TCA 2015 Winter Tour Recap: Genre series premieres, renewals and more

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With the second half of the 2014-2015 television season well underway and the 2015 Television Critics Assn. Winter Press Tour concluded, we here at All About TV are happy to give you a rundown of the geeky details.

Which genre shows are coming back for another round this fall? Which shows are being given a stay of execution? (For now.) Check out the state of your favorite new and returning series below.

ABC

As far as maintaining a less-than-traditional slate of shows, ABC shares unique space with only The CW when it comes to consistent genre options among the broadcast networks.

Agent-Carter-Poster

ABC is giving Agent Carter a bit more room to grow in the ratings department, though the online fanbase – particularly Haley Atwell’s – is strong.

Once Upon a Time and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are two examples of series in which ABC has invested a significant amount of assets, resources and time. With Disney’s mega-hit Frozen mixed into this season’s OUAT storyline, and with Marvel movies in place for the next 25 years, both series will undoubtedly be back for the 2015-2016 season.

Also, considering critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite newbie Marvel’s Agent Carter is performing alright (yes, just alright, for now), the network has truly positioned itself as a go-to network for sci-fi and fantasy lovers who appreciate procedurals with strong female leads. And, speaking of procedurals with strong female leads…

Though Castle, ABC’s second-longest running drama currently on-air, has taken a hit in the ratings recently, ABC President Paul (unofficially) stated that the show would be back for an eighth season, according to GiveMeMyRemote. Word on the street is that the pop-culture-referencing, sci-fi-lite procedural’s two leads, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, are currently in contract negotiations.

Amazon

After conquering the Golden Globes with their sleeper-hit series Transparent, Amazon announced yesterday that they’ll also be launching a movie production company.

Their new plans are more interesting than shocking – particularly since they plan to release their movies in theaters four to eight weeks before they are available for streaming, according to The New York Times.

That they’re releasing films in that order at all is a simple acknowledgement that traditional film distribution – at the multiplex, not on the Interwebs – is still currently the most lucrative form of distribution. (The same goes for traditional television distribution, by the way.)

As CNET reports, Amazon released 13 new pilots on January 15, with names and broad concepts. Unlike every other studio or network out there, streaming or otherwise, Amazon factors viewer feedback into their overall pick-up decisions.

However, as Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter notes, it’s a good thing Amazon don’t look at viewer ratings too closely. Transparent, which could be equated to AMC’s Mad Men or Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, has helped launch Amazon Studios into the realm of critical relevance in an industry where footholds are hard to find and validation is fleeting.

According to Goodman, Transparent also happened to be Amazon’s lowest-rated pilot by Prime members in 2014.

There aren’t a lot of strictly genre options on Amazon’s list of 2015 pilots, besides kids pilot, Just Add Magic. However, Point of Honor and The Man in the High Castle definitely look interesting for the history buffs out there. Unfortunately, the ultra-nerdy Betas (not to be confused with Amazon’s Alpha House) will not be returning for a second season.

CBS

CBS produces shows about geeks, rather than shows for geeks. It's a fine line, and seems to be working for them.

CBS produces shows about geeks, rather than shows for geeks. It’s a fine line, and seems to be working for them.

Stalker’s future isn’t clear, as it wasn’t included in CBS’s list of second-season renewals, which included Scorpion, Madam Secretary and NCIS: New Orleans.

However, genre fans of Maggie Q (Nikita) and Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) may rejoice anyway, since ET Canada reports that creepy-crime co-stars are engaged.

Let’s face it, though: It’s the Internet, so their fans are more likely melting down in epic Tumblr-fied fashion.

And that’s it for remotely tangential, genre updates at “America’s Most Watched Network.” Odds are The Big Bang Theory cast will be employed for the next several years.

CW

As mentioned above, CBS’s cousin, CW, deserves continuous kudos for offering the most diverse slate of genre shows – for better or worse.

The-Flash

The Flash has surpassed expectations in many ways as one of CW’s newest flagship shows.

Their own surprise Golden Globes win for Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez, combined with Amazon, FX, HBO, Netflix, PBS, Showtime and SundanceTV’s wins, officially shut out The Big Four broadcast networks from a single television trophy.

With their strong performance this season, CW announced renewals for sci-fi/fantasy favorites, Reign, Supernatural, The Originals, The 100 and The Vampire Diaries.

Looking further ahead, executive producers of the recently-renewed Arrow and The Flash confirmed that they’re looking at developing an Atom series, according to Deadline.

Atom would round out the trifecta of DC Universe offerings at a network that’s been able to capitalize on ratings downturns across the broadcast board.

Comparatively speaking, CW’s experiments with Arrow and The Flash have been more successful than similar attempts on other networks.

Fox

The X-Files.

We could talk about Sleepy Hollow’s recent decline, and how its future might be, well… hollow. (Crossing our fingers!) We could talk about how Gotham was renewed, despite some critical and viewer displeasure over storylines and characters. (That can be fixed between now and September.) Ryan Murphy’s new show Scream Queens with Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin might even turn a few heads.

But at the end of the day, the big genre news to come out of Fox’s TCA presentation was The X-Files. They’re looking at a limited-run series, which can’t be too difficult when the two leads, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, have expressed seemingly genuine interest in returning to their characters for years. And no, the second X-Files movie doesn’t count.

