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Sons of Anarchy” executive producer and director Paris Barclay once observed, “The Emmys are very, you know, generally monogamous…They fall in love with people, and they stick with them until they die.”

Confession: I opened an old blog post about another awards show with that quote. That’s the height of laziness — I’ll own that.  But in my defense, that statement was proven utterly true yet again on Monday night. How could I not dig it up for another go-round? Besides, I’m just taking cues from the habits of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voters, whose all-too-familiar selections were revealed during NBC’s live telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Honestly, why even bother considering that maybe, in a few categories, Emmy would shock us by actually rewarding fresh work and breakout performances? For that matter, why I am even pretending to be upset? Emmy has a longer history of playing it safe and boring than it does in exhibiting boldness. Even Seth Meyers fired right down the middle last night; he wasn’t the worst host, but he wasn’t particularly remarkable.  On the plus side, the show ended with minutes to spare, making Meyers an effective train conductor if not the frontrunner for next year’s Emmy host campaign. But when the funniest moment of the night is a make-out bit planted by nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston, that doesn’t reflect well on one’s writers.

Give credit where it’s due, though: that smooch was priceless.

Considering all of that, when I previously entertained the thought that either “Veep” or “Orange Is the New Black” would take the Outstanding Comedy award this year, that was just silly. Why reward either of those tremendous new shows when one can grant “Modern Family” its fifth win in the category?

Or when my gut told me that  Jim Parsons would take home another statue for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”, but surmised that maybe Emmy would recognize Ricky Gervais’s stretching in a different direction in Netflix’s “Derek,” I should have heeded that warning. Parsons is easy to vote for. All the voters really need to see is the name, and THUNK! Rubber stamp, he’s back in.

In fact, Emmy, you were on such a roll…why not just shut “Orange,” “House of Cards  and “Derek” out of the Primetime Emmy Awards completely? Who watches Netflix, anyway?

Emmy also renewed its vows with “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell, “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies  and it popped its cork for multiple Emmy award-winner Allison Janney twice this year — once for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Mom”, and once for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”. Of course, a number of those repeat winners turned in worthy performances.

“Breaking Bad” also happens to be an encore winner in Outstanding Drama. Anyone who watched the final episodes would have no quibble with it taking home the Emmy even though nearly a year has passed since those hours first aired. The same argument can be made for the drama’s Emmy wins in individual performance categories: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul were unstoppable on Monday night.

Cranston’s win, actually, was something of a pleasant shock. His victory marks his fifth time taking home an Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, but more significantly, Cranston bested “True Detective’s” Matthew McConaughey, who was presumed to have had a lock on this category. But old Rust Cohle said it himself: “You see, we all got what I call a life trap, a gene deep certainty that things will be different….” Emmy is nothing if not a trap for the hopeful.

Try looking at that particular turn of events, and Julia Roberts upset in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, in a positive light. There was a time that any A-list film actor or actress could descend from celebrity Valhalla and star in a worthwhile TV movie (or, nowadays, a series) and Emmy would fall all over itself to reward them for the favor. But both Oscar winners left empty-handed. That novelty has worn off, and the fact that Cranston has become a sought-after movie actor these days lends weight to the idea of TV’s elevated status as a place to do good work.

The true crime of Roberts’s defeat, however, was that it did not come at the hands of  “Fargo’s” Allison Tolman. Rather, Kathy Bates took home the gold for “American Horror Story”. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that happened. (Then again, let’s thank the Powers that Be that Emmy didn’t grant another kneejerk prize to Ellen Burstyn,, nominated time for Flowers in the Attic.)

Similarly unexpected were the multiple upsets provided by “Sherlock: His Last Vow”, including individual performance Emmys for Supporting Actor Martin Freeman and Lead Actor  Benedict Cumberbatch. Neither of them bothered to show up — probably because neither of them expected to best the presumed frontrunners in their categories, specifically Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart and — I’m sorry, but this is pure insanity –  Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Ruffalo. The Cumberbatch is to be adored, and “Sherlock” is still one of the best things on television, but season three was weaker in comparison to the first two and…really, Emmy? You thought The Cumberbatch was better than “Fargo’s” Lorne Malvo?

Thank goodness “Fargo” won Outstanding Miniseries. Yes, there’s that.

Including Steven Moffat’s win for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, “Sherlock” helped PBS’s “Masterpiece” win the most Emmys for any single program this year, raking in a total of seven awards between the Primetime and Creative Arts ceremonies.

