New Shows, Big Questions: Is Blacklist's Secret Already Out? How Super Can S.H.I.E.L.D. Be? A Scandalous Hostages Hook-Up? And More!
Sleepy Hollow, Fox
Why doesn't "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" exist in this show’s reality?
After all, wouldn't there be a few more fun “double takes” as people come face to face with Ichabod Crane: Literary Figure instead of "just" a time-traveling Revolutionary War hero? But executive producer Alex Kurtzman tells TVLine there was no debate about rewriting the origin of the Headless Horseman's adversary. "We actually went away from that right away, because it felt like it became too meta somehow. It just felt wrong," he explains. "So we said, 'Let's take the spirit of what we love about the short story and reinterpret it.'"
Did producers consider casting an actor who actually uses a wheelchair?
Because the crime drama will regularly flash back to before its title character was paralyzed by a gunshot to the back, "We needed an actor who was able to take on both of those roles," says EP Teri Weinberg. "It was really about the best actor for the role" — ultimately, L.A. Lawyer Blair Underwood landed the lead — "but it required an actor to not only be on his feet in his previous life, but also confined to the chair."
Does the president of the United States' surgeon (played by Toni Collette) hook up with her kidnapper (Dylan McDermott)?!
Lest you think we're coming out of left field with this one, know that the Hostages sizzle reel unveiled at the May Upfronts closed with the shocking moment of Dr. Sanders and dastardly Duncan Carlisle pulling each other into a heated clench. But maybe that was dropped in there just to suggest a provocative "What if?" scenario. "It's more of an indication of how we end up affecting each other," Collette said when I asked her about that teaser. "There’s such a thing as Stockholm Syndrome, where the person who's captured falls for the person kidnapping them, and this deals with a bit of that. Because ultimately my character has been such a good, honest, hard-working person who does her best and is always taking care of everybody else, and he instigates all this change in her, and that in itself is alluring."
In this midseason thriller, is Dermot Mulroney playing Roger Bart…?
Visually, very much so. Like, it's totally distracting. And like Bart's Desperate Housewives pharmacist, Mulroney's character — a nerdy chaperone whose daughter is among the highly privileged D.C. kids kidnapped mid-field trip — has a few tricks up his sleeve. "You wouldn't expect me to get much done in terms of solving this crisis," the actor shared at Upfronts. "But by the end of the [pilot], you realize there may be a chance for me to help."
The Crazy Ones, CBS
Will every episode revolve around a “name brand” client a la the pilot’s all-consuming McDonald’s assignment?
Storylines won't focus on one of Lewis, Roberts & Roberts' clients every week, but when they do, it will be a real-life company "to make it feel more authentic," EP Jason Winer explains. "When you are making up names of products, suddenly the world doesn't feel real." That said, and in the wake of suggestions that this opens the door for episode-long paid product placement, Winer stresses, "No money has exchanged hands. McDonald's did not pay for their part in the pilot at all, and they did not have final approval over anything that happened in the pilot" — including the naughty "Drive Thru Lovin'" song improv'd by Robin Williams and James Wolk and "which isn't necessarily on brand for them."
The Blacklist, NBC
Elizabeth Keene, the only FBI Agent master criminal "Red" Reddington will deal with, is totally his daughter… right?
Why else single out this noob G-woman for the opportunity of a lifetime? But exec producer Jon Bokenkamp has said that the reasoning behind Red's choice is "a series-long question," one that is "not simple enough that it's something we will answer right up front." Bokenkamp added, "There are many reasons why this man has … introduced himself and inserted himself into her life…. Ultimately it may be a singular thing, but to me, I see it as a whole meal. There are a lot of intricacies that we can dip into."
Back in the Game, ABC
Does Maggie Lawson have bona fide ballplaying skills?
After all, she does look quite in her element whether hitting fungoes to her team of Little League misfits or hurling a fastball at a Cro-Magnon’s cranium. “I grew up playing softball, so it felt like riding a bike — getting on a field again, hitting a ball,” the Psych vet tells us. “But I did have some baseball training, because softball and baseball are obviously very different. And I really threw that pitch, so I had pitching training where my arm felt like it was going to fall off after two weeks!”
Does Josh Holloway’s “human supercomputer” have an Achilles heel?
Like, would someone using a hairdryer nearby cause static for his super-brain’s feed? “I can’t really reveal what it is, but yes, he has something [to be afraid of]” Holloway says of his character in this midseason spy drama. As the first microchip-enhanced intelligence agent of his kind, “There is a downside, some ‘difficulties’ he is dealing with.”
Trophy Wife, ABC
Is the pilot being reshot, since the teen daughter was recast with Bailey Madison (aka Once Upon a Time’s Young Snow White)?
Actually, no – the original pilot will air as is, with Gianna LePera playing Hillary. Madison will then debut in Episode 2. Explaining the switcheroo at the TCA summer press tour, EP Lee Eisenberg said, “As we started kind of working on stories, we felt that we actually wanted to age down that character…. And Bailee plays much younger than Gianna. It just made sense for the story.”
Reign, The CW
Is this CW production perhaps not the most accurate take on Mary, Queen of Scots?
