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What with all the hoopla surrounding new and returning TV titles at Comic-Con, it helps to be reminded that more than a few series made a splash here just once, never to return. I could list a few of those titles as examples, but I honestly can’t recall any off the top of my head because their lifespans were short and unsung.

I bring this up because on Saturday and Sunday, the casts and producers of “True Blood” and “Sons of Anarchy” appeared before their faithful viewers at Comic-Con for a final time. Tears were shed during each panel, and heartfelt moments brought attendees to their feet to give the actors and producers standing ovations.  These long-running series appeared regularly at Comic-Con through their runs, and each of their casts poignantly thanked the fans by acknowledging that they owe their long lifespans to their passionate viewers.

Fan favorite Kristin Bauer van Straten cried frequently during “True Blood’s” panel. By her report, she was one of the biggest weepers on the set whenever she experienced the “last” of anything. But surprisingly enough, on the “Sons of Anarchy” panel, the person who lost it was none other than the show’s hard-boiled creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter,  moved to tears by a heartfelt expression of gratitude by the series’ go-to director Paris Barclay  and a standing ovation by the fans in Hall H.

Saturday and Sunday also brought panels for “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural”, the latter of which is entering its 10th season and will air its 200th episode. Each show has a reputation for drawing particularly enthusiastic, devoted fans to its panels. “Supernatural” usually panels at the end of Con, so the people who show up are not only deep fans of the show but Comic-Con diehards, which created the air of a particularly joyous family reunion on Sunday morning.

Keep reading for highlights from these panels and details about what’s in store during the upcoming seasons and episodes of these shows.

True Blood airs the sixth of its final 10 episodes this week, and Saturday evening’s panel had a uniquely celebratory vibe to it. Even Rutina Wesley showed up although her character, Tara, is officially among the dearly departed. Or, we should say, she’s left Bon Temps … but according to showrunner Brian Buckner, we have yet to see footage from the very last scenes Wesley filmed on the show.

However, both Buckner and Anna Camp teased that what’s in store for Sarah Newlin, one of the main figures responsible for helping to create and spread the fatal Hep V virus to vampires, will be particularly awful/awesome. “I think I get what I deserve,” Camp told fans.

Buckner added that the day that they shot Sarah receiving her “punishment,” Camp’s boyfriend was on the set and he had to explain to the man, “She deserves this, she deserves this!”  Oh dear.

Saturday’s vampire weekend treat began earlier that afternoon with The Vampire Diaries panel, which kicked off with a funny spoof video that picked up from the finale’s fade-to-white cliffhanger by showing Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder, both of whose characters were presumably zapped out of existence, turning up on an empty soundstage with no clue as to what happened to them. Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Candice Accola, meanwhile, acted as Graham were huge divas behind the scenes and they were glad to have them gone.

Naturally, Graham and Somerhalder then took the stage to eardrum shattering screams because, honestly, did you really think they’d kill off one of the Salvatores? Executive producer Julie Plec confirmed that the pair would be back but, of course, did not say how that would happen.

What Plec and the cast did reveal is that the time jump between the finale and the premiere is four months, and that in the coming season Matthew Davis, who plays Alaric Saltzman, will return as a teacher at the university.

Sunday’s Sons of Anarchy panel did not offer many details about the coming season – Sutter likes to play his cards close to the cut – but those assembled in Hall H did get a first look at the opening montage of the season which included the usual riveting moments of beauty, brutality, tragedy and as the cherry topper, a little bit of D.I.Y. dentistry. “I think we’re gonna break a lot of hearts this year,” said David Labrava, who plays Happy. “Get your handkerchiefs ready.”

The end of the series does not mean the end of its story, however. A novel titled Bratva comes out this fall, with the action taking place during the events of season four, in which the club tangles with a Russian gang. Sutter also updated fans on the status of a “Sons of Anarchy” prequel currently being developed. He said that it could be a miniseries or a regular series commitment, and will explore the club’s origins dating back to John Teller’s era and his relationship with Piney.

One of Sunday’s top TV destinations at Comic-Con, “Supernatural,” opened with series star Jensen Ackles introducing the season 10’s version of the signature “The Road So Far” recap reel before treating fans to a scene from an upcoming episode he directed. After co-stars Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard joined him onstage, Ackles and Padalecki told fans about the coming season’s central conflict between Sam and Dean… rather, Sam and Demon Dean.

Ackles explained that his demon version isn’t a meat suit, but a twisted, tortured version of his soul. In the clip, Dean taunts Sam with his past actions, asking Sam whether he is any less monstrous than his demon brother. Showrunner Jeremy Carver also said that in the first few episodes, Dean enjoys being a demon while Sam searches for a way to save him.

