San Diego Comic-Con is virtual for the second year in a row. The annual event will return in person to San Diego soon, but until then, you can watch the panels and see all the new TV and movie trailers released online. Rotten Tomatoes is compiling all the new trailers from Comic-Con@Home 2021 right here. Check back from July 23-25 for the biggest trailers dropping this weekend.
Movies | TV
Army of Thieves Trailer
The first prequel to Army of the Dead centers on Matthias Schweighofer’s safe cracker character, Dieter, on a previous heist. The zombie outbreak has already begun but this is before Dieter came to the U.S., let alone to Las Vegas. Schweighofer also directed.
Coming soon to Netflix
Horror Noire Trailer
Shudder introduced its anthology film Horror Noire at Comic-Con. The follow-up to the documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror features six shorts by six different filmmakers.
Coming October to Shudder
Amazon shared the trailer for the fourth and final Evangelion movie. It featured opening titles in Japanese against red tinted stills, and characters trudging across a red tinted wasteland. Thrice Upon a Lifetime promises to conclude the story of Evangelion and the Angels.
Coming August 13 to Amazon Prime.
Movies | TV
Day of the Dead Trailer
Syfy’s new Zombie series promises to pay homage to George A. Romero himself. Day of the Dead shows the day zombies climb out of their grave, and in one case eat a wedding party. Day was the third film in Romero’s movie trilogy. The movie was set in a military base but Syfy’s series is decidedly above ground, just like the undead.
Coming in October to Syfy
Jake (Zackary Arthur) finds a Good Guy doll at a yard sale. Turns out he gets the Chucky doll, and Chucky starts up his murder spree at Jake’s high school.
Coming Oct. 12 to Syfy and USA
After a series of teasers, Showtime released a substantial trailer for their Dexter revival after their panel. Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is in therapy, but struggles to resist his urges while handling knives and guns. Also get a peak at some of the locals among whom Dexter now tries to blend in, with his new identity. Showtime also announced the revival will premiere Nov. 7.
Coming Nov. 7 on Showtime.
Coming up on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Ava (Jes Macallan) and Sara (Caity Lotz)’s wedding gets interrupted by aliens who force the Legends to bowl for their lives. Meanwhile, John Constantine (Matt Ryan) gets dangerously deep into his magic, but don’t worry. Ryan will be back in Season 7 as a new character, Dr. Gwyn Davies.
Coming Sundays on The CW.
Jodie Whittaker returns as the Doctor in season 13 of Doctor Who. Plus, new character Vinder, played by Jacob Anderson, will make his debut in the new season, joining Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and John Bishop.
Coming later in 2021 to BBC America.
Netflix announced the premiere date for the final season of Lucifer at Comic-Con. The announcement video features very little dialogue, but lots of actions and wings. Lucifer (Tom Ellis)’s only line in the teaser confirms he’s leaving L.A.
Coming Sept. 10 to Netflix.
The action-packed trailer for The Walking Dead’s final season shows every character in battle with a walker at some point. If this is only the beginning of the end, the actual end is going to be epic!
Coming Aug. 15 to AMC+ and Aug. 22 on AMC.
In the trailer for the new season of Walking Dead: World Beyond, Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Felix (Nico Tortorella) get some disappointing news about the city of Omaha from Will (Jelani Aladdin). This is after Will escaped zombies and government agents.
Coming Oct. 3 on AMC.
In the second of two extended scenes from the upcoming seventh season of Fear the Waking Dead, June (Jenna Elfman) and John Sr. (Keith Carradine) are holed up in a different house. An earthquake opens a hole in the wall through which they discover a murder room.
Coming Oct. 17 on AMC.
In the first of two extended scenes from the upcoming seventh season of Fear the Waking Dead, the camera dives down a bunker where Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David) must care for a crying baby. On the surface, a masked survivor checks levels while a trapped zombie struggles on the ground.
Coming Oct. 17 on AMC.
The trailer for AMC’s animated series Ultra City Smiths shows the seedy side of Ultra City. Det. David Mills sings and dances to keep his demons at bay as he tries to solve the mystery of the mayor’s disappearance.
