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The Television Critics Association’s summer press tour made a shift to the broadcast side of things on Tuesday, with CBS coming to the Beverly Hilton for a morning of panels and then taking reporters off-site for afternoon panels on several Studio City stages housing the new shows.
The full day included a high-wire executive session from CBS’ new lead execs, new details on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery and a lot of DuckTales talk from a star who wasn’t there to talk about DuckTales.
Tuesday’s highlights and lowlights…
Everyone’s a critic. CBS’ 9JKL is still waiting on a verdict from actual TCA members, but reviews are in from an unexpected source and they’re not good. Addie, the 7-year-old daughter of showrunner Dana Klein and star Mark Feuerstein, may be a budding network executive, because in the show’s earliest stages, she had notes (probably more related to missing quality time with her parents than show quality). “So, we have a 7-year-old, and when we were working so hard on the pilot, she gave us a drawing and a note, and we have it framed in our office, that says, ‘I don’t like’ with her brave spelling,” Klein said. “‘I don’t like your work. It’s not funny and it’s boring to me.'” From the mouths of babes!
On the acrimonious CBS executive session. For the second straight year, relatively new CBS execs faced a summer press tour grilling over a lineup dominated by shows dominated by white men. The Hollywood Reporter covered it amply here, and putting on my critical cap, I’ll say: On one hand, CBS’ Kelly Kahl and Thom Sherman were being asked to answer for a slate that wasn’t assembled completely under their watch and questioners aggressively pushed for answers that Kahl and Sherman haven’t been on the job long enough to reflect on. I’ll grant that completely. I’ll also grant that Kahl and Sherman weren’t going to give specific contract details on Hawaii Five-0 salaries and they got several questions basically demanding those details. On the other, if there’s a sincere feeling in the critical community that CBS has programming problems and progress is being made in the same superficial way and certain institutions within CBS are showing no signs of change, the press tour is a time for somebody at the network to give a public accounting. If Glenn Geller wasn’t ready for a full accounting last summer and Kahl and Sherman weren’t ready for a full accounting last year and CBS didn’t do an executive session in the winter, it becomes nearly two years with nobody giving an accounting and things not visibly or evidently changing, and three years if we project out to next summer before we next hear from a CBS executive. Since these aren’t small questions, they have to be asked when the opportunity presents itself. In my opinion.
Serialized Star Trek — new, but not-so-new. Critics protested against Akiva Goldsman’s claim that Star Trek: Discovery was the first-ever serialized Star Trek, but even after acknowledging the serialization of Deep Space Nine, Goldsman stuck mostly to his guns (or phasers). “So this is, by far, let me amend it, the most serialized version of Star Trek that has ever existed, and as such, it’s longform character storytelling,” Goldsman said. “And without conflict, there is no longform character storytelling. So what happened is over the iterations of the shows, what was theory became canon. Obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of conflict in TOS [“The Original Series”] and there’s a lot of, sort of, aspirations towards the ideals of the Federation, and then we sort of made the prime directive just to break it, apparently. So part of what we’ve tried to do is speak to how those philosophical precepts came to be.” The opening credits music by Jeff Russo is terrific. So far, that’s all I’ve seen other than trailers, so that’s all I can say.
Life is like a hurricane. Not to say that Bobby Moynihan wasn’t excited to be talking about his upcoming CBS comedy Me, Myself & I, but it was hard not to notice how much more jazzed he was when a reporter inquired about his upcoming reboot of DuckTales. Yes, DuckTales. “I grew up on DuckTales,” he related. “When I hear the DuckTales‘ theme song, I get a sense memory of coming home after school and being like, ‘Alright, this is it!’ When that audition came up, I was over the moon about it. Out of all the animation that I’ve done — and I’ve been lucky to do a bunch — I think it’s one of the best. I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s so perfect. It’s DuckTales again and maybe even more so. It’s a lot like the original Carl Barks art style. I think that’s his name. I hope I’m not mangling that. It’s beautiful, and the cast is phenomenal. We got great people. David Tennant is Scrooge. Beck Bennett is Launchpad. And I can’t not hear Beck’s voice in the original now. When I go back, I’m like, ‘It should have been Beck this whole time. He’s perfect.’ It’s great. I’m really super, super proud of it, and I can’t wait for people to see it because I think they’re going to absolutely love it. If you’re a DuckTales fan, you will see lots of awesome DuckTales characters coming back and others, too.” Oh, and Me, Myself & I will be on TV at some point, too.
