The Television Critics Association’s (TCA) semi-annual TV press tour is underway. Twice a year more than 200 professional journalists who cover television for publications across the U.S. and Canada gather for the parade of stars and creative folks who try to make programs worth watching. It’s a great gig. The goal is to generate some media excitement for the Fall TV schedule, and this year’s TCA presentations confirm that we are in a new Golden Age of Television.
Netflix, the game-changing streaming service that offers the acclaimed House of Cards, was the first to present their best and brightest, and brag about their 34 Emmy nominations. So of course they had interview panels with two of their nominated series: the outrageous Orange is the New Black, and the surprising Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Their new shows include Sense8, about eight characters around the world connected by a traumatic vision, and hunted by a secret organization. Part of the intriguing and visually stunning show (now streaming) is Daryl Hannah (of Splash fame) who said, “It’s really cool because we all traveled together all over the world and together pretty much all the time. It was like a big circus troupe.”
Hannah also calls doing an original show for Netflix a freeing experience. “We don’t have to dumb it down. This show really speaks to people, and it assumes that they’re intelligent and that they can put the pieces together. It doesn’t pander.”
Upcoming is the tale of drug kingpins, Narcos which will premiere all ten of its episodes on August 28. It’s a raw, gritty series chronicling real life stories of Pablo Escobar and the drug kingpins of the late ’80s and the corroborative efforts of law enforcement that meet them head on.
Wagner Moura plays Escobar and said, “This is not a show about good American cops that go to a Third World country to save poor people from a bad guy. We took very good care for it to be respectful with Columbian history, with what really happened, though it’s fiction. We created some characters and things that didn’t happened. I like the fact that this is not regular cop/bad guy show”
Moura added, “I liked Benicio del Toro and other actors who have played Pablo, all very different and interesting. My Pablo is completely different the way I see him. The most surprising thing I found was an interesting rare interview of Pablo on the radio from the ’80s. And he says, ‘Drugs are going to be legalized in 40 years. It’s going to be a legal business.'”
Sassy Chelsea Handler has her stand-up comedy special currently streaming, and she was on hand to tell the TV critics she has a new show for Netflix that will launch in 2016 and documentaries that will tackle attention-grabbing topics.
Handler explained, “Marriage has always been a really interesting topic for me because I’ve never felt compelled to be married, and now that I turned 40, I’m totally open to the possibility even though I have absolutely zero prospects. I felt very vulnerable doing it. Another topic is racism. And not just racism on the black/white front. I’m talking about racism within all different communities all over the world and the little subcultures that exist everywhere.”
Silicon Valley is great light and fun topic for Handler, as is the “Chelsea Does Drugs” show she reported.
Netflix is also getting into documentaries, and had an interview panel featuring three candid nonfiction filmmakers, Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winner Liz Garbus, David Gelb, and Oscar and Emmy nominee Orlando von Einsiedel, and one revealing documentary subject, comedian Tig Notaro. They were all talking about pushing boundaries and the ways that new technology and new platforms are helping to create a Golden Age of documentary filmmaking. #