Twice a year, the Television Critics Association descends on Hollywood (or, as was the case recently, Hollywood-adjacent Pasadena) for their “Press Tours,” weeks-long presentations that allow the various networks to unveil their upcoming slates (including returning and new series) to various entertainment reporters for their informational edification. It all sounds a bit like summer camp crossed with Comic-Con pumped up with a lot of foodstuffs and swag up the wazoo. It also sounds deeply exhausting, and this summer’s Press Tour (affectionately just called the “TCAs,” a confusing moniker if we’ve ever heard one) is only halfway complete.
Networks that have rolled out their slates to the TCA attendees so far include NBC, Reelz, National Geographic, OWN, and a whole mess of other cable outlets. Upcoming panels include CBS, The CW, Showtime, Hulu, Fox, FX, Disney, and PBS, and we’ll be sure to cover their exciting shows once they’re announced (assuming, of course, that they’ll be much to get pumped over from those networks, but considering that PBS gets two whole days, our expectations are high). With so many of the traditional networks next up on deck, most of the newly announced programs we’re most interested in seeing aren’t hour-long dramas or half-hour sitcoms or similar, they’re one-off specials, miniseries, and made-for-TV movies. Is this the future of television? Sure!
Oprah’s Next Chapter, Guest: Lindsay Lohan, debuting August 18 (OWN)
Did you know that Oprah’s own, uh, OWN network features the world’s greatest interviewer in in-depth conversations with big name stars as part of a limited run of shows? We didn’t, and that’s probably because we haven’t looked forward to a guest as much as we’re looking forward to Lindsay Lohan. No matter what happens, this is the epitome of must-see trainwreck television. Will Ms. Lohan even show? If she does, what will she say? Who will cry first? Will Oprah use a Mean Girls quote? We cannot wait.
The Challenger Disaster, debuting November 16 (Science Channel)
The network’s first original dramatic film will star William Hurt, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy, Joanne Whalley, and Eve Best, and is a co-production with the BBC. Classy creds, right? Perhaps that will keep us distracted as we sob over the real-life story of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and American physicist Richard Feynman’s (Hurt) quest to figure out just what went wrong.
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (HBO)
Tyson’s one-man stage show hits the small screen thanks to Spike Lee and the director’s vision of what a Mike Tyson-starring one-man stage show should be like (Lee, notably, moved the show to Broadway for filming).
Low Winter Sun, debuting August 11 (AMC)
Cable’s reigning original drama giant adapts a very popular British miniseries for its own ends, while still keeping original star Mark Strong in place. Honestly, this show could be about anything and we’d be into it, but the actual plot – about Strong as a murderous and moral detective in Detroit – sounds just about perfect for both the actor and the network.
A four-part “event” miniseries about Hillary Clinton starring Diane Lane? Picking up basically where that upcoming biopic Rodham will leave off? With no involvement from the series’ actual subject? Oh, we’re excited. Probably for all the wrong reasons.
Another mini-series that the network insists on calling a “limited series” because who cares, Plymouth will chronicle the journey of the pilgrims and their struggle to build a new life in America. The youth of the country need something to watch around Thanksgiving time, and this sounds just about perfect. Also? Fun hats. (No, really, this has the potential to be interesting and informational, a combination that the miniseries genre has sort of shunted aside as of late.)
JFK: The Smoking Gun, debuting November 3 (Reelz)
I have no idea what the Reelz Channel is, what else they’ve ever shown, and where I would find them on my own cable box, but now that I know they’re hell-bent on proving that there was a second shooter at the JFK assassination and that they want to actually name him in the doc series, I am sold. Beyond sold.
The Capones, debuting November 9 (Reelz)
Reelz, you’re about to become my favorite channel. This new show will follow “the goings-on at a family-run restaurant called Capone’s Restaurant and Pizzeria headed by Dom Capone” and– stop now. That’s all I need to hear.