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TCA Winter 2017 Tour: Quick Takes from ABC and Freeform’s Presentations

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TCA Winter 2017 Tour: Quick Takes from ABC and Freeform’s Presentations

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 TCA tour included presentations from ABC and Freeform, who presented on the 6th day of the tour.  Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:

Announcements:

Due to a 20/20 special on January 19th, the premiere of SCANDAL and return of GREY’S ANATOMY and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER are postponed until January 26, 2017.
ABC’s limited Series WHEN WE RISE premiers February 27, 2017
THE CATCH Season 2 premiere March 9, 2017
AMERICAN CRIME Season 3 premieres March 12, 2017
TIME AFTER TIME premieres Sunday, March 12, 2017
IMAGINARY MARY premieres April 4, 2017
ABC’s DIRTY DANCING remake airs May 24, 2017 with Abigail Breslin, Debra Messing, Nicole Scherzinger and Katey Sagal.
ABC picks up Marc Cherry’s one-hour drama starring Reba McEntire for next season.

SCANDAL

What the SCANDAL folks really want its viewers to know is that it filmed its election night episode last July BEFORE the real life U.S. election, so its story is not impacted by by it. SCANDAL is doing its own thing.  Appearing at the panel were: stars Kerry Washington, Darby Stanchfield, Tony Goldwyn, Joshua Malina, Bellamy Young, Scott Foley, Joe Morton, Cornelius Smith Jr., along with executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.  For those biting their nails to find out Mellie’s election fate, Bellamy Young promises: “You’ll find out the results of the election immediately.”  And for those wondering if Shonda Rhimes is psychic because SCANDAL’s last season storyline echoed so closet to what actually happened in the real world of politics, she laughs such a notion of and said SCANDAL’s fiction and real events do not match and does not think there are that many any similarities.  Tony Goldwyn chimed in to add that five SCANDAL’s upcoming season were filmed before they knew anything about the outcome of the U.S. election. He added, “What’s beautiful about this season is Shonda is taking the show in a fresh direction.”  Shonda then said: “I feel incredibly proud of the way we’re telling stories on SCANDAL. We’re not trying to outdo reality.”  Commenting briefly on real world fears from the U.S. election and its ramifications, Bellamy revealed that for her, “One of the things I fear is that so many of us will lose our place at the table.”  As to shortening Season 6 to accommodate Kerry’s real life pregnancy, Shonda said, “I was delighted . . . this was something I asked for . . . it made our storytelling more powerful.”  On a humorous note, when asked if Nielsen ratings were on the cusp that lead to the rise of “fake news,” Shonda laughingly replied that she is not sure that Nielsen ratings are”real or true” anymore.  She does not even look at that data. As to the pending possibility that SCANDAL’s President Fitz may soon be an ex-President on the show, Tony revealed, “I think Fitz will be a great ex-President,” though he sheepishly admitted that, “I’m feeling a little uncomfortable speaking the words.”  He also added, “I’m hoping I’ll still have a job” and hopes that Fitz can be more effective outside the presidency than he was while president. Just like their fans, Kerry said that when the cast does their table reads of each knew script that they are just as shocked that they “just stare at Shonda” over each new jaw-dropping twist. She added, “All of us have been gifted with these immense journeys & transformations.”  Joe Morton then noted that jet being human and being American is the heart of SCANDAL.   Adding his humorous two-cents, Josh Malina quipped, “One of the great joys about being criminally underrated as an actor is I fly under the radar.”   SCANDAL Season 6 returns Thursday, January 26, 2017.

