Disney ABC Television presented panels on their ABC and Freeform network series to the Television Critics Association on Tuesday. Exhausted critics still got up bright and early to see Kerry Washington in person and Shonda Rhimes via satellite at the 8 a.m. Scandal panel, followed by Pretty Little Liars. Here’s the news on those shows plus more on American Crime, Bella Thorne, Beyond, Rachel Dratch, and more!
The cast of Scandal and Shonda Rhimes confirmed that the season premiere would reveal the results of the election between Mellie and Francisco. The season would go back and forward in time and show things from different characters’ perspectives. Rhimes said the 100th episode is currently being written. More popcorn and red wine are uncomfirmed, but likely. Scandal returns Thursday, January 26 on ABC.
ABC delayed the premieres of Shondaland TGIT shows from January 19 to January 26 for a 20/20 pre-inauguration special. Asked about the move, Rhimes had no complaints. “I just think ABC does its programming,” Rhimes said. “I’m not in charge of scheduling. I’m fine with whatever they want to do. It has nothing to do with my job. I like to stay in my lane.”
Pretty Little Liars producers said the latter half of the final 10 episodes would revisit the flash forward to Alison’s classroom. There is a musical number in one of the last 10 and possibly some redemption for Alison. Before the finale, there will be another one year time jump. The producers added that every supporting actor they asked to return found a way, even if they had to beg the producers and networks of current shows they are on. PLL returns April 18 on Freeform.
The new season focuses on the deaths of migrant workers in negligent conditions, and how it relates to the prostitution of teenaged girls. Creator John Ridley said he looks for subjects he didn’t address the previous season. He wants to illuminate voices that do not have a platform and illustrate connections between seemingly disparate issues (like migrant labor and sex trafficking) about which people may not be aware. This season is set in North Carolina because Ridley also makes sure to represent as many different places as possible, although he noted these cases occur everywhere.
On Freeform’s new series from PLL creator I. Marlene King, Thorne plays Paige, a young actress navigating Hollywood and romance. While there’s no murder mystery, King assures a lot of secrets and lies in Hollywood. Expect a love quad. The series sets up a love triangle between Thorne and characters played by Charlie Depew and Carter Jenkins. Thorne said she falls for a fourth whom no one will see coming. King also said it’s a sexy show and promised “occasional side boob, occasional side butt.” Famous In Love premieres April 18 on Freeform after the season premiere of PLL.
After the Famous in Love panel, Thorne spoke to reporters in the hallway and revealed she is writing a pilot herself. She wants to write a show about stage parents, based on all the dirty secrets she learned while being a child star on Disney’s Shake It Up! No network is attached. Thorne is writing it on spec.
Freeform announced a pickup for season 2 of their new series Beyond. President of Freeform Tom Ascheim interrupted the Beyond panel to make the announcement. Cast and creators hugged each other on stage at the news. In a one-on-one after the panel, Beyond creator Adam Nussdorf told Rotten Tomatoes that if season 1 is about Holden taking action in the real world and The Realm, season 2 will be about the consequences of those actions. Be sure to read our interviews with star Burkely Duffield and producer Tim Kring.
Dustin Lance Black wrote the ABC miniseries When We Rise about the gay rights movement. On a panel he said he only ever pitched ABC because ABC is the trusted network for family stories. He wants his Southern family, whom he loves and learned from, to experience this story from what they consider “The Other America.” Black also said young people need to see they have forefathers and foremothers who fought for their rights. The series also thinks it helpful to portray the backlash against gay rights, and the ways in which activists could confront it to mitigate the inevitable setbacks. When We Rise begins February 27.
Imaginary Mary stars Jenna Elfman as a grown woman whose imaginary friend (voiced by Rachel Dratch) returns as an adult. Animation director and executive producer Patrick Osborne admitted the design was rushed for the pilot, so given more time they could make Mary better. After the Imaginary Mary panel, Dratch described the earlier version as looking more adult and less cute/cuddly, but still the same size. (Who’s gonna start shipping Imaginary Mary and Drop Dead Fred?)
Time After Time is based on the feature film and book about author H.G. Wells time traveling to the present to chase Jack the Ripper. Series creator Kevin Williamson said that the series would touch on Wells’ other famous books like The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and War of the Worlds to show how he became inspired to write them. Moreau comes in as soon as episode three. Williamson also said Wells uses time travel sparingly on the show because it is a big deal every time he does. The Ripper has a bit of an identity crisis when he realizes being a serial killer is not so special in 2017.
Downward Dog features a canine star who speaks to the audience; though none of the human characters hear him. Co-creator Samm Hodges wanted to do the opposite of talking dog movies and give the dog human anxieties and ego. Kevin the dog is a rescue from PAWS Chicago, but he was not on the panel. “He’s actually at the dog TCAs,” said costar Barry Rothbart.