TCA Winter 2015: Quick Takes From the CW’s TCA Presentations

The Brave and the Bold

On Day 5 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Winter 2015 Press Tour,  the CW introduced their featured programming, and the following are quick takes of their new and returning series.


During the CW executive session with president Mark Pedowitz, the majority all the CW’s current primetime dramas were announced renewed for the upcoming 2015-16 television season, including “Arrow” Season 4, “The Flash” Season 2, “The 100” Season 3, “Reign” Season 3, “The Vampire Diaries” Season 7, “The Originals” Season 3, “Jane the Virgin” Season 2, and “Supernatural” Season 11.  Still awaiting renewal is “Hart of Dixie,” currently in its fourth season, and “Beauty and the Beast,” which will air its third season sometime late May/June 2015.  Per CW prez Pedowitz, this is not necessarily the final season of “Hart of Dixie.” The CW is likely waiting to see how it performs this season before making their decision. Plus, the CW will want to see how its two remaining new series “iZombie” and “The Messengers” perform.  “iZombie” makes its debut on March 17th and “The Messengers” debuts on April 10th.

Also noteworthy from the CW exec session was learning that while in prior years, the CW had a predominantly female viewership for its shows, the split between men and women has shifted from a 70/30 audience to a 60/40 audience.  The 10% increase in male viewership has helped balance the appeal to both men and women, making each show much more attractive to advertisers.  Pedowitz noted that while ratings for some of the CW shows seem a bit lower than hoped, the CW is content to have shows like “Jane the Virgin” and “Reign” continue to build their audiences.  He also acknowledged that ABC’s TGIT line-up with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” are tough competition for the CW shows “The Vampire Diaries” and “Reign,” which appeal to the same female audience.  But the CW is pleased that its Thursday night shows have seen big lifts in delayed/digital viewership.

Coming up in 2015, the CW will premiere its new drama series “iZombie” on Tuesday, March 17th (taking over the “Supernatural” timeslot, while “Supernatural” moves into “The 100” timeslot on Wednesday nights at 9 pm and “The100” goes on hiatus until Season 3 in Fall 2015). The CW’s “iZombie” comes from “Veronica Mar” creator/executive producer Rob Thomas.  Based on the comic book series, “iZombie” is a humorous look at med student turned morgue attendant after she discovers she was infected by a zombie.  One hilarious aspect of “iZombie” is how Liv’s boss at morgue is so excited and enthusiastic about Liv’s (Rose McIver) condition. In fact, he thinks she is ultra cool as never in his wildest dreams did he ever imagine that one day he would come to work and discover he was working with a real life zombie. To him, she is a remarkable medical anomaly because, as they discover, after Liv eats a dead person’s brains, she sees flashes of their human lives, making her the ultimate crime fighter in cases of unnatural death aka murder.  Because of Liv’s zombie-flashes into the dead people’s lives, she ends up working from time to time with police detective Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), who only thinks she is a psychic, not a zombie, which leads to all kinds of hilarious misadventure.  In addition, the show explores the possibility that there may be a cure for zombie-ism, which gives Liv hope that she could recover and have normal life. “iZombie” is not just a story of a girl turned-zombie who solves crimes, it is also has a star-crossed romance as Liv was forced to break-off her engagement with her hunky fiance Major (Robert Buckley) after she was turned into a zombie because she was afraid that he might get infected through any kind of physical contact.  EP Rob Thomas explained, “We wanted to give her some glimmer of hope.”  He said that it was also necessary to have Liv work in a morgue so she would have easy access to brains, which she needs so that she does degenerate into full zombie, like in episode 3, the show explores happens to a zombie if they do not feed. For example, they decay significantly if they do not eat brains.  In “iZombie,” only two people know about her special affliction, her boss and fellow zombie Blaine, and David Anders fans are going to be ecstatic over his new bad-boy role as Blaine and as viewers will see, he is clearly relishing the role. Trying to put a positive spinoff his character, Anders describes him as, “Blaine is just a zombie crime boss trying to find his way in the world.”  Lest fans worry that Liv may be swayed by Blaine’s charming ways, EP Thomas promises there is another zombie-hunk on the horizon for Liv, who will offer some romantic competition to Major in winning Liv’s zombie-beating heart.  (Observation:  Having had the opportunity to check out the first 4 episodes, “iZombie” is lots of fun. It offers snappy and sassy dialogue — reminiscent of “Veronica Mars.”  So I am recommend checking it out, especially since Rose McIver is absolutely adorable and mesmerizing to watch. In addition, Tuesday nights are going are to be awesome with the pairing of “The Flash” followed by “iZombie” this Spring.)