Season 10 also brings “Supernatural’s” 200th episode, which the panel teased would be the show’s version of a musical episode featuring “big hair bands.” In fact, Ackles said, we’ll discover that Dean enjoys karaoke.

Carry on, wayward sons.

Friday was busy for TV fans attending San Diego Comic-Con, with a schedule full of panels for “Orphan Black,” “Vikings,” “Outlander,” “Bates Motel,” “Arrow” and many more — far too many for one mere mortal to cover, largely due to the fact that the most popular ones happened to occur at the same time. It was a day of making all kinds of Sophie’s choices, if you will. In the end I focused my efforts on hanging with the folks who write for television’s favorite nerds; finding out a few details about what’s coming down the road for the citizens of Westeros and Banshee; and discovering whether our favorite gang of survivors will make it out of Terminus. Please bear in mind that this is a report from the heart of Nerd Central, so if you are SPOILER averse, please stop reading now.

Here are highlights from the panels for “The Walking Dead,“Game of Thrones,” “The Big Bang Theory”, and “Banshee“.

The Walking Dead’s cast and producers know that Comic-Con people are its biggest boosters, and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd took a moment to acknowledge that as they revealed season five’s premiere date – Sunday, October 12 at 9pm –  and unveiled the new preview trailer to the folks assembled in Hall H. If you haven’t seen it yet, ask yourself why you’ve decided to miss out on some of the finer things in life. Then have a look as soon as possible. It is perhaps the most spoiler-heavy trailer AMC and the show have released to date, but it’s also the most exciting one, featuring a newly invigorated, super bad-ass Rick Grimes.

“This is a very dangerous, very different group of people,” said creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman, explaining that now that the group has lost Hershel, all bets are pretty much off.

Among the things showrunner Scott Gimple teased are that we’ll see the story of how Terminus came to be, and the answer to the question of what happened to Beth Greene. Yes, Emily Kinney was present for the panel and assured us that Beth has gotten a lot fiercer. The time spent with Daryl (Norman Reedus, who is a Comic-Con deity at this point) helped her learn a new set of survival skills. “She’s taking a different kind of strength into season five,” Kinney said.

In casting news, Gimple joked that producers are committed to hiring as many of the actors who graced “The Wire” as possible (a nod to Chad L. Coleman, who plays Tyreese) before telling us that Seth Gilliam will appear in the upcoming season in the role of Father Gabriel.

“Game of Thrones” unveiled its lengthy list of cast additions, but mainly the panel served as an outlet for the actors to ham it up for the fans. (Behold the season four blooper reel.) The person who made the seating arrangements cheekily placed Rory McCann between Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams, also known as the woman who dealt the blow that would eventually end The Hound, and the girl who left him on a hillside to die. McCann playfully moaned about how brutally The Hound was beaten in his deathmatch with Brienne, to which Christie purred, “I thought he got off lightly.”

“Nasty b-tch,” McCann growled in reply, and without missing a beat, Williams asked, “Which one: Me, or her?”

Later, a questioner asked the panel to answer the eternal question of whether they’d choose direwolves and dragons. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, answered “Direwolves.” An odd response, given the enmity between Houses Stark and Lannister. But then he added, “Easier to kill.”  But fan favorite Pedro Pascal, whose much-loved character Oberyn Martell met his demise last season, had the best answer when his time came: Asked to choose, he calmly answered, “Snakes.”

Every major panel includes a surprise guest star appearance or two; “The Walking Dead” brought out Chandler Riggs eating pudding from a giant can, while The Big Bang Theory‘s” writers and producers welcomed Wil Wheaton to the stage. But “Big Bang” provided an unscripted thrill for the fans attending its panel, though the larger shock was felt by moderator Craig Ferguson.  We’re not talking about the producers’ galaxy-shaking statement that when “Star Wars” icons James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher met on the show, it was the first time they’d actually met in real life…although that fact is truly mind-blowing.

Instead, the moment came when a woman in the audience stepped up to ask the writers why they hated Aquaman so much. Mind you, “The Big Bang Theory” is not alone in maligning Aquaman; he’s been the butt of many a pop culture joke. Even Dave Chappelle knocked him in one of his earliest bits. So you can’t blame Ferguson for taking this opportunity to riff and running with it.