THE CATCH

Season 2 of ABC’s drama THE CATCH is making a subtle shift away from its case-of-the-week to more serialized stories. As Executive producer Allan Heinberg said, the show has embraced the romance amidst its cat-and-mouse game of long cons  and is happily adopting a more romantic-comedy tone for its characters and stories.  Appearing at the panel were: stars Mireille Enos, Peter Krause, Rose Rollins, Sonya Walger, Elvy Yost, Jay Hayden, John Simm, Gina Torres, along with executive producer Allan Heinberg.  Heinberg hastened to added even with the criminals now assisting in the cons that, “I don’t believe in clear-cut villain characters, we blur the lines,” and reassured that, “the people who come to bad ends on THE CATCH generally deserve it.”  Essentially, Season 2 plays with pulling off masks that Alice and Ben wore with each other in Season 1 and in Season 2 discovering who they truly are.   Peter Krause said as to the mercurial nature of his character that ultimately Ben is “gentleman bandit who happened to fall in love with his mark” and that Ben and Alice find themselves in Season 2 dabbling with the legitimate way and the illegitimate way to trap a con man, but that those lines start to get blurred. That is especially true with John Simm’s character Rhys in the mix.  John admitted that for him that he “leapt at the opportunity . . . the character is such a fun character to play because his loyalties lie with Ben . . .they’re best friends” and that he loves the crazy dynamic between Rhys and Margot.  Co-star Sonya Walger added that she too is having a great time and said, “When I can make a psychopath humane, that’s always good… It’s really fun to play someone who wields a gun, and answers to no one, sleeps with men and women … there’s something playful about her malevolence.”  Newcomer Gina Torres said that she was drawn to the show because “it just sounded like a blast,” and she gets to be capable and strong and still have a lot of fun.  Jay Hayden reassured that Season 2 is set up so you don’t have to have seen Season 1, “It is a romp. It’s a lot of fun and very different from GREY’S ANATOMY and SCANDAL. . . It’ll hook you.”  (Impression:  Love the “To Catch A Thief” and “Thomas Crown Affair” vibes that THE CATCH invokes.  It’s cheeky romance dances easily in our hearts and screens.) THE CATCH premiers March 9, 2017.

TIME AFTER TIME

In ABC’s new drama series TIME AFTER TIME, Freddie Stroma portrays as H.G. Wells and Josh Bowman portrays Jack the Ripper, though it is more the a story of H.G. Wells, tying in all his adventures not just “The Time Machine.” Elements of H.G. Wells’ other stories from “The War of the Worlds,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” and “The Invisible Man” have been woven in as well.  Appearing at the panel were: stars Freddie Stroma, Josh Bowman, Genesis Rodriguez, along with executive producers Kevin Williamson and Marcos Siega.  Kevin reassured that the story springboards from the past into the present as, “we have a time machine, and it doesn’t stay put in a museum.” In fact, the characters will time-travel on at least four occasions in the first season.  As executive producer Marcos Siega explained, “time travel opens up a lot of storytelling opportunities.. . . it’s a fun genre.”  However, there are rules that have to be followed in time-travel because as Kevin explained,  “when you travel to one place repeatedly, you prick the fabric of time” and the potential consequences could be disastrous.  In TIME AFTER TIME, Freddie’s version of H.G. Well is a genius who gets the remarkable opportunity to glimpse the future.  It is both extraordinary and daunting for him — particularly as to the rise of equal opportunity and feminism.  Freddie described it as, “[You’ve] got two guys from Victorian England, who are used to being spoken to in a certain way and how they speak to women, the thing that he’s I think that he’s just thoroughly impressed by Jane — the fact that she’s got a few decades of feminism behind her — and I think he likes that. I think he was very much into equality and feminism and human rights. And I think it’s a hugely attractive quality to H.G. Wells.” As for Josh Bowman’s “Jack the Ripper,” he is both a big fish-out-of-water as to women, but also right at home with the openness and violence of the modern era.  Kevin even pointed out that Jack had been a doctor with a “God complex, which feeds his narcissism.”  Yet Josh said that Kevin had a specific version of Jack in the script and added, “Kevin wanted to make him very charming.”  Laughingly, Kevin said, “it’s meant to be a fun, escapist show. . . it’s serialized, so hopefully you can jump on and follow it.”  (Impression:  Time-travel, H.G. Wells and a sweeping romance, count me in!)  TIME AFTER TIME premieres Sunday, March 12, 2017.

FREEFORM Announcements:

YOUNG AND HUNGRY and BABY DADDY will return with new episodes on March 13, 2017
PRETTY LITYLE LIARS Season 7 premieres April 18, 2017
FAMOUS IN LOVE premieres April 18, 2017
PRETTY LITYLE LIARS will air in June 2017 with 2 hour series finale, followed by 1 hour “tell-all” episode
THE FOSTERS renewed for Season 5
BEYOND renewed for Season 2

