In the storied ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel (home to the Golden Globe Awards), TV critics and members of the press are gathering for the summer session of their bi-annual event known as the Television Critics Association Press Tour (or the TCAs, for short). Here, TV networks proudly present their upcoming freshman shows and returning hopefuls in hopes that critics will take kindly to, or maybe even champion, them.
We went to observe as happy little flies on the wall, and now we can’t wait for Fall TV. Here are eight things we were particularly excited to learn about for the upcoming NBC season:
8. The Tony Bennett 90th Birthday Special
The legendary crooner is celebrating his 90th Birthday on August 3 (Happy Birthday, Tony!) and NBC will be filming a celebratory concert at Radio City Music Hall in September to be aired as a holiday special in December. We’ve been told to expect guest stars galore – and that’s already got us flying to the moon.
7. Archie Panjabi joins Blindspot
The Good Wife actress joins the cast of this past fall’s #1 show – and as fans of both, we are excited beyond cryptic word jumbles. Speaking of puzzles, we just learned that episode titles from Season 1 were anagrams (wha?!) – and apparently they will continue to have fun with title naming in the second season (or “Dance One’s SOS.” See what we did there?)
6. The Fourth Chicago Franchise
Pushed from the fall line-up, Chicago Justice will be premiering mid-season, along with the notion that there will be a four-way crossover with P.D., Fire, and Med sometime in the spring. Creator Dick Wolf apparently also petitioned to SAG for the entire Chicago franchise to be considered as one large ensemble. If that comes to fruition, we hope the announcement will be followed with a “dun-dun.”
5. Timeless: A Tale of Two Time Machines
NBC’s upcoming time-travel action-drama Timeless will apparently feature two time machines, a slick one stolen by the antagonist and a clunkier model the hero trio must navigate to chase him through historical events in time. (Executive Producer Eric Kripke likened the aesthetic difference to EVE vs. Wall E.) We also like the time travel laws in this world, which would not allow the characters to jump back to a place they exist or have previously travelled to – so no meeting yourself or do-overs. Got that, McFly?
4. This Is Us: "A Dramedy Version of LOST”?
Creator Dan Fogleman described his anticipated new drama This Is Us as “a dramedy version of LOST” – and quite frankly we’re intrigued to no end. The trailer, which revealed the story of people who share the same birthday, hit a whopping 91-million views on social media – and listening to the critics, talent, and creatives go on about (but not reveal) the big twist at the end of the pilot, had us salivating to see it. Plus it stars Mandy Moore and Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia so need we say more? How about Justin Hartley?
3. Mike Schur’s The Good Place
The upcoming freshman comedy by Parks & Rec and Brooklyn 99 creator certainly had us hooked during the panel (oddly enough, he too referenced LOST) – but chatting with cast members during the after party, we were even more on board. Not that we needed to be sold on Mike Schur’s genius, but cast member D’Arcy Carden assured us this show was “next level.” Well, the show’s about a woman (Kristen Bell) in the after life who wrongfully ends up in the “good place” so “next level” seems absolutely fitting. Also the running gag that she can't swear in her new world was pretty forking funny. See ya there, shirt heads.
2. Superstore’s Olympic Episode
Yes, we’re totally stoked for the return of our favorite freshman ensemble from the past season, but right around the corner (August 19 to be exact) NBC will air a special Olympic themed episode, directly following the closing ceremonies for the Rio games. The stand-alone, bonus episode will take place in a world before the Season 1 finale, and will feature guest stars of Olympic proportions: Tara Lipinski, McKayla Maroney, and Apollo Anton Ohno. Guaranteed TV gold! Did we also mention how much we love this show?
1. Absolutely Everything About Hairspray Live!
The NBC live musical tradition will continue this December with the Broadway favorite, Hairspray. Directed by Tony-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon, the production will star original Broadway Edna Turnblad, Harvey Fierstein, alongside musical theatre veterans, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, and Martin Short, and introducing newcomer Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad.
Just announced, dress store owner Mr. Pinky will be played by Sean Hayes (coincidentally, Kristin Chenoweth’s co-star in the 2010 Broadway revival of Promises, Promises) and longtime Broadway champion, Rosie O’Donnell, in the role of the gym teacher. Thrilled to be cast in her dream role of Penny Pingleton, Ariana Grande said, “Pop music is so fun, but this is way much more fun.” The creative team was also very excited about telling “this particular story at this particular time in our country.” When asked if there will be updating to the integration story for today’s climate, Harvey Fierstein responded, “You don’t update history – you tell history.”
Needless to say, we’re excited about the TV history to be made this coming season from our good friends at NBC. [insert triumphant peacock cry]
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