Sunday, January 8, 2012

TCA Winter 2012 - A Day with FOX, Part 1 of 2

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

TheTalkingBox first attended part of the Television Critics Association Press Tour last summer, where we attended sessions for the cable networks and PBS. We've had articles on and off since then, discussing various things that we learned during the week as well as using some of the panels to inform our choices as to which new shows to watch last Fall (the hype about 2 Broke Girls and Hell on Wheels in particular!). Well, the TCA Tour takes place twice each year, and I was late in finding out just how early in January it began... this is technically Day 5! So, due to scheduling conflicts (both professionally and personally), FOX is the only network we are able to cover this time around. Enjoy the fun bits below (and the second half tomorrow!) and we will hopefully be able to attend the entire event come July.

FOX started off a Sunday morning with a large and delicious breakfast spread. What made it even better were the theme songs of long-ended shows playing throughout the room. Critics particularly enjoyed reminiscing about The OC and Party of Five, though I was more excited to hear the tunes of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place. Screens around the room scrolled cast photos from the good ol' days of 21 Jump Street, The X-Files, and more. While I had been looking forward to Jason Priestly and Shannen Doherty being present (that was the plan as of Friday evening), we were instead treated to Keenen Ivory Wayans (In Living Color) and David Faustino (Married with Children).

Cr: Brian Bowen Smith/FOX
As one of the most-anticipated new dramas, Touch was the first panel to start off the day. In case you can't recall, Touch has been marketed with the idea that there's an autistic kid who can see hidden patterns that connect people all over the world. That idea was reiterated with the tagline, "we are all interconnected. Our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies touch ours." Now, I haven't said much about my thoughts on Touch before, but I'm just not interested. Some people can't get enough of how intriguing the pilot is, but I'm rather uninterested on the whole. Present on-stage were Kiefer Sutherland, David Mazouz, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, plus some producers. It didn't much matter, though, since Kiefer received the majority of the questions. And, as I bet you could guess, there were a handful of questions regarding 24. The big news? The movie is scheduled to begin filming in April or May. Things we learned about Touch? It's a procedural drama, not a serialized show. The initial conversation evolves into another conversation, etc. The show will address the multiple theories as to what's going on, including spiritual, scientific, and nefarious hypotheses.

Cr: Justin Stephens/FOX
Second up on the docket was Alcatraz, which is the FOX show that I am personally most looking forward to this Spring. If you were on Twitter between 10 and 11 this morning, you likely saw Jorge Garcia blow up the internet, as he was one of the actors here promoting the show (alongside Sarah Jones and Sam Neill). Lost questions aside (though you have to laugh at the idea that all shows on land take place on islands), the bulk of the conversation regarding this drama focused on Alcatraz the place and its former residents. Figures such as The Birdman and Al Capone may appear via flashbacks, but there are no real prisoners who will need to be accounted for on the show. Oh, and about Alcatraz the place? The group went, and even saw more of the prison than groups normally see. They filmed part of the pilot there, and Jorge Garcia recorded a bit of the tour in-character. But, the show films in Vancouver, so don't get too excited, Bay Area friends. Sarah Jones, who plays Detective Rebecca Madsen, did share a little about the physicality of her role. It's been "so much fun" and "jumping off a roof was a highlight in my life, not just that day." For such a demanding character, she started boxing and running. While these were interesting things to hear, the show actually began to lose a little of my interest. It's being billed as a "thrilling new series that follows a unique trio investigating the shocking reappearance of 300 of Alcatraz's most notorious prisoners and guards, 50 years after they vanished," the actual excitement isn't uber-thrilling. At least, to me. The idea is that one person comes back each week, and more clues will be uncovered. The idea is to have some questions unanswered at the end of the first season anyway, hoping for a renewal.

And, now, the executive session. First, some news. FOX finished the Fall at #1 among adults 18-49 (tied with CBS), adults 18-34, and teens. This is only the second time they've ever hit #1 with the core adult demographic. FOX also had the youngest median age this Fall (out of FOX, NBC, ABC, and CBS), at age 47. Everyone was hoping for announcements regarding the futures of House and Terra Nova, but, alas, nothing was revealed by FOX President Kevin Reilly. We did find out that the powers that be have pretty much been procrastinating regarding both of those shows (and Fringe, for that matter), which is not usually a good sign. If Terra Nova is to return, the decision needs to be made within the next month in order for production to be on-schedule, so that's something. We also got a half-response as to the future of Glee... some characters are graduating, but there's still a non-spin-off show planned for the fall, with Lea Michele on board. More to come. We also heard that a House spin-off is pretty unlikely. The time has come and gone, as David Shore "never creatively found something that excited him." We did get a definitive answer on Allen Gregory, however. It's done. Okay, enough of the past. What's in store for the future? Saturday late-night programming! Starting next January (as in, a year from now), there will be a 90-minute block, starting at 11pm ET/PT, that will feature animated shorts. I can only imagine that a good chunk of that audience is going to be college students! On a related note, Bob's Burgers has ordered enough episodes through next Spring! And, met with mixed reactions, I Hate my Teenage Daughter is still scheduled to air its remaining six or seven episodes.

Check back tomorrow for the scoop on the afternoon sessions!
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