The Television Critics Association has wrapped up its summer series of press conferences, and I’m back from Los Angeles freshly enthused about a few shows that, in some cases, I wasn’t enthusiastic about before TCA. Which means the networks did what they were supposed to do: Generate new interest, increase awareness, crank up the hype. Without being too hype-y, here are five shows I’m looking forward to in the coming months.
1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: The CW’s new fall entry made a splash at TCA, with a singing and dancing production number to kick off its press conference, a stunt that would have been hokey if it wasn’t so charming and energetic. So, too, was star and co-executive producer Rachel Bloom, who stars as the girl who’s so crazy-obsessed with her summer camp fling (played by Vincent Rodriguez) that she leaves her law firm job in Manhattan to track him down in West Covina, California. Bloom promised two or three musical numbers per episode, a fairly staggering workload to assume for a rookie TV star. But she left me feeling she could do it.
2. Fargo: Hoo boy, the second season looks so good. With Kirsten Dunst, Jean Smart, Colin Hanks, Ted Danson, Jesse Plemons, Patrick Wilson, and a raft of other terrific actors on-board, the newest frosty-weather murder mystery hooks you right from the start. At the TCA session, producer Noah Hawley was so quietly confident, so serenely intelligent in his answers as to how he plans to follow up the highly-acclaimed first season, that he made everyone listening pretty sure that this Fargo is going to be one of the standout series of the fall season.
3. Blindspot: Here’s an example of a TCA press conference that turned my frown upside down. I was just lukewarm about this outlandish-concept action NBC series, about a woman who wakes up nude in Times Square, her body covered in freshly applied tattoos that provide clues to future crimes to be committed. What I liked most, frankly, were the fight scenes star Jaimie Alexander had toward the end of the first hour. So I was pleased to hear Alexander describe her own background as an athlete who, years ago, started her own fight club as a way to be fit and defend herself. Combine that with series creator Martin Gero’s invocation of director Michael Mann as a model for the kind of action series he wants, add in Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Arrow) as one of the producers, and suddenly Blindspot seems like a show I may well want to watch every week.
4. The Affair: I wasn’t all that psyched about the second season for this Showtime, multiple-points-of-view series until I a) took a look at the season premiere and (b) heard the cast and producers discuss the show as it moves forward. Both left me feeling the new season of The Affair might be truly compelling. Co-star Joshua Jackson in particular was articulate and forceful about how the show will handle the shifting perspectives of the characters played by him, Maura Tierney, Ruth Wilson, and Dominic West.
5. Walt Disney: He Made Believe: A four-hour, two-night PBS American Experience production airing Sept. 14-15, the taste I got of this documentary about the man who created Mickey Mouse and Disneyland seemed fresh and exciting. As the producers made clear, we think we know a lot about Disney — the man made himself the public image of the company he created — but whether you know him as the host of The Wonderful World of Disney a half-century ago or portrayed by Tom Hanks in 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, there was a lot of Walt we didn’t know, or understand. I’m looking forward to what promises to be an enlightening tell-all.