On the network side, CBS, FX and AMC tied with five Primetime Emmys apiece. HBO went home with four on Monday night, while ABC got three (thanks to “Modern Family”) and Comedy Central walked away with one, for “The Colbert Report”.

If you missed The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, you can check out our full list of winners as well as see photos from the show, enjoy the glamorous Red Carpet fashion and much more by visiting our Road to the Emmys section. You can also read our recap of the show to experience more highlights from the event.

Or just wait a year…odds are The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will look a lot like this one.

 

Emmy Predictions and Awards Show Logic

August 21st, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (4 Comments)


Have you entered a betting pool for Monday night’s telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards? Good for you. I commend your bravery. If you haven’t, and are perhaps perusing this list in the hopes of gaining some sort of insight … good luck with that.

Oh sure, I’ve won a guessing game or two. Well, actually, just that one. But I will say it helps to apply Awards Show Logic to one’s choices. What is Awards Show Logic? It’s simple: Scan the nominees and look not at who deserves to win, but who voters might deem to be a safe choice to win in that particular round of awards. Sometimes those choices happen to be one in the same. In other instances, less so.

In still other cases, Emmy goes bananas and surprises us either pleasantly or… well, let’s just say there’s a reason “The West Wing” won 26 Emmy awards, including during seasons in which it probably would not have ranked among the best shows on television, while “The Wire” won exactly…zero. The point is, Emmy voters are not known for their sense of adventure. They tend get in a habit and stay with it.

Find out whether I’m right about any of this by checking out  The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, August 25th on NBC at 8pm ET/5pm PT, which will be hosted by Seth Meyers. Watch along with IMDb’s Editorial team that night to enjoy the best red carpet glamour in our photo galleries. You also can get real-time updates on winners and highlights from the show by monitoring our homepage, by checking IMDb’s page on Facebook, or following @IMDb on Twitter for live results, and @IMDbMelanie for occasional snark. Until then, visit our Road to the Emmys section for the list of Creative Arts Emmy winners, photos from last year’s telecast and more.

Keep reading to see how Awards Show Logic informed my predictions of this year’s winners.

Outstanding Drama Series

Nominees: “Breaking Bad”, “Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”, “House of Cards”, “Mad Men” , “True Detective”.

Who Should Win: “Breaking Bad”

Who Will Win: “Breaking Bad”. Those who have seen the final episodes of AMC’s landmark series know that this prediction needs little explanation. As for “True Detective”, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s a riveting drama that leaned heavily on cinematic style and the ferocious performances of its leads. If Emmy rewards those elements, that’s understandable. But an Outstanding Drama victor should be solid on every level, and “True Detective’s” fabric is a bit too frayed for me to call it for a win here.

Notable snubs: It’s a crime that neither “Masters of Sex” nor “The Good Wife” received nominations. I would trade “Downton Abbey’s” nod for either of these worthy contenders.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Nominees: “Louie”, “Modern Family”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Silicon Valley”, “Veep”.

Who Should Win: “Orange Is the New Black”. Launched with virtually no fanfare during the summer of 2013, this series was all anyone could talk about in the months following. Emmy takes a while to follow cultural buzz and reach the same conclusions that viewers and critics do, however. While a win wouldn’t be out of the question, it would be a pleasant surprise.

Who Will Win: “Veep”. Helmed by multiple Emmy-nominee and winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this series spun out what may be its best season yet, and more viewers have been flocking to it. Plus, the shine may be fading on “Modern Family” in industry award circles…although Emmy does love repeat winners.

Notable snub:Brooklyn Nine-Nine” came up golden at the Globes, but was shut out here. But frankly its Fox counterpart “The Mindy Project” is just as deserving of a nomination. That said, I wouldn’t trade out any of this crop of nominees for either, so this observation is more emotional than practical.

Outstanding Miniseries

Nominees: “American Horror Story”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Fargo”, “Luther”, “Treme”, “The White Queen”.

Who Should Win: Don’t get me wrong, I loved “Luther” and “Treme”, and I watched “The White Queen” from start to finish. As for “Bonnie and Clyde”…um… anyhoo, scanning the competition there’s really one choice here.

