This week, we’re checking out the fall premieres that have already been cancelled. So, as you get ready to carve the turkey, check out how Wicked City, Truth Be Told, Blood & Oil, The Bastard Executioner, Minority Report and The Player all wound up on the chopping block!
Stay up to date on what’s on (and off) the air with our Fall TV coverage!
This week in TV news, Kurt Sutter axes The Bastard Executioner, while ABC Family gets into the horror genre with Dead of Summer. Plus, Comedy Central announces dates for its winter series, and — speaking of winter — MAJOR Game of Thrones season six spoilers tip to “chilling” developments for one very popular character.
FX’s medieval epic The Bastard Executioner ended its series run this week, following Tuesday night’s season one finale. The news was spread by the show’s creator and showrunner, Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield), who took out an ad in the Hollywood Reporter to explain why the series would not be continuing. “I would like to acknowledge The Bastard Executioner family for a once in a lifetime creative and personal experience,” Sutter’s statement said. “I have been awed by the talent and commitment of the TBX cast and crew. I thank my partners for their trust, support, and tireless effort as I slashed my way through 50 years of Catholic angst.” Sutter then thanked a slew of names and companies behind the project, including FX president John Landgraf for not firing him. “The audience has spoken, and unfortunately the word is ‘meh,'” Sutter concluded. “So with due respect, we bring our mythology to an epic and fiery close.” While the dark period drama about a morally conflicted executioner suffered sagging ratings throughout its run, Sutter is not discouraged and already has plans for his next FX series — a Sons of Anarchy spinoff about the Mayan biker club.
Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, co-creators of ABC’s dramatic fairy tale hit Once Upon a Time, have received an order from ABC Family (soon to be known as “Freeform”) to make Dead of Summer, a horror series set at a summer camp; OUAT writer Ian Goldberg is attached as the showrunner. According to EW, Dead of Summer was pitched as a “‘John Hughes meets John Carpenter’ anthology series, with the first season set in 1989,” and will be ABC Family’s first foray into horror. EW also published the series logline: “Set in the late 1980s, school is out for the summer, and a sun-drenched season of firsts beckons the counselors at Camp Clearwater, a seemingly idyllic Midwestern summer camp, including first loves, first kisses – and first kills. Clearwater’s dark, ancient mythology awakens, and what was supposed to be a summer of fun soon turns into one of unforgettable scares and evil at every turn. Part coming-of-age story, part supernatural horror story, Dead of Summer is a bold, new series that mixes genres as it examines the light and dark of a summer like no other.” This will be the first new series for Horowitz and Kitsis since launching OUAT in 2011.
Comedy Central unveiled its winter premiere schedule this week, announcing that season three of Broad City, starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, returns on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 10 p.m. — and teasing their upcoming misadvertures, “including a trip to the DMV, a rat in the apartment, going clubbing, taking on new job responsibilities, visiting Abbi’s dad and new hook ups.” Also on the upcoming slate is season six of Workaholics (Thursday, Jan. 14 at 10 p.m.); season eight of Tosh.0 (Feb. 9 at 10 p.m.); season two of This Is Not Happening (Feb. 23 at 12:30 a.m.); season three of Adam Devine’s House Party (Mar. 3 at 12:30 a.m.); and the premieres of two new series. Idiotsitter, starring Charlotte Newhouse as an Ivy Leaguer hired to babysit an heiress under house arrest, premieres Jan. 14 at 10:30 p.m., and Not Safe w/ Nikki Glaser, hosted by the self-proclaimed “curious perv” who discusses sex and relationships with fellow comics, debuts Feb. 9 at 10:30 p.m.
[Super-spoilers for Game of Thrones season six ahead!] According to the Game of Thrones fan site Watchers on the Wall, it appears that the character of Sansa (Sophie Turner) will return to Winterfell in season six with… Jon Snow (Kit Harington)! The details of the spoiler come from the Northern Ireland set of GoT and are as follows: “According to WotW‘s sources, a scene was rehearsed and is being filmed this week involving Sansa, Jon Snow, Ramsay and Littlefinger. The characters are interacting in Winterfell’s courtyard, and there’s a great deal of tension… And then a giant turns up at the gates! The giant tries to force its way in and the people inside have to fight it off.” The sighting has spawned a number of fan theories and this article by Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson, in which she posits that more “chilling” developments are likely to be on the horizon for Sansa as she comes face to face with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). Season six of Game of Thrones will premiere on HBO in spring 2016.