Thursdays on AMC+.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus Trailer
Set in 2032 Los Angeles, Black Lotus finds herself able to fend off a group of attackers with martial arts skills. As she investigates her powers, she must use her skills more to defend herself against those who don’t want her to uncover the truth. The animation reproduces the movies’ futuristic cities with flying vehicles and tons of smoke.
Coming this fall to Adult Swim and Crunchyroll.
Shudder released the trailer for its original series Slasher: Flesh and Blood. David Cronenberg stars as the patriarch of a wealthy family who invites his family to their secluded island home for a deadly game. The prize is his fortune.
Coming Aug 12 to Shudder.
Leverage: Redemption premiered its first eight episodes July 9, so IMDB TV premiered a trailer for the fall portion of episodes. LeVar Burton guest stars as Mr. Blanche, whom Elliot (Christian Kane) and Breanna (Aleyse Shannon) spy on in a library. Breanna gets distracted by the retro tech in the library. Parker (Beth Riesgraf), Sophie (Gina Bellman), and Harry (Noah Wyle) analyze Mr. Blanche’s reading habits to devise the perfect con for him.
Coming this fall to IMDB TV.
S.O.Z.: Soldiers or Zombies Trailer
In the Mexican zombie series, an experiment to turn soldiers into zombies goes wrong and spreads the zombie outbreak south of the border. Eat your heart out, Walking Dead, literally.
Coming August 6 to Amazon Prime.
Stephen Amell is back in the world of costumed characters, but this time as a professional wrestler. Starz presented an inside look at the set for Heels and cast members Amell, Alexander Ludwig, Kelli Berglund, Allison Luff, James Harrison, Allen Maldonado, Chris Bauer, Mary McCormack, and more discussed their training and learning how to superplex.
Coming August 15 to Starz.
Paramount+’s “Animation Block” Comic-Con@Home panel introduced the trailer for season 2 of adult animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Coming August 12 to Paramount+.
Paramount+’s Star Trek universe continues to expand its animated offerings. Star Trek: Prodigy is a CGI animated series about a group of aliens who escape captivity aboard the Enterprise. The teaser trailer gives you a glimpse at some of these new characters who team up for a better life. Kate Mulgrew reprises her Voyager role as Captain Janeway in hologram form.
Coming this fall to Paramount+.
Paramount+’s new animated series The Harper House features the voices of Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn, Jason Lee, Tatiana Maslany and Ryan Flynn. The Harpers move to a run down house in Arkansas with more than one dead body. The grown-up show features sex jokes and profanity, bleeped in the trailer. Gabourey Sidibe, Gary Anthony Williams, Nyima Funk, VyVy Nguyen and Lance Krall also star.
Coming September 16 to Paramount+.
Paramount+’s presented a special clip of Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News. The Comic-Con report mocked Paramount+’s own Star Trek spinoffs and the premise of cosplaying from home.
Thursdays on Paramount+.
It’s been 10 years since The Walking Dead shuffled onto our screens. The series went on to spawn an entire universe of zombie drama, including Fear the Walking Dead and YA horror roadtrip The Walking Dead: World Beyond. If you’ve already checked out those, here are five other shows with horror and post-apocalyptic melancholy that we think you’ll enjoy more than a zombie scarfing down a bowl of brains. Dig in!
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
Saturday was a busy day for Keanu Reeves at Comic-Con@Home: He appeared in a panel celebrating the past – the 15th anniversary of his fan-favorite flick, Constantine – before looking to the future (and also the past), with a panel on the upcoming sequel Bill & Ted Face the Music. Plus, producer Guillermo del Toro and director Scott Cooper went deep on their creature design work for horror flick, Antlers, and Rick and Morty revealed a first look at the show’s fifth season.
We’ll kick things off with something Comic-Con–adjacent, rather than something officially from the convention. At fan event Justice Con, Zack Snyder dropped some big Justice League news. First up, he revealed that the world will get its first look at his cut of Justice League with a teaser that will drop at DCFandome, a free and global virtual convention taking place on August 22. (He will also reveal whether Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be a single movie or be cut into episodes at the convention.)
