Saturday, 18 January 2014


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sometimes lots of television news breaks in a week (certainly during the Television Critics Association tour over in the US), so I've condensed some of the most interesting pieces below...

FOX chairman Kevin Reilly announced the channel's ditching the traditional "pilot season" of the major US networks, which has existed since the 1980s. This basically means they'll order less pilots, aiming to only "pilot" shows practically guaranteed a series commitment. One downside is that less scripts will be bought, but Fox can afford to buy all year round now like cable channels do. Every year the "big four" networks (CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC) spend hundreds of millions producing comedy and drama hours that never even see the light of day, so Fox are trying to prevent that wastage. It should result in a more focused and selective way to commission new shows (also similar to what UK channels do), although NBC did much the same thing in 2008 (to cut costs) and soon reverted back to type.

When the dust had settled on Captain America, the world was desperate for more adventure with his 1940s girlfriend Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Isn't that true? Well, no. But the Marvel-made short film about AGENT CARTER (which was included on The Avengers' DVD) was sort of popular. Right? It's debatable. Regardless, Marvel are pressing ahead with an intention to film a TV pilot for a Peggy Carter series, run by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas (who made TV's Reaper). The series will follow Peggy a year after Captain America "disappeared" after crash-landing in the Arctic. It's all very early days, but a script apparently exists and Atwell is attached. Considering one of the reasons people appear to dislike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the lack of superheroes, it does seem strange to base another Marvel show around a "non-super" character. Is ass-kicking Atwell and a WWII backdrop enough to entice viewers? Maybe. I don't know. I thought the "one shot" Peggy film was pretty dull. I'd much rather Atwell achieve her other geeky ambition to star as a younger Lara Croft in a Tomb Raider movie reboot...

Sticking with the Marvel universe, ABC's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D now hopes to win back audiences with "stunt casting" in its second-half. Bill Paxton (Aliens, True Lies) is joining the drama for a major story arc, playing SHIELD agent John Garrett, and Thor actress Jaime Alexander will reprising her role as Asgardian warrior Sif for episode 15--which we're promised won't be a Nicky Fury-sized cameo. Of course, one man who will be making a signature cameo is Marvel's erstwhile chairman Stan Lee, who's appearing in episode 13 on 4 February.

The corpse of DEXTER still isn't cold, but Showtime just can't seem to let it go. Talk of a spin-off gained momentum halfway through its final season, but certain events in the last episode made it seem unlikely a spin-off would be possible (for any characters the audience has a deep enough investment with, anyway). However, Showtime President David Nevins this week revealed that a Dexter spin-off is "something we continue to talk about", but that "it would have to involve Michael [C. Hall]. I think if we were to do it, I would only do it if it with Michael." So that begs the question: what kind of spin-off casts the lead character of the original show?! Isn't that just a revival, perhaps set in a different location? Or is Nevins suggesting that Michael C. Hall would have to be involved, but in a limited capacity--perhaps as a James Remar-style mentor for a new serial killer? That sounds pretty terrible, but then so does Dexter 2.0 with him pretending to be a bearded lumberjack. Just let this show die, Showtime, for the love of God. I certainly don't think Hall has any burning desire to return to this character, so maybe Nevins is just prone to wishful thinking.

Do you remember THE FALL last summer? The BBC serial killer drama ended on a maddening cliffhanger, and it seems we're going to have to wait even longer for the resolution. The Fall begins shooting its final 6 episodes in Belfast next month, working around the busy schedules of star Gillian Anderson (appearing in new US drama Crisis and Hannibal) and Jamie Dornan (currently shooting 50 Shades of Grey), so I suspect a late-2014 premiere on the BBC at the earliest.

Channel 5 have made the boneheaded decision to stop showing JUSTIFIED on its 5USA "sister channel" (the sole reason anyone ever ventured that way on their EPG). This means the current fifth season doesn't have a UK broadcaster now. British fans may have to wait for the DVD or Netflix, or be naughty and find "alternative means" to see it online. Over in the US, FX also announced that Justified will end in 2015 after a sixth season, as the writers/producers and star Timothy Olyphant feel it's time to call it a day.

How we hated waiting two years for more SHERLOCK after the series 2 finale, but it's not even the end of January and we're back to twiddling our thumbs again after series 3. It seems nobody's sure exactly when the hit BBC drama will return, but the BBC are reportedly keen for a faster turnaround than usual. It probably helps that Martin Freeman's not going to be so busy filming The Hobbit, and his lead role in a small-screen version of Fargo won't be an ongoing commitment. More perhaps rests on Benedict Cumberbatch, whose film career continues to bloom. Sherlock will definitely return, for at least another two series (which creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have loosely arc'd), but will it be shown in 2015 or 2016?