Twice a year various cable and networks attend the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour where they promote new and returning television shows through a series of daily panels and exclusive preview clips spanning over a two week period. The tour presentations provide a way for television shows to get traction and attention of the hundreds of TV critics who then in turn will hopefully write about and promote those shows to their various audiences via online and print media outlets.
This Winter’s tour included presentations from the CW, who presented on the sixth day of the tour. Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:
Per president Mark Pedowitz, this has been another strong growth year for the CW and there are over 60 million users on CW Seed. He confirmed that a RIVERDALE script being written by Greg Berlanti, but has not yet been ordered to pilot. He also announced that VIXEN returning for Season 2 on CW Seed. Megalyn E.K. (formerly known as Megalyn Echikunwoke) will also appear as her VIXEN character in an upcoming episode of ARROW later this season. Then Kevin Smith will direct episode of THE FLASH later this season, as well.
When asked about the move of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE ORIGINALS to Friday nights, Pedowitz said that the move to Friday nights is meant to strengthen the CW presence on that night. It is not to be taken as a sign that either show will not be renewed for more seasons. He also said that at this time, it is not like that there will be a crossover from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES or THE ORIGINALS to Julie Plec’s new viral-outbreak series CONTAINMENT as it does not make sense — though he laughingly added, “unless Julie Plec deems it so.” Pedowitz did confirm that there will be a crossover between THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE ORIGINALS coming later this season. (Note: It was later announced that the character of Stefan Salvatore will be crossing over to THE ORIGINALS for an episode.)
While no announcements were made about renewals for the 2016-17 television season, Pedowitz did remark re IZOMBIE that he felt that show had a strong chance of a third season and said they are very proud of the show. He also said that SUPERNATURAL is a strong performer for the CW and hopes to see it continue beyond the current season. CW is not ready to announce any pick-ups or renewals for existing shows at the moment. (Observation: CW likely waiting to see how LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, CONTAINMENT and the return of THE 100 perform before making any decisions. Also, the CW usually waits until April/May to announce renewals.)
As to the new series LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, Pedowitz described the show as a fun popcorn-type show, along the lines of the film “Guardians of the Galaxy” and DOCTOR WHO. (Observation: Having seen the first couple of episodes, I totally agree!)
Finally, when asked about the possibility of ordering a new female-lead superhero series, Pedowitz said that at the moment, the CW does not have any plans to do so, but emphasized that there are a number of strong female superheroes currently on the ARROW and THE FLASH, including Black Canary, Speedy and Killer Frost.
For the new CW viral-outbreak series, CONTAINMENT, the promo foreshadows: “You hope for a cure, but sometimes you just hope for containment.” CONTAINMENT focuses on a real-world scenario of: what if a deadly flu virus broke out, how would we deal with the situation? CONTAINMENT is not just about a virus running amuck in Atlanta, it spotlights the unlikely heroes that rise up in the wake of a viral-outbreak disaster. It focuses on a police officer caught on the frontline who is trying his best to keep everyone from panicking, a teacher trying to keep her young group of charges safe in a hospital, a young pregnant teen trying to reunite with the baby’s father as the fences go up to contain the virus, a female tech programmer who finds a way to keep the communication lines running, a police commander struggling to keep the peace, a young doctor racing to find a cure, and a CDC official who is willing to do anything — even sacrifice lives — to keep that virus from getting out. CONTAINMENT is also not a clinical look a flu-outbreak. It shows the harsh and scary reality of such a rapid outbreak and it does not shy away from showing the stages of decay and how the human body reacts in each stage of infection. The show really emphasizes the need to stay “4 to 6 feet” away from the infected and creating enough space between each person to prevent the rapid spread through human contact, coughing and sneezing. (Observations: CONTAINMENT will terrify in its depiction of how a body decays and bleeds out during the viral-outbreak — “4 to 6 feet” is no joke. But the humanity of the heroes as they strive to protect families and those they love, will make your heart ache and yearn with them. The realism of CONTAINMENT is terrifying and you cannot look away. But heroes will rise up for human survival. In addition, Christina Moses is phenomenal in her role as Jana, who is key in finding means of communication in the cordoned zone and it is a bit of a mind-trip to see Chris Wood, who portrayed diabolical Kai in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, step so gracefully into the role of Jake, the police officer trapped in the zone, who reluctantly takes on the hero mantle. Besides Jana and Jake, there is a whole world of politics and hierarchy both in and outside of the containment-zone that is fascinating — and when characters are placed in pressure-cooker situations with life-and-death stakes, it not only tests their mettle and resilience, but their ingenuity as well.)
CONTAINMENT Season 1 takes place over 19 days. So the story moves fast — and the virus even faster. Within 48 hours from infection, each person who contracts it is dead. Thus, it is a sheer fight for survival and sanity in midst of it. Also stepping into the spotlight and fray is how social media and other forms of communication can be used to both help and hinder in this dire time of crisis.