Then he threw red meat to the fans by showing a tiny bit of footage that revealed Henry Cavill’s Superman in a black suit in a deleted Justice League scene in which he flies to Bruce Wayne’s hideout and runs into Alfred. You may recognize the deleted scene from Justice League‘s home release, but in that scene the suit is still the usual red. And here we saw it in un-cropped IMAX formatting, which is the format in which the entire Snyder cut will be released. The story goes that Snyder always wanted Cavill’s Superman to don the black suit but that Warner Bros. felt it was too dark a turn for the Man of Steel.
Our first look at Henry Cavill in Superman's black suit from Zack Snyder's #JusticeLeague.
— Rotten Tomatoes (@RottenTomatoes) July 25, 2020
In a special panel celebrating the 15th anniversary of comic adaptation Constantine – which, despite mixed reviews, has become a big audience favorite – Keanu Reeves revealed he had to do some reconciling when considering the role of the cynical DC Comics demon-hunting con artist and detective.
“I’m not English and I’m not blond, and the character is,” Reeves told Collider Editor-in-Chief Steven Weintraub, explaining his reaction to being pitched the role. “So I had to reconcile that, and part of that was, well, what was at the base of the character, what could I bring to the character, why even do it?”
Eventually Reeves says he connected with John Constantine’s cynicism, humanitarianism, and world-weariness. “He’s tired of all the rules and morals and ethics, and angels and demons, but is still a part of it,” Reeves said. “And I loved his sense of humor.”
Those tuned into the panel – which also featured Constantine director Francis Lawrence and producer Akiva Goldsman – hoping to hear official news of a sequel would have been disappointed. While Goldsman said they have always wanted to do a sequel and “we’d probably do it tomorrow,” Lawrence said that because of the movie’s oddness and only moderate box office success, “We always talked about a sequel more than the studio.”
One idea the trio considered involved Constantine waking up in a cell with a mysterious person who turned out to be Jesus.
Warner Bros. may consider changing its mind on the sequel front, given the slow-growing cult status the film has earned in the last 15 years. Lawrence, who directed the last three Hunger Games movies, said it is the movie about which people approach him the most; despite its box office performance and lackluster critical reviews, people love the movie.
As evidence of its improving reputation, he even gave us at RT a little shoutout: “Rotten Tomatoes posted an article apologizing to Constantine for, you know, the Rotten Tomato count that it had,” he said. And we did, sorta, in a piece you can read here.
Watch the full panel above, which includes breakdowns of some of the movie’s coolest scenes and an explanation as to why Michelle Monaghan was largely cut from the film, despite having signed on for and shot a major role.
On Friday night, during a not-actually-Comic-Con panel on Twitch, Adult Swim gave fans of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s cult-hit sci-fi animated series a sneak peak of the upcoming season 5, which the Rick and Morty team has been working on remotely while in lockdown. The show’s first four seasons have all been critical smashes – season 4, which ended in May, is Certified Fresh at 94% – and Harmon revealed that he is already in the writing stages for season 6.
“I remember very clearly, when I was working with Scott and Guy Davis, and later with everybody at Legacy, creating the creature, I said, ‘You have to remember, we’re not creating a monster, we’re creating a God,’” Del Toro said. “So the design needs to have elements that are completely unnatural, that are almost surreal or abstract.”
The movie centers around the Wendigo, a mythical creature in the folklore of First Nations Algonquin tribes in the Pacific Northwest, and First Nations consultants worked with the creative team. “The Wendigo has very specific cues you have to follow,” Del Toro explained. “The antlers, for example, are a must.”
As with all of his creatures since Mimic, the Wendigo in Antlers will be largely practical, with some digital enhancements.
Cooper, who had never worked with creature effects, expressed his excitement about collaborating with Del Toro and his team for Antlers. “Guillermo and the folks at Legacy created something that’s wholly unique,” he said.
Watch the full panel for a featurette and teaser for the film, some deets on Del Toro’s upcoming Nightmare Alley – including how they’re planning to shoot with new COVID-19–related restrictions – and some serious filmmaking geekery. (Yes, this one goes deep on coverage.)
In a panel that was less about big news moments than sharing the love, Samara Weaving, who plays Bill’s daughter in the new movie, said her favorite moments on the project were witnessing the original trio work together.
