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a retired hero who comes back to crime fighting, people in his life already know about his abilities and his past, and he is a father. Just that level of potential short handing of the “inciting action” is exciting in a superhero show so if nothing else I am excited for that. But, this show will also be shot in Atlanta which should add a different visual element to the proceedings that will further set itself apart. It’s just the lack of connection to the existing series that irks me because there is no reason for it to be that way. It shoots in Atlanta versus Vancouver, fine but planes exist. I’m not saying it should be part of the yearly crossover all the time but clearly this lack of connection will be rectified at some point and it will be part of the multiverse. It will eventually be folded into the existing mythology and to pretend otherwise from the producers (of which Greg Berlanti is one, hello?) is silly. Don’t want to do it right off the bat to allow it to grow its own identity, fine, but The CW is basically DCTV and Supernatural at this point so…

Dynasty

I love reboots. In theory. I have always longed-for epilogues for my favorite shows, and I eat up where are they now specials. It seems 2017 will be the year of the reboot with Roseanne and American Idol coming back to ABC and Will & Grace coming back to NBC (for 2 seasons!) The CW did not want to be left behind so here comes Dynasty? The continuing story of the Carringtons will be lavish and luxe and likely cheesy as hell. I’ll admit to watching every night time soap reboot in the past few years, from 90210 to Dallas and I have loved them all to varying degrees (although that Melrose Place redux was a mess) so I am already so in on this show. And with the production team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, and starring Grant Show (ex-Jake Original Ray’s Melrose Place) I can see this being appointment viewing.

FOX


9–1–1

Another crime drama focusing on police, fire, and paramedics. That’s all well and good. However. If you’re going to call your show 9–1–1 and you’re not focusing at least partially on dispatchers WHO ANSWER THE 911 CALLS, you’re doing it wrong. #dispatchersarefirstresponderstoo

Ghosted

Adam Scott and Craig Robinson star in this Ghostbusters meets The X-Files series that looks hilarious.

Gifted

Another Marvel show, this one airing on FOX so they’re able to use X-Men characters. And it looks rad. We’ve got mutants (known X-Men characters are currently Polaris, Blink, and Thundrebird), Struckers (google it) and a mutant hunting group with the word Sentinel in the name. Yay! But, to sidestep the movies and established characters, the X-Men are ”missing” in some unspecified manner. I’m 100% ok with that as the movies have a complicated enough continuity without trying to hammer this show into it. Plus? This show stars Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker so it already has established genre cred. They haven’t even given a hard no to Rogue (Anna Paquin) appearing on the show in the future (Somehow) as the actress is married to Moyer. Between this and Hulu’s Runaways I’m glad I have a comic show to really get excited for coming soon.

The Orville

Seth MacFarlane in a live-action Star Trek rip-off comedy shouldn’t work but every trailer, preview, and clip I have seen works perfectly. I cannot wait for this show. That it is premiering in the same season as a new Star Trek and I am more into this should show you the power of not making me pay for extra services that will give me Star Trek and the Big Brother live feeds and nothing else.

NBC*


Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders

Someone at NBC watched the truckloads of awards that The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story pulled in and decided that they needed a piece of that. And, if they were to brand it in their venerable Law & Order banner all the better. And? It looks really good. I still think that these types of stories are better told on cable where there is less…um…oversight? But from broadcast TV this looks pretty strong.

Rise

Meet Glee but for a Drama Club. It’s based on a true story and an inspirational book about a drama club that saves a blue-collar town and I just expect star Josh Radnor to spew endless monologues about the importance of art and the power of performance and the gay panic story that I am sure is to come (because I gather it’s in the book) is already making me itchy.

*As NBC is perpetually struggling, their offerings this year are pretty straightforward and not insane. That said they’re also somewhere between earnest and awards-bait and it all seems exhausting. And I am including the Will & Grace comeback is that assessment.

Let’s talk about Hairspray live


NBC started a trend with Sound of Music Live in 2013, fully produced network musical in December. They have been really inconsistent in quality (*cough* Peter Pan Live *cough*), but their ratings have been enough that FOX copied the idea with Grease Live in January, which was immediately miles better than any of NBC’s efforts. Which brings us to this year’s Hairspray Live, which tried to improve on the mistakes of the past and show FOX that they are still the masters of the format.