During a special dual Q&A panel for “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals,” stars Ian Somerhalder and Joseph Morgan, along with executive producer Julie Plec provided their insight on what is coming up next in their dual vampire-infested worlds.  While it was observed that while both Damon and Klaus initially came across as villains and that they seemed to have redeemed their evil-doing ways,  Joseph Morgan noted: “I like to think that we do really terrible things for good reasons” and laughingly admitted that the last scene he filmed was Klaus walking in with a bag of severed heads.  So, for the moment, Klaus still walks on the wild side with a bit of the devil in his soul. To which Ian Somerhalder cheekily responded that Damon has not (recently) walked into a room lately with a bag of severed heads. Joseph Morgan also observed, “We do really terrible things for good reasons — for the ones we love.”  When asked if the ending that she and Kevin Williamson had prewritten for “The Vampire Diaries” has changed since the show will go beyond six seasons with the announcement of a seventh season pick-up, Julie admitted that her perfect ending for the show has changed because the show is going on longer than she ever expected.  She was quick to add that it is still on the same path though.  Talking about the perils of the engagement of their overly active social media fan bases and Twitter fan feedback, Julie said, “It’s theoretically a good thing, but you have to work very hard not to be influenced.”  Joseph Morgan added, “You have to grow a thick skin” and Ian Somerhalder said he thinks the world shifted significantly with the rise of Twitter and Instagram and that it is often a “crazy, organic beast.”  Executive producer Caroline Dries also said that unfortunately they cannot please all the fans because there are so many different views and if they tried the show would be “gobbledy gook.” Fellow co-executive producer Michael Narducci said, “It is our job is to tell the best stories we can possibly tell” and Ian chimed in with,  “Showrunners have to write stories they love.”  Talking for himself, Joseph Morgan said he appreciates that “The Originals” has toned down the vampire tyranny in favor of human dynamics. In fact, he used notes to “be less vampirific.”  He also appreciates that the show is centered on family and the challenge is finding a way to root for them. Caroline Dries and Michael Narducci gave a good argument of how Klaus’ brother Finn is a true hero trying to eradicate vampirism and save his siblings.  Yet even with that heroic explanation, I am not sure I buy into the idea of Finn as hero. He just seems so evil.  On “The Vampire Diaries,” Julie teased that this season Damon and Elena are “finally working their way back towards each other and trying to reach a happy stasis.” In addition, the back-half of season six will shine an even bigger spotlight on Gemini Coven and the villainous Kai, who wants to merge with Jo. She laughed and said, “It ain’t gonna go well.” Ian added, “You don’t typically get to see Damon in a space and time where he’s truly happy. . .  It’s been wonderful to see Damon & Elena happy. . . They’re very deserving of it. They have been through a lot . . Love trumps all.”