“Watching those three have that very special [time], it felt almost intimate, that was really touching and incredible,” Weaving said. “I felt so lucky to actually be there and watch that.”
It was a sentiment Reeves homed in on, too. “I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like [that] the way that [I do] working on Bill & Ted and working with Alex,” Reeves said. “That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me.”
Perhaps the biggest news from the Comic-Con panel on the hotly anticipated sequel came from Kevin Smith, who confessed at the outset to being a huge fan of the franchise and gave us our first indication of whether the new movie is any good. As well as claiming the movie is hilarious, Smith said, “I cannot tell you how emotional this movie was for me.” He also said it was “adorable.”
We’ll see whether the critics agree when the movie is release on-demand and in select theaters September 1, 2020.
One of the best-reviewed series from streaming newcomer Apple TV+, For All Mankind, gave fans a first look at season 2 with a new teaser trailer. And if you were looking for all-out war in space, well you’re getting it. The series tells an alternative history in which the Space Race never ended, and is created and executive produced by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), and Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (Fargo, American Crime Story.) Stars Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Jodi Balfour, and Wrenn Schmidt return for season 2, which has no set premiere date as yet.
Friday’s portion of this year’s stay-at-home version of San Diego Comic-Con came with rewards for some patient The Walking Dead fans (premiere dates! extra episodes!), as well as an exciting new trailer for Hulu’s Helstrom and a promise from the Vikings creator about the show’s upcoming series finale. Plus, learn which iconic film heroine inspires Charlize Theron.
Great news for fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead who were left hanging when the Season 10 finale wasn’t ready to air last spring due to the coronavirus-related Hollywood shutdown: That episode, entitled “A Certain Doom,” will air at 9 p.m. on October 4. And, in a twist ending befitting a show known for its surprise cliffhangers, executive producer showrunner Angela Kang announced during the series’ SDCC panel that this is actually not the season finale because six additional episodes of season 10 will air in 2021. (Season 11, which has been pushed due to the shutdown, will air later next year).
But what exactly will happen in these upcoming episodes? AMC also released an extended clip of the season 10 finale, which gives a good deal of screen time to Beta. Actor Ryan Hurst’s de-facto leader of the Whisperers group is now coming for the show’s heroes, but he also seems to be causing strange reactions from the undead Walkers when he hides among them.
Kang reminded the panel’s moderator, The Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, that Beta was once a country music star who thrived on the roar of the crowds and that he’d mentioned before that he found the Walkers’ moanings and mumblings soothing. And series executive producer Greg Nicotero, who directed “A Certain Doom,” also teased that “the last five minutes of the episode just take it to a whole other place.”
Kang also said the episode gives interesting storylines for Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan as well as Lauren Cohan’s returning character, Maggie. Is there a chance other characters could return? Well, actually …
“We’re working on things where we are looking at past characters,” said The Walking Dead chief content officer Scott M. Gimple. “Maybe not a whole series, but we’re looking at things where we can take a peek at — maybe not pre-apocalypse, but early in the apocalypse — where we’re looking at folks. So get excited about that.”
The long-delayed sixth season of Fear the Walking Dead premieres at 9 p.m. October 11 on AMC. But does it answer last season’s cliffhanger of whether Morgan (Lennie James) is OK after he was shot and left to bleed out last season?
“‘OK’ can mean a lot of different things,” executive producer and showrunner Ian Goldberg said during that show’s panel, which was also moderated by Hardwick. (Although the answer might be right in front of viewers, as James actively participated in the panel).
Goldberg and his fellow showrunner, Andrew Chambliss, also spoke of the make-up of this season, saying that the episodes will have an anthology structure. Goldberg also said that “you’ll see different shades of these characters” now that they are “living under Virginia’s rule.” (Virginia being actress Colby Minifie’s villain, who is currently holding some members of this group captive).
Gimple also teased that the season will see “a number of new characters,” including Virginia’s little sister who shows “a whole different side of her character.” He also confirmed that “not only is there a time jump but there might be time jumps” this season.
The latest spinoff for AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise, World Beyond, was pushed off the schedule this past spring, but now has a premiere date of 10 p.m. on October 4 .