“BECAUSE HE’S NOT A REAL SUPERHERO! THAT’S WHY! THAT’S WHY THEY HATE HIM!” the comedian bellowed, making the audience erupt in laughter. The questioner was not pleased. Once the room died down a bit, Wheaton stepped in and asked the woman to reveal her identity. She calmly answered that she is the granddaughter of Aquaman’s creator, Paul Norris.

The audience lost it, and Ferguson looked appropriately horrified as he apologized profusely.

Later in the day, at the much more intimate panel for ”Banshee,” fans queued up to ask questions of the castmembers present, including the very sweet and kind Geno Segers, a tower of a man who joins the show in season three to play the fearsome, vicious gang leader Chayton Littlestone.  But one questioner wearing a red fez stopped the discussion in its tracks as he asked about whether the gang of white supremacists featured in season two would return in season three.

Antony Starr  demanded the questioner remove his hat, and it turned out to be Demetrius Grosse, a central member of the cast whose character Deputy Emmett Yawners met his end in the second season finale. Starr descended from the dais to give Grosse a hug. Later fans lined up to take selfies with the man who played the dearly departed Deputy Yawners before everyone disappeared into the throngs filling the streets on Friday evening.

Friday bonus: A “Vikings” Food Fight. Part of covering Comic-Con includes attending a series of press rooms, which can be a challenge as tens of reporters fight to ask questions of the few actors assembled for a limited amount of time. Noise levels drown out many of the answers. This was particularly true in the press room for “Vikings,” which cultivated a party atmosphere by serving reporters fruit, beer and wine, and handing out drinking horns. After that, Katheryn WinnickClive Standen, Alexander Ludwig and Travis Fimmel were brought to the roundtables to chat. In theory. Mid-interview, Ludwig, who had poured water over Fimmel’s head prior to sitting down with Winnick, got biffed by a projectile thrown by Fimmel, who would later sit down with us and surgically aim green grapes at some poor soul at the table behind me. One should expect nothing less from a gang of Northmen who know how to party.

If you recall the events that transpired during season four of “Game of Thrones,” you probably may have guessed that the citizens of Dorne are a tad miffed at the Lannisters right now. Dorne intends to answer! As such, on Friday afternoon HBO announced a number of additions to the already-sizable “Game of Thrones” cast, many of them relative newcomers. After all, it’s not as if there aren’t spots coming open on a regular basis.

Among the better known actors joining the cast are Alexander Siddig, last seen guest starring on “Da Vinci’s Demons.“  Siddig will have a major story arc as Doran Martell, the ruling lord of Dorne and older brother to Prince Oberyn Martell.  (A moment of silence for The Viper, if you will…) Also joining the cast in season five is Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow. The press release describes the High Sparrow as a devout and pious man who came to King’s Landing to serve the poor, the downtrodden and the infirm, and has amassed a large following in the process. “His fellow believers have swarmed over the city, ministering to the lowest and decrying the corruption of the highest.” Look out, Cersei.

Season five also introduces Oberyn’s formidable daughters, known as the Sand Snakes. Rosabell Laurenti Sellers will play Tyene Sand, daughter to The Viper and his final paramour Ellaria. According to HBO’s press release, “Tyene is fiercer than she looks, especially with her twin daggers.” The role of fearsome warrior Obara Sand was won by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who earned critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination at a young age as the star of Whale Rider. Lastly, Jessica Henwick has been cast as Nymeria Sand, a.k.a. Nym. The press release describes her as the child of an Eastern noblewoman “who brought Nym up to be cultured, graceful and deadly with a whip.”

Additionally, Toby Sebastian will play Prince Doran’s son, Trystane Martell, who is betrothed to Myrcella Baratheon, the eldest daughter of Cersei Lannister and the late Robert Baratheon (wink, nudge), who will now be portrayed by Nell Tiger Free. Areo Hotah, recognizable to readers of George R.R. Martin ‘s novels as the captain of Doran Martell’s palace guard, will be played by DeObia Oparei. And Enzo Cilenti will fill the role of Yezzan, an extremely wealthy slave trader who may have issues with the changes Daenerys Targaryen has made.

The new season of “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to air in 2015.

 

Here’s how we know NBC’s “Hannibal” is doing something right. During the most gruesome parts in the highlight reel shown in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con, people emitted “oohs” and “aahs”. Some even whooped with delight. Psychopaths? Hardly.  When the time came for people to ask questions of executive producer Bryan Fuller and members of cast, the tenor of the conversation was quite cerebral. If Dr. Lecter were on the hunt for rude people to eat on Thursday afternoon, he would not have found them in that room.