This week at the movies, we’ve got a notorious mobster (Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch), teenage adventurers (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, starring Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario), and a desperate criminal (Captive, starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara). What do the critics have to say?
Black Mass isn’t the first feature film about brutal gangster-turned-slippery fugitive Whitey Bulger — he’s the subject of a critically-acclaimed documentary and the loose inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed. Critics say Black Mass explores well-trodden crime movie territory as well, but the film is elevated by Johnny Depp’s mesmerizing lead performance — and excellent work from a solid supporting cast. The movie follows Bulger’s rise from petty hood to violent mob boss; Whitey’s rise in Boston’s demimonde is assisted by FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who enlists him as a confidential informant, and his politician brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), who uses his office to protect him. The pundits say Black Mass often feels familiar, but it’s still a well-crafted film that finds Depp giving his best performance in years.
As dystopian sci-fi adventure films based on young adult novels go, The Maze Runner was pretty solid, if decidedly a cut below The Hunger Games series. Unfortunately, critics say its sequel, The Scorch Trials, is mostly a run-of-the-mill action yarn with a few decent set pieces and little-to-no character development. This time out, our heroes, led by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), have left the maze behind; instead, they must navigate harsh landscapes and avoid not just the evil WCKD but also hoards of zombies. The pundits say Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is briskly paced and occasionally exciting, but its overabundance of plotting makes for limited emotional involvement.
Based on an astonishing true story, Captive recounts the tale of an escaped criminal (David Oyelowo) who takes a hostage (Kate Mara) and eventually surrenders after she encourages him to read the Christian self-help book The Purpose-Driven Life. Critics say Captive is enlivened by its excellent leads, but it never quite generates a necessary sense of tension.
Expertly balancing character growth against edgy humor, You’re the Worst elevates the show’s excellent writing and talented cast to a new level.
Project Greenlight makes a welcome return, retaining many of the qualities that helped make it a reality TV favorite.
Kurt Sutter’s The Bastard Executioner doesn’t want for dark thrills, but it unfortunately has more enthusiasm for brutality and gore than necessary narrative focus.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
Right after concluding his epic biker series Sons of Anarchy, creator Kurt Sutter is back on FX with an epic medieval series. The Bastard Executioner is a period piece in which an Edwardian soldier experiences the divine calling to give up his violent life. However, he’s led into a new life equally violent — that of an executioner.
Lee Jones plays the bastard executioner, Wilkin Brattle, in 14th-century Wales. A new face to us, let alone the lead of an FX series, Jones met us at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. His costar Stephen Moyer (you know him as Bill Compton from True Blood), joined the interview midway and simply sat down and introduced himself as Steve. Moyer, who plays the baron’s advisor Milus Corbett, spoke with Jones about the action, politics, and spirituality of The Bastard Executioner, which premieres tonight on FX.
Fred Topel for Rotten Tomatoes: Lee, this is the first that many of us are seeing you. What was your journey to becoming the lead of a big FX series?
Lee Jones: It was crazy. Crazy last-minute and fast is what it was. When I heard about the project, I thought, “That sounds like the dream job.” Then I put down a tape here in L.A., found out that night they were going to fly me to London. You want a job, book a holiday, right? So I was traveling. Had to turn around, fly to London and pretty much booked it the next day. They were down the line and I think it found me in a way.
Rotten Tomatoes: Were you a theater actor in London?
Jones: Not in London, I’m from Australia. They flew me to London from L.A. I’ve been working in Australia mainly in theater. That’s my background. I went to drama school for three years and that was predominantly theater training.
Rotten Tomatoes: Stephen, were you looking to get into another show?
Stephen Moyer: No, I wasn’t. There were a couple of things around that I was looking at, that I’d been offered. I did actually get very close to doing something else and then I kind of just pulled away because I wasn’t ready to do TV yet. Literally, three weeks later I said yes to this because I was just blown away by it. I really wanted to work with Kurt and at some time had hoped I would. I loved Sons and then suddenly this opportunity came along and it just felt totally right. It was a big decision because I’ve got four kids so it was about trying to work out what we were going to do. Literally, Anna [Paquin] and our babies have all transplanted to Wales and we’re all living in Wales.