Set 10 years after the zombie apocalypse happened, the series follows kids and young adults who are the first generation to have grown up amidst the unrest; however, this doesn’t necessarily make them invincible.
Showrunner and executive producer Matt Negrete explained during his show’s SDCC panel that these characters “know how Walkers work” and that they “know how to operate; they know how to kill them – but in theory. They’ve never actually done it before.”
Another interesting twist: these characters actually call the zombies Empties (Negrete said that’s a reference to a term used in one of author Robert Kirkman’s comics).
The show introduces a host of new characters, including Julia Ormond’s Elizabeth. Hardwick, who also moderated this panel, pointed out that the show’s trailer shows Ormond arriving on a black helicopter that looks similar to the one that came to take away former The Walking Dead lead Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
“She’s basically a high-up figure in a soon-to-be discovered new community,” Ormond said and added that “she’s more kind of along the lines of the pragmatist character, which I think in terms of The Walking Dead often skews to maybe the sociopathic people.”
So does she know where Rick is?
“If Elizabeth knows where Rick is, I’m not sure that she would tell you,” Ormond said. “And, if Elizabeth tells you, I’m not sure that you should believe her. And I, Julia, am not going to say anything, because I’d like to keep my job.”
Gimple, who also participated in this panel, also spoke of The Civil Republic of the Midwest (or CRM), the network of survivors of the apocalypse that were introduced in TWD. He confirmed that “it’s a huge part of the show” and that “they are a very mysterious force.”
Hulu’s splashy new adaptation of the Helstrom comics hit the streaming channel on October 16. A story about the offspring of Satan, it’s certainly one of the darker stories in publisher Marvel’s library.
But showrunner and creator Paul Zbyszewski told fans during the show’s Comic-Con panel, which was moderated by IGN’s Laura Prudom, that he wanted to ground the story in a family tale of sorts.
“One of the things that I gravitated to was just this original family story,” he said of the show that stars Tom Austen as ethics professor Daimon Helstrom, Sydney Lemmon as his sister Ana and Elizabeth Marvel as their mother, Victoria, who has been institutionalized for 20 years.
He added that “one of the things we try to infuse in all the characters is that everyone has their own moral compass” and that “if there’s no emotion at its root — if there’s no morality at stake and no good and evil — then why are we telling this story?.”
Zbyszewski opened the panel with a few words about current events, specifically the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. He referenced the death of George Floyd by saying that Helstrom is a horror show, but those 8 ½ minutes of reality are more horrific before allowing actors June Carryl, Robert Wisdom, and Ariana Guerra to share their own commentary.
History’s Vikings will air the second half of its sixth, and final, season later this year and series creator Michael Hirst seems to have put a lot of thought into what will happen to Ragnar Lothbrok’s spawn and associates.
“The characters who we all — including me — have grown to love will all have their fates decided,” Hirst said at the end of his show’s Comic-Con panel, which was moderated by TV Guide magazine’s Kate Hahn. “Whether they live or die is, of course, in the hands of the gods — although I had a hand in it too. I think the conclusion of the saga is deeply satisfying. A proper and meaningful ending. And I hope all our fans will feel the same way. I tried to do justice to all my characters and I hope I succeeded.”
With credits like Mad Max: Fury Road, Aeon Flux and Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron has proven that she’s great at kicking butt and taking charge. She’s also one of the few actresses who’s known for taking on such roles. But was there any character who inspired Theron in her career?
“The first time I saw Sigourney Weaver play Ripley [in the Alien movies], it just changed everything for me; it was like the world opened up and the possibilities were just endless,” Theron told IGN’s Terri Schwartz during “Charlize Theron: Evolution of a Badass,” a career retrospective conversation during Friday’s portion of Comic-Con at Home.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
“The amount of intelligence that she brought to that role; she was completely in demand of it. She owned that world. But it wasn’t forced and it wasn’t written and it wasn’t acted. It was just lived. She was just living in that world in such an authentic way,” the Monster Oscar winner said.