A huge part of Comic-Con’s thrill is to sit among scores of fans that think deeply about challenging shows like this and Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful,” which paneled directly after “Hannibal”. Both fit in the horror genre although surprisingly, the ballroom seemed a bit emptier during “Penny.” More’s the pity for those who missed that conversation. As the panel’s Dreadful of a moderator Aisha Tyler put it, “So many feels!”

If the “Hannibal” panel felt like an intellectual exploration of a television show, “Penny” struck emotional chords. Creator John Logan spoke about the heartfelt connections he had with the plight of the classic literary monsters whose stories he played with during the show’s first season. I could hear the people around me murmuring in empathy with his observations. Even when fans put him on the spot about the show’s depictions of sexuality (which, in the case of Eva Green‘s character Vanessa Ives, came across as troubling at times) his answers were profoundly thoughtful.

Another major reason people show up at these panels, though, is to get scoop on what’s to come in future episodes. So if you haven’t watched these shows, you might want to stop reading now because details that follow include spoilers.

You have been warned.

“Penny Dreadful’s” panel allowed Tyler to indulge her (and our) deepest questions about the nature of the relationships at play in the show, including the crazy, carnal love scene between Josh Hartnett‘s Ethan Chandler and Reeve Carney‘s Dorian Gray. Logan was very frank in answering that as a gay man, he wanted to deal with all aspects of sexuality in this show. “Let’s face it, it’s 2014. We can have people be true in a sexual way,” Logan said.

Beyond that, the majority of the questions had to do with the finale revelation that Ethan Chandler is, in fact, a werewolf. Logan said that season two would begin to explore Ethan’s background, much in the way viewers got a view into Vanessa’s past in the first season. Indeed, Logan says that the main relationship he is spinning out in season three has to do with the bond between Ethan and Vanessa, and that next season would also reveal more about the theological underpinnings that drive Ethan and influence other stories on the show.

But the biggest reveal of “Penny Dreadful” panel was that Helen McCrory‘s Madame Kali will be season two’s main antagonist. Logan showed a scene that was cut from season one which featured McCrory brilliantly delivering a monologue that hinted at her having wicked designs on messing with Miss Ives. It let us know just how devilish the dark Madame can be, and I can’t wait to watch.

Meanwhile, the ”Hannibal” panel included Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams … and Raúl Esparza, whose character Dr. Chilton took a bullet to the face in season two. While it’s not uncommon for dearly departed co-stars to appear on Comic-Con panels to bid farewell to fans, in this case, Esparza was present because he’s returning in season three. We’ll also see Eddie Izzard, although he’ll be appearing in flashbacks because, well, there ain’t no coming back from what happened to his character.

Season three of “Hannibal” takes place a year after the events of the second season finale,  and will take its time letting us know the full extent of who lives and who died. We won’t get the full details of the fateful night’s outcome until episode four; Fuller explained that he wants to take time looking at Hannibal’s life on the run, and the development of his relationship with Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Fuller further pointed out that the blood red suit he was wearing was Italian — which was a clue about one of the settings for the next season.

The executive producer also let slip that Gina Torres‘s character Bella Crawford is returning, for what that’s worth. The new season also will introduce a number of new characters from Thomas Harris‘s novels, including Francis Dolarhyde in episode eight (which kicks off the Red Dragon arc of the story), as well as Inspector Pazzi and in episode three, much-loved character Lady Murasaki.  Fuller did not have any casting announcements to share for these upcoming roles, but he did say, “I think Murasaki is going to kick all kinds of ass.”

Missing from the panel were “Hannibal’s” central stars Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, although both sent taped messages for the fans. Mikkelsen ended his with, “Hopefully next year I’ll see you for a quick lunch.”

In other Comic-Con news: MTV has picked up “Teen Wolf” for a two-part, 20-episode fifth season.

Elsewhere, Cinemax is getting in bed with Robert Kirkman, creator of “The Walking Dead.” Kirkman’s new comic Outcast has been picked up to pilot, and its story follows a man named Kyle Barnes, who has suffered from various instances of possession since he was a child. As an adult, he is on a search for answers and makes a discovery that could spell the end of life on Earth. Kirkman, who will write the pilot, tweeted the news thusly: “Demons are the new zombies. #Outcast pilot into pre-production @Cinemax.”

Last week, reporters attending the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour enjoyed a private screening of Fox’s “Gotham”. Based on the origin stories of a young James Gordon and a younger Harvey Bullock (played by Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue), “Gotham” is one of the most highly anticipated new shows on the fall schedule.

What the actors and series executive producer Bruno Heller probably were not anticipating was the reaction of some critics, that “Gotham’s” pilot is essentially a grim cop show missing the key element that makes this particular universe special: its headliner, Batman.

