Today (Wednesday) marks the official end of the annual Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour in Los Angeles, California. The TCA press tour (which also holds a Winter edition) brings TV executives and talent in front of members of the Association, which represents more than 220 journalists writing about television for print and online outlets in the U.S. and Canada.
Last week the focus was on the U.S. networks, with executives and stars spilling the beans on what to expect from the upcoming U.S. network series.
Here are some of the things we learned about some of the most anticipated shows of the 2013-2014 season:
Almost Human, FOX
The creative team behind this drama, set 35 years in the future when humans in the LAPD are paired up with androids, says the key to the show is finding the middle ground between a procedural police show and a mythologized drama. Producers credited NYPD Blue before them for providing a blueprint for a show that deals with different cases each week but reveals more about its characters throughout the series.
Premiere date: November 4
Arsenio Hall talked about his return to late-night TV with new first-run syndicated series Arsenio. Hall was light on details about the look and feel of the show, though he acknowledged that he hadn’t locked in his premiere night guests yet. Among those on his wish list, he said, are Justin Bieber, Angelina Jolie, Will Smith and Jay Z. One thing that will differentiate his from other late-night talk shows, Hall said, is that he’ll also interview performing musicians.
Premiere date: September 9
Back in the Game, ABC
This new comedy was written for James Caan, who stars as a difficult father whose single daughter is forced to move in with him. The writers, Robb and Mark Cullen, told the audience that the father character was based loosely on their dad. While baseball will take center stage (the single daughter’s son plays little league and she herself is a former professional who coaches the team), it won’t be geared entirely to baseball fans. And spoiler alert: The team won’t win a single game all season. Instead the Cullens said the audience is more likely to see milestones like first hits and first runs.
Premiere date: September 25
The Blacklist, NBC
This drama is about a mastermind criminal who offers to be an informant for the FBI but will only work with one woman in particular, with whom who has an unknown connection (unknown to her at least). Panel participants downplayed the similarities between the series and Silence of the Lambs. “The relationship in the film is obsession, it’s not based in any sort of reality at all,” said James Spader, who plays the criminal. As the series unfolds, he said, their shared past becomes a driving force. Producers called the show “a strange hybrid” of procedural and serialized drama (each week will feature new criminals).
Premiere Date: September 23
The pilot of this controversial new comedy from Seth MacFarlane has gotten panned by many critics for being incredibly inappropriate. At TCA, Fox’s entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly encouraged critics (of which there are many) to give it a shot, and the producers did the same. The series follows two 30-something guys and their nightmare dads who unexpectedly move in with them. Writer Wellesley Wild said: “We want to keep it insulting and irreverent, but the most important thing is that it’s funny. If we missed the mark in the pilot, we’re shooting to hit it better in upcoming shows.”
Premiere date: September 17
The Goldbergs, ABC
This new comedy set in the 1980s and revolving around an eccentric family is based on the childhood of showrunner Adam F. Goldberg. Each week Goldberg’s own personal footage will be featured during the end tag (he digitized more than 100 home videos). “My mom is the most excited — this just validated everything she ever did,” he said. Jeff Garlin, who plays the family patriarch, says to expect a lot of yelling. “Did you ever watch Seinfeld? Yelling is good!,” he said.
Premiere date: September 24
This drama series, which revolves around a surgeon chosen to operate in the president whose family is taken hostage and ordered to kill the president, is certainly going to be action packed. Producers provided some small spoilers to TCA attendees: 1.That the family will try and escape and one of them will get shot and 2. That an important character gets killed. Added producer Rick Eid: “We’re not pulling punches. There won’t be another delay tactic at the end of the season.”
Premiere date: September 23
This reboot of a 1960-70s drama series centers on a tough (and sexy!) police detective who’s relegated to a wheelchair after a shooting. Panelists stressed that the show wouldn’t be a standard procedural crime series. “It’s a crime drama wrapped in a character study,” said star Blair Underwood. Producers added that 10 percent of each episode will be flashbacks to the detective’s life pre-accident.