In comparison, Theron said that Furiosa, the character she played in Fury Road, “was the first time that I really felt like I couldn’t even look at her as a character. She felt so real to me.” She added that “if that character can, in a small part, do what Ripley did for me as an actress — as a woman — that’s something that I’m incredibly proud of.”
(Photo by Amazon)
She’s back! Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is returning to Amazon for its second season on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Season 2 will see Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) dealing with the fallout from her takedown of Sophie Lennon, making her climb up the comedy ladder even more challenging — especially since she’s still keeping her new career as a standup comedian a secret from her family.
Recently added (updated 12/3): History Remembers George H.W. Bush (Dec. 5), Mysterious Islands (Dec. 26), Great Performances: The Bernstein Centennial Celebration (Dec. 28)
Sunday, Dec. 2
Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve (2018) 40% 9 p.m., Freeform
Berlin Station: Season 3 (2018) 9 p.m., Epix
Inside Syria’s Deadly Dynasty, 9 p.m., Nat Geo
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Holiday Special, 10 p.m., ABC
Nightflyers: Season 1 (2018) 38% 10 p.m., Syfy
Monday, Dec. 3
Finding Joy, Acorn TV
Vanderpump Rules: Season 7, 9 p.m., Bravo
Unanchored, 10 p.m., Bravo
Wednesday, Dec. 5
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 2 (2018) 92% Amazon
Deal or No Deal, CNBC
History Remembers George H.W. Bush, 10 p.m., History Channel
Thursday, Dec. 6
Top Chef: Season 16, 9 p.m., Bravo
Friday, Dec. 7
RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular, 8 p.m., VH1
Love After Lockup: Season 2, 9 p.m., WE tv
Sunday, Dec. 9
Counterpart: Season 2 (2018) 100% 9 p.m., Starz
Deadly Legacy, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery
Monday, Dec. 10
9th Annual CMA Country Christmas, 8 p.m., ABC
Pentatonix: A Not-So-Silent Night, 10 p.m., NBC
Tuesday, Dec. 11
Jeff Beck: Still on the Run, 7:30 p.m., Showtime
Wednesday, Dec. 12
Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, Marvel HQ YouTube Channel
Champaign Ill, YouTube Premium
Agnostic Front: Godfathers of Hardcore, 7 p.m., Showtime
Paris to Pittsburgh, 9 p.m., National Geographic
Susan Powell: An ID Murder Mystery, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery
Thursday, Dec. 13
Dr. Pimple Popper: The 12 Pops of Christmas, 9 p.m., TLC
The Carbonaro Effect: Season 4 (2018) 10 p.m., tru TV (midseason premiere)
GG Allin: All In the Family, 10 p.m., Showtime
Friday, Dec. 14
Roma (2018) 96% Netflix
Fuller House: Season 4 (2018) Netflix
Tidelands: Season 1 (2018) 77% Netflix
Travelers: Season 3 (2018) Netflix
Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 8 (2018) 86% Netflix
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 1 (2018) 91% A Midwinter’s Tale, Netflix
The Innocent Man, Netflix
The Protector, Netflix
Sunderland Til I Die, Netflix
LOL: Last One Laughing, Amazon
RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars: Season 4 (2018) 86% 8 p.m., VH1
High & Mighty, 8 p.m., HBO Latino
k.d. lang: Landmarks Live in Concert – A Great Performances Special, 9 p.m., PBS
Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch: Loud Krazy Love, 10 p.m., Showtime
Saturday, Dec. 15
Pete Holmes: Dirty Clean, HBO
Dannemora Prison Break, 7 p.m., Oxygen
Sunday, Dec. 16
Springsteen on Broadway, Netflix
The Simpsons 30th Anniversary Marathon, 9 a.m., FXX
2018 Miss Universe, 7 p.m., Fox
Monday, Dec. 17
Blood, Acorn TV
America’s Got Talent: A Holiday of Champions, 10 p.m., NBC
Wednesday, Dec. 19
() % YouTube Premium
Schitt's Creek 93%: Holiday Episode, 10 p.m., Pop
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents “Christmas on I.C.E.” 10:30 p.m., TBS
Thursday, Dec. 20
Timeless 91%: Series Finale, 8 p.m., NBC
Friday, Dec. 21
Marvel's Runaways: Season 2 (2018) 87% Hulu
Vanity Fair: Miniseries (2018) 89% Amazon
Bird Box (2018) 64% Netflix
Perfume: Season 1, Netflix
38Below: Tales of Arcadia, Netflix
Derry Girls, Netflix
Tales By Light, Netflix
Bad Seeds, Netflix
Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski, Netflix