While Reign gets the very broad strikes right, viewers would be well advised to not base a school history assignment off of it. As series star Adelaide Kane made plain at the TCA press tour, "It's entertainment. It's not History channel. We're trying to make a show that people will enjoy watching … so of course we're going to dramatize events. But that's what makes it fun." Case in point: After Reign establishes the love story between Mary and French prince/future king Francis (who’s a bit more spry here than in real life), it fabricates the wrinkle "that unbeknownst to anyone, Francis had grave political objections to what it meant to wed not a girl but to wed her country and to take on another nation's problems," EP Laurie McCarthy acknowledges. Also, Nostradamus, who would have been in his late 50s, instead is played by the more CW-friendly Rossif Sutherland.
Will the fall’s most offensive new comedy tone things down?
Fox president Kevin Reilly, in fielding initial criticism of the Dads pilot – which among other things forces Brenda Song’s character into a Japanese schoolgirl outfit and takes several other potshots at minorities – touted the show’s writing pedigree, Family guy Seth Macfarlane included. “These guys are going to try to test a lot of boundaries,” Reilly said. “They are going to try to be equal-opportunity offenders.” Explaining that sitcom pilots don’t always boast the most representative sample of humor and balance, Reilly issued this charge to critics: “If this show is still using low-hanging fruit jokes that seem in bad taste and haven’t been earned with intelligence, and the characters have not become full-blown over the course of the [first several months], 1) it’s not going to work. And 2), [then] you should take it to task.”
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, ABC
We all know why Regina hates Snow White on the original Once. So, what exactly is the Red Queen’s beef with Alice?
Emma Rigby, who plays "the boss of Wonderland” (as she puts it), assures me that her revengenda-driven royal's beef with Alice is indeed "large. Huge, even" — but viewers will have to sit tight for the deets. "That's what we’re going to discover throughout the series," she explains, adding only: "The writers want to make it like a sisterly rivalry."
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , ABC
Can you enjoy this Joss Whedon series if you haven't seen a single Avengers/Thor/Iron Man/Hulk/Captain America movie?
Although a good deal of the fun comes from catching sly nods to Marvel comics lore and recent happenings in the aforementioned films, "I don't think we'll make references just for the sake of making references," says EP Maurissa Tancahroen. "If they happen to flesh out the world, that's what we'll do." Adds Whedon: "If they make it feel like the [S.H.I.E.L.D.] organization is more lived in, that's a good way to use it — just like medical jargon. No one knows what they are saying on those medical shows; you just go, 'Oh, they are doctors.'" As for the series' potential appeal to a more-than-Marvel-ous fan base, EP Jeph Loeb notes, "Joss hit it out of the park with The Avengers, and that's not a movie for one particular group of people; that's a movie for everybody. Iron Man 3 has the same kind of feeling to it. So whether or not it's an ABC audience or a Marvel audience or a bit of this and a little of that, our hope is that everyone who is watching television at 8 o'clock on Tuesday nights is watching our show." Hear that, Gibbs?
Super Fun Night, ABC
Why on Earth isn't Rebel Wilson using her native Australian speaking voice?
Most simply said, "It was her choice, and we fully supported it," ABC president Paul Lee explained at press tour. Wilson, who wrote the pilot and exec-produces the series, added that "the concept was three girls who lived in Manhattan and had known each other since they were 13, 14 years of age. So I just really thought that I had to make this character American." (And as a result less funny.)
Is this midseason series about just one person who seemingly comes back to life? Or will there be other eerie cases?
The young lad who mysteriously surfaces in a rice field in China after fatally drowning decades earlier is not the only such "resurrection" we'll lay witness to. But neither will the show bring out new "dead" every single week. Omar Epps, who plays the federal agent trying to make hay of this "miracle," says, "Something like this, you have to serialize it a bit more, so the audience can invest in the characters versus just the circumstance. In the first stretch, you've got to have a few people pop up, so the audience gets the broad perspective of what's going on, and then start to have your [character-establishing] A/B stories."
The Tomorrow People, The CW
This sci-fi-flavored drama features an African-American female protagonist named Astrid. Too soon?
When I asked him about the Fringe comparison, Phil Klemmer — the executive producer who developed this update — maintained, "I had no idea. [Her name] was just based on my Swedish roots!"
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox
How will this police comedy balance humor with the occasional (gulp) murder?
Basically, by not trying to compete with the CSIs of this world. As series cocreator Michael Schur tells TVLine, "There are a lot of very intense and very gritty cop dramas on the air, where the cold open of the show every week is like, 'Oh, this man’s brains were turned into spaghetti and then drizzled over his lifeless corpse.' And we’re just avoiding that kind of thing. That’s not the point of the show." Which is not to say that Brooklyn Nine-Nine lives in a deathless world. "There’s a murder in the pilot, and we want the crimes to feel real," Schur acknowledges. But if they ever do show a victim, cocreator Dan Goor suggests, "When you pan down, you’ll see that the guy is wearing wax lips. Or clown shoes."
About a Boy, NBC
Did NBC actually once again cast David Walton in a winning comedy that we'll have to wait until midseason to see…?!