TCA Winter 2017 Tour: Quick Takes from CBS and Showtime 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 CBS and Showtime, who presented on the 5th day of the tour.  Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:


CBS’ spinoff series from THE GOOD WIFE entitled THE GOOD FIGHT will be airing exclusively on its digital platform CBS All Access.  Appearing for its panel were: Michelle and Robert King, Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie, Delrey Lindo, Erica Tazel, Justin Bartha, and Sarah Steele.  Christine Baranski admitted that she had another big offer while considering continuing with THE GOOD FIGHT, but ultimately she wanted to continue with the Kings.  She said, “There was a real reluctance on my part to let go of what was a great job, great role, great writers” and she was excited to see how her character  processes where her life is at in THE GOOD FIGHT in terms of her marriage and position at work.  She added that for Diane, “She’s at the top of her game when this show starts, but halfway into the pilot she loses everything” and she was curious to play, “How do you take the next step up when there’s no foundation?” As to whether Julianna Margulies would make an appearance on THE GOOD FIGHT, Michelle King said, “THE GOOD WIFE ended that story. But look at this cast. We have 10 episodes to tell stories with this cast.”  In addition, Robert King added that, “Our show has always been obsessed with about how tech is changing our world.” So THE GOOD FIGHT picks up the story one year later.  He also promised that there will be many familiar faces and characters from THE GOOD WIFE, including Carrie Preston, Matthew Perry, Rita Wilson, John Benjamin Hickey, Michael Boatman, Dennis O’Hare.  Co-star Cush Jumbo said while she did not want to do another exact version of THE GOOD WIFE that she thought it was an exciting prospect to move forward with THE GOOD FIGHT.  She said, “The last thing I wanted to do was a diluted version of THE GOOD WIFE. It’s been the perfect crossover” and that “from a fan girl perspective, I wasn’t ready for THE GOOD WIFE to end.” She had been a fan of THE GOOD WIFE even before she was on it and always admired how no issue was ever “black and white.”  Christine noted, “The show is called THE GOOD FIGHT . . . so I’m hoping the show has a positive message of women needing to continue THE GOOD FIGHT” referring to the issues that woman must face and endure in today’s world.  Michelle explained, “From conception,THE GOOD FIGHT was designed for CBS All Access . . the show always wanted to push the envelope.”  One such example is in THE GOOD FIGHT, the Kings had the idea of: what if they sent Diane into an all African-American law firm?  There will also be a lawyer character who voted for Trump and because of that he feels increasingly isolated.  Michelle added, “We have always tried to present all our characters as intelligent, thinking beings whether they have liberal or conservative point of views.”  One of the newcomers to the show is Rose Leslie, who described her character as, “When it comes to Maia, she doesn’t necessarily have a sense of entitlement. She has a real drive to prove her worth. She’s in a surreal situation.”  Maia’s family sets off the maelstrom that all the characters get swept up in as THE GOOD FIGHT begins.  Another newcomer is portrayed by Erica Tazel, whose role also figures prominently in the new show. (As a JUSTIFIED fan, it is delightful to see Erica Tazel will be regular in the new CBS All Access series THE GOOD FIGHT.)  THE GOOD FIGHT will premiere Sunday, February 19th on both the CBS broadcast network and CBS All Access and then will be released weekly on Sunday nights exclusively on CBS All Access.  Season 1 will be a total of 10 episodes, released weekly.  Also due to broadcast TV time-constraints, the version of THE GOOD FIGHT Episode 1 will be 7 minutes shorter on CBS than the version on than the CBS All Access. (Impression: The sneak peek is AWESOME and am guessing fans of THE GOOD WIFE are going to be subscribing to CBS All Access to watch each week.)


The new spinoff show CARPOOL KARAOKE will follow the format from James Corden’s THE LATE LATE SHOW, but will now be its own TV show.  Appearing for the panel were:  Executive producers Ben Winston, James Corden, and Eric Pankowski.  CARPOOL KARAOKEwill be Apple Music’s first television series and Season 1 will be 16 episodes with 16 different hosts and 16 star pairings, including: Seth MacFarlane, Will Smith, Blake Shelton, Metallica, Chelsea Handler, Billy Eichner, and Metallica.   For those wondering, James Corden was quick to clarify that CARPOOL KARAOKE will still be on THE LATE LATE SHOW and said, “I don’t feel like it’s mine. It’s something I’ve been part of.”  He further noted that while he does appear in an episode with Will Smith, that he will not host all of the episodes or even appear in al the episodes.  CARPOOL KARAOKE will be a half-hour show with two stars singing together — although the celebs are not necessarily singers.  James Corden also ruefully noted that they cannot do CARPOOL KARAOKE his show all the time as it is impossible from a production standpoint.  Executive producer Ben Winston explained that YouTube is a huge benefit in today’s late night era to see what parts of a show are working.  Co-executive producer Eric Pankowsk noted that Apple Music has embraced CARPOOL KARAOKE. as they understand music and the celebration of it.  He also knew that once they filmed the first CARPOOL KARAOKE with Alicia Keys and John Legend that they had something special.  CARPOOL KARAOKE is set to premiere later in 2017 on Apple Music.