Right off, Hairspray Live addressed the biggest criticism to last year’s otherwise sublime The Wiz Live by including a live audience. By using Grease’s indoor and outdoor staging idea, a live audience was able to be both present and at times incorporated into the show and it really energized the performance. Also stolen from Grease, having Darren Criss intermittently send us to commercial live from the set while the actors ran to their next scenes was a great way of keeping the audience engaged and minimizing the awkward transition to commercial after each production number. Add to that the inclusion of themed commercials- including a live one from Derek Hough- was a wonderful idea that really worked with the motif of the show.

Tragically, almost everything else missed.

The casting was largely fine. On the plus side Hough (who knew he could sing?), Jennifer Hudson, and Harvey Fierstein were great. Fierstein originated the role of Edna Turnblad on Broadway and killed it here as expected and Hudson… my God that woman is incredible. But the rest of the cast was meh at best.

Martin Short did the best he could with the role of Wilbur, a small role at best, and Ariana Grande was pretty strong comedically as Penny. But the leads, oof. Newcomer Maddie Baillio was a Tracy without energy. She is obviously talented, but whether it was nerves or the various technical snafus (which we’ll get to) that killed any momentum that she built throughout the show she just never really got there. And Garrett Clayton’s Link was a plastic and superficial bore. And the less said about Dove Cameron’s Amber the better.

Shockingly, Kristen Chenoweth also suffered pretty mightily throughout as she couldn’t seem to catch her breath during her one big number “The Legend of Miss Baltimore Crabs” and overall was operating about a 7 the whole time. Additionally both Clayton and Ephraim Sykes (Seaweed) both either flubbed lyrics or seemed to lose their breath control.

Or, maybe they were plagued by technical issues.

Ultimately, directors Kenny Leon and Alex Rudzinski staged this really poorly. Whether that contributed to the sound team not being able to properly mic anyone, especially in the outdoor scenes, throughout the entire production I can’t say. Weirdly, Leon directed The Wiz Live beautifully and Rudzinski marshaled the technical challenge of directing Grease Live so I can’t figure out why this was such a huge mess in staging. Nothing worked all the way. Just look at the sad curtain call; most of the cast didn’t even get a bow where they were centered in frame, Hudson and Grande were drowned out by background noise/ensemble vocals which caused 90% of their song (“Come so far” from the film) to be nearly unintelligible; and since this was blocked so poorly that you could barely tell that the cast was doing The Madison- in homage to the original film- on the sides of the stage.

It was still a fun show. I will always love Hairspray in all of its many forms and this was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. But the various problems, particularly the incredibly spotty sound/lead mics not being turned up high enough, were jarring enough that it became the story of the whole production.

Next year’s NBC musical, Bye Bye Birdie Live starring Jennifer Lopez, will be the 5th “holiday” musical in NBC’s new tradition. Hopefully, the the year long run up is enough time to figure out how this show, that had so much going for it, came up so very short.

Bloodbath and New hope: Fall ’16 takes shape

It’s May, so it’s time for the networks to begin to give us a glimpse of their plans for the 2016-2017 TV season. Obviously, not everything is known, but we now have several renewals, cancellations and pickups to discuss.

ABC 

The above mentioned bloodbath? That happened at ABC and they cancelled Nashville after 4 fairly successful seasons, Castle after 8 seasons and firing the co-lead of the series (Stana Katic) “to save money”, and Marvel’s Agent Carter after 2 beloved but little watched seasons.

They also cancelled The Muppets after a midseason retool didn’t increase the ratings and midseason drama The Family. And, Galavant has ended it’s beautiful, too pure and good for this world run as well. Really, that second season for more that we could have hoped for to begin with.

But there was also some great renewal news. Midseason sitcom, the delightful The Real O’Neals, got a second season as did new Shondaland series The Catch and the critically lauded anthology series American Crime.