For the record, this writer disagrees with that assessment. Sure, the pilot isn’t perfect, but I found it to be true to the Batman universe and would confidently recommend it to fans of the Dark Knight. A full review of “Gotham” will post closer to its premiere at 8pm on Monday, September 22. In the meantime, I sat down with McKenzie and Logue at the Beverly Hilton earlier this week to find out what they thought about a few early and very vocal critical reactions to the pilot.

Spoiler alert — they were not amused.

IMDb: You two have fielded a lot of questions about how “Gotham” will work without a superhero.

Ben McKenzie: I’ll jump right in there, if you want.

Donal Logue: That’s absurd. Really? It’s uninteresting to see Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot, the development of all these people before they became villains? It seems like a tired kind of criticism.

McKenzie: It’s a strange criticism to me in the sense of, the people who are fans of Batman and the Batman world are incredibly passionate, and they’ve watched all of these different iterations of this universe, from the comic book 75 years ago, all the way through the Adam West TV show,  through the movie versions which – how many different versions of that have there been? Three or four different auteurs taking on this mythology. And throughout all of that, when we take a side angle at this universe, your criticism is, “Well, there isn’t a Batman”? Well, you must love these other characters too, right?

And there is a Bruce. You see Bruce when he’s twelve. We’re not going to jump forward. We’re going to take this one day at a time, and show how this city descends into the anarchy that ultimately manifests the need for a Batman.

Logue: As a fan of Tolkien, although I know he wrote it in order – if, say, for instance, Lord of the Rings came out and someone said, “Would you be interested in seeing The Hobbit, to see what happened before that?” I’d say “Hell yes!”

McKenzie: That’s what’s beautiful about our origin story. It allows us to mine the familiarity of these characters, for an audience that is predisposed to understand what we’re talking about, in terms of the broad strokes of who these characters are. But we’re not beholden to any interpretation, because this is 20 to 30 years before they are who they’ll become.

IMDb:  From my perspective, the cops are integral to this universe. There’s a huge political element to the world of Batman, with all the corruption within the police department. And then you have Carmine Falcone ruling the criminal underworld. All of these are elements, if you look at it, which would make a great procedural kind of show with an extra mythology layered in.

Logue: I thought they did an excellent job in the animated series.

IMDb:  I did too.

Logue: In a weird way, this is a bit of an homage to that, presented to a wider audience in a different kind of format. But always, to true aficionados, even those things of what Jim and Harvey went through early on are deeply important. To me, [the critical reaction] seemed a bit kneejerk…when I saw it in print I thought, “Man, some 13 year old smart ass is writing that. ‘Nope. Pass!’”

IMDb: You also have to realize that a number of people said that about “Smallville” too.

Logue: What I like about some of this stuff, like with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, it is more difficult in some ways, in that you know that they exist but they can’t just walk into the room. That seems to handcuff them in a really hard way. But with us –

McKenzie: We show everybody. We can show Bruce, and Oswald, and Nygma — every single character, we have access to. The only character we don’t have access to is Batman, but that’s because we’re taking it 20 years before. Eventually he will become Batman, but at this point he’s a 12-year-old boy. You’ll see him struggling with all the issues, psychologically and otherwise, that will eventually compel him to put on the cowl… For people who aren’t familiar with David Mazouz’s work, he’s a great actor. And I think watching him process all of what he’s going through at such a seminal moment in his life, it’s just going to be riveting.

And the battle between Jim and Alfred over Bruce’s soul, the conflicting philosophies that they have – they’re both trying to steer Bruce down a path, but those paths differ – they’re trying to make Bruce not choose this path of vengeance and vigilantism. But they’re going to fail.

IMDb: Let’s take away all of those criticisms we talked about. What would you tell someone who is coming to this show, knowing what Gotham is, but otherwise coming in cold? Would you say “Gotham” is more like a procedural, or that it’s part of the Batman, comic book universe but without a superhero in it?

McKenzie: My answer that I would give to anyone on any show, even if I didn’t work on the show, is: “Watch the pilot. Just watch the pilot. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it.” It’s such an easy answer.

Logue: Look, this is a group of people who are so actively engaged in [this universe] that of course there’s going to be criticism. It’s amazing, the confidence with which people have opinions and dismiss it without having seen it! But to me, per some of earlier questions that we had, it’s the absurdity of, for example, how satisfying could Chinatown be if the rich guy gets away with murder at the end? Well, exceedingly.

