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TCA Winter 2017 Tour: Quick Takes from Fox’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 Fox, who presented on the 7th day of the tour.  Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:

Announcements:

GOTHAM and LUCIFER return January 16 and will air season finales on January 30
24: LEGACY premieres February 5 (after Super Bowl), then moves to its Monday night slot on February 6
APB premieres February 6
LETHAL WEAPON Season 1 finale airs March 15
SHOT FIRED premieres March 22
BONES series finale is scheduled for the end of March 2017
PRISON BREAK: THE REVIVAL premieres April 4
THE MICK Season 1 extended by 4 episodes to total of 17 episodes.
EMPIRE picked up for Season 4.
THE X-FILES in the mix with more original episodes being discussed.
PITCH and THE EXORCIST fates still in limbo depending on midseason show performances.
(Count me as one of those who wants a Season 2 for Fox’s drama series PITCH! )
WAYWARD PINES will not be back Summer 2017, but still trying to cast for a potential Season 3.
Fox is proud to be a broadcast network and wants to draw in a large audience with its unique original programming.

24 LEGACY

With the tagline: “New day. New hero. The clock resets” 24: LEGACY is set to launch the next installment of the 24 saga, but this time with a new hero to save the day. In 24: LEGACY, that hero is Eric Carter (portrayed by Corey Hawkins), a former Special Forces Ranger.  Appearing for the panel were:  creators/executive producers Evan Katz, Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer along with stars Corey Hawkins, Miranda Otto, Jimmy Smits, Anna Diop, Ashley Thomas and Manny Coto. As explained by executive producer Howard Gordon, 24: LEGACY sets out to establish a new origin story. It is the story of the “birth of an agent” as Eric Carter feels his way through this journey. Acknowledging that Jack Bauer (as portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland) “cast a long shadow,” Howard Gordon explained that they used “broad strokes things to distinguish [Eric Carter] from Bauer.”  Another change in 24: LEGACY is the show asks:  “What does it mean to be an American?” with each character introduced. Talking about getting the lead role, Corey Hawkins said, “On TV, to be a hero . . . to step into Eric’s shoes and make him as human as I could, that’s the fun.” He added that unlike previous seasons of the show, “the rules of engagement are very different on the homefront. There are things Eric won’t do.”  But he added, “I appreciate that it’s messy . . . that it is as complex as we all are as humans.” Executive producer Manny Coto explained, “when Eric Carter is plunged into this world, the enemy may be one of us, and allegiances on battlefield do not apply here.”  As far as who Eric Carter is, Corey revealed that viewers “learn later in the season about the demons Eric is dealing with and how joining the Army was his way out.”  As to the return of fan-favorite Tony Almeida, executive producer Evan Katz recalled that Carlos Bernard called and said, “I need a job.” Then when quizzed about how Miranda Otto is currently portraying her dual roles in Fox’s 24: LEGACY and Showtime’s HOMELAND, where she portrays a traitor, she laughingly said, “Forgive and forget! I’m here to redeem myself.”  She was incredibly excited that Jimmy Smits had been cast in the show as she thinks he brings presence and gravitas to the role.  Similarly, Jimmy Smits credited the show with its strong female-empowered roles as one of the appeals for him wanting to work on the show as well. He believes that “24 is iconic in changing how we watched TV.”  24: LEGACY premieres February 2, 2017.

SHOTS FIRED

Fox’s new drama series SHOTS FIRED is described as not as much a “who-dunit” but a “why-dunit.”  It is about a young black police officer who shoots and kills a white suspect and the subsequent investigation.  Appearing for the panel were: stars Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer and executive producers Reggie Blythewood and Gina Prince-Blythewood.  Echoing the real world where police shootings set off a racially charged reaction, SHOTS FIRED seeks to show the inherent tensions that arise during such an investigation of a police shooting and the political factors that influence it. The goal of show is to get  the viewers “on edge of their seats and when they are leaning forward hit them with truth.”  Richard Dreyfuss felt that the show is  “probably the most current show you’ll ever see” and that “this is now. . . this is America.” Co-star Stephen Moyer said what appealed to him was, “all of these characters are gray. . . there’s no hero in this piece.”  When casting, executive producer Gina Prince-Blythewood said for the character of Ash, the lead investigator, she knew that Sanaa Lathan had the unique qualities for the role: she could be vulnerable and a badass. As to the appeal for co-star Stephan James, he said that his character Preston is “this young, super intelligent, driven, passionate somebody who thinks he can change the world . . and he was just that confident in how he was able to contribute to changing this community and, in turn, changing the world.”  (Impression:  Fox’s new drama series SHOTS FIRED is intense and incredibly well done. Its story draws you in and terrifies how mirrors events of today.) SHOT FIRED premieres March 22, 2017.