In another join Q&A panel, present for “Arrow” and “The Flash” were six cast members from both shows, including:  Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colton Haynes, David Ramsey, John Barrowman, Brandon Routh, Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Robbie Amell, Dominic Purcell, Victor Garber and Wentworth Miller.  In a special preview clip, Katie Cassidy’s character Laurel Lance is seen in action as the new Black Canary and you hear her say: “I’m the justice you can’t run from.” Katie Cassidy shared that, “[Laurel] goes from avenging her sister to honoring her sister to becoming her sister.”  She added, “I’ve been waiting for this to happen and I’m excited and thrilled about it.” When asked what kind of costume Diggle would be wearing now, co-star David Ramsey said, “Heroes don’t need costumes.” He added that, “Diggle is exceptional because he is exceptional.”  (No doubt about that!)  Since “Arrow” left fans clutching their hearts at the apparent death of Oliver Queen, who seemed to fall to his death after receiving a sword through the chest, Stephen Amell said that when he first learned it, “I personally love when there is adversity for the protagonist.” He also appreciates that the upcoming episodes will feature more of both Diggle (David Ramsey) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who rise up to be Starling City’s heroes now that Oliver is gone.  Stephen said, If we don’t give other characters the opportunity to shoulder to load, then we give viewers nothing to attach them to.” Executive producer Greg Berlanti also explained, “We don’t think of them as superhero/genre shows. We’re excited about creating character stories.” When asked why are there so many more comic-book shows on television, co-star John Barrowman cheekily replied:  “Because geeks rule the world!” When asked what was going to happen with Brandon Routh’s character Ray Palmer, Marc Guggenheim said that Ray Palmer is on a different track than the others since his main connection is thru Felicity. So Ray is not necessarily cave-bound.  Greg Berlanti admitted, “We’re in very early talks on a very general idea” regarding an Atom spinoff.

On “The Flash,” the fun casting of former “Prison Break” co-stars Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller is no coincidence since Wentworth Miller was directly responsible for recruiting Dominic to join the show.  “I can take credit or I’m responsible,” Wentworth Miller joked. Dominic added that he & Wentworth Miller have an “intuitive understanding” of each other than resonates on screen.  Purcell also loves his character allows him to be big, bold and explosive in “The Flash.” He noted that this is the best role and most fun he has had as an actor. Dominic also laughingly admitted, “My kids think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my f*ing life.”  When asked what was the secret to keeping these show from being “cheesey,” Tom Cavanagh explained, “This stuff is actually fun and that carries most of the battle.” Tom also added, “It’s a good job and we’re grateful for it.” Tom Cavanagh loves the duality of his role. It affects how he approaches the role and he enjoys that very much. He also noted that Dr. Wells’ agendas do not necessarily make him a bad guy. He needs Barry to do well.  As to whether Dr. Well is actually the Reverse Flash, executive producer cagily responded, “I think [Tom’s] doing a great job.”  Victor Garber is asked whether he’s surprised to be playing a comic book villain at this stage in his career. “Wouldn’t you be?”  When asked about Eddie’s relationship to the Reverse Flash, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg assured that the answer to that question would have a payoff off in back half of Season 1.  He said that the Reverse Flash is Harrison Wells, but there is still a connection to Eddie Thawne. “His name is not an accident” said Andrew Kreisberg. (Observation: After listening to the “Arrow” and “The Flash” casts, I appreciate their overwhelming gratitude for their cool roles on these amazing shows.  Apparently, the secret to success: gratitude — which goes a long way in getting a dream job.)

“The Messengers” is about an apocalypse is coming and only five specific people know it is coming because they were chosen as “messengers.”  Executive producer Trey Callaway described it as if “Close Encounters” and “The Stand” got married in a church and had a baby, that would be “The Messengers.” He added that it is a show about faith, not religion, and assured that it is critical to the story, despite new angelic mission, to keep the characters very grounded and human.  For co-star Diogo Morgado, he said what he loves about “The Messengers” is it is about the choices we make and how they impact our lives around us; and, over the course of the season, the show will explore how the five primary characters may have crossed paths before. Callaway further noted that Biblically speaking, there are seven angels of the Apocalypse, so viewers could potentially meet more as the series progresses.  He also confirmed that the mysterious man in the first episode played by Dieogo Morgado is the Devil on Earth, but then added that the “messengers” may need to ultimately work with him to stop the apocalypse. So the mysterious man has a very interesting and dark agenda throughout the show.  “The Messengers” premieres on Friday, April 10th. (Observation: It is very interesting to see so many supernatural shows embracing angels/demons on TV these days, such as “Sleepy Hollow,” “Supernatural,” “Dominion,” “Constantine,” and now “The Messengers.”  There seems to be a fascination with supernatural wars and the end times.)

That is a wrap on Day 5 at TCA Winter 2015.  Look for more upcoming snapshots from TCA on the new shows and TV specials coming up for Winter/Spring 2015 here at