Rotten Tomatoes: Once you accepted the role, did you delve deep into medieval history?
Moyer: Luckily, our school system is very different from yours, but when you’re in English school between 16 and 18, you pick three subjects and you only do those three subjects. I did history and English literature, and sociology. It just so happened that English literature those two years was all the medieval plays by Shakespeare and my history level was medieval history. My period that I studied was King John to Henry V. So, I actually know quite a lot about Edward I and II.
Rotten Tomatoes: It really did come calling you.
Moyer: Well, it’s funny but it’s weird. I did terribly in those exams. I was f—ing terrible and yet all through my career, when I first went to the Royal Shakespeare Company, that was the period we were doing. It keeps coming back to it. It’s bizarre.
Jones: Yeah, I keep finding dark stuff like this of this period. I did as much as I could in the time that I had. I got cast so quickly, so last-minute, that I chip away when I can. I find there is so much in the script, I just take it scene by scene. That feeds me.
Rotten Tomatoes: Did the two hour pilot feel like a movie?
Jones: Absolutely. It was so epic — so, so epic which is great. We also mainly shot in sequence, so that really allowed me to find the character and feel the arc of the character which is very filmic.
Rotten Tomatoes: How long did you have to film the big battle?
Jones: We did that over two days.
Rotten Tomatoes: That’s it?
Jones: Yeah, and predominantly, it was done on one. We just had to do pickups on the second day. I, when I got the role, went straight into training, sword-fighting, horseriding — so that stuff we’d been working hard on. So then it was really about learning the fights, but also we were fighting on such tricky terrain that a lot of mistakes were happening. We’re falling everywhere and just had to go with it, which is a good lesson to learn early on. Mistakes kind of look good because it’s like a real fight.
Rotten Tomatoes: A movie gets three or four months to train. How long did you have?
Jones: Two weeks. Not fair, is it? No, but it’s good. It was just an intense way of doing it.
Rotten Tomatoes: How heavy are those swords?
Jones: The “allees” get pretty heavy. We use a combination of aluminum and there are some bamboo swords as well, so we have some lighter options to play with.
Rotten Tomatoes: Bamboo painted to look like swords?
Jones: Painted to look like a sword, yeah.
Rotten Tomatoes: When you do a whole fight scene in a single day, are you just totally exhausted at the end?
Jones: Totally exhausted. I did one just the other week that was two fight sequences back to back, and we shot it as one continuous scene because of the way the drama was happening in the story at that point. That, I was throwing myself on the floor at the end of each day. Also, because the motivation behind the fight at that point was so emotionally charged, it took my exhaustion to a whole new level.
Rotten Tomatoes: Stephen, do you represent more of the political side of The Bastard Executioner?
Moyer: Yes. I think Milus is weighing up the opportunities that he’s found in his lap. He also has no reason, after the death of Ventris, for him to be kept on really, because Lady Love didn’t bring him in. He was Ventris’ man. So he’s trying to align himself and get himself into a situation where she will need him. He sees in this situation with Wilkin a possibility to use him because he senses something between Wilkin and Lady Love.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the character of Luca, who’s the little boy who becomes his son in this show. In my sort of backstory, I’ve built a sort of world in which my character was perhaps not unlike that little boy who witnessed some horrific stuff and was probably abused by his father and is doing everything he can to rise up and out of what he was and how he was brought up. So he is hanging onto the bootstraps of the people that will get him there — and he’s creating bootstraps where there weren’t any before.
Rotten Tomatoes: How is the spiritual side represented? Does Wilkin have some sort of vision every week?
Jones: He is so plagued with guilt that I guess his demons are coming to haunt him in a way. The spiritual side of it is very personal to Wilkin [who is] looking for the higher purpose that he’s trying to find in life. That’s what is forcing him to stay where he is in this situation of being the executioner. He has that divine intervention and he’s looking for a higher purpose. He’s really looking for a reason to turn his back on a violent life and he’s tortured by that. I think he’s really wrestling with justifying his faith and the life of violence that he leads.
Rotten Tomatoes: Did you get to see yourself become The Bastard Executioner through the costume fittings?
