The Upfronts 2014: TNT

tntIn addition to the major networks, many of the smaller channels make annoucements at this time of year. TNT seems to have been making a big deal of its brand “refresh” with a new tagline: “TNT Drama. Boom.” . Seriously. Anyway, TNT has a dozen or so shows which it airs at odd times, so at the moment they’ve got some established shows just finishing their seasons, and new shows starting up over the next couple of months. They also seem to make their shows WAY in advance of airing, because the two new shows that are about to start already had full trailers available this time last year, which is a ridiculously long lead time!

What’s Dead?
Southland made it five seasons, which isn’t bad going considering that NBC cancelled it in the middle of its second season. Mob City and Monday Mornings didn’t make it beyond their first seasons. Mob City was a Frank Darabont produced noir cop show set in the 40s which didn’t appeal to me in the slightest despite the good cast and crew, but Monday Mornings looked like an interesting medical procedural show but didn’t make the cut.

What’s Returning?
Falling SkiesThe only TNT show which I sort of watch is Perception, which finished its second season in March and is due to start the third in June. Rizzoli and Isles is the channels longest running show, and is due to begin a fifth season in June, at the same time as Falling Skies starts its fourth and Major Crimes starts its third. Franklin and Bash will apparently have a 4th season which should be starting sometime over the summer if they stick to previous schedules. Dallas is just finishing up its third season (in the incarnation at least) but there doesn’t seem to be any word on if there will be a fourth.

What’s New?:
The Last Ship (trailer, June): A virus kills most of the world, an American Navy ship is the only thing left to find a cure. It’s made by Michael Bay, but on a television budget which doesn’t sound like a good combination. The awake amongst you will also note that this was on LAST year’s list as an upcoming show!

Murder in the First (trailer, June): Two cops investigate a series of crimes connected to young technology entrepreneur. Looks completely generic.

Legends (trailer, August): Sean Bean plays an FBI undercover agent who is losing track of who he actually is. Again, it’s been loitering since last year.

Transporter The Series (trailer, ‘Fall’): Based on the film series, I’m a bit there will be lots of driving, punching, shooting and quipping. The plot seems largely irrelevant. Could actually be rather fun.

The Librarians (trailer, ‘Winter’): Originally this was a series of three made-for-tv films, but it’s now being expanded into a television series. It looks like Indiana Jones (or possibly The Goonies) meets Warehouse 13 via a bit of Leverage and looks like pretty mindless fun.

Proof (trailer , 2015): a terminally ill billionaire hires a sceptical doctor to investigate whether there’s life after death. My first thought with this kind of pitch is always – no there isn’t. My second thought is, how long will this terminal illness be dragged out.

Public Morals (<a href=", 2015): 1960s cops and criminals in New York don't seem to be all that different.

New and Returning Shows – FX, TNT, Syfy and USA

Yesterday I looked at what three of the big cable channels are bringing to us in the next year – HBO, Showtime and AMC. Today I look at a few of the other channels.

fxLooking at their current and past line-up, this channel more than most feels very American and fairly male oriented with surely their most well known show being The Shield. The longest running show on FX is Sons of Anarchy with season six is likely to air at the end of the year and an expectation of a pickup for a seventh and final season.

American Horror StoryJustified will return next year for a fifth season and American Horror Story’s third season Coven will air later this year, continuing the to change setting and characters each season (although with some overlapping cast), which means that although I liked season 1, I hated season 2 but will still give 3 a chance. New show The Americans has just concluded a strong first season and a second will broadcast next year. FX has a fair number of comedies too, Archer (S5), Louie (S4) and Wilfred (S3) have been renewed while Anger Management has some weird deal that seems to mean there will be 90 episodes of the Charlie Sheen vehicle broadcast over two years. I don’t understand and I don’t want to know. FX is launching a spin-off channel, FXX and is moving long running It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (S8), middling The League (S5 and 6) and relatively new Legit (S2) over there.

NEW – The Bridge – to accompany the remake of the Danish Killing, FX has developed an adaptation of The Bridge, this time set on the border between the US and Mexico. I was engrossed by the Danish series but deeply frustrated by the resolution so I’m not sure whether I’m hoping for an accurate recreation or one that fixes the problems.

Links: FX official site, Wikipedia and Program list

tntWay back in the day TNT has was the channel that gave Babylon 5 a fifth season, which gets them a lot of good will in my book. These days they seem to be largely procedural based, but have seen three of their biggest shows finish up this year – Leverage, The Closer and Southland. They also cancelled the new medical series Monday Mornings, which I hadn’t seen but I thought had some potential.

Falling SkiesJune is a busy month on the channel with loads of returning series – Rizzoli and Isles (S4), Perception (S2), Major Crimes (S2, spin off to The Closer) and Franklin and Bash (S3). Slightly out of step with the rest of the programming, but getting a pick up anyway are sci-fi series Falling Skies (S2) and soap opera reboot Dallas (S3, early 2014).

NEW – Legends – Martin Odum (Sean Bean, Lord of the Rings) is a CIA agent who can completely transform himself for each undercover assignment, but starts to lose sight of who he really is. Based on the novel by Robert Littell. It all looks a bit Budget Bourne, but Sean Bean is a big draw and the rest of the cast is solid (including Tina Majorino, Grey’s Anatomy and Ali Larter, Heroes) so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes, but you’ll have to wait awhile as it’s not scheduled until summer 2014 for some reason.

NEW – The Last Ship – a pandemic wipes out 80% of the world’s population, the crew of a US naval destroyer are left to find a cure and put things back together. Another interesting idea (based on a book of the same name), but it felt a bit Syfy Movie of the Week, not helped by some stunningly wooden performances in the trailer from Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy), Rhona Mitra (Strike Back) and Adam Baldwin (Firefly). Also summer 2014.

Links: TNT official site, Wikipedia and Program list

USA Network
usa networkNone of the shows on USA ever really blow you away, but they are reliably entertaining. Their tagline is “characters welcome” which is kind of encouraging, but also kind of non-committal – “well, if a character happens to wander by, we wouldn’t throw them out”. The channels longest running series, Psych seems to still be going strong with an eighth season starting probably early next year.

BurnNoticeLong running banter filled spy drama Burn Notice has been given final notice, and the seventh season starting next month will be the series’ last. Suits and Necessary Roughness have both been renewed for third seasons, White Collar for a fifth season, Covert Affairs for a fourth and Royal Pains for a fifth AND sixth season.

NEW – Graceland – a group of US law enforcement officers from different agencies are forced to share a California Beach house as part of an undercover operation. Sounds like an utterly ridiculous concept, but I guess there might be some fun to be had watching them alternate between shooting people and arguing over chores.

Links: USA Network official site, Wikipedia and Program list

syfySyfy has disappointed a lot of people in the last few years, firstly with its daft name and secondly with its perceived move away from actual science fiction towards reality programming and even wrestling programmes! Our last best hope for a spaceship is still letting us down a bit, but at least there are some aliens with new series Defiance being picked up for a second season before the first one had even finished.

Warehouse 13It was announced this week that Warehouse 13 would be returning for a shortened fifth season to round off its storylines. Haven, Lost Girl and Being Human (an adaptation of the UK series) have all been renewed for fourth seasons, likely to air late 2013 or early 2014 and Continuum has just started its second season

NEW – Sinbad – Sinbad (Elliot Knight, straight out of drama school) cannot stay on land more than a day after his grandmother cursed him, blaming him for the death of his brother. It looks a bit Merlin at sea, but given that it was cancelled before the first season even aired, I’m guessing it’s not great.

NEW – Helix – As the teaser says – “A team of scientists, working in secret, are about to change the world. Or end it”. It’s from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), so it might be incredible, or it might be Caprica. There’s no air date yet.

Links: Syfy official site, Wikipedia and Program list