Last Hope, Netflix
Sirius the Jaeger, Netflix
Back With the Ex, Netflix
7 Days Out, Netflix
The Casketeers, Netflix
American Dream/American Knightmare, 8:30 p.m., Showtime
Saturday, Dec. 22
Demon’s Path, Netflix
Monday, Dec. 24
Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam, Acorn TV
Hi Score Girl, Netflix
Wednesday, Dec. 26
41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors, 8 p.m., CBS
Mysterious Islands: Georgia’s Island of the Geechee People, 11 p.m., Travel Channel
Mysterious Islands: Islands of Eternal Life, 11:30 p.m., Travel Channel
Friday, Dec. 28
Into the Dark: New Year, New You, Hulu
Instant Hotel, Netflix
Murder Mountain, Netflix
Selection Day, Netflix
A Twelve-Year Night, Netflix
When the Angels Sleep, Netflix
Yummy Mummies, Netflix
Great Performances: The Bernstein Centennial Celebration, 9 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Dec. 30
The Orville: Season 2 (2018) 100% 8 p.m., Fox
The Lake Erie Murders: Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic?, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery
Monday, Dec. 31
Taylor Swift reuputation Stadium Tour, Netflix
Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live from Times Square, 8 p.m., Fox
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest, 8 p.m., ABC
NBC’s New Year’s Eve, 10 p.m., NBC
(Photo by ABC/Kurt Iswarienkio; Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani; Cara Howe/Netflix; Richard Ducree/The CW; Katie Yu/The CW)
Sometimes the major heroes of television shows based on comic books just need some support. It can be in the form of a best friend, a worthy opponent, a character to carry a secondary plot or someone just to be there and literally tell the main character that they’re doing a great job. Characters can start out as the latter and emerge as fan favorites. They can also remain on the periphery of the frame, offering commentary or a key piece of info. And then there are also a few who are just criminally underutilized.
So let’s celebrate the characters who help make the heroes look good, be they guests, recurring parts, or reliable presences. Here are a few of the best supporting characters in 2018.
In some ways, it is a cheat to bring the superlative Carl Lumbly onto Supergirl as J’onn J’onzz’s (David Harewood) father M’yrrn. But as Lumbly defined the role of the Martian Manhunter on television – he voiced J’onn in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series – it was also fitting to bring that persona of dignity and gravitas to the part.
In doing so, it opened up M’yrnn to a wealth of new experiences and some of the best moments in Supergirl’s third season. His delight in discovering coffee, his karaoke night with the gang, and J’onn’s attempt to give them more of a family life by moving them both out of the DEO and into an apartment all revealed added and welcome dimensions for both characters. Sadly, Lumbly and M’yrnn were not to be permanent additions, as the writing team saw fit to almost immediately give the character a degenerative brain disease. But even as that story line continued to its inevitable conclusion, both performer and character embraced their scripted fate with dignity and a performance far beyond the material as written.
As opposed to his comic-book counterpart, it is easy to imagine the Herr Starr of AMC’s Preacher would like a quiet retirement. Despite being the most efficient and ruthless agent of The Grail, the strain it puts on him is easy to see even as he carries out its directives. It is also the underlying reason why he’d rather see Jesse (Dominic Cooper) become the Messiah over The Grail’s inbred scion Humperdoo (Tyson Ritter). Granted, any sane person would make that choice as well, even in the insane world of the show.
But for all his motivations and skills, the guy can’t catch a break and finds himself forever at Jesse’s heels, even when he should have the upperhand. That said, it seems he finally has a way to hold sway over Jesse thanks to a deal with Gran’ma Marie (Betty Buckley) and the ever-present carrot of Jesse’s Genesis-infused soul. Will he finally get everything he wants exactly how he wants it?
