Showtime, CW at TCA: Dexter and the Beast

The cast of “Beauty and the Beast”

The CW and Showtime – both owned by CBS Corporation – held their presentations at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Monday, featuring shows about a serial killer, a superhero, and a beast (don’t get these guys in the same room.)

– CW executive session: CW network chief Mark Pedowitz has to make the best of many bad situations: declining ratings; critics constantly ripping the network; and failing to create buzz with its target female 18-34 demo. And then there’s Tribune Broadcasting’s uncertain future as the station group’s parent company exits bankruptcy as creditors take over (Tribune owns fourteen CW affiliates, including stations in the top three markets.) But the show must go on as CW and Pedowitz faces a huge uphill battle to convince the network is here to stay.

– Pedowitz announced CW was changing its slogan to TV Now, acknowledging the $600 HDTV set in your living room is the center of it all (and if you missed your favorite CW show, if applicable, you can catch it eight hours later online.) Pedowitz acknowledged his network needs to attract more males to the mix (hence the addition of Arrow.) Pedowitz also said Cult would be airing for thirteen weeks straight in midseason, and also has Carrie Diaries on tap. And Pedowitz also defended his decision to start several series in October, to avoid the clutter of Premiere Week on other networks in late September.

On to the shows:

– One of the highly anticipated series coming to CW this fall is Arrow, based on the DC Comics series. The premise: A rich industrialist assumes the identity of Ironman The Green Lantern The Green Hornet The Green Arrow and fights crime using a multitude of weapons at his disposal. Co-producer Andrew Kreisberg admitted the show’s liberal bias and said via Deadline: “People that Oliver [Queen] is targeting are the wealthy and the corrupt.” (And this Oliver Queen dude is wealthy. Will he go after himself?)

To promote the series at Comic-Con, DC Comics produced a ten-page preview comic, which takes place in the same canon as the upcoming TV show. Arrow premieres October 10.

– In the long line of M.D.s (Trapper John, Doogie Howser, and House) comes Emily Owens, M.D., a medical procedural (!) where Dr. Owens finds out medical school is much like high school – the popularity, the rivalries, etc… (if this were Dr. House, he’d start shoving people into lockers.) Jennie Snyder Urman told the critics the show would be a traditional procedural – with some comic elements.

Yep, this sure ain’t no Doogie Howser. And a concept of a show like is farthest from the real world as much as possible – it might as well be set on Pluto. And a procedural to boot? This is like combining peanut butter with broccoli. Another candidate for The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame.

– Next panel: Here comes The New Beauty and The Beast, a reboot of the ratings-challenged 1987-90 CBS drama with Jay Ryan stepping into Ron Pearlman’s shoes as Vincent the Beast and former Smallville actress Kristin Kreuk in Linda Hamilton’s role as Catherine the beauty, and described as “a modern-day romantic love story with a procedural twist.”

There’s going to be some changes as opposed to the original – for one, the beast won’t look like the beast in the ’80’s series – in this contemporary version,  Vincent was rumored to be killed in Afghanistan, but resurfaces. And the controversial storyline where Catherine got pregnant by Vincent at the end of season two and murdered at the start of season three in the original series will not be considered canon in this version (and the baby was born, for those of you wondering.) In real life, Hamilton’s pregnancy was written into the script, but she decided to depart the show at the start of the third season.

Did You Know? The producers of the original Beauty and the Beast was Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas – the same duo who produced the sitcoms Soap, Benson, and The Golden Girls. Witt and Thomas are also involved in the reboot.

The original Beauty And The Beast struggled in the ratings, but the series was commended for its quality storytelling by several organizations, including the now-defunct Viewers For Quality Television.

– And the rest… You can forget Ron Pearlman appearing in the Beauty and the Beast reboot. In a post-session interview after the Sons Of Anarchy panel, Perlman – who played the beast during its CBS run – said he wasn’t impressed with the reboot and said he has no plans on appearing on or even watching it… While most of CW’s programming premieres in October, the latest (and possibly last) America’s Next Top Model cycle begins August 24 in its new Friday time period… Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Blog finally gets a TV airdate four years after its Internet premiere – the special airs Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. (CT). Unfortunately for CW, just about everybody has seen it already.

Showtime

Exec session: Showtime president David Nevins spoke about the premium channel, and made an important announcement: his network is ending The Big C after four seasons with four one-hour episodes, wrapping up storylines. Also ending is Weeds, which is wrapping up this year. Nevins also discussed the liklely end of Dexter after its final two seasons are in the book. From B&C: Nevins said “We try to make these decisions about when to end series from a creative point of view so the creators have big say in that. We don’t have to be like the broadcast networks that have to make split-second decisions and cut shows. I think it can be built in satisfying ways.” Nevins also discussed his freshmen series, with the launches of Homeland and House of Lies, as a “transforming” one for the network.

– Perhaps the most interesting panel of the day – CW shows included – was the one for Dexter, as the cast and producers defended the show and a jaw-dropping reveal. JAW DROPPING! (did that get your attention? Good.) – In the recent season finale Dexter’s foster sister professes his love for him – while the serial killer is decapitating somebody. “She stumbles upon it in the middle of her emotional override: not only does she love her foster brother but she’s feeling she’s in love with him. It’s an emotional reason why she goes there and it’s the last thing she expects to find in Dexter in one of his kills,” said co-producer Sara Colleton via The Hollywood Reporter.

You can’t make stuff like this up (well, they can…)

Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Deb (Dexter’s sister) on the show, seemed to get a little pissy toward the end of the session, defending the series from acquisitions that the series’ hand writing on the wall, saying if production on the new season hadn’t begun, the line of questioning from the press would have “hurt her feelings” (get a grip.)

– The cast of Weeds made an appearance at TCA, but remained mum on details on any major plot points for their final season – including the finale, which they are currently shooting. Instead, much of the cast talked about their upcoming projects, including Justin Kirk, who will be on NBC’s Animal Practice this fall.

The half-hour comedy is scheduled to conclude its eight-season run on September 16.

And the rest… Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, a ten-part documentary from the award-winning director, premieres on November 12… Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jim Carrey are among the names scheduled to be interviewed on Inside Comedy, which returns for a second season in 2013… On August 25, Showtime airs Larry Wilmore’s Race, Religion, and Sex Special, which could serve as a pilot for a possible series… Nevins announced some series orders for 2013, including a new dramas Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex.

Yes, there will be a show called Masters of Sex.

You can’t make stuff up like this…

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