On the new show front, look for Time After Time, a new drama from Kevin Williamson (Vampire Diaries) about H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) and Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman) being transported to modern day New York. A Romeo & Juliet series titled Still Star-Crossed,  Conviction a new political drama starring Hayley Atwell, and new shows from Allison Tollman (Fargo) and Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly). The Mixon show (as yet untitled) sounds terrible:

Mixon stars as Katie, a “confident, unapologetic, plump wife and mother of three, [who] raises her flawed family in the wealthy town of Westport, Conn., filled with ‘perfect’ mommies and their ‘perfect’ offspring.  She lets us in on her deepest, most unfiltered thoughts through voiceover as the she lives her life as the second fattest housewife in Westport.” Additional cast members include Diedrich Bader, Johnny Sequoyah, Daniel DiMaggio, Julia Butters, Carly Hughes and Ali Wong. —TVLine.com

Ouch.

Update 5/12 1830: Marvel’s Most Wanted, the proposed Agents of SHIELD spin off starring Adrienne Palicki and Nick Blood is officially dead (again). But, series orders have been given for new legal drama Notorious starring Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata, and Jenna Elfman fronted comedy Imaginary Mary which sounds like Drop Dead Fred the series.

Update 5/13 1104: Last Man Standing is back (again. Season 6?!) as is Dr. Ken (whaa?) and ABC has now given a series order to Speechless a Minnie Driver sitcom from Scott Silvestri (Friends)

CBS

The Tiffany network started the day by cancelling CSI: Cyber, trying to get a The Good Wife spin off up and running on their All Access streaming platform, and cancelling Supergirl from their airwaves and sending it to the more accepting (budgetarily) world of The CW.

They also picked up a new Kevin James starrer called Kevin can wait which, I think we all can, right?

Update 5/13 1104: Series orders have been given to a MacGyver reboot starring Lucas Till (Havok from the X-Men series), Man with a Plan a sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc, The Great Indoors returns Joel MacHale to our screens, Training Day casts Bill Paxton in an update of the Denzel Washington film, Bull is a procedural drama based on the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw (!!) starring Michael Weatherly, and a procedural/medical show from Jason Katims (Parenthood) tentatively title Pure Genius.

Update 5/14 1033: When I first read about CBS’ new lawyer show Doubt in its original incarnation last year (then starring KaDee Strickland and Teddy Sears) I was underwhelmed. But, in it’s just picked up iteration with Laverne Cox, Dulé Hill, Dreama Walker and Elliott Gould I am more than intrigued. Hm? What’s that? Oh, Katherine Heigl is the top billed star?! Oh. Well maybe not then… (Although also maybe…)

NBC

Did NBC move their corporate HQ to Chicago? They have just added a 4th arm to their Chicago themed series, Chicago Justice. And, Trial & Error a “murder trial comedy” starring John Lithgow and Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham) joins their now empty comedy schedule

They are also getting into the comic TV game with Powerless, a superhero show about the people who clean up after superheores starring Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, and Alan Tudyk.

Update 5/12 1830: This is us is a new dramedy about intertwining lives and “curious” connections. The Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia fronted series already sounds tiresome.

Update 5/13 1333: NBC has just given a pick up to Midnight, Texas a supernatural drama based on a Charlaine Harris book series (see True Blood and run). They also axed Undateable (what? That all live season didn’t work?), Telenovela, and Crowded, and Heartbeat which I have never in my life even heard of!

Update 5/13 1342: 2 more pickups: Marlon is a loosely autobiographical sitcom starring Marlon Wayans, and Great News is a Tina Fey (!) produced show starring Andrea Martin (!!) set in a news room.

Update 5/13 2104: Something called Game of Silence is now no longer a thing. Whatever it was to begin with we will never know.

Update 5/14 0938: Official series order has been given to The Blacklist: Redemption the Famke Janssen starring spin-off of The Blacklist. Thursdays episode of the parent show served as a backdoor pilot for the new series and also set up Ryan Eggold’s departure from the original show to the new one.

Update 5/14 1403: Debra Messing will be hanging up her hunter green turtleneck as The Mysteries of Laura has been let go.

Update 5/15 1359 The Carmichael Show has been renewed for a 3rd season. As they have so little in the way of successful comedies, I don’t get why they waited so long to make this one official.

