TV Talk

What Drama? Neil Gaiman Promises American Gods Season 2 Keeps the Faith Despite Off-Camera Escapades and More TV News

Caitriona Balfe on Outlander season 5, the Crawleys turn volume to 11 in Downton Abbey movie, and SpongeBob has a birthday. Plus, is millennial sex comedy Now Apocalypse porn?

by and | February 13, 2019 | Comments

American Gods executive producer–author promises transcendent season 2, Outlander season 5 update, Starz introduces racy new millennial sex comedy, the Crawleys get supersized in Downton Abbey movie, and more.


TOP STORY

Caitriona Balfe’s Claire Fraser Will Have a New Role in Outlander Season 5

Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan in Outlander (Starz)
(Photo by Starz)

Caitriona Balfe is just weeks away from filming season 5 of Outlander. Since season 4 used elements from the fourth and fifth books in the series, it sounds like season 5 will already hit book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which leads up to 1776 in North Carolina — quite a significant year in American history. Before heading off to film, Balfe told Rotten Tomatoes a few more details about about Claire Fraser’s journey in the new season.

“Last season, her doctor side in some ways is put to one side,” Balfe said. “We got to see little glimpses of it. I think now that they’re going to settled in Fraser’s Ridge, it’s a real opportunity to establish herself in getting that kind of professional side of her life back in an order that is very fulfilling for her. So I think that’s exciting too.”

The Fraser clan is growing in season 5 as Brianna (Sophie Skelton) has a baby whose health complications may require a return to the present for medical care.

“[Claire’s] a grandmother this season, which I think is a really interesting time in a woman’s life,” Balfe said. “It’s great to be able to explore that and have an extended family be around and also to deepen this marriage and this relationship in new ways because their life now is very new. This is a new role they’re taking on. It’s a new place and they’ve settled into this new community so I think it’s really interesting.”

The season will cover a fraught time for both the country and the Fraser family, as Claire and her beloved, Jamie (Sam Heughan), are on the front lines of the birth of America as well as their grandchild.

“I think there’s a lot of interesting things that we’re going to get to explore in terms of family, in terms of loyalties, especially in politics,” Balfe said. “It’s very new to me, all of this kind of time in American history. To understand the intricacies of what was going on in America in that time during its infancy, the people that were coming into the country, who their allegiances lay with. It’s all really interesting stuff, and it’s very new so that makes it really exciting.”


Despite Behind-the-Scenes Drama, American Gods Season 2 “Feels Like the Same Show”

The drama behind the scenes of Starz’s American Gods has been well-documented — original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green departed after writing about half the scripts for season 2, with Jesse Alexander appointed as new showrunner two months later — but creator (and book author) Neil Gaiman told reporters that viewers shouldn’t notice any difference in quality between the two seasons.

“I was on the show before Bryan and Michael came on as showrunners; I got to watch that being made,” he said. “I got to watch them leave and Jesse come on and take season 2. From my perspective, the thing that has been made as season 2 feels like the same show that we had for season 1. Part of that is because we have amazing actors, part of that is because a lot of the people didn’t change.

“It still looks and feels like American Gods,” he continued. “It’s definitely taken a while to get season 2 out, but it takes a while to get good things made and I think we’d all rather have it good than have it quicker — although we’d rather have it quicker too.”


The Crawleys Turn Volume to 11 on Downton Abbey Movie

MASTERPIECE CLASSIC - Downton Abbey, Season 5 (Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited)
(Photo by Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014)

The Downton Abbey movie hits theaters on September 20, and its stars are still keeping as frustratingly tight-lipped as ever when it comes to discussing the upcoming film.

“I don’t even know what I can tell you,” star Laura Carmichael (a.k.a. Edith Crawley) told USA Today and a small group of reporters on Tuesday. “What can I remember has been released? There’s some new exciting people, which was dreamy. New cast members which you’ll love and enjoy.”

Unfortunately, that’s just about all Carmichael, who next stars in Starz’s drama The Spanish Princess, could say about what happens, though she did reveal that she thinks “everyone will be pleased that we’ve upped the ante. Turned the volume up.”

Whether it’s the end of the road for the Crawleys and their staff is something only creator Julian Fellowes can address.

“I can’t speak for other people,” Carmichael said. “But I can say we all had a dreamy time, it was lush.”


SpongeBob SquarePants Turns 20

SpongeBob SquarePants celebrates its 20th birthday this summer. Like other beloved animated series (including The Simpsons and Family Guy), the series has managed to remain in the zeitgeist for multiple decades (though SpongeBob is a show both kids and adults can enjoy together). How, exactly, has the Nickelodeon series managed to remain so topical?