Jones: I did. It made me hold myself in a different way and that was a big help. The hair and everything was transformative for sure. Also, when you carry a sword, you hold yourself differently obviously.
Rotten Tomatoes: How do they grime up your hair and face?
Jones: Lots of special makeup dirt stuff that I don’t know what’s in it, but it just gets flicked on me every day. I was scrubbing my neck just last night and was still getting stuff off. We’re often in actual mud and it’s pouring with rain so we’re in it.
Rotten Tomatoes: It doesn’t smell as bad as it looks, does it?
Jones: [Laughs] No, it doesn’t.
The Bastard Executioner premieres September 15 at 10 p.m. on FX. Read reviews here.
Emmy nominations are out for last season, but it’s already time for a new one. Television continues to rival, and sometimes surpass, the quality and success of film industry releases, with more networks than we ever thought possible 20 years ago. And, with the growing number of cable networks, we witness the capability of catering to more adult-oriented content. This fall, we will continue to see television grow, for better and for worse. Which new shows will achieve Fresh, or even Certified Fresh, status? Which will quickly go Rotten? And which of your favorite returning shows made the cut this year? Here’s the list as we know it, and we’ll continue to update it as premiere dates continue to be broadcast.
Monday, Aug. 3
Significant Mother series premiere, 9:30 p.m., CW
Tuesday, Aug. 4
Playing House season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Saturday, Aug. 8
Funny or Die Presents America’s Next Weatherman series premiere, 11 p.m., TBS
Sunday, Aug. 16
Show Me a Hero miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
Tuesday, Aug. 18
The Hotwives of Las Vegas series premiere, Hulu
Thursday, Aug. 20
Documentary Now! series premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Monday, Aug. 24
Switched at Birth season four return, 8 p.m., ABC Family
Wednesday, Aug. 26
The Carmichael Show series premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC
Friday, Aug. 28
Narcos series premiere, Netflix
Tuesday, Sep. 1
Drunk History season three premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Friday, Sep. 4
Hand of God series premiere, Amazon Instant Video
Sunday, Sep. 6
Arthur & George series premiere, 8 p.m., PBS
Thursday, Sep. 10
Longmire season four premiere, Netflix
Saturday, Sep. 12
Ferrell Takes the Field special event premiere, 10 p.m. HBO
Friday, Sep. 18
Black Jesus season two premiere, 11 p.m., Adult Swim (Cartoon Network)
Saturday, Sep. 19
Doctor Who season nine premiere, 9 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Sep. 20
67th Primetime Emmy Awards special event, 8 p.m., Fox
Monday, Sep. 21
The Big Bang Theory season nine premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
Gotham season two premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
The Voice season nine premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Life in Pieces series premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Minority Report series premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Scorpion season two premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Blindspot series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Castle season eight premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
NCIS: Los Angeles season seven premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Tuesday, Sep. 22
NCIS season 13 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Muppets series premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Scream Queens series premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
Fresh off the Boat season two premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
NCIS: New Orleans season two premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Limitless series premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Wednesday, Sep. 23
The Middle season seven premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
The Mysteries of Laura season two premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Rosewood series premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
Survivor season 31 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Goldbergs season three premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Empire season two premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Law & Order: SVU season 17 premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Modern Family season eight premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
black-ish season two premiere, 9:30 p.m., ABC
Nashville season four premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Thursday, Sep. 24
Grey’s Anatomy season 12 premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Heroes Reborn series premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Scandal season five premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
The Player series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
How to Get Away with Murder season two premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Friday, Sep. 25
The Amazing Race season 25 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
Last Man Standing season five premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Margaret Cho: psyCHO comedy special premiere, 9 p.m., Comedy Central
Hawaii Five-0 season six premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Blue Bloods season six premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Saturday, Sep. 26
