Each summer and winter, television networks present their slates of programming to the Television Critics Association to give them updates, sneak peeks, and more, for their various series. From HBO to Starz, this weekend revealed information on some of the most buzzed about shows, such as Game of Thrones, and also gave critics first looks and details about brand new series set to hit this fall. It’s been an onslaught of information, and so it’s understandable if some of it has flown under the radar. In that vein, here are the can’t-miss updates from TCA 2016.
1. HBO Renews And Debuts Several Series
HBO was out in full force at TCA 2016, starting their presentation off with the news that talk show REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER has been renewed through 2018, which covers Seasons 15 and 16. The series, according to HBO programming president Casey Bloys, is averaging 4.4 million viewers.
But Bill Maher won’t be the only politically-minded figure on the network. Jon Stewart is set to have a new animated program on HBO, with a scheduled premiere for September or October. Pitched as Onion-like, the series will be a parody of cable news and allow Stewart to comment on events in real time. Stewart signed a four-year deal with HBO last November.
Finally, the network also revealed premiere dates for three new series. The sci-fi western WESTWORLD will arrive on Sunday, October 2, while DIVORCE (marking Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to HBO) and INSECURE will both debut the following Sunday on October 9.
2. National Geographic Channel Announces Series With Big-Hitters
The late Michael Crichton’s next novel isn’t set to come out until next year, but DRAGON TEETH is already getting the small screen adaptation. Graham Yost and Bruce C. McKenna are writing the script for the story about rival paleontologists hunting for dinosaur bones.
The channel is also developing several other new programs with big names, such as GENDER REVOLUTION with Katie Couric Media examining genetics and culture on gender fluidity; a documentary on climate change from Fisher Stevens and Leonardo DiCaprio; and a virtual reality documentary short from Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow about rangers charged to protect African elephants from poachers.
3. New Comedies From TBS
There are a multitude of new shows set to arrive this fall from TBS, they announced yesterday, including an October 31 premiere date for PEOPLE OF EARTH. The comedy, about a support group of alien abductees, comes from David Jenkins, Greg Daniels, and Conan O’Brien, and received a warm reception when it premiered its pilot at San Diego Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago.
Other new series include WORLD’S END starring Hamish Linklater and Wanda Sykes, about a teacher who has a breakdown and is committed to a mental institution; TARANTULA, from Carson Mell (Silicon Valley), about the residents of Tierra Chula Resident Hotel; THE GUEST BOOK from Greg Garcia, which has received a series order; and SEARCH PARTY, which will debut the entire first season Thanksgiving week, with two episodes per night.
4. Deadwood Movie Script Being Written
It was revealed over the weekend that DEADWOOD creator David Milch is currently penning a script for a movie of the series, which should please fans who thought it didn’t receive a proper ending from HBO. Casey Bloys stated they hadn’t read the script yet, and therefore the film doesn’t have an official greenlight, but feelings are good at the network for a movie happening.
5. Starz Focuses On Women With New Series And Renewals
Steven Soderbergh’s series THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE has received a second season from the network, which will focus on entirely new characters and plotlines. The first season is available on Starz On Demand and follows Christine Reade (Riley Keough), a law student who is introduced to transactional relationships and must learn to juggle two very different lives. The new season will have the same concept, but involve new faces and situations.
They are also developing PUSSY VALLEY, a show about strippers set in Mississippi, as well as an adaptation of the novel DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB, following six professional business women in New York who have known each other since college. In discussing another female-led series on the network, they revealed at their press conference that OUTLANDER is renewed through the fourth book and will be “around for a while.”
6. Documentary Now Reveals Spoofed Movies For Season 2
IFC’s hit freshman series DOCUMENTARY NOW returns on September 14 and they revealed the docs the comedy series will be spoofing come fall: Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Juan Likes Rice & Chicken), Swimming to Cambodia (Parker Gail’s Location Is Everything), Stop Making Sense (Transmission), and The Kid Stays in the Picture (Mr. Runner Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid, Part 1 and Part 2). Guest appearances will include Mia Farrow, Anne Hathaway, Peter Fonda, and Maya Rudolph.
7. TNT Orders Post-Civil War Drama Series
From Rud Lurie, TNT has picked MONSTERS OF GOD which focused on Colonel “Terrible” Bill Lancaster following the Civil War and his determined plan to kill every member of the Comanche tribe in Slater, Texas, despite the peaceful relationship between the Slater residents and Comanche tribe members. His wife Cynthia, meanwhile, is determined to put her own feminist ideas forward.
Lurie, who studied the Comanche Wars while he was in the Army, will also direct the pilto.
TNT executive VP of original programming Sarah Aubrey commented the network is committed to creative shows that are “unapologetically entertaining” and that Monsters of God will be “a Western chock-full of violence, sex and insane characters.”
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor