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Sorry, Andy Williams, the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is officially over. That means it must once-again be time for the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour — and this one is significantly less magical.
The twice-annual TCA event officially begins Thursday afternoon, with DirecTV presenting at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California. The whole thing won’t (mercifully) come to a conclusion until nearly two weeks later. In-between, broadcast, cable and a small sampling of streaming networks will present their midseason series to TV critics, serving up their casts, showrunners and a few executives for a little Q&A.
TheWrap‘s got some burning questions before we even start, however — see what we’re pondering over below.
Fox: Will Fox’s Lone Executive Session Prove a Good or Bad Idea?
The broadcast networks were united in a decision to not present executive sessions at the Winter 2017 TCA — that is, until they weren’t. After some backlash from the actual television critics attending the biannual event, Fox relented, offering up co-chiefs Dana Walden and Gary Newman for a half hour of on-the-record Q&A.
Will the dissent from the ranks pay off for Fox? Or is a little curry favored not worth what likely annoyed their contemporaries at CBS, NBC and ABC? Well, Walden and Newman will likely get a few extra “Thank Yous” for their participation this time around. And who knows? The compliance could subconsciously lead to more positive write-ups. OR, they may simply be inviting the very firing squad that other top execs are cleverly avoiding. We’ll find out how this goes on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
NBC: Can NBC Stay No. 1 Through Spring?
Unless Fox hosts some absolutely killer NFL playoff games, NBC should stay as the top-rated network through the next few weeks. But can the peacock-colored broadcaster hold on until May’s TV upfronts? That’s more of an uphill battle. After all, Fox has Super Bowl LI, which will be the most-watched telecast of the year, as usual. Plus, no Olympics in this odd-numbered year.
Here’s what NBC’s got going for it: More “This Is Us,” the anticipated “Emerald City” and what feels like 20 “Chicago” shows, among other proven and potential performers. Unfortunately, “Celebrity Apprentice” had a highly disappointing start, so that may not contribute as much as Bob Greenblatt & Co. had hoped. NBC closes the Winter tour on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
Can Hulu Gain Market Share Sans Amazon, Netflix?
Hulu knows an opportunity when it sees one. Or at least, it should. With bigger streamers Netflix and Amazon both electing to sit this one out, 2017’s Winter TCA is a primo opportunity for Hulu to plant its flag a bit deeper in the multi-platform universe.
Hulu’s day will start with Craig Erwich’s opening remarks at 10 a.m. Seven show panels, a lunch, a special performance and eventually a cocktail party will follow. That’s a pretty full day, and a pretty good chance for the “Mindy Project” home to endear itself to (self?) important critics.
Just What Do You Think You’re Doing Here, DirecTV?
Hey, DirecTV’s got “Kingdom,” and this ain’t your daddy’s content environment. After all, even EPIX does these things now. And DirecTV’s got Vince Vaughn on board, so that’s pretty cool. Oh yeah, and Ricky Schroder.
More literally, here’s exactly what the hell DirecTV is doing this month at TCA:
3:00 p.m.: Opening Remarks by Chris Long
3:05 p.m.: “Kingdom” panel
3:35 p.m.: “You Me Her” panel
4:05 p.m.: “Undeniable”/”Fearless” Panel (Vince Vaughn, Tim Ferris, Joe Buck, Peter Billingsley)
4:35 p.m.: Untitled Syrian War Documentary from Ricky Schroder
5 p.m.: Panels Wrap
5:30 p.m.: Evening Reception in The Tap Room at The Langham
Will Epix and/or Crackle Deliver a Hit?
Epix and Crackle, a premium cable network and streaming service respectively, have been angling to break into the original scripted content game with limited success. This year, both companies will offer new shows based on popular movies: “Snatch” on Crackle and “Get Shorty” on Epix. Both shows have solid casts, but will either be able to take a piece of the pie currently claimed by Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu?
Where Is Your Midseason Schedule, ABC? What Are You hiding?
Every broadcast network announced its midseason schedule months ago, but ABC’s is nowhere to be found. What gives? Three of the network’s new shows — “Downward Dog,” “Imaginary Mary” and “Time After Time” — still don’t have premiere dates, and neither do returning series “American Crime” and “The Catch.” Shonda Rhimes’ new “Romeo and Juliet” sequel series doesn’t even have a title yet. That doesn’t bode well for the TV ratings-challenged network. Get to work!
ABC splits its press day with the rest of Disney on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Will “Training Day” Find an Audience?
CBS went 0-2 last season with movie-to-TV adaptations — “Limitless” and “Rush Hour” both missed. Now, the network is trying to cash in on Denzel Washington’s Oscar-winning performance in “Training Day.” This time, Bill Paxton plays the corrupt, veteran cop and Justin Cornwell is the idealistic rookie. Can the procedural drama succeed where it’s recent predecessors have failed?
Unfortunately, the pilot didn’t impress over here. The grittiness of the 2001 film had to be watered down for network television, as one would expect — but the sanitization we’ve seen feels a bit over-the-top for the franchise. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a cop-flop for CBS — you guys see how many viewers “NCIS” got last night? CBS hits Pasadena on Monday, Jan. 9, splitting the day with Showtime.
Will “Riverdale” Revive the Teen Drama Genre?
“No Tomorrow” and “Frequency” have not been bright spots for The CW, but “Riverdale” should get the youth-driven network out of its new-series slump. The Archie comic book adaptation is also a return to the genre that once dominated the network which now relies heavily on superhero fare. Could Archie and his friends herald a return to The CW’s roots and make teen dramas cool again?
The CW presents on Sunday, Jan. 8. Yep, that’s the same day as the Golden Globes. Lucky us.
Can “Legion” make FX the home of the next great superhero universe?
The CW has “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Supergirl” and Netflix has “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and the rest of “The Defenders.” Could Noah Hawley’s 1970s set X-Men drama be a launching pad for Fox’s comic book properties?
Is “The Son” AMC’s next “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead”?
Barring the “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul,” AMC has been searching for its next prestige drama since “Mad Men” went off the air. Sprawling Western family epic “The Son” seems to be in a good position to be just that – will the Pierce Brosnan-led drama be the next big AMC hit?
Viacom’s networks had a rough 2016, with huge executive turnover at MTV and a shaky year for Comedy Central’s once-great late night line-up. So all eyes will be on Viacom’s presentations, expecting to see how it plans to turn things around in the new year.
How many times will we hear the words “Peak TV?”
Following FX CEO John Landgraf’s pronouncement that there is “too much television” during TCA in 2015, the phrase “peak TV” has been bandied about like crazy. In December, FX released a study estimating that there were a record 455 scripted originals in 2016. Landgraf also predicted the TV bubble would begin to contract sooner rather than later, so be prepared for plenty of questions on the subject.
Joe Otterson, Reid Nakamura and Linda Ge contributed to this post.