McKenzie: And this idea has been around for a while! Back to Oedipus Rex!

Logue: …And so, yes, there’s a procedural element to it, which I really like, and I think the crimes are really interesting.

McKenzie: Because it is a little noirish, the crimes are odd and they’re not…it’s not like we have to go through eight different procedural points to discover this huge reveal of who it could possibly be. It’s more about how bizarre, twisted and crazy the world that we’re entering into is. … It’s fascinating and [the crimes] all give you a small window into how completely compromised every aspect of Gotham is, from the church to the police force, to the political powers that be. Everyone is on the take, and so weird crimes manifest in strange ways, and people behave in a bizarre manner because they’re without hope. And Jim’s the only hope there is.

IMDb: Also, in the end, none of these people are metahuman. They’re all just people doing crazy, heightened things.

McKenzie: Yes!

Logue: I’ve always loved the DC world because it’s rooted in, like, a Jungian-style human psychology where people take actual masks to match their shadow. I think that really bodes well for us, because it’s rooted in this visceral part of human nature. So when you’re talking about, “How can you do a show that explores the darker side of human nature, and how it behaves in an overly urban environment?” If you can’t see that there’s no limit to the storylines there, then I don’t know what to say.

It’s OK. Look, we’ll take whatever criticism comes our way, and we’ll even take it before someone’s actually tasted the meal, but that comes a little with this universe, I think.

Days before FX brought casts and producers from its shows before the critics assembled at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, there was word of a super-secret “surprise” panel that, as many correctly guessed, ended up being for “Fargo.” FX announced Monday morning that it had picked up the critically-acclaimed limited series for a second season run consisting of ten episodes, which was probably shocking to absolutely nobody.

But it was a nice to have executive producer and writer Noah Hawley, and fellow executive producer Warren Littlefield, on hand to share details about the second season. Here’s what Hawley told us: Season two will be set in 1979 and follow Keith Carradine‘s character Lou Solverson, Molly Solverson’s doting father, says Hawley.  We’ll also meet Molly’s mom, and Molly (played in season one by Allison Tolman) will be four years old.

Hawley pointed out that during season one there were a lot of references to Sioux Falls. “That is not an accident,” he said. Indeed, the action will take place in and around mostly Laverne, Minn., Sioux Falls and, naturally, Fargo. Though the crimes will be different from year to year, Hawley insists that Fargo, the locale, must always be a main character. “The word itself is so evocative,” he said. “It’s a state of mind.”

As it currently stands, nobody from the season one cast is returning. Season two will introduce an entirely new cast.

According to Hawley, the story begins with 33-year-old Lou having freshly returned from Vietnam and wrestling with living in the pre-Reagan era, in a time the writer characterizes as “the best of America versus the worst of America.” In this past era, Lou Solverson is a state police officer and his father-in-law is Laverne’s chief lawman. As for the nature of the new “true crime” to be explored in season two, Hawley hinted, “The Vietnam War came home with people, and Lou Solverson thought he’d left the war behind only to find out that it has come home with him.”

Asked if season two would have a subtitle, ala “American Horror Story: Coven,  Hawley joked, “The subtitle will be ‘Fargo: Backlash,’ and I look forward to all of your reviews.”

The earliest the next season “Fargo” will launch will be in Fall 2015. Production will return to Calgary and is scheduled to begin in January and will wrap deep in May.

FX announced two welcome if entirely predictable pick-ups on Monday morning, renewing critically-acclaimed comedy “Louie” and limited crime anthology series “Fargo” for additional seasons.

The cable network confirmed that the ten episode second chapter of “Fargo” will debut an all-new set of characters portrayed by an entirely new cast. The second season also will take place in a new time period, and will be based upon an entirely new “true crime,” with executive producer and writer Noah Hawley returning to helm. The first season of “Fargo” garnered 18 Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Lead Actor nominations for Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, and an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for its female lead, newcomer Allison Tolman. The earliest the next season “Fargo” will launch will be in Fall 2015.

Louie” is returning for a fifth season consisting of only seven episodes, although FX CEO John Landgraf told critics assembled for the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour said that it could have seven or eight episodes.  In any case, the fifth season will premiere in Spring 2015. In comparison, season four of “Louie” had 14 episodes. Then again, creator Louis C.K. took a nearly two-year break between seasons three and four.

Update: Landgraf explained to IMDbTV that “Louie’s” shorter fifth season is  FX’s way of giving Louis C.K. the creative space he needs to make an independent theatrical film he’s been developing. Plus, Landgraf added, “He’s exhausted.”

