The following is a guest post from AARP entertainment writer Austin O’Connor. You can read his previous installment of new TV previews here.
TNT is set to make a big splash during this summer TV season with the highly anticipated relaunch of Dallas – and judging by the clips and previews of the rest of their new lineup shown at the Turner Broadcasting upfront presentation this morning at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, the cable net may have struck oil several times over.
The preview of the new adventures of the Ewing family – which premieres June 13 – was greeted with whoops and hollers of approval from the assembled advertisers, and then the whole cast, including originals Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman (donning J.R.’s trademark white ten gallon hat) basked in extended applause on the ballroom stage.
There’s lots of reasons for older viewers to cheer for the lineup unveiled today. With shows like The Closer, Falling Skies, and Rizzoli and Isles, TNT has developed a nice track record of producing sophisticated, smart adult dramas. In addition to Dallas, this summer will see the premiere of two more promising titles: Major Crimes , a spin-off of The Closer (which ends its seven-season run on August 13) that centers around the character of Captain Sharon Ryder, played by Mary McDonnell, and Perception, with Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) as a schizophrenic neuroscience expert who helps the FBI investigate cases. Think A Beautiful Mind meets The Mentalist.
Another new TNT entry, Monday Mornings, looks to be among the most intriguing of all the shows unveiled this week. The medical drama, produced by the venerable David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal), sports a stellar, experienced cast highlighted by Alfred Molina, Bill Irwin and Ving Rhames.
We’ll have to wait until early 2013 for the debut of Monday Mornings, as well as two reality shows, Boston Blue and 72 Hours. Boston Blue looks like a pretty standard cops docu-drama, following a special strike force through city streets. 72 Hours, though, could be lots of fun – imagine Survivor with a treasure hunt twist, in which strangers are dropped in the middle of deserted Hawaiian islands with 3 days to find a bag containing 100 grand.
In addition to the slew of new TNT dramas, Turner execs also unveiled a few new comedies that will air on sister network TBS. The best of those could be Sullivan and Son, about a Pittsburgh bar owner whose son leaves a job as a Manhattan attorney to come home to help run the family saloon. The clip from the show was uneven, but one of the show’s creators, Rob Long, knows his way around barroom comedies -he’s the former executive producer of Cheers.
Overall, Turner’s presentation might have been the zippiest of the bunch so far. It certainly had the most laughs, with a very funny intro video featuring Conan O’Brien, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and a nifty bit of dancing by exec Donna Speciale, who recently took over as head of network ad sales. O’Brien showed up midway through in person, too, and delivered a funny 10-minute monologue full of industry zingers.