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy series premiere, 9:30 p.m., Disney XD
Sunday, Sep. 27
Bob’s Burgers season six premiere, 7:30 p.m., Fox
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation two-part series finale, 8 p.m., CBS
Once Upon a Time season five premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
The Simpsons season 27 premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
Brooklyn Nine-Nine season three premiere, 8:30 p.m., Fox
Blood & Oil series premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
Family Guy season 14 premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Indian Summers miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
The Last Man on Earth season two premiere, 9:30 p.m., Fox
Quantico series premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Blood & Oil
Monday, Sep. 28
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah series premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Thursday, Oct. 1
Bones season 11 premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
The Blacklist season three premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Sleepy Hollow season three premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Benders series premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Gigi Does It series premiere, 10:30 p.m., IFC
Friday, Oct. 2
Dr. Ken series premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Saturday, Oct. 3
Saturday Night Live season 47 premiere, 11:30 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Oct. 4
Home Fires series premiere, 8 p.m., PBS
Madam Secretary season two premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Good Wife season seven premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Homeland season five premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime
The Leftovers season two premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
The Affair season two premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
CSI: Cyber season two premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
The Widower miniseries premiere, 10 p.m., PBS
Saturday, Oct. 10
The Last Kingdom series premiere, 10 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Oct. 11
The Walking Dead season six premiere, 9 p.m., AMC
The Walking Dead
Wednesday, Oct. 14
Kingdom season two premiere, 9 p.m., DirecTV
Thursday, Oct. 15
Nathan for You season three premiere, 10 p.m., Comedy Central
Friday, Oct. 16
The Knick season two premiere, time TBD, Cinemax
Truth Be Told series premiere, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Please Like Me season three premiere, 10 p.m., Pivot
Satisfaction season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Saturday, Oct. 17
Amy Schumer: Live from the Apollo comedy special premiere, 10 p.m., HBO
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Being Mary Jane season three premiere, 9 p.m., BET
Friday, Oct. 23
Hemlock Grove season three premiere, Netflix
Billy Elliot the Musical: Live special event, 9 p.m., PBS
Saturday, Oct. 24
Da Vinci’s Demons season three premiere, 8 p.m., Starz
Monday, Oct. 26
Supergirl series premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Tuesday, Oct. 27
Wicked City series premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Friday, Oct. 30
Exorcism: Live special event, 9 p.m., Destination America
Grimm season five premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Ash Vs. Evil Dead
Monday, Nov. 2
Legends season two premiere, 10 p.m., TNT
Friday, Nov. 6
Master of None series premiere, Netflix
Saturday, Nov. 7
Untitled U2 Documentary, HBO
Flesh and Bone
Tuesday, Nov. 10
Donny! series premiere, 10:30 p.m., USA
Thursday, Nov. 12
2 Broke Girls season five premiere, 9:30 p.m., CBS
Friday, Nov. 13
With Bob and David series premiere, Netflix
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Chicago Med series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Thursday, Nov. 19
The Art of More series premiere, Crackle
Friday, Nov. 27
South of Hell series premiere, 3 p.m., WE
Unforgettable season four premiere, 9 p.m., A&E (new network)
Monday, Nov. 30
Superstore series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Real Rob series premiere, Netflix
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce season two premiere, 10 p.m., Bravo
Wednesday, Dec. 2
RocketJump: The Show series premiere, Hulu
Thursday, Dec. 3
The Wiz Live! special event, 8 p.m., NBC
Friday, Dec. 11
Transparent season two premiere, Amazon
Sunday, Jan. 3
Downton Abbey season six premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Jan. 10
73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards special event, 8 p.m., NBC
Thursday, Jan. 14
Colony, series premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Sunday, Jan. 17
Mercy Street series premiere, 10 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Jan. 24
The X-Files season 10 premiere, 10 p.m., FOX
Sunday, Jan. 31
Grease: Live special event, 7 p.m., FOX
Monday, Feb. 15
58th Annual Grammy Awards special event, 8 p.m., CBS
Sunday, Feb. 28
88th Annual Academy Awards special event, 4 p.m., ABC
11/22/63 series premiere, Hulu
American Dad season 12 premiere, TBS
Crowded series premiere, NBC
Emerald City series premiere, NBC
First Dates series premiere, NBC
Game of Silence series premiere, NBC
Haven season five return, SyFy (October)
Heartbreaker series premiere, NBC
Hot & Bothered series premiere, NBC
Legends season two premiere, TNT
Shades of Blue series premiere, NBC
Uncle Buck series premiere, ABC
The Way series premiere, Hulu
You, Me and the End of the World series premiere, NBC