Who Will Win: “Fargo”. One benefit of “True Detective” characterizing itself as a fully-fledged series opposed to a miniseries/anthology drama is that this excellent FX original isn’t going up against it. But Emmy is notoriously and astoundingly dense sometimes, so if it doesn’t win… there’s always next year.

Outstanding Television Movie

Nominees: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, The Normal Heart, “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, The Trip to Bountiful, Killing Kennedy.

Who Should Win: The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: The Normal Heart. Because… HBO.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad”, Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom”, Jon Hamm for “Mad Men”, Woody Harrelson for “True Detective”, Matthew McConaughey for “True Detective”, Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston

Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Yes, Cranston’s final run on “Breaking Bad” was peerless, but Emmy loves A-listers – and who doesn’t want to see the man gives us a big speech that starts with “awright, awright awright”?

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”,,Louis C.K. for “Louie”,,Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes”, William H. Macy for “Shameless”, Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” , Ricky Gervais for “Derek”

Who Should Win: William H. Macy for “Shameless.” Macy’s Frank Gallagher was even more of a mess this season and, in truth, not really funny. But he also served up remarkable work this season. Besides, in Emmy’s world, you don’t have to be funny to take home a statue in the comedy categories. Just ask Edie Falco.

Who Will Win: Originally I’d have said Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory”, but Ricky Gervais showed a different, more poignant side with his performance in Netflix’s “Derek”. Emmy has a knack for throwing some dark horses into the winners circle. And I’ll admit it – I’m curious to see how naughty Gervais’s acceptable speech will be.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Idris Elba for “Luther”, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “Dancing on the Edge”, Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Martin Freeman for “Fargo”, Mark Ruffalo for The Normal Heart, Billy Bob Thornton for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Billy Bob Thornton. In an ordinary season of television, there would be one clear standout in this category. But this year’s crop of actors in this category makes predicting a front runner a bit of an uncertainty…but only a bit. The real race is between Thornton and Mark Ruffalo, and in that match up our Monopoly money is on….

Who Will Win: Billy Bob Thornton.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex”, Claire Danes for “Homeland”, Michelle Dockery for “Downton Abbey”, Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife”, Kerry Washington for “Scandal”, Robin Wright for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Robin Wright had a wonderful run in season two of “House of Cards.” However…

Who Will Win: Julianna Margulies has been nominated four times for her work on “The Good Wife”, but won only once. I’m betting Emmy voters will make up for snubbing the series in the Drama category by handing her some hardware for her outstanding performance over the most recent season.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Lena Dunham for “Girls”, Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie”, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep”, Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly”, Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”, Taylor Schilling for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Should Win: Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”. She’s been nominated five times in this category. Five! And she deserved everyone one of those nods.

Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s been nominated too many times and won too few of those for Emmy not to step up, in my opinion. Not that she doesn’t deserve it; Louis-Dreyfus is the main reason “Veep” evolved from being a very funny comedy to one that’s not to be missed.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Helena Bonham Carter for Burton and Taylor, Minnie Driver for Return to Zero, Jessica Lange for “American Horror Story”, Sarah Paulson for “American Horror Story”, Cicely Tyson for The Trip to Bountiful, Kristen Wiig for “The Spoils of Babylon”

Who Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter. Watching her in Burton and Taylor wasn’t just a delight. In a perverse way, her portrayal served as sort of a public tutorial on How to Play Liz Taylor that came too late to school Lindsay Lohan. I actually imagined HBC watching LiLo in her Lifetime pic while on a fainting couch and cooing, “Adorable. How darling. Now stand back and let mama show you how it’s done.”

Who Will Win: Cicely Tyson, who reprised her Broadway-originated role for The Trip to Bountiful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Fred Armisen for “Portlandia”, Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Ty Burrell for “Modern Family”, Adam Driver for “Girls”, Jesse Tyler Ferguson for “Modern Family”, Tony Hale for “Veep”

Who Should Win: Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”. Although Andy Samberg won the Lead Comedy Actor Golden Globe, Braugher’s deadpan Captain Holt is the ingredient that makes “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” so completely enjoyable. Plus, he’s won Emmys twice previously.

