Members of the Television Critics Association gathered at the Beverly Hilton Tuesday and Wednesday for presentations from ABC Disney, featuring their upcoming slate of original programming. The network offered a glimpse at the highly anticipated return of The Muppets, plans for Grey’s Anatomy revamped 12th season, how the second season of breakout hit How to Get Away with Murder will dig up the past of the Keating Five, Agent Carter’s glamorous new setting, and the new boomtown drama Oil & Blood.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy addressed the press alongside producers Bill Prady and Bob Kushell to present the highly anticipated return of The Muppets. Kushell spoke about the musical legacy of the series, promising to deliver “top-notch” musical acts like Imagine Dragons, but made it very clear that the new Muppets program is not a variety show. Prady noted that the old Muppets series mocked the variety show format because that was the dominant form of television at the time, and that he wanted to update the genre for modern audiences.
The Muppets is a mockumentary series in the vein of The Office that depicts the behind-the-scenes happenings during the production of Miss Piggy’s late-night talk show “Up Late with Miss Piggy.” Musical acts will feature in the series as guests on the show. “You’ll see parts of the show with those bands on the show, but there won’t be a full act,” said Kushell. The series also promises a new big celebrity guest – such as Reese Witherspoon — each week.
Grey’s Anatomy fans are still distraught over the loss of Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, but prepare to dry your eyes. While addressing the press, series creator Shonda Rhimes said “the sun will rise again” in the twelfth season with the series taking on a “lighter tone.” During his executive session, Lee noted that the series “reinvents itself again next season and praised the writing that led to McDreamy’s death, saying that “it was great to see Grey’s Anatomy so relevant and taking the national conversation” after so many years on the air.
Rhimes spoke about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s beloved character, saying that it was the only way she could keep “Meredith and Derek’s magic remain true and forever frozen in time,” and that the idea of other scenarios, such as Derek walking out on Meredith and the kids, were “untenable.” Star Ellen Pompeo called it Rhimes’ “best writing,” and noted that those “really juicy” scenes are the best for actors to play.
Next season will follow Meredith as she experiences a “rebirth” and learns to cope with the loss of her husband, but don’t expect to see a new man in her life any time soon. “She’s not interested in any of that,” said Rhimes. Will the series last long enough to see Meredith happily in love again? According to Lee, there’s “no reason to expect that Grey’s Anatomy won’t go on for many, many years to come.”
Elsewhere in Shondaland, How to Get Away with Murder’s sophomore season will dive into the past of the Keating Five, revealing a lot more of their backstories, including how they met and “what dark, twisted things have happened to them in the past that have now made them into these kind of twisted people in the present,” said showrunner Pete Nowalk.
Nowalk confirmed that the second season will pick up about a week after where season one left off with Annalise (Viola Davis) facing down the question, “what has she wrought?” After the death of Rebecca, the second season will explore how the characters “actions with each other [get] more complicated and dirtier and grimier,” revealing that even though you think you know who the characters are at this point, “you don’t know them at all.”
The second season of Marvel’s Captain America spin-off series Agent Carter is headed to Los Angeles and it’s going to be lavish in some old Hollywood glamour. The series stars Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, chronicling the exploits of the secret agent as she adjusts to post-war life.
On the new setting, ABC executive Paul Lee said, “It’s really opening it up because, suddenly, you have the glamour of late ’40s Hollywood, and you have Hayley in that environment, taking off the big, heavy coats and enjoying herself.” While Lee didn’t provide any details on plans to expand the network’s Marvel programming, he made it clear that furthering relationship is a top priority, saying, “I’m very bullish about Marvel on the network and its future.”
The new booMtown drama Blood & Oil may bear a surface resemblance to the classic late-night soap Dallas, but according to star Don Johnson, the similarities end there. “The only thing that we have in common is that, tangentially, oil is a part of it,” said Johnson. “Blood & Oil is about a boomtown, and a big family, and the seven deadly sins at play.”
Johnson went on to say that Larry Hagman’s iconic oil Baron J.R. Ewing was “not at all” a consideration in the formation of his character, which is an “amalgamation” of a number of oil magnates he knows in real life.
The new drama is a fictionalized account of the true life North Dakota oil boom that began in 2006. Johnson said he was attracted to the “depth and the richness of the stories” and that he personally recruited co-star Chase Crawford, “I called him and questioned his intelligence if he didn’t [take the role].”