“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” became headline news back in November after the series, originally greenlit by NBC, shifted to Netflix (becoming the service’s second-ever live action comedy). What Netflix got second-hand, though, could be the best thrift shop find ever. With a more-than-unconventional premise, that “30 Rock” pedigree, the charming Ellie Kemper as a lead — and most importantly of all, D’Fwan! — “Kimmy” will be one of the first shows to present at the TCAs this year, but could also be one of the most memorable.
We’ve already gone over in some detail why you should be excited for “Bloodline,” as well as the rest of Netflix’s 2015 lineup, but in case you’ve forgotten: Kyle Chandler is returning to television. That, and so are the creators of “Damages,” the dark soapy FX drama that made Glenn Close a TV star and continued Ted Danson’s small screen hot streak after “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (it continued into “Bored to Death,” before being slowly smothered by “CSI”). Close and Danson aren’t around, but Chandler returns for creators Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman’s latest offering about a close-knit family whose secrets start to spill out when their black-sheep brother comes home, and the rest of the cast certainly isn’t wanting. After the formidable talent that is Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline” also has “Mad Men” and “Freaks and Geeks” star Linda Cardellini, “Killing Them Softly” actor Ben Mendelsohn, and a little ol’ Oscar winner named Sissy Spacek. Get ready for some serious drama, folks. It’s coming your way.
Written by “Weeds” and “Ally McBeal” veteran Roberto Benabib and his brother Kim, “The Brink” takes on geopolitical crisis in the best way possible: via comedy. The upcoming HBO comedy series stars Jack Black as a lowly Foreign Service officer and Tim Robbins as the Secretary of State, both of whom must work to prevent the breakout of World War III. Described as a black comedy, “The Brink” was ordered to series only a day after HBO executives watched the pilot, an obviously positive sign for the 10-episode first season. Jay Roach, director of “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents” as well as HBO FIlms’ “Game Change” and “Recount,” helmed the pilot while Hollywood power producer Jerry Weintraub (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Avengers”) originally teamed with the director for the pitch. The dark, high concept idea should be right at home at HBO, where it will be rubbing shoulders with “Veep” and “Westworld,” another Weintraub production.
Unlike many of the other talked-about TV shows at this year’s TCAs, you can watch “Togetherness” in less than a week! Premiering Sunday, January 11, right after “Girls,” the new comedy from Mark and Jay Duplass is an enticingly introspective endeavor, challenging its audience to reexamine who they are as a member of a relationship — any relationship — while simultaneously bringing viewers more joy than any other comedy premiere this year. Okay, you caught us. This year just started. But let’s say “Togetherness” is more jubilant than anything on either side of Pawnee, Indiana. In other words, don’t miss out on the rare blend of brains and — gasp! — idealism.
Will Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s prequel to our late lamented “Breaking Bad” live up to expectations? Will AMC allow any real information about the 2003-set drama to come out? Will faithful Indiewire correspondent Rob T. Jenkins (who is definitely not a fictional character created out of frustration with AMC’s ofuscation) be satisfied by the details we get out of this Saturday’s panel, featuring cast as well as creators? We’re hoping that the answers to all those questions are yes. We have faith. As does Rob T. Jenkins.
We thought “Mad Men” was the best show of 2014 — even with only half-a-season — so it’s safe to say anticipation is high in the Indiewire office for the final chapter of Don Draper’s exceedingly complex existence. After the first half of Season 7 [SPOILERS follow], Don seems to have reached a moment of personal satisfaction: He’d learned to work with Peggy and a hand-selected team. Roger was in his corner again, and his relationship with Megan – though it didn’t end well — is still over, allowing the ladies’ man of the decade to move on in his quest for an artistically viable fellow soul. Whether or not he finds that is anyone’s guess, but he seems to be on the right track after a hallucinatory warning from the recently deceased Bert Cooper: “The Best Things in Life are Free.”
Truth: Our interest got piqued by one name on this list: Felicity Huffman. Second truth: We got even more interested after reading more about the show, which was created by Oscar winner John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”) and seems to be almost ABC’s direct response to “True Detective.” Labeled “an anthology series” (perhaps a new experiment in avoiding the “series vs. miniseries” debate?) “American Crime” focuses on the reverberations surrounding the death of a young man, less mystery than serious drama. How it presents itself before critics next week will go a long way towards forming future perspectives on the show — even if it really, truly, only lasts one season.
The premise is simple: A community erupts in drama after an adult slaps a child. The reason we care is also simple: The talent involved. Executive produced by Lisa Cholodenko, this adaptation of an Australian miniseries features the sort of cast that primetime television now currently attracts, as long as it comes with the promise that it actually is a miniseries. Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Zachary Quinto, Uma Thurman, Brian Cox and more will be stopping by NBC for eight episodes of potential greatness and probablly no more. But the TCAs should provide a glimpse of whether or not the chemistry between all these players makes something relatively simple into something rich and complex.
Fox has kept the lid clamped pretty tight on this show (the little footage made available features star Will Forte indulging in the type of indulgent pleasures you might expect from a dude living the scenario implied by the title). However, there have been casting notices that indicate complications beyond one man romping through the abandoned ruins of civilization. And that’s what will make what was once literally the premise of a “Twilight Zone” episode into something resembling a sustainable series. We have confidence in Forte as well as “Lego Movie”/”21 Jump Street” geniuses Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but also look forward to seeing proof of our faith on stage.
Speaking of shows under lockdown… Thanks to producer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s reputation for twists!, this “Twin Peaks”-esque drama with a pretty damn good cast (including Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Juliette Lewis and Terrence Howard) promises a lot of intrigue, but has so far revealed very little. As the show doesn’t premiere until May, we’re at the moment very in the dark about what’s in store beyond the promise of dark forces lurking underneath an all-American facade — but at the TCAs, “Wayward Pines” has the opportunity to prove that what makes it compelling goes beyond vague mystery, and into truly compelling storytelling.
Though Denis Leary’s last writing credit — the not-so-funny USA comedy “Sirens” — didn’t set the world on fire like “Rescue Me,” the Emmy-winning FX series earned enough good will over nearly 100 episodes to make anything the angry funny man has to offer worth considering. And his latest, the awkwardly-titled “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” has much more in common with Leary’s successes than his disappointments, starting with its home on FX and ending with Leary’s on screen presence. That’s right: Tommy Gavin himself is returning to FX under the new name of Johnny Rock, a middle-aged rock ‘n roller who lost out on his shot at fame when he slept with his bandmates’ wives and did more drugs than Keith Richards. Now he’s trying for one last shot at fame and fortune by doing the impossible: getting the band back together 25 years after their one-and-only record debuted (and the exact same amount of time since the band broke up). Leary’s time on stage will be one of the last panels of the TCA tour — when his anger and a tired room critics meet, it could make for a lively presentation for what will not likely be a boring show.