CBS’ new comedy series SUPERIOR DONUTS is based on play by Tracy Letts about change, hope and renewal and will address issues like: racial profiling and other timely political and social issues, including gun control, hate crimes, gentrification.   Appearing for the panel were:  Stars Judd Hirsch, Jermaine Fowler, Katey Sagal, along with executive producers Bob Daily, Neil Goldman, and Garrett Donovan. SUPERIOR DONUTS is meant to be first and foremost a comedy, and as executive producer Garrett Donovan explained, “This isn’t an issue of the week show. We’ll talk about issues if they come up organically. . .  and with the show set in Chicago, it will address evergreen social and political issues that arise with anyone who would walk into a donut shop in Chicago.”  He also stressed that they took care to make the characters different to show different points of view on the issues that are raised.  When asked how they came to the show, Katey explained that when she and Judd were both appearing on a BIG BANG THEORY that she got the SUPERIOR DONUTS script from Judd and he convinced her to do it.  She also noted how vital it is to be wanted and that that despite her extensive experience, there are not exactly a long line of offers for roles available. (Side note: Anyone not begging to cast Katey Sagal in their show — comedy or drama — is out of their mind. She’s insanely talented and versatile.) Katey emphasized that, “The material drew me in. I love that it is timely, generational and dimensional.”  As for co-star Jermaine Fowler, he said, “I was raised watching sitcoms and I love long-form comedy. . . so this show has always been a dream of mine.”  He also admitted,  “Watching Judd and Katey act, and how well they treat people, it’s been inspiring to me.”  Incredibly, the show actually orders in hundreds of donuts for every show taping, which Jermaine laughingly admitted, “They make us hyper.”  (Impression: Selling point is it co-stars Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal — and Katey plays a cop! It really tickles the TV funny-bone to see Katey Sagal go from SONS OF ANARCHY and THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER to SUPERIOR DONUTS.)  SUPERIOR DONUTS premieres Thursday, February 2, 2017 on CBS.


One of the most impressive sells of a TV show was done by actor Bill Paxton for CBS’ new drama series TRAINING DAY.  Straight up, Bill laughingly said, “this isn’t a training day — it’s trial by fire,” referring to filming the pilot episode.  Appearing for the panel were: stars Bill Paxton and Justin Cornwell along with executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Antoine Fuqua, Will Beall, and Barry Schindel.  Executive producer Will Beall clarified right away that, “one of the first things we talked about was not re-doing the movie” and that Denzel Washington’s character Alonzo Harris’ story is over.  Instead, they wanted to tell the story of an experienced street cop breaking in a new rookie.  Unlike Denzel’s character, Paxton’s character has a heart-of-darkness and yet he is still looking for redemption.  Bill Paxton described his character Frank Rourke as, “If he’s anything, he’s entertaining.”  He also enthusiastically said, “The show just makes you wanna go on the ride. . . It’s the people, man. I think people are going to want to hang with us.” He added, “I knew I had to be quick on the trigger. . . It’s been a challenge learning all these speeches.”  As to the internal struggle in Paxton’s character, executive producer Antoine Fuqua said that the show really asks: “What’s too far?”  and that “TRAINING DAY is about getting home with your morals intact.”  Paxton leo confessed that while he did not re-watch the TRAINING DAY movie, he admired Denzel’s edge and humor in it and he does his best to bring both of those qualities to his role as well.  Executive producer Will Beall clarified that the show is not just about Justin Cornwall’s character being seduced by the job, it is also about Paxton’s character’s redemption. So Paxton’s character in TRAINING DAY is not as evil as Denzel’s in the film, as he will have to walk that line between going far enough and going too far.  Bill Paxton, “I love being on a show that goes into places you’d never imagine.”  TRAINING DAY premieres February 2, 2017 on CBS.


Premiere Dates:

THE CIRCUS returns with  documentary: “Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset on All Time” premieres February 3
GUERILLA premieres April 16
TWIN PEAKS premieres May 21
I’M DYING UP HERE premieres June 4


Showtime has noticed a marked increase of sign-ups and subscriptions after each TV show premiere and noted that Showtime continues to grow and be a must-have in any bundle, whether “skinny or fat.”  Showtime cares more about who keeps watching shows so it makes sense to put episode 1 of a TV show up for free on streaming, which then gets people to want to subscribe to watch episode 2.  Showtime priorities in original content: “looking for territory we can own . . . things that feel like they are about the world we live in . . . and looking for entertainment value.”  Gary Levine says Showtime encourages creatives to shine a light on a world and make it special.