Maybe you haven’t heard, but Emmy has a tendency to nominate her favorites over and over again. When that happens, and it usually does, people who love television become apoplectic at the idea of outstanding performances going unrewarded, and brilliant seasons passing sans accolade.

This is why the TCA Awards are so satisfying. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, shows that air on HBO, FX, AMC, CBS, Logo, ABC Family, NBC, Netflix and Fox received awards from the Television Critic Association on Saturday night.  This writer had the pleasure of handing the award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama to CBS’s “The Good Wife,” which was criminally snubbed by the Emmys.

On the other hand, Individual Achievement in Drama winner Matthew McConaughey showed up to claim his award and support “True Detective,” which also won for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials. McConaughey is Emmy nominated and a favorite to win, as is “True Detective,” so we aren’t completely out of sync with the bigger industry award shows.

Other highlights: Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” sashayed away with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming, while the excellent ABC Family series “The Fosters” won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming.

Additionally, “COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey” received the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information.

You are likely to see Emmy recognizing one of these programs… never.

For 30 years, the TCA Awards ceremony has proudly rewarded TV greatness where the Globes or the Emmys have come up short. There’s no red carpet at the ceremony, but there’s an open bar – and everybody feels free to relax, since TCA only invites the winners. This time around, however, past presidents showed up to the ceremony as well as a few previous winners.  But all in all the awards show goes quickly and the host keeps the audience in stitches. This year “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Terry Crews played emcee, and Miss Piggy popped in to thrill the attendees by performing a duet with him. Really, any awards show that includes a cameo by Miss Piggy is a winner in my (admittedly biased) opinion.

Below is the full list of winners 2014 TCA Award recipients. To see photos from the event, check out our gallery for The 30th Annual TCA Awards.

 

 

FX has set a date for the beginning of “Sons of Anarchy’s” long last ride.  The biker drama’s seventh and final season will premiere at 10pm Tuesday, September 9 on FX with an extended one hour and 45 minute episode.

FX also announced that new series “Anarchy Afterword,” FX’s answer to fan analysis shows in the mold of AMC’s “Talking Dead,” will debut immediately following the “Sons of Anarchy’s” season premiere. FX’s post-show will be hosted by Chris Franjola and will air live twice this season: immediately following the season premiere and immediately after the series finale.

“Sons of Anarchy”, a drama that follows the lives and exploits of an outlaw biker gang set in the fictional town of Charming, California, enjoyed its largest audience during the sixth season. Last year it averaged 7.48 million total viewers, attracting a season average of 5.11 million adults in the key 18-49 age demographic, according to Nielsen ratings.

A Look at “The Divide” & a Q&A with Marin Ireland

July 16th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

No longer content to be known as the “Bridezillas” channel, WEtv is making a strong entry into the scripted content arena with “The Divide,” a suspenseful drama that deftly balances issues of race, class, and wrongful incarceration in modern day Philadelphia.

Anchored by a solid ensemble cast that includes Nia Long, Damon Gupton, Paul Schneider, and Marin Ireland, the eight-episode series, which premieres 9pm Wednesday on WEtv,  does not soften its approach to the complexities surrounding the personal and public politics of exonerating the wrongfully accused.

As the series opens, we see the passionate efforts of Christine Rose (Marin Ireland), a caseworker with an agency that works on behalf of the wrongfully convicted (based on the work done by The Innocence Project). Christine pushes to re-open a 12-year-old case that nearly pushed the city to the brink of racial unrest, because in her point of view, something doesn’t add up.

Considering that the case involves two white construction workers found guilty of murdering a rich African American family, leaving only their youngest child alive, many in the city would rather let the convictions stand. But the impending execution of one of the incarcerated men, Jared Bankowski (Chris Bauer), adds a level of urgency to Christine’s actions, and soon emotions are running high again

In her efforts to secure a stay of execution for Bankowski, Christine opens a number of old wounds that threaten her career and that of her boss, Clark (Schneider), not to mention her personal safety.

Christine’s actions also deeply affect the lives of a family she doesn’t even know, headed by District Attorney Adam Page (Gupton), the man who built his career on the controversial case, and his wife Billie (Long), a successful corporate attorney.

Although “The Divide” sets the table as a powerful character study, and its cast ably dives into the story’s intensity, it also cleverly hints at how interconnected these apparently disparate parts of the community are.

Written by Richard LaGravenese and co-created by Tony Goldwyn ,  who directed the two-hour series premiere, “The Divide” was originally a project under consideration for AMC before migrating to its sister channel WEtv – a fortunate turn of events for the drama. On WEtv, “The Divide” does not have to compete with any other big brand titles on the network marquee.

