TCA: NBC wraps up tour; places big bet on “Heroes: Reborn”

Tim Kring with "Heroes: Reborn" cast.
Tim Kring with “Heroes: Reborn” cast.

NBCUniversal wrapped up the last day of the 2015 TCA Press Tour, with panels for NBC and NBCU’s cable networks. Here are some selected panels that took place:

NBCUniversal cable nets (USA/SyFy/CNBC)

-USA Networks’ new Colony sounds like a ripoff of AMC’s new Fear Of The Walking Dead and CBS’ Under The Dome – apocalypse takes over Los Angeles with aliens (instead of zombies) invading, sealing off the city (only with no dome.) But don’t call it an alien invasion, says creator Carlton Cuse. Whatever, dude – I won’t be watching.

=Next up was SyFy’s Childhood’s End, a six-hour, three part miniseries based on a 1953 science-fiction novel where a city is overtaken by pleasant people and becomes an utopian paradise. “There are no heroes and villains in the story,” notes executive producer Matthew Graham, who wrote the script.“It’s not about heroes and villains. There is nothing to fix, nothing to fight against.”  While this recipe could make for a rather boring show, living in an age of harmony does have its downsides, and no doubt you’ll see that here. The series debuts December 14.

-While Jay Leno was talking about his new Leno’s Garage show on CNBC, the car enthusiast was asked how Stephen Colbert would do in his old daypart: “I think he’ll be terrific”, he said. “The idea of a white guy in late night is revolutionary”, he joked. All kidding aside, Leno also said he would like to see more diversity in late night. Leno’s Garage premieres October 7 on CNBC.


-Executive session: Robert Greenblatt addressed the big elephant in the room: what to do with that human garbage disposal, Donald Trump. Though the network dropped him from The Apprentice franchise due to his insensitive comments about immigrants, Greenblatt said Trump is not completely banned by the network.

Among the announcements he made at TCA include a six-year contract extension for Jimmy Fallon as host of The Tonight Show; signing deals to pick up sitcoms from Michael Schur and Tina Fey/Robert Carlock; and Dolly Parton headlines a made-for (Coat Of Many Colors) on December 11, a week after the live presentation of The Wiz.

-Look! It’s another FBI drama in Blindspot. Yay. But this one os at least interesting: unidentified woman wakes up nude in times square, her memory wiped clean and filled with tattoos. So we’ll spend all season trying to figure out who this woman is, and what the tattoos mean. Nice, but if they solved all that, what’s going to happen in season 2?

Interesting fact: Jaimie Alexander, who plays “Jane Doe”, sits in a chair for 7 hours so she can get the tattoos on.

-You can tell Neil Patrick Harris is excited for Best Show Ever, the new live variety show he’s launching next month.“It’s my hope you’ll get to see a bunch of cool shit, and it’s live, so you’ll only be able to reference it the next day,” Harris said to the crowd at TCA. Nice, but it won’t help those “live” ratings. That’s something you can’t see on YouTube.

The best part about Best Show Ever is get to see Neil Patrick Harris show off his talent. The bad news is, this is only scheduled for eight episodes this season. And there’s the matter of living up to the show’s title. If this stinks, watch out.

Best Show Ever premiers after the finale of America’s Got Talent on Sept. 22  and then moves to its regular Tuesday night time slot at 8/7 p.m. the following week.

-Don’t look for new sitcom Truth Be Told (formerly known as People Are Talking) to shy away from controversy – in fact, the show will embrace it when it comes to race issues, according to creator and EP DJ Nash, whom life the show of based off of.

Nash boasted about the diversity of his writers room: “We have gay, straight, black, white, ethnically ambiguous, a couple of us didn’t go to Harvard, we’re single, divorced, young, Catholic… but like our cast, all of us are incredibly f—able!”. He also wanted the room to get into debates, not necessarily agreeing on every point.

This seems to be in the Norman Lear mold. But unlike Lear’s shows, Truth Be Told looks more like former Fox sitcom The War At Home than All In The Family. Don’t be surprised of this piece of shit is the season’s first cancellation with a quick induction into the T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame.

– Dick Wolf unveiled his reboot of ER – err… I mean Chicago Hope… err.. I mean his latest Chicago-based drama Chicago Med. Wolf described the Chicago Fire spinoff as “an emotional thrill ride through the day-to-day chaos of the city’s most explosive hospital.” (I think he just described Cook County Hospital.) Look for some “ripped from the headlines” stuff, a Wolf staple. And as a plus, the wonderful S. Epatha Merkerson (from Wolf’s Law & Order) is heading the place.

One interesting footnote – days after Chicago Med’s had its TCA presentation, showrunner Andrew Dettman was forced out due to creative differences.

– The last panel for NBC – and at TCA – was for Heroes: Reborn, the highly anticipated reboot of the 2006-10 series. A lot of info about the series was covered at Comic-Con, so we’ll just go into the latest developments:

  • The series gets a two-hour premiere on September 24, pushing back the season premiere of The Blacklist until October 1. That’s major.
  • Heroes: Reborn will also be screened at the Toronto Film Festival next month, becoming the only TV series to do so.
  • Tim Kring acknowledged some members from the original cast won’t be returning, including Zachary Quinto, Milo Ventimigila, and Hayden Pantettiere, whose Claire character is central to the plot of Heroes: Reborn.
  • Those that are returning will be showing up periodically throughout the series’ initial thirteen-episode run.
  • Instead of being treated like a fifth season, Heroes: Reborn would be treated like a tenth season, as if the series wasn’t off the air at all. Let’s just say the cameras weren’t there for the last five years.

And yes, yours truly will be watching. If it works, great. If not, Jay Cutler won’t be the only person I’ll be bashing on this site in the fall.