Premiere Date: October 2
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, ABC
This drama, based on Marvel Comics’ secret intelligence organization that’s appeared throughout many of its comics, is being kept well under wraps until its premiere. Marvel EP Jeph Loeb says it’s not just for comic fans: “We hope this is big and broad enough for everybody but [there are] specific things people can find and identify with.”
Premiere date: September 24
The Michael J. Fox Show, NBC
The star of the show, about a man dealing with Parkinson’s disease, talked a lot about finding the lighter side of a serious illness. “Sometimes it’s frustrating, and sometimes it’s funny,” Fox said of the show’s portrayal of his real-life disease. “I look at it that way, and I think other people need to look at it that way. … I don’t think it’s that outrageous.” While the pilot focuses heavily on the disease and the frustrations that come with it, producers said it’ll take a backseat in future episodes. “It’s always going to be there, but it’s not the spotlight,” said producer Will Gluck.
Premiere date: September 26
This comedy from prolific producer Chuck Lorre is an attempt to get right what he didn’t with CBS’s Cybill and ABC’s Grace Under Fire, he said. The sitcom stars Anna Faris as a newly sober mom and waitress trying to turn her life around in Napa Valley. As for a preview of what’s to come, producers say viewers can expect Justin Long to play a love interest for Faris, and that Octavia Spencer will play a woman who has even bigger problems.
Premiere date: September 23
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, ABC
This drama is a spinoff of Once Upon a Time and follows a young Alice in Victorian London who tells of an odd new land that on the other side of a rabbit hole. “It is trippy. It is weird. It is intense,” said co-creator Edward Kitsis. The series has a 13-episode order and is meant to be a close-ended story, the creators said.
Premiere date: October 10
This upcoming drama follows the early life of Mary Queen of Scots, and while it’ll teach some history, don’t expect a textbook interpretation. “In each episode, we’ll educate people on what element of history helps our story,” EP Laurie McCarthy told reporters. “There is a certain amount of latitude in terms of dramatizing events,” she said. Adelaide Kade, who plays Mary, added: “It’s TV, so we can take creative license. It’s not the History Channel. Of course we’re going to dramatize events and have fun.” McCarthy stressed that at its core Reign has a couple of love stories — between Prince Francis (the man betrothed to a 15-year-old Mary) and his mother, as well as between Francis and the future Queen herself.
Premiere date: October 17
Sean Saves the World, NBC
This multicamera comedy is about a divorced gay dad who’s forced to juggle his life when his 14-year-old daughter moves in with him full-time. Star Sean Hayes (who played Jack on Will & Grace) said Will & Grace was a trailblazer for shows like this to get on the air. Producers said they have no plans to introduce the mother of Hayes’ daughter anytime soon. Plus, they said that while dating will come into play, the focus of the show is the father-son relationship.
Premiere Date: October 3
Super Fun Night, ABC
This comedy about a trio of nerdy girls coming out of their shells was originally slated for CBS in 2012-2013, but now the show has found a home at ABC. Its star and co-creator Rebel Wilson says to expect self-deprecation. “The purpose of the show to me is to really inspire girls who don’t think they’re cool and popular and pretty and all of that. I think in order to do that, you have to present a very realistic image.” On the panel, co-creator Conan O’Brien compared Wilson to Lucille Ball and Tina Fey.
Premiere date: October 2
Trophy Wife, ABC
Producers of this comedy maintain that its title is ironic and that the series is loosely based on the real-life marriage of co-creator Sarah Haskins. The plot revolves around a reformed party girl who marries a much older man.
Premiere date: September 24
And onto next season (yep, they’re already talking about that)… A spinoff of CW drama Arrow — which will begin its second season in the fall — centering on soon-to-be-introduced character The Flash may be coming to small screens next season.