Day 2 of the 16-day biannual Television Critic’s Association Summer 2014 Press Tour started off with introductions of new programming from Discovery, WGN America and BBC America. The following is a snapshot look at their new series, as well as what was noteworthy from the featured presentations.
Animal Planet’s “Pitbulls and Parolees” will make you cry because it touches the heart that deeply. It demonstrates that what the rest of the world would turn their backs on and throw away may be beautiful loving souls — both human and canine. Tia Torres’ Villalobos Rescue Center has been saving the lives of dogs and people who need a second chance for over 20 years; and while Tia may proclaim that she is not a hero, she certainly comes across as a hardworking, tough-as-nails angel. It is remarkable the path she has chosen — saving what the rest of the world has deemed unsaveable. Animal rescue and parolee rehabilitation is not an easy task, but one admires those who have the strength and tenacity to do it. (Premieres September 27, 2014.)
American Heroes Channel’s “Gunslingers” calls itself a docu-drama, but it looks just like a really good scripted Western drama. The show offers reenactments of the most famous gunslingers in American history, like Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Wyatt Earp. Fantastic way to revisit and rediscover why the Wild West was truly “wild.” In a nation trying to figure out how to tame those who sought out the freedom and lawlessness of a world not yet ruled by laws and a justice system. The theme is: “to catch a bad man, it takes a bad man.” (Premieres July 20, 2014.)
“Manhattan” is a new drama series set back in the 1940’s when the U.S. government was striving to discover the secret to make an atomic bomb. It tells the stories of the men and women who were scientists, mathematicians, soldiers and the wives that had to keep this massive secret and were not even sure what the end goal was at the time. Invoking the nostalgia from the era, the show plays like a classic movie with each episode a new chapter in a dark tale of trying to live a normal life in the midst of an extraordinary situation. With secrets and classified material embruing their entire world, there is an underlying boiling tension. It becomes a question of who can you really trust and is the government telling them everything they need to know about their highly confidential mission. The show appears to captured the innate glamour of the era with classic cars and stylish clothing while merging it with the dusty, secret-filled world of a town that was not even allowed to have a name. Apparently, it was just too dangerous to even be a name on the map. (Premieres July 27, 2014.)
“Orphan Black” officially picked up for Season 3, with production to begin September 2014 and will return in Spring 2015. It is a brilliant sci-fi series that, if you have not discovered it, you have been living under a rock. So get with it and catch up. It is one of the most critically-acclaimed shows on television and deserves to win every award every nominated. One word describes it perfectly: clones.
“The Game” is a slick, intriguing British spy series about the moles, double agents, sleepers and covert operatives at the heart of the ultimate spy game. Created and written by Toby Whithouse (DOCTOR WHO, BEING HUMAN), the series explores a British agent who nearly defects to Russia during the Cold War and yet then there is a twist and the game has begun. Just when you think you have figured out what who can really be trusted, the story twists again and you are not sure at all who can be trusted. Heroes and villains are not easily defined when everyone is hiding behind a facade and has a stake in the game. Stars Brian Cox and Tom Hughes. Point of interest is that the first season is self-contained, meaning it has an ending to the story. However, if the show renewed, they would offer a whole new story to explore. (Premieres Fall 2014, 6 episode series.)
“The Intruders” is a spooky, spine-chilling tale of beings who take over the bodies of unsuspecting people on a mysterious quest. The series is based on the book by Michael Marshall Smith and stars John Simm (LIFE ON MARS, DOCTOR WHO), Mira Sorvino and James Frain. If previews are any indication, the show may give you nightmares. (Premieres August 23, 2014, 8 episode series.)
“A Poet In New York” stars Tom Hollander, who portrays the legendary poet Dylan Thomas, and brought to screen by writer Andrew Davies (DOWNTON ABBEY). It is a tragic and heartbreaking look at Dylan Thomas’ life. He had a remarkable, rare gift with words, but seemed to constantly spiral farther and farther out of control with his drinking and erratic emotions. It led to a premature death, but his legacy lives on through is poetry. Here is something you may remember of his work: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Point of interest: this may sound familiar if you have watched the film “Independence Day” or the television series “Falling Skies,” both which referenced this iconic quote. (Premieres Fall 2014.)
That is a wrap on Day 2 at TCA! Look for more upcoming snapshots from TCA Summer 2014 on the new shows and TV specials coming up for Fall 2014.