“Man, that’s the million-dollar question,” said Bill Fagerbakke, who voices SpongeBob’s pal Patrick Star. “I don’t know if there’s a formula. There’s something mercurial and enigmatic about it. And I’ve come to think it’s a magical combination of shapes, colors, and sounds. We don’t know!”

Rodger Bumpass, who voices SpongeBob’s frenemy Squidward, likens the series to Looney Tunes.

“They’re both short cartoons, but different ages of people and viewers get different things. Little kids get something out of it ’cause it’s colorful and it’s animated. And then the little older guys get a little bit more stuff out of it, and adults get something out of it too. And funny is funny, so I think that’s one of the reasons it has struck a chord,” Bumpass said.

SpongeBob himself, a.k.a. Tom Kenny, thinks some of the magic of his character comes from the fact that everyone wants to root for him and he’s avoided any type of controversy.

“SpongeBob really does seem to have this charmed life and this magic power where people, you know, they didn’t just like it a little bit. They started to really like it and love it, and it found its way into the fabric of people’s lives, and it kept finding new life in new ways like memes and things like that,” Kenny said. “And even on the couple of occasions where there’s been something a little controversial that’s happened, SpongeBob still winds up winning. SpongeBob still winds up on top.”

For example, the latest Super Bowl halftime show was a tad controversial, but people didn’t take any umbrage with the fact that SpongeBob made an appearance.

Said Kenny, “People get mad at the NFL. They don’t get mad at SpongeBob. You know what I mean? They don’t hate on SpongeBob. They hate on Maroon 5.”


The Rook EP Explains Why British People Are Good at Spy Dramas

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Emma Greenwell, Olivia Munn and Stephen Garrett of 'The Rook' speak onstage during Starz 2019 Winter TCA Panel & All-Star After Party on February 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Starz)

The new Starz drama The Rook, based on the book of the same name by Daniel O’Malley, is both a tense British spy thriller and a supernatural drama. When Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell) wakes up in the rain next to London’s Millennium Bridge, she can’t remember who she is or how she wound up next to a pile of dead bodies. But she soon learns that she’s a high-ranking official in the Checquy, a secret organization involving people with paranormal abilities.

The London-set series was run by two American showrunners, Lisa Zerling and Karyn Usher, though it stars a mostly British cast (save for Olivia Munn). British executive producer Stephen Garrett said the series works because his people are experts in the spy genre.

“The Rook denotes [Myfanwy’s] rank in the organization, and clearly there are bishops and queens who are higher than her, but I think what drew us all to this is it’s a spy show with supernatural elements. The great thing about spy shows, and why the British are good at them, [is because] we’re naturally duplicitous, we’re very good at lying, and we love secrets,” Garrett joked. “So if you’re a spy you can’t tell your friends or your loved ones what it is you do, and I think if you have supernatural powers, you can’t tell your loved ones what it is you have. So you have secrets to the power of 10, and that’s just a heady mix for a great drama.”


Maybe Don’t Watch the Racy Now Apocalypse With Your Parents

Gregg Araki‘s new Starz drama, Now Apocalypse, is a sex-infused, surreal adventure about stoner twentysomethings navigating the dating world and Los Angeles in general. Ulysses (Avan Jogia) also starts having premonitory dreams, causing him to wonder if there’s a dark conspiracy going on around him or he’s just smoking too much weed.

There’s a lot of nudity and sex, but star Jogia told reporters that he thinks the show will attract a “multi-generational” audience. As he pointed out, “the older generation, quote unquote, grew up during sex lib.”

But if you’re thinking about watching the show with your parents, whether that’s a good decision or not really depends on how sexually liberated you and your parents are.

“The show sounds very punk rock, and attuned toward sex and sexuality,” Araki said. “We have BDSM, and we have water sports, and we have a sex club and a sex orgy, and it’s like ‘Whoa, that show sounds nuts.’ But when I watched it for the first time, there’s a real sweetness to it. And this is a testament to the best cast in the whole universe — they really imbue these characters with such vanity and such authenticity. The whole show is grounded in these characters. They’re super-sweet and super lovable. …It’s really about these characters and what they’re going through.”

It’s a lot, he admitted — especially in a show he described as “Girls, Sex and the City meets Twin Peaks with an alien” — but he’s not including those moments for shock value.

“I’m not interested in titillation or making porn,” Araki said. “It’s really about those moments of character truth, and I think that’s the strongest thing about the show.”


Dennis Quaid Heads to Netflix

Netflix has added Dennis Quaid to its ever-expanding roster of talent. The veteran actor is set to star in a new comedy series from Everybody Loves Raymond writer Tucker Cawley called Merry Happy Whatever. The series, according to Netflix, “takes place in the weeks around Christmas as a father is thrown for a loop when his youngest daughter comes home for Christmas with a new boyfriend.”

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