Who Will Win: Tony Hale for “Veep”. This is one of those choices that makes sense when you put Emmy’s goggles on. Who doesn’t love Buster Bluth?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees:  Jim Carter for “Downton Abbey”, Josh Charles for “The Good Wife”, Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”, Mandy Patinkin for “Homeland”, Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”, Jon Voight for “Ray Donovan”

Who Should Win: Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”

Who Will Win: Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”. This is a tough call… Dinklage took us through Tyrion Lannister’s toughest, most emotionally challenging chapter without losing the character’s soul in his performance. But Paul made our hearts bleed for Jesse Pinkman in those final episodes. In the end, this is the last time that Emmy can salute him for that role.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart, Martin Freeman for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Colin Hanks for “Fargo”, Alfred Molina for Return to Zero, Jim Parsons for The Normal Heart, Joe Mantello for The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)

Who Should Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart. Because…HBO. Also, he was amazing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Mayim Bialik for “The Big Bang Theory”, Julie Bowen for “Modern Family”, Anna Chlumsky for “Veep”, Allison Janney for “Mom”, Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”, Kate McKinnon for “Saturday Night Live”

Who Should Win: Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Will Win: Allison Janney for “Mom”. This is a category where Emmy likes to surprise and shock us – remember last year’s Merritt Wever upset? Knowing this gives Mulgrew the edge…except for the fact that Janney is a five-time Emmy winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”, Joanne Froggatt for “Downton Abbey”, Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”, Lena Headey for “Game of Thrones”, Christina Hendricks for “Mad Men”, Maggie Smith for “Downton Abbey”

Who Should Win: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”

Who Will Win: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”. Both have won Emmys once, although Baranski has been nominated 11 times (including her win) to Gunn’s three. Having said that, this is the last time Gunn can win for this role. Baranski will be back.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Angela Bassett for “American Horror Story”, Kathy Bates for “American Horror Story”, Ellen Burstyn for Flowers in the Attic, Frances Conroy for “American Horror Story”, Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart, Allison Tolman for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Allison Tolman for “Fargo”. She may be a newcomer, but Tolman’s turn in FX’s anthology series hit all the right notes and announced her arrival as a major talent. It would be quite a coup if she wins, and she’d have a fair chance at doing so if not for…

Who Will Win: Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart. A-lister. Celebrity. HBO branding. Emmy voters love all of those factors. And I hope I’m wrong with this call, because Tolman truly deserves the Emmy here.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 8pm ET/5pm PT Monday, August 25th on NBC.


The next chapter of the “American Horror Story” anthology has an official premiere date. “American Horror Story: Freak Show” will make its debut at 10pm Wednesday, October 8. As previously announced, Jessica Lange is returning alongside her “Coven” co-stars Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Sarah Paulson who, like Lange, has been part of the series since its first season. Currently joining these stars for “Freak Show” is Michael Chiklis (“The Shield“, “Vegas“) and Jyoti Amge, also known as the world’s smallest woman.

Read on FX’s official plot description for the latest installment of the anthology series.

American Horror Story: Freak Show begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952. A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.”

In other news, Showtime has renewed “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” for third seasons, each consisting of twelve episodes. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2015.

AMC also announced that is has picked up “Halt and Catch Fire” for a second season, set to air in the summer of 2015.

FX Renews The Strain

August 19th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in FX | The Strain - (2 Comments)


In what could probably be considered a no-brainer type of decision, FX has picked up “The Strain” for a 13-episode second season.

Based on a series of books co-written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, “The Strain” follows the Center for Disease Control’s New York-based Canary Team, consisting of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll),  Dr. Nora Martinez (Mía Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin), as well as a pawn shop broker, Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), an incredibly badass rat exterminator, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), and the streetwise Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), as they battle an epidemic that is quickly threatening to transform the population into parasitic vampires. Executive producer Carlton Cuse (”Lost,”Bates Motel”) serves as the drama’s showrunner.

”The Strain” is the first original that FX scheduled in the highly competitive Sunday primetime slot, and according to the network, that gamble has paid off.  It currently ranks as the year’s #1 new series on cable in the key demographic of adults 18-49. Around 12.7 million Total Viewers tuned in to the premiere, making it the most-watched debut in the network’s history.

FX reports that “The Strain” also is averaging 11 million Total Viewers and 5.2 million in adults 18-49 tuning in each week, which includes stats from video on demand and online viewing. The Live + 7 ratings are much more down-to-earth, with an average of 4.5 million Total Viewers and 2.6 million in adults 18-49.

“The Strain” is not the only cable series that was renewed today. SundanceTV announced that its critically-acclaimed series ”Rectify” will return for a third season in 2015, and MTV has picked up its summertime hit “Finding Carter” for a 12-episode second season.

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.