Orders 2 new drama series: THE CHI from Lena Waithe (story of life in the south side of Chicago) and WHITE FAMOUS starring Jay Pharaoh.

HOMELAND Season 6 deals with an incoming administration and deals with issues of trust and distrust between the government and the intelligence community.


2nd highest rated show behind HOMELAND.
Chuck Rhodes:  “Never give in; never yield to the enemy”
Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman,
Maggie Siff: Sometimes a scene feels one way to me on the page & it reveals itself to me when I’m onstage with Paul or Damian.
“There are resonances in this season’ of BILLIONSto what is going on in Trump’s USA, says EP Brian Koppelman
Frailties and vulnerabilities exposed in Bobby Axelrod
“A survivor always takes care of (herself).” –Malin Akerman on her character.
Damian Lewis knows a scene “has to crackle” when he and Paul Giamatti share the same space — which is rare
Paul Giamatti: Chuck is more vulnerable in S2. Things come at him from all sides. He tries to pull himself together
David Levien: the challenge is how would people like Bobby Axe and Chuck Rhoades collide in interesting ways.
new season of “less Mussolini and more Machiavelli”, says Paul Giamatti –less brutal and more strategic
“Some of my fave scenes are w/ Maggie Siff, it’s a love-hate relationship; scenes are filled w/ tension,” Malin Akerman
Maggie Smith: “I’m the other woman, but I’m not the other woman” whenever she and Malin Akerman face off
Premiere on Sunday, February 19, 2017


Showtimes new 6-part limited event series GUERRILLA about Scotland Yard’s Black Power abuses in the 1970s.  It follows an English couple entrenched in the Black Lives movement in 1971 during the race riots and protests. Executive producer John Ridley described the series as looking through the lens of two very normal individuals where normalcy is no longer afforded to them. GUERRILLA premieres April 16, 2017.


Showtime is excited to present the return of TWIN PEAKS and described it as, “This version of TWIN PEAKS is the pure heroin version of David Lynch.”  Showtime is confident that TWIN PEAKS will drive subscription sign ups and hopes to  convert those new viewers into becoming long term subscribers.  CEO David Nevins said that the new TWIN PEAKS rewards close watching and making sure you are paying attention to detail.  Just the stuff diehard fans are looking for.  The bad news is that this launch of TWIN PEAKS is designed to be a close-ended one-time event.  It’s 18 hours and done.  Appearing at the panel were:  stars Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick, Kimmy Robertson, Robert Forster, and Laura Dern, along with executive producer David Lynch.  David described the new TWIN PEAKS as, “I see it as a film in parts. A film in parts is what people will experience. It was a joyful, fantastic trip with this great crew and cast.”  He further described it as, “Within the mystery, we found other mysteries . . . and that’s how it started. . . I loved the pilot of TWIN PEAKS and that set the tone and made the world for me. I just fell in deep, deep love. . . . many things remain the same, but also you feel a change.”  His biggest regret from the original series was having to answer the question of: Who killed Laura Palmer?  He never wanted to answer that question, but ABC made him.  He did say that the “Fire Walk With Me” film is very important to the new series and will be revisited.  When pressed about all the dangling plot lines from the original series, star Kyle MacLachlan laughingly said, “I can tell you very little about the danglers.”  Then while Kyle did not specifically say so, he did refer to Robert Forster as, “I’ve got this guy now,” when asked if former co-star Michael Ontkean would be reprising his role as sheriff.  When quizzed about her character in TWIN PEAKS, Laura Dern said, “I will say I am playing my very own character,” thereby squashing any speculation that she was replacing anyone from the original series.  Reprising her role as Shelly, Madchen Amick said that she was surprised to find out what happened to Shelly over the last 25 years as it is very different than what she had imagined. She also said that it took about 5 or 6 years to realize that I had been in something rare, special ‘separated from the rest of the business after the original series ended.   Putting the cherry on top the pie, Kyle said that for all of them, “the idea of a return was a gift.”  (Impression:  With CW’s RIVERDALE and return of TWIN PEAKS on Showtime, small town murder mystery is making a big spine-chilling comeback in 2017. Also, when you watch the CW’s RIVERDALE you will see how eerily its music echoes the sound of Julee Cruise from her songs for TWIN PEAKS.)

TWIN PEAKS premieres May 21, 2017 with a 2 hour premiere.  Note:  As a treat, Showtime On Demand subscribers will then be able to watch episodes 3 and 4 right after that airing that same night.  TWIN PEAKS: THE REVIVAL will be a total of 18 total episodes.

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 5 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.