Well, if the show follows even just 10 percent of Starr’s story from the comics, it seems unlikely. Nonetheless, it makes Starr the best of the supporting foils on Preacher.
As the top lawman in Purgatory, Sheriff Nedly would like nothing more than to see the town resume its sleepy ways. But that’s really a front, as he has always known Purgatory and the surrounding Ghost River Triangle is a magnet for supernatural happenings. He does his best to keep the strange incidents Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) and her friends get into from becoming public knowledge. And while initially standoffish with Black Badge Division agent Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), he ultimately embraced his presence as another line of defense against the demonic forces in the region. He also proved to be an able mentor to Officer Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), a woman who, like Nedly, seems destined to tangle with the unexplained.
And yet, Nedly faces those horrors with a quip and that gruff, irritable manner we saw in the first season — even if he has become something of a teddy bear to the main cast. He faced down the widows of Sheriff Clootie by asking if they were Pokemon and had, perhaps, the best reaction to being glamored by vampires by dropping his irascible facade entirely and embracing an ascot. Nedly may not be a constant presence on the show, but he is definitely welcome whenever he appears.
(Photo by David Giesbrecht/Netflix)
Malcolm has come so far since his days as Killgrave’s (David Tennant) victim and Jessica’s (Krysten Ritter) junkie neighbor; in fact, this may even be the last time he will still be considered a “supporting character.”
While The Defenders and the early parts of Jessica Jones’ second season saw him dutifully fulfilling his self-appointed role as her sidekick, we soon saw Malcolm’s own innate detective skills and sense of justice leading him away from Jessica. In his spare time, he replaced his drug habit with a long string of hook-ups, leading to a one-night stand with Trish (Rachael Taylor) that both seemed to regret in the end.
And though moving away from Jessica as a truly supporting player, his emerging B-Plot highlighted one of Jessica’s big faults – her inability to embrace people – while defining him as one of the best characters in the second season. Sadly, his success meant he had to leave Alias Investigations entirely for a rival P.I. firm and stealing away Jessica’s best client, Jeri Hogarth (Carrie Anne Moss). Hopefully, it will work out for Malcolm and, just maybe, he and Jessica will mend things before too long.
(Photo by )
When Ashe was first announced as a new permanent member of the Legends team, the character was said to be something of a foil for the established characters. But when she finally debuted, she quickly went from criticizing the ne’er-do-wells’ habit of making situations worse to munching on kettle corn while watching them do it. But considering she came from a 2042 in which A.R.G.U.S. turned the United States into an anti-metahuman police state in which food was scarce, it makes absolute sense she would abuse the Waverider’s food replicator and collection of video games.
Though haunted by the death of her brother in 2041 and stand-offish with the team for the first few months, Zari finally embraced them as friends after spending an incalculable amount of time inside a time-loop which reset with the Waverider exploding. While still sarcastic and occasionally emotionally distant, Zari accepted the ship as home, aiding the team in fashioning a Beebo doll powerful enough to stop the demon Mallus.
And even though the treat to her life from Mallus was over, she choose to remain with the Legends. We’re definitely glad she did.
(Photo by Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)
Making her presence felt in the second episode of Cloak & Dagger as an almost completely silent detective, O’Reilly quickly distinguished herself as an upstanding officer of the law. With a keen eye for detection — she knew almost instantly that Tandy Bowen’s (Olivia Holt) first stabbing was in self-defense — and a true sense of justice — she chaffed after being told she could not pursue Tandy’s case any further — she quickly became Tandy and Tyrone Johnson’s (Aubrey Joseph) only real support; in fact, she was more supportive of the two than they were of each other.
When neither the light-wielding Tandy nor the darkness-controlling Tyrone could turn to their parents, she became the go-to adult. But as viewers saw, her willingness to bend some laws for a greater good or even do a line of coke for pleasure and business suggests she is more than just a good cop, making her a rough balance of the Johnsons’ tendency toward precise order and Melissa Bowen’s (Andrea Roth) love affair with chaos. Created by Bill Mantlo in the first issue of Cloak & Dagger in 1985, O’Reilly was always a supporting character for the duo. Including after she died and became something else – a change in status seemingly