FOX

The GrinderGrandfathered have been cancelled, which wipes out FOX’s comedy block. I expect more shows (*cough*Second Chance*cough*) to be cancelled in the next week.

Update 5/13 1333: Against all odds, Sleepy Hollow has been renewed after killing off their female lead last season in a high profile storyline.

Update 5/13 2104: With little fanfare, Second Chance won’t be getting one (last time, promise) and they’ve also cancelled something called Bordertown which is a show that might as well have been on NBC with how much I know of it

The CW

As I mentioned before, Supergirl will air its second season on the network it should have started on, as well as moving their production to Vancouver (Rumor has it that that production was done in LA at Calista Flockhart’s insistence, so I don’t know what this move means for the character of Cat Grant).

“Limited series” Containment has been shown the door, to the surprise of no one.

And, in addition to Supergirl The CW is also adding a reimagining of the film FrequencyNo Tomorrow about 2 people checking off their bucket lists as an apocylypse looms, and Riverdale a teen drama set in the Archie comics universe starring Luke Perry that I cannot wait for.

Update 5/13 2142: Some cable news: Freeform has cancelled Recovery Road, Syfy has picked up Krypton which is like Gotham for Superman (it follows Kal-El’s Grandfather), and FX/FXX has picked up 2 Marvel shows set in the X-Men universe; Legion follows Professor Xavier’s mentally ill continuity snarl of a son David Haller/Legion, and Hellfire is a 70s period drama about the fabulously camp and anachronistic supervillains (mostly) in the Hellfire Club.

More updates as they come with upfronts coming in the next week, there should be a lot of news.

Geek News 5/8/15

Now that Avengers: Age of Ultron has opened- with a $16 million smaller opening than it’s predecessor 3 year ago I might add – our eyes are now set on the next big MCU film (no, not Ant-Man which everyone seems to have forgotten about.) No, now it’s Captain America: Civil War that has everyone in a frenzy. And while the movie is set to open in 2016, some casting is already coming out. Emily Van Camp will reprise her role as Agent 13, and Martin Freeman has signed onto an as-yet-unknown role. Except the role of geek god he has already assumed. Daniel Bruhl is also in as Barron Zemo, Chadwick Boseman debuts as Black Panther and William Hurt reprises his role from the 2008 The Incredible Hulk as General Ross. Basically everyone is in this movie.


Hulu is said to be developing a series based on the 90s video game Myst.


In surprising news, Sony has picked up Powers for a second season on the Playstation network. I say “surprising” only because I didn’t realize it has caught on. But, It appears to have done well. Considering it has no real competition I’m not sure how the success in being measured, but good for everyone involved.


Well it’s May so it’s time for the network renewals, cancellations, and pick ups to begin.

Picked up

  • CBS has ordered Supergirl to series. The Melissa Benoist starrer will join CBS’ yet-to-be-determined Fall schedule. The series is produced by Greg Berlanti, who also produces The CW’s ArrowThe Flash The CW is owned by CBS leading to the possibility of further expanding the growing shared universe.
  • Speaking of, The CW has also ordered to series (for 2016) DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, a spin off of Arrow and The Flash that will combine characters from both shows in some murky way. It sounds like DC’s take on Marvel’s “Days of Future Past” stories. New DC characters joining up include Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), Hawgirl (Ciara Renee), Franz Drameh (Jay Jackson). Still no word on why only half of the Firestorm character from The Flash has been cast (Victor Garber).
  • ABC ordered another Shonda Rhimes series
  • FOX has ordered a series called Grinder which is a legal comedy starring Rob Lowe, not a dirty show about a certain similarly named app.

Renewals

  • In other CW news, iZombie has been renewed for a second season.
  • Orphan Black, the best show you’re not watching has been renewed for season 4. Hopefully that will expand its streaming options because I feel like that is what’s holding it back from greatness, catching up is hard.
  • ABC renewed several shows: Once Upon a TimeMarvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.Galavant (SHOCKING and thrilling!), Marvel’s Agent Carter (YAY), and 16 other shows.