Race cars, lasers, airplanes, it’s a duck-blur! In contrast, Shemar Moore seemed very excited to talk about his new show, CBS’ upcoming reboot of S.W.A.T., which all involved were hoping to underline isn’t just a new version of a former TV show and movie property. It is, in fact, all things to all people, according to Moore. “We’re taking on real life,” the actor gushed. “We’re taking on the Trump years. And I’m not going to get political. I don’t care who you voted for. It’s just what’s happening today. It’s Black Lives Matter. As much as some people don’t want to hear it, it’s All Lives Matter. It’s not just black versus blue or black versus white. It’s every ethnicity. It’s fear. It’s racism. It’s terrorism. It’s subject matter of today. I don’t want us to preach to you. It’s not going to be heavy. This is S.W.A.T. You’re going to have a good time. It’s a thrill ride. It’s everything you know S.W.A.T. to be, but I really believe we’re going to surprise you. When people watch this pilot, the first thing I hear is one word, ‘Whoa,’ which is really cool. The second thing I hear — I’d love to hear how great I did as Hondo, but I don’t get that right away — I get, ‘It feels like a movie on TV.'”
Big Change Theory. Chuck Lorre is one of TV’s most successful practitioners of the multicamera sitcom format, which explains why even though Young Sheldon is a spinoff to one of the medium’s biggest hits, Lorre is nervous. More than that. “I’m a nervous wreck,” he said of his first time working in single-cam. “It’s an entirely different animal. It’s a wholly different way to tell a story, and the working process is very different. It’s much slower, you know. But the end result is something to be proud of, really. I love the pilot.” What are the big differences? “It’s more intimate,” Lorre said. “The pacing, obviously, is very different. The actors aren’t having to hold for laughs. They’re not playing to the proscenium. They’re not playing out. They’re working with one another. You know, a four-camera show is played like a theatrical presentation. They’re playing to the audience, and it changes the tone and the pitch and the pacing. And also, we knew going in that we were going to be working with a cast of young children, and it seemed like the more appropriate way for them to get the best work, to do the best work, was in a closed setting where they had the time to develop these characters.”
Monica Potter is a narc. Wisdom of the People creator Ted Humphrey readily admitted that the show’s premise of crowdsourced crime-fighting gives him pause on privacy and due-process levels. One person on the cast who doesn’t have any problems with letting strangers on the internet stalk and confront possible criminals is Monica Potter, who thought the idea would be “great.” To a later question, the actress admitted that she has “a really bad guilt complex” and would turn her own kids in if they did something wrong. She warned her castmates, “I would want to know who is in trouble here, and I’m going to tell on all of you.”
When you’re a military show, but you’re not a military show. Even though SEAL Team very much resembles several of the military-themed shows premiering this year on superficial levels — the pilot plot is History’s Six to an almost unnerving degree — the series’ panel, in front of a carrier plane set, dedicated around half of its time to emphasizing the amount of technical involvement from actual military professionals. Note that every one of these military shows has several military consultants, but the SEAL Team creatives wanted to prove that expertise is baked even more deeply into the show’s DNA. But then the other half of the time was spent emphasizing that SEAL Team isn’t a military show. “I don’t think our show is about the military,” exec producer Benjamin Cavell said. “I think it’s about the people who do this work rather than about the work itself in some way. I mean, I don’t know what the prevailing mood is and how that affects whether people are going to watch our show, but I think we want to be true to the people we know who do this for a living and, frankly, the things that they do transcend politics.” And star David Boreanaz claimed, “I think it’s a workplace show. I really feel these characters and these people I sit up here with represent people that do things for a living that we all go home and go to bed and are cozy in our blankets at nighttime, and there are people out there that are fighting for our freedom and are fighting for us. And for me, specifically, I think the workplace show in itself, what’s interesting is the character that’s involved in the workplace show and how he deals with that specifically and, when he comes home, how he deals with his own inner turmoils and how he deals with his personal life. That was one of the things that mainly drew me to the show. I consider it a workplace show.”
The CW highlights and lowlights tomorrow…
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