We have a tight list of shows to squee over from the cable and streaming portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Amazon, AMC, and Animal Planet had some really compelling clips and panels that ran the gamut from dog rescue to classic horror huzzahs from iconic directors and actors of the skin-tingling eye-popping genre.
Here’s a brief rundown of things to put on your radar and bookmark that resonated strongly with us and all the other TCA television critics from the cold, dark recess of the Beverly Hilton ballroom:
The Romanoffs (Amazon)
The Romanov diaspora lives in the modern day! That’s the premise anyway, centered on this royal Russian clan who were executed by Bolshevik rebels back in 1918. Cut to today as this well-reported $70 million deal with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is set for a modern-day anthology series.
The teaser video is powerful, drenched in Russian red and shows off a background of words in Cyrillic characters. Names such as Mad Men alums Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, plus Corey Stoll, Aaron Eckhart, Amanda Peet, Corey Stroll, Noah Wyle, and others. Weiner will direct all eight episodes.
The show will follow a group of people from around the world who believe that they’re descendants of the Romanovs. The remains of the family were first discovered in 1991, but two family members, Alexei Nikolaevich, and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna or Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna — were unaccounted and speculation ensued that they were not killed.
The Romanoffs will debut on October 12th.
Lodge 49 (AMC)
David Madden, President for Original Programming, AMC, Sundance TV, and AMC Studios, introduced a new 10-part drama series set in Long beach that hearkens a bit of The Big Lebowski and Sideways.
Lodge 49 introduces us to Dud, played by Wyatt Russell, an underachieving pleasant underdog who cannot seem to catch a break. Dud’s search for purpose takes him on a winding journey that leads him by chance to an enigmatic fraternal order known as the Lynx.
Dud believes that the Lodge will provide a missing sense of purpose in his life. Created, written and Executive Produced by Jim Gavin, the series sees showrunner Peter Ocko; and the producing team of Paul Giamatti, Dan Carey, and Jeff Freilich.
At the TCA summer tour, Gavin said: “I will say I may sound like an old crank, so forgive me. But that in many ways social media has the opposite effect on our lives and isolates us.
“And the idea of the Lodge in its kind of most ideal sense is that it does — a place where different types of people can actually meet face-to-face,” Gavin continued. “You know, we live in a world where people are kind of armed with digital hate cannons. The Lodge is just a little bit different. And we want to create an atmosphere that I think where the viewer, as much as our characters, have a place to hang out.”
Lodge 49 premieres Monday, August 6 at 10/9c on AMC.
Eli Roth’s History of Horror (AMC)
What happens when a talented horror fan like Eli Roth brings together A-list storytellers like Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Robert Englund, Linda Blair, Tippi Hedren, Rob Zombie, Haley Joel Osment, Jack Black, John Landis, Jamie Lee Curtis and more?
Murder, mayhem and magic, I tell you!
Eli Roth’s History of Horror brings icons and stars who define the genre to dish, reveal secrets, anecdotes and the bits of intel that make film and TV fans’ toes curl.
Each one-hour episode will explore how horror has evolved through the eras and affected the culture, as well as why loyal fans stick with the genre that frankly is not for everyone.
At summer tour on Saturday, Roth said: “Luckily, my wish list came true, for sure, having these guys. Alex [Winter], I’ve been a fan of his and known each other. Catherine [Hardwicke] and I know each other. And Robert [Englund], we — I mean, I know all of them, and they’re all fantastic storytellers.”
“So Mick Garris — so all credit goes to Mick Garris,” Roth continued. “He’s the one who got all the horror directors together. We’d have these dinners called “Masters of Horror.” This is in about 2002, 2003.”
“So you’d sit there, and it’s Tobe Hooper, George Romero, John Landis, all like the greatest hits of horror and now they’ve grown that it’s like 50 people go to the dinners. But we were — Guillermo del Toro would be like, ‘The masters of horror want more ketchup!'”
“The qualification was you had to have directed a horror movie. And everyone at those dinners were so fun and they had so much energy. And as we were losing these guys — losing Wes [Craven], losing Tobe [Hooper], losing [George]Romero — we’re losing their stories.”
“And they had such great stories and I felt like, god, I would love to get everyone together and talk about these movies…We tried to include everyone, but I also really wanted a mix. I wanted a really good balance, a lot of different voices…When you listen to these directors tell a story about other people’s movies, it’s even more exciting.”
Eli Roth’s History of Horror will premiere Sunday, October 14 at midnight/11c.
The Irwin Family (Animal Planet)
Animal Planet honors the memory of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin with a new series starring his family. The Irwins are now his wife Terri and two children.
The king of “Crikey” moments on TV, Steve was a global champion for all wildlife. Now Terri, Bindi, and Robert are carrying this torch with their continuing passion for animals, love, and leadership in conservation holding up this admirable legacy that continues today.
The Irwins couldn’t be on a panel at the Television Critics Association but were beamed in on a satellite feed from Australia wishing the critics well and saying they looked forward to being back on Animal Planet.
The Irwin family calls Queensland, Australia-based Australia Zoo their home base. This global zoological destination protects wildlife and their habitat. The Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors was established in 2002 to support the protection of injured, threatened or endangered wildlife.
The Irwin family will return to Animal Planet on October 28, 2018.
Amanda to the Rescue (Animal Planet)
In Amanda to the Rescue on Animal Planet, we meet Amanda Giese and her “pack” including her kids and partner who help the last chance animals who would otherwise be put down.
Giese said: “Our rescue is called Panda Paws Rescue. Panda Paws Rescue is a nonprofit that focuses on major medical, special needs and hospice. So obviously we’re dealing with more critical cases.”
“I call them our unicorn cases, the one-of-a-kind cases that we really have never seen in the veterinary world,” Amanda continues. “That said, we try to keep our numbers very low. Our rescue is run in our home, we’re not shelter style. When we bring in a rescue in, they’re integrated as part of our family.”
“They sleep with us in bed, they follow me to the bathroom they’re everywhere that I am. So that said, we try to keep our numbers very low. And also our rescues have a tremendous dollar bill attached to them and that’s obviously a lot of fundraising. We rely solely on the public to help us with that.”
Over the season, Giese heads to California shelters overrun with injured animals from the recent wildfires, as well as to Puerto Rico to help a dog rescue operation post-Hurricane Maria.
Amanda to the Rescue premieres Sunday, October 28th at 9 pm ET/PT.