Cancellations

  • FOX has cancelled The Mindy Project after 3 seasons. But, there is a silver lining, there are rumors that Hulu is interested in picking up a 4th and further season on the streaming platform.
  • ABC has wisely cancelled Revenge after 4 wildly uneven seasons. Also done are freshmen series Forever and (devastatingly) Cristela
  • The CW has cancelled The Messengers and  Hart of Dixie

iZombie, I’m in

It’s well documented how I feel about the horror genre. Horror works best on those that are easily suggestible, ergo me. I hate being scared, and no matter how much I tell myself it’s just a movie/it’s only TV I still get freaked out. The closest I can usually get is “suspense” with gusts to “creepy.” For every Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I can enjoy – it’s fun and there’s a love story etc- there is a Supernatural that, while now in a similar vein, relied too much on cheap tricks and jump scares in early episodes to ever let me get into it. Even Buffy had episodes that I had to watch during the day and I still had trouble sleeping. I realize, I’m a wimp. But, at least I know what I like. When sat down to watch the pilot for iZombie all of these thoughts were in my head.

Honestly, I wasn’t even planing on watching. I knew the premise, promising med student becomes zombie, and I checked out there. Zombies are absolutely not my thing. I izombieknow that The Walking Dead is not filled with scary scenes (any more) as much as it’s grinding drama, but I’m still not going to watch.  But, then I saw the creative team was also responsible for my late and beloved Veronica Mars and I had to check it out despite my trepidations. And I am so glad I did

Rose McIver stars as Liv Moore (get it?) our titular zombie who must eat brains to maintain her humanity. As a side effect she also gains the deceased’s memories which she uses to solve crimes. And? It is not scary. It’s witty, charming, funny, and a little dangerous. It’s everything I usually look for in a series. Even the high concept isn’t too high a bar to clear as the whole thing feels pretty grounded in its own warped reality.

The characters, with the exception of Liv, will need to be fleshed out (sorry) in order to make them tolerable. Her roommate (Elise Gatien) for example seems to be idling around judgmental bitch (and I don’t think that the character was even named in the pilot. According to imdb it’s Corinne) and her mother (Molly Hagan) is in shrew mode more than anything. While it’s made clear that Liv has undergone a radical change in personality since she (un)died, she hasn’t told anyone why she is now the way she is nor why she ended her engagement to the allegedly perfect, if improbably named, Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley). Honestly, the personal dramas are pretty bland but are the only thing keeping this from being a very weird crime procedural so I’ll ignore it for now in hopes the writers know what they’re doing. As the series is based on a comic series there is always the possibility that there is significant groundwork already laid there. Additionally, her cop partner (Malcolm Goodwin) probably should have been recast, he has zero chemistry with McIver and as their partnership is the core of the series I wish they would have found someone with a little talent. Again, pilot. All of this can really change as the series gets going. Plus, David Anders is recurring (as Blaine DeBeers) so that is something to look forward to. (Fun fact, McIver and Anders were on Once Upon a Time simultaneously, as Tinkerbell and Dr. Whale/Dr. Frankenstein respectively, but never interacted)

The one thing I want to emphasize is that this is not the second coming of Veronica Mars. Liv is less ascerbic than Veronica and her situation is very different. Veronica helped people, at least initially, as a means to an end – to find her rapist and Lilly’s killer – her other cases were begrudgingly accepted for the most part. Liv on the other hand is desperate to find some way to go on and the crime solving seems to provide that. How long that will be enough remains to be seen as is how that will play into the central mystery of the series – how did Liv become what she is? Tonally though the shows have commonalities which will serve the VM viewer well as an entry point. Personally I can’t imagine even checking this out if it wasn’t for Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero. The show, at pilot at least, feels like it’s of the same world in a way – serious but not dire – that I can really appreciate. Even the first mystery is perfectly fine as a jumping off point with lots of fun throughout.

iZombie despite it’s silly title and crazy premise has a lot going for it. A great behind the scenes staff along with a really likable lead and enough intriguing things teased in the pilot make for a pretty good start. As with all shows it has it’s problems but luckily it’s on The CW which tends to let show breathe for a while and find their footing. Plus, the high bar for ratings is pretty low. I think this has the potential to be a fun and quirky show that will really fit in on The CW. If they can fix their issues. B- Check it out iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9 e/p on The CW