PRISON BREAK

Fox’s break-out drama PRISON BREAK reruns with a new adventure for its heroes.  With the tagline: “The dead talk if you listen” and a haunting teaser of the resurrection of Michael Schofield, PRISON BREAK is back to find out where Michael has been and what happened to him.  The 9 episode season is intended to be a close-ended story that fans and viewers can tune in for and know when it is gong to be resolved.  Appearing for the panel were:  stars Dominic Purcell, Wentworth  Miller, Dunbar, Rob Knepper, Sarah Wayne Callies, Mark Feuerstein, along with executive producers Paul Scheuring, Vaun Wilmott, Michael Horowitz, and Dawn Olmstead.  When asked about the mystery of how Michael could still be alive, executive producer Paul Scheuring said they did a lot of research to figure out why Michael might still be alive.  So not only did they need “a prison to break out of,” they needed “an emotional reason” to lure viewers back. So the over-arcing question will be: “Who is Michael Scofield?” They will look at: Is he the Michael we knew all along? And is the hero really the good guy?  When asked if PRISON BREAK would have been brought back if Dominic and Wentworth hadn’t been cast together on THE FLASH, even the stars themselves are not sure. But getting the roles as Captain Cold and Heatwave on THE FLASH certainly showed a renewed interest by fans and Fox decided it was time to revisit the PRISON BREAK world again.  Co-star Robert Knepper described it as more of a rebirth of the show opposed to a reboot since much of the original cast is returning. As for the infamous Michael Schofield tattoos, Wentworth admitted, “I’m not sure there’s any topping the original [tattoos].”  Fans will have to tune in to see what, if any, new tattoos he could be sporting this time around.  Another change is T-bag’s hand. Executive producer Paul Scheuring reassured that “there’s a reason within the narrative” as to why T-Bag gets a bionic hand.  Also changed will be Sarah’s role as her character is now Sarah Schofield and she’s married.  After all, Michael has been believed to be dead for quite some time and she has naturally moved on.  For those looking for a happy reunion between Sarah and Michael, that may not be quite what happens as Sarah will need to know why he did not help raise their child and why he vanished.  Despite the frictions between the characters, Wentworth described reuniting with his former castmates akin to a “high school reunion getting the band back together.”  PRISON BREAK Season 5 premieres on April 4th.

APB

Fox’s new drama series is about a tech billionaire who buys his way into running a Chicago precinct in order to try out high-tech crime fighting methods and prove its effectiveness against crime.  Appearing for the panel were: stars Justin Kirk, Ernie Hudson, Caitlin Stasey, Natalie Martinez, executive producers Len Wiseman, Trey Calloway, and Matt Nix. In explaining the premise of the show, executive producer Matt Nix stated: “Money can do things that no money can’t do.” In a world where there is never enough money to use modern tech to fight crime, APB wants to showcase what a lot of money and high tech can actually do.  So APB is about a businessman using his money and power to do something good.  Yet at the same time, as executive producer Trey Calloway explains, “We never want the technology to solve all our problems. We want it to create new and unanticipated problems. . . such as, the technology that connects us, also disconnects us.”  Matt Nix also added, “At a time when people are looking at policing as a two-sided issue, the show is a fun and optimistic look at what policing can be.”
And for all its sci-fi tech, executive producer Len Wiseman said, “We want to make sure the technology we are using is of today. . . or about to be developed. . . It’s not a sci-fi show.”  From her perspective of portraying a police officer assigned to the APB unit, Natalie Martinez said her character is struggling to get used to the whole technology side of it.  Interestingly, the show is based off the true story of something similar that happened in New Orleans.  So the show hopes to be more grounded in reality than outside of it.  Matt Nix also said, “We’re trying to present an optimistic vision of what policing could be.” APB premieres February 6, 2017.

BONES

Currently in its 12th season, Fox’s long-term procedural series BONES is wrapping up its final episodes before its series finale in March.  When queried as to whether the show was ending because it was cancelled or they chose to end it, executive producer Hart Hanson said, “It wasn’t our decision. We were told it was our last year.” He also noted that he had a different ending in mind, but stated that he felt his successors have done “a wonderful job” with the ending that they ultimately chose for the characters. Emily Deschanel also noted, “We had a really good run. . . it would be ungracious of us to be fighting against it.” Hart said the he would be happy to bringing BONES back at some point like Fox has done with 24, PRISON BREAK or THE X-FILEs.  To which, David Boreanaz definitively stated that for him, “I don’t like reunions, and I don’t like going back.”  Not wanting to squash the prospect entirely and fan hopes with it, Emily chimed in with, “people watch BONES for more than me and David. They watch for all these people. Fans watch the show for the chemistry of the entire cast.”  David then hastened to reassure that the “final 12 episodes are packed” with great stuff for the fans.  In fact, it was an emotional experience working on the final season for all, but they are grateful they got to do it. The  BONES series finale is scheduled for the end of March 2017.

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 7 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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