Now that “The Divide” is starting to get the attention of viewers, it’s a safe bet that Ireland will as well; “The Divide” represents her first lead role in a network series. We sat down with Ireland at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour to talk to her about the series.

This is your first starring role in a series, right?

Yes!

You play Christine, who is an interesting character. There’s a lot of toughness in her, as well as fragility. But at the same time, a little bit of humor shines through. How does she evolve as the season moves forward?

Without giving too much away, what I’ll say is that there are some very big expectations that she has that really get dashed. She has to change her plan a few times, and I think that she’s the kind of person who is always trying to be in control of everything. … So a few things have to go wrong with that plan for her to learn. Some things have to colossally fail that only she is responsible for. Some plans that she has about her personal life have to fail before she can understand that she’s not the one who can control what’s going on with her life, either. … Her whole thing is, “I can do it. Just leave me alone and I can do it perfectly.”

There are a lot of people in this world like that.

Right? She’s also very afraid of intimacy, which is why it’s nice to me whenever we see her alone … She’s sort of this, like, kid. This is not a girl who was raised by normal parents. She was raised by wolves. So she does things that you don’t quite do if you were raised by adults who care about you. … And that’s the badge she carries out in front of her. But that’s such an immature feeling in the world. I look forward to people seeing that, over the season, things happen to her that are out of her control. And she has to learn how to deal with those things, and learn that sometimes trying to grab it tighter isn’t the solution.

How much did you know about organizations like The Innocence Project, which your character’s work is based upon?

Before I started, I only knew what I saw from Conviction, from Tony’s movie. Then, for our pilot two years ago, I watched this documentary After Innocence, and then I read the book Actual Innocence.  Then Paul and I met for a day at the Innocence Project and talked to everybody there, all the interns and all the lawyers. Then, when we went back to shoot the series, I was an intern at the Innocence Project for four to six weeks.

I was working closely with this one lawyer… who was great. I was working with him on one case in particular and a couple of smaller cases as they came up. I learned a lot about the kind of day-to-day aspects … and the thing that was really special about it is that when something amazing happens, a cheer goes up. Everybody starts cheering.

… I do remember that one of the interns, when I was getting really overwhelmed emotionally, just from reading trial transcripts about the crimes that happened, she said, “Oh yeah, in your first two weeks you gotta take a lot of walks around the block.” Because you can’t really bring it home and talk to your family and friends … It was a special place to learn about.

This is such an interesting show for WEtv. To do a show about race, class, and the growing socioeconomic divide in a large city is a really bold choice for a first scripted series.

And I think that is the most thrilling thing about this move over to WEtv. When [the pilot] was with AMC, and they were looking for something to bring WE into the world of AMC and Sundance…the great Cheryl Bloch, the VP of Scripted, she fell in love with this show. She felt it was perfect,  because they didn’t want it to feel like “Bridezillas”. They wanted it to be taken seriously. … And to be the first one, it is a big risky move that excites me, and I support that. Tony in particular was really excited because being the first has a great energy behind it, in terms of the way that we’ll be treated by the network.

It’s been a journey, from when we shot the pilot for AMC two years ago. But the cast is so strong, and we’ve all become so close as a result. And Richie and Tony are these pillars for us.

Were the any films or TV shows that you were watching that influenced your performance in “The Divide”?

Oh, there were big ones. One was The Central Park Five documentary, which was major…and again, After Innocence was huge, I re-watched that. But while I was doing the show, I binged like crazy on “Damages,” which I had never seen. When it was airing was the time when I didn’t have these bingeing capabilities that we do now…I remember watching it and saying, “This is so great, because you’ve got these strong women.”

That one is much more obviously a legal show, but there are also so many out-of-the-box ways of doing things. It also has that thriller aspect without being too over the top… so that was kind of fun.

…Also, I watched “Nurse Jackie”. I was so fascinated by thinking about… the beginning of this whole wave of television. I was watching a lot of the beginnings of shows, those big shows that started it all, “The Sopranos,” and “Six Feet Under”, I was watching a lot of those. Because, frankly, I’ve done arcs on things, but to be in on the ground level, I was having conversations with Richie and Tony about what it’s like to make something. I was reading that book Difficult Men that came out a year or two ago, about David Milch, and Matthew Weiner, and Vince Gilligan. I was interested finding out about how these things happened. And then I was dying to watch more Edie Falco, just watching how she was able to maintain such an anti-hero female character. How do you maintain that? So that was my version of on-the-job training.