Considering Chris Carter’s series with Amazon apparently won’t be moving forward, that may leave room for a full-on reboot. I always wondered what a spin-off with a teenage William would look like…

Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon, Terence Howard, Carla Cugino and Juliette Lewis, looks like a creepy doozy. Photo: Ed Araquel/FOX

Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon, Terence Howard and Rachel Griffith, looks like a creepy doozy. Photo: Ed Araquel/FOX

As for Bones’ fate, the network and studio are in contract talks with the show’s leads, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. It truly could go either way, except that the long-running, science producer has become a true anchor for Fox.

And since we’re moving out of the era where true flagship shows and anchors are born on network television, Bones brings stability that likely won’t be duplicated for quite some time – if ever.

Finally, Wayward Pines, which caught my eye last summer, stars Matt Dillon, and still looks to be full of creepy, twisty, brain-tingly fun leading into this summer’s schedule.

HBO

No new genre fare to report at the home of Game of Thrones. However, there are plenty of other options in the form of dark geopolitical comedy The Brink, with Jack Black and Tim Robbins, and indie-style dramedy Togetherness with Amanda Peet.

NBC

NBC has found success in singing competition juggernaut The Voice, and also in procedurals featuring good-looking people in uniform, like Chicago PD and Chicago Fire. But when it comes to genre shows, they’re a teensy bit sparse.

The news out of TCAs includes a couple of Internet crowd-pleasing tips: Chuck star Zachary Levi has been tapped to lead Heroes Reborn, and Hannibal is returning this summer.

Netflix

The Fall, a BBC and Netflix Original hit last year, is back for an intense second season. Photo: BBC/Netflix

The Fall, a BBC and Netflix Original hit last year, is back for an intense second season. Photo: BBC/Netflix

What isn’t Netflix showing? As The Wrap lists, there are plenty of genre shows to choose from, including horror procedural Hemlock Grove and historical drama Marco Polo.

Two other likely hits are Peaky Blinders, with the impeccable Cillian Murphy, and BBC’s The Fall, with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, now of 50 Shades of Grey fame. (How did ABC and OUAT let this guy get away?!)

Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones will be available some time in 2015, with Krysten Ritter as the lead. Why execs across the board have decided that superhero franchises with female leads should be solely relegated to the small-screen is beyond me, but I digress…

Showtime

Kyle MacLachlan is on tap for the Twin Peaks reboot, promising a “damn good cup of coffee” when the series premieres next year. It’s proof that broadcast networks aren’t the only ones who find value in re-launching concepts that concluded years ago.

The difference? Showtime, like HBO and a select few others, has a broader margin for error when it comes to risky experiments based in nostalgia. The broadcast networks? Not so much.

In returning shows news, Penny Dreadful’s second season will kick off on April 26.

Starz

Since Starz decided to break Outlander‘s first season into two halves (tricky, tricky), that means the second half of season one will air on April 4. According to The LA Times, a sneak preview of Season 1.2 will air during the premiere of Black Sails on Jan. 24.

Syfy

Last, but not least, the network whose long-standing history with sci-fi fans has dwindled a wee bit in recent years.

12-Monkeys-Syfy-Art

Emily Hampshire portrays Jennifer Goines, the counterpart to (or, perhaps, daughter of?) Brad Pitt’s Jeffrey Goines from the 1995 film.

Fellow Geek host Andrea pointed out this rather in-depth report back in October by Entertainment Weekly, regarding Syfy’s development strategies, beginning in 2009 and leading up to present-day. It explains how Syfy opted for lighter, less-expensive and less-risky series following Battlestar Galactica’s conclusion.

Entertainment Weekly doesn’t attribute much of their analytical background to any one executive, but a lot of their supposition seems to track with Syfy’s critical and audience decline.

Still, one could argue that hindsight is 20/20, and without knowing precisely what bolder series Syfy had at their disposal back then, it’s unclear whether they would’ve really been able to resonate with audiences the way AMC, A&E, FX and HBO have.

Every show – even one with a tried-and-true audience base – is a risk. Some networks just manage to strike at the right time, with the right set of variables in place. One of those variable, of course, is luck.

Aaron Stanford stars as James Cole in the buzzy new Syfy drama, 12 Monkeys. Photo: Jeff Riedel/Syfy

Aaron Stanford stars as James Cole in the buzzy new Syfy drama, 12 Monkeys. Photo: Jeff Riedel/Syfy

Looking ahead, Syfy has done a great job of demonstrating their commitment to new, complex, original programming. First up this season was Ascension, starring Tricia Helfer and Gil Bellows.

Ascension was followed by the 12 Monkeys adaptation, which premiered earlier this month, and both received some level of critical interest and acclaim.

Finally, Fellow Geek host Alice pointed me toward The Expanse, an ambitious space series that takes place 200 years in the future, when humans have taken over the solar system Wall-E-style. The trailer is, as they say, epic.

Based on the sci-fi book series Leviathan Wakes, The Expanse stars Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Hung) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (24, Grimm), and last week stars and producers referred to it as a “future noir” and a “space opera,” with specific focus on the people versus outer-space.

Like nearly all networks these days, Syfy has chosen to downplay live and same-day viewership, waiting instead to see how a series performs within seven days – or more, depending on factors that appear to fluctuate between different camps.

And Syfy isn’t necessarily wrong for choosing that route, as it means they will simply wait longer before making a decision, just like everyone else.

Though it should be noted that, unlike the five broadcast networks, Syfy and its cable companions have a bit more breathing room in the renewal/cancellation department.

Regardless of what decisions they make in the long-term for their new and returning series, it’s nice to see an abundance of bonafide sci-fi at Syfy again.

What genre series will you be checking out between now and May? And what shows do you have to catch up on before their seasons end?

Let us know what hot new and returning genre shows have whet your whistle this spring, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter with #AllAboutTV.