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

Moving towards its series finale this Spring, Freeform’s highly successful and well-loved series PRETTY LITTLE LIARS returns with 10 final episodes to conclude its seventh season.  Appearing for the panel were: stars Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse, along with creator and executive producers I. Marlene King, Charlie Craig, Joseph Dougherty, and Oliver Goldstick.  As executive producer Joseph Doherty described it, “The deeper you get into the 10 episodes, the more dense the episodes become.”  He then added, “We wanted to give something back to the fans who have been so loyal.”  So as co-executive producer I. Marlene King revealed, “These last 10 episodes are really a love letter to the fans” as they know what fans want and they hope they gave it to them. She said, “I’m a hopeless romantic and I think our fans have enjoyed the romance as well. . . the couples that are meant to be together will be together.”  Then as a special preview of what is coming up on the show, I. Marlene King revealed: “This last season is about a board game created by A” and there is a one year time jump.   When asked about the possibility of  bringing PRETTY LITTLE LIARS in the future as a special or film,  I. Marlene King said, “It wasn’t easy to say goodbye, but I feel like we’ll find a way to bring these characters back” but perhaps not for a couple of years.  Looking at how the rise of social media afforded the show and its stars an accessibility with the show’s fan, Lucy Hale noted, “Social media was also a very pivotal part of the actual story” and credited the reason show has stuck around for so long is they made their fans feel like a part of it using social media. “Our fans are passionate and smart. They’ve changed our lives.”  And in case you ever wondered if the cast has as much difficulty tracking the complex storylines of the show, they do. Lucy laughingly admitted, “We almost need graphs and grids to keep up with what’s going on!”  Co-star Shay Mitchell said that for her:  “I enjoy interacting with fans on social media as much as they do. I love hearing their theories.” Co-star Sasha Pieterse credits the fans who act like “investigators” and the fact that the show is so binge-able as the best way to keep track of it all. Having portrayed the increasingly layered and at times rather sociopathic Alison for the past 7 seasons, Sasha confessed she loved playing Alison and “it was really fun playing a bitchy Alison,” though when “someone asked if I was like Allison in any way, I was like ‘I hope not’!”  So with the final 10 episodes looming, there are sure to be a few more diabolical twists and reveals in the final chess (death?) match with “A.”  PRETTY LITYLE LIARS Season 7 premieres April 18, 2017 and will end with a  2 hour series finale, followed by 1 hour “tell-all” episode in June 2017.

FAMOUS IN LOVE

Freeform’s new drama series takes a looks at what happens when an actress plays at being in love actually falls in love and explores the theme of  “be careful what you wish for.”  For those wondering how closely the TV show will follow the book,   I.Marlene King clarified that the book is aimed at a younger audience and that for the TV show they “edged it up a bit” for an older audience to make it more dramatic and sexy.  She added that the TV show would cover a year’s time for the first two seasons with 20 episodes in Season 1.  Appearing for the panel were:  stars Bella Thorne, Charlie DePew, Georgie Flores, Carter Jenkins, Keith Powers, Perrey Reeves, along with creator and executive producer I. Marlene King.  Bella Thorne describes her character Paige as a young actress struggling with “who she is and who everyone wants her to be” and seals with  people assuming Paige is dating someone just because they are photographed together. Bella further explained, “Paige is just a young girl thrown in this business” and because Paige falls in love 3 to 4 times, the media tries to slut-shame her for her relationships.  Bella admitted, “I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s not a fun road to go down” referring to her own experience with the the weight and issues of overnight stardom.  Co-star Carter Jenkins said that he has discovered that as an actor:  “We’ve all become our own brand managers via social media.”  It is something they all feel the responsibility for in their own lives.   Bella added, “It’s hard when you are kinda jaded,” which is another thing that her character Paige will encounter as well.   In FAMOUS IN LOVE, I. Marlene King said the characters will “do anything for each other . . . like sleep with a cop or break the law.”  She saw first hand the downside of fame as she witnessed  the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS stars become famous when that show became a massive hit.  I.Marlene King explained, “You do see the upside of being famous and being a movie star, but you also see the be careful what you wish for side.”  She also wrongly assumed FAMOUS IN LOVE would be easier to write than PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, but she found it is actually harder when you do not have a dead body to propel the story along — the twists have to be more creative. As one final teaser, Bella revealed that while initially Paige goes back and forth in falling for Jake and Rainer, there is another character that Paige ultimately falls for and nobody sees it coming.  (Impression:  Freeform’s drama FAMOUS IN LOVE story about a young actress falling for a famous actor and the weight of celebrity stardom, perils of stardom, and being stalked by paparazzi makes for a juicy story and addictive TV show. )  FAMOUS IN LOVE premieres April 18, 2017.

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 6 of the Winter 2017 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.

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