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JAN
8
6 MOS

The 12 Most-Anticipated Panels at TCA

Broadcast and cable networks alike will trot out their new fare in the semi-annual dog and pony show, hoping to strike a chord with critics and cut through the clutter.

True Detectives Trailer HBO Screengrab - H 2013
HBO
HBO's "True Detective"

Hundreds of reporters -- and the producers and stars looking to court them -- will descend on Pasadena this week for the Television Critics Association's winter press tour.

The two-week tour, which runs Jan. 9-23, will offer wall-to-wall panels featuring midseason wares from both broadcast and cable. Here are 12 of the most anticipated sessions from the annual dog and pony show.

1. HBO's True Detective. The Matthew McConaughey- and Woody Harrelson-starrer has been generating stellar reviews and marks the premium cable network's big swing into the red-hot anthology market. Also helping to draw buzz is McConaughey's status as an Academy Award contender for Dallas Buyers Club. (HBO/Jan. 9)

2. CNN executive session with Jeff Zucker. The former NBC chief returns to the TCA stage where he'll field questions about the changes at the news network and courting Jay Leno. (CNN/Jan. 10). Meanwhile, exec sessions with Fox's Kevin Reilly will see the future of Simon Cowell's The X Factor be a hot topic (Fox/Jan. 13); Showtime's David Nevins could field questions about where Homeland goes after Brody's death (Showtime/Jan. 16); John Landgraf will talk the future of FX and upstart FXX (FX/Jan. 14); and ABC's Paul Lee will be on the hot seat following the network's dismal fall. (ABC/Jan. 17).

3. NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers. Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers will preview their respective late-night series, lessons from Leno and Conan O'Brien as well as the inevitable New York booking war that will ensue when the Lorne Michaels-produced Tonight moves to the East Coast. (NBC/Jan. 19)

4. HBO's The Normal Heart. Part of HBO's impressive lineup that also includes Girls and gay-themed Jonathan Groff comedy Looking, Glee and American Horror Story boss Ryan Murphy will share the TCA stage with stars Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Taylor Kitsch and Julia Roberts to preview his adaptation of Larry Kramer's Tony-winning play of the same name. Murphy is famous for dropping nuggets of news, and journalists will be hoping Thursday is no different. (HBO/Jan. 9)

5. Fox's 24: Live Another Day. Howard Gordon reunites with Kiefer Sutherland as the duo previews Fox's revived 24 and its new miniseries format. Will the return -- following a four-year gap after the series concluded -- quell the thirst for the long-rumored movie or add fuel to that fire? (Fox/Jan. 13)

6. HBO's The Leftovers. Following a Wednesday screening, the famously candid Damon Lindelof returns to TV with his first series since Lost. The passion project -- an adaption of Tom Perrotta's best-seller, premieres in the summer and will feature a panel that includes the author and leading man, Justin Theroux. Odds on Lindelof -- who has been missed since breaking up with Twitter -- escaping the panel without mentioning Lost: even money.  (HBO panel: Jan. 9)

7. FX's Tyrant. The drama reteams Homeland's Gordon and Gideon Raff and marks the former's fourth series for 2014 -- joining TNT's Legends and Fox's 24 reboot. Gordon could face questions about how FX's Middle Eastern drama will compare to Homeland, his busy schedule as well as the future of Showtime's Emmy winner.(FX/Jan. 14)

8. AMC's Turn. With Breaking Bad already signed off and Mad Men's end date in sight, the cable network needs a new original drama pronto, especially since its last scripted series -- Low Winter Sun -- became one of the rare AMC shows to get the ax after only one season. AMC will hope to win the battle with Turn, a Revolutionary War-set drama from Nikita's Craig Silverstein. (AMC/Jan. 11)

9. Sundance's The Red Road. While the series about a cover-up set against the conflict between two clashing communities marks Sundance's latest scripted original, several questions are sure to be directed at co-star and Game of Thrones alum Jason Momoa for his top-secret role in the "Man of Steel" follow-up. (Sundance/Jan. 11)

10. FX's Fargo. The reboot starring Billy Bob Thornton marks the first of the cable network's latest foray into the anthology business. Should the first season perform well, FX will return to Fargo with a largely different cast in season two. Also expect co-star Martin Freeman to get the inevitable Sherlock questions. (FX/Jan. 14)

11. Discovery's Klondike. The six-hour, three-night mini from executive producer Ridley Scott marks the network's first scripted foray and comes as Discovery is looking to cash in on its gold phenomenon that includes Gold Rush, its highest-rated series. (Discovery/Jan. 9)

12. Starz's Outlander. The drama based on Diana Gabaldon's best-seller won't debut until summer, but the adaptation from Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore has already been creating buzz online, where fans of the beloved romance/sci-fi series -- dubbed a female-skewing Game of Thrones -- have already embraced stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Beyond Outlander, Moore also has Syfy's Helix bowing the same day. (Starz/Jan. 10)

Also worth noting: Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler will make a detour from Beverly Hills to Pasadena on Friday -- two days before the awards show -- to support Comedy Central's buzzy comedy Broad City.

Stay tuned to THR.com for news and highlights from TCA.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit