This winter press tour is going to feature goodbye sessions for several beloved, long-running series, and few shows have been as loved by the TCA as "Mad Men," which is bringing creator Matt Weiner and stars Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery to the stage to reminisce about their time together. (Earlier today, AMC announced that the final season will resume on April 5.) Though AMC has done a few "Mad Men"-related events since the series premiere, this will be the first formal TCA panel since then, and it should be an interesting time, especially with this mix of strong talent and personality.
This morning's "Better Call Saul" panel isn't the first time Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have come to press tour to discuss the "Breaking Bad" prequel, but their panel back at summer tour was incredibly light on details and didn't feature any actors. So this session — featuring Gilligan, Gould, "Breaking Bad" alums Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, plus fellow "Saul" castmembers Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and Michael Mando — should be much livelier, and not just because critics have now seen the first two "Saul" episodes(*).
Welcome to 2015, and time for another installment of Ask Alan, where I take your questions about TV, past, present and future and try not to ramble too much in my answers.
A quick review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I have the route to the hospital MapQuested...
The revolution in TV drama that HBO kicked off with "Oz" and "The Sopranos" involved cable television filling a void that the movie studios had created by focusing mainly on big-budget franchise movies and low-budget awards bait. If you wanted to make a middle-class drama for adults, you now had to go to HBO (David Chase had once dreamed of making "The Sopranos" as a two-hour feature), or FX, AMC, Showtime, etc.
We're about 15 minutes from the start of the winter 2015 Television Critics Association press tour, or TCA for short. If you've been following me for a while, you know all the ins and outs of press tour. If you haven't, the primer that I published again back in the summer is still very useful(*).
A few quick thoughts on the final season premiere of "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as I flirt with a Fu Manchu...
I posted my review of "Marvel's Agent Carter" yesterday. Now it's your turn. For those of you who watched the two-hour premiere tonight, what did you think? If you had watched Hayley Atwell in the "Captain America" films, how do you think she did carrying the full load? If you were new to the character, was she interesting? How do you think they handled the period setting? Were you excited by the Andre Royo guest appearance? Amused or annoyed by the oblivious sexism of most of Peggy's colleagues? How did you feel about Jarvis? Peggy's blonde disguise? And was I the only person who watched Peggy beat up bad guys with a stapler and immediately say, "Hayley Atwell is... The Stapler!"?
FOX's new "Empire" is the kind of unapologetic melodrama that can go to commercial with Taraji P. Henson pronouncing, "I'm here to get what's mine!," followed by a melodramatic musical sting. It's from Lee Daniels, who co-created it with Emmy-winning writer (and sometime-actor) Danny Strong, so it ain't subtle. And yet... the scene I found myself enjoying the most in the pilot episode (it airs tomorrow night at 9) is a relatively quiet one, where Henson's Cookie and Terrence Howard's Lucious are swapping stories from their time as a couple. He's now a Jay-Z-esque hip-hop mogul, and she's just out of prison and, again, here to get what's hers, and both would like nothing more than to absolutely destroy the other — but even as they're swapping barbs and holding metaphorical knives behind their backs, it's clear that they still enjoy each other's company on some level, and that the attraction they had decades earlier hasn't completely been extinguished.