David Gyasi said for his character Lex, a police officer pushed to work with the CDC and establish the cordon of containment, which includes electric fences and armed police to keep those who may be infected inside, that passion is central to who his character is. Lex’s love for Jana, who is trapped inside, and his friendship with Jake, also trapped inside, and Lex’s strong sense of justice and protecting those under his care, pushes him to the limits. Gysai noted that when the structured world that Lex knows is crumbling around him, it is incredibly tough on him and Lex is kist trying to hold onto the truth and structure of the world as he knows it.
Claudia Black said, who plays a CDC official who employs doomsday tactics to contain the virus, that science plays an essential part as everyone works together to identify “patient zero” — and where he came from and who he might have come into contact with. Executive producer Matt Corman said that the show tried to keep the show grounded as much as possible. The fact that the show is dealing with an issue that is very topical to concerns today in our world is explored, but not gratuitous in how it is represented. While “patient zero” is determined to be a Syrian man, it does not mean that the virus is an act of terrorism.
Though Chris Wood ruefully noted that there is a lot of finger-pointing that goes on when the situation arises and it is identified that the source of the virus is a Syrian man and it t raises the possibility of a terrorist-attack, but ultimately, CONTAINMENT is about battling the virus and surviving. Wood also said that while his and Gysai’s characters are given the tools of dealing with the virus, there is not really a “virus bootcamp.” Police officers really have to learn how to deal with a viral-outbreak as each situation arises.
George Young and Kristen Gutoskie, who portray the doctor and teacher in the show respectively, admitted that now are more freaked out by people sneezing around them. (Spoiler alert! A sneeze, as portrayed on CW’s CONTAINMENT is quite deadly. So CONTAINMENT may make you cautious about hugging and shaking hands, washing hands more frequently, and the importance of staying “4 to 6 feet” apart to prevent further spread of an infectious flu disease.) EP Corman admitted that after talking to epidemiologists who specialize in infectious diseases, they verified that this kind of deadly flu outbreak could actually happen and said, “It’s something we’re very nervous about.” CONTAINMENT may be a fictionalized look at a viral-outbreak, but the possibility of it happening any day in any city is what is what makes the show so engrossing and relevant. It really asks: what would you do? And the answer may terrify you.
(Note: No premiere date has been schedule for CONTAINMENT yet, but it is expected to debut this Spring on the CW.)
Returning for its Season 3 on January 21st, THE 100 is going to offer a bigger world than where the show first started. Season 1 was about conflicts as the hundred amongst each other and then fought up against the Grounders, Season 2 was about more external conflicts involving the Grounders/Mountain Men, and then Season 3 is about more serious internal conflicts amongst themselves and an all out civil war brewing between the Grounder clans, which could entangle and endanger any alliances with the the Sky People. There will also be a lot more to learn about the Grounder’s spiritual history and how they have adapted their beliefs from what the world used to be.
Looking back at where Season 2 ended and all the hard choices that all the characters had to make to survive, EP Rothenberg said that, “impossible situations force [them] to make decisions that may not be the good-buy choice.” When Eliza Taylor asked what was Clarke’s current “death count,” Jason sagely said, “It’s high.” To which Eliza laughingly responded for Clarke: “But you kept us alive, so thank you!” Co-star Adina Porter also noted that “in a world where it is all about survival, things are going to get dark.”
When asked about the Zach McGowan (BLACK SAILS), who guest-stars in Season 3 as Roan, Eliza Taylor said that Zach is such amazing person to work with and that because his character comes from the same brutal world as does Clarke, they have a lot in common. But the real question will be is Roan a friend or foe?
In talking about Raven’s role and journey in Season 3, executive producer Jason Rothenberg said that unfortunately, “injuries last and Raven is going to have that problem forever and must learn that it is not a problem.” For Lindsey Morgan, she is just happy to tackle the tough issues, like Raven’s PTSD and the loss of Finn. In fact, Lindsey said that one of her favorite scenes was when Raven wanted to sacrifice Murphy in the place of Finn. She felt that was a very and honest moment for Raven.
Then looking at the unique world-building in THE 100 and how women are entrusted with not only positions of power, they make life-and-death decisions in a heartbeat. Paige Truco said that for her character Abby, her source of power comes from her humanity and vulnerability. Like her daughter Clarke, Abby cares and because she cares, it makes her resilient and determined to do whatever it takes. Lindsey Morgan noted that it is rare to have so many women of strength on a single show. Eliza Taylor also said that as a blonde hair, blue-eyed actress that this is the first opportunity to play a character with true integrity and strength. EP Jason Rothenberg took a point to emphasize, “We don’t write women characters, we write strong characters . . . who just happen to be women. We don’t think we are doing a female empowerment show. It just is.”
Talking about the longevity of the show, Jason Rothenberg assured that whether the show ends in Season 4 or Season 8, he has a definitely plan on how to wrap up the show.
THE 100’s Season 3 premiere is Thursday, January 21st at 9:00 p.m. on the CW.
That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 6 of the Winter 2016 Television Critics Association Tour. As a reminder: be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming new series and specials as you do not want to miss out on the next great TV show that everyone will be talking about!
SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER | Tiffany covers events such as San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and press junkets, as well as covering events at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. She has a great love for television and believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored. Tiffany is one of the newest members to the prestigious Television Critics Association and is happy to be able to share her passion for television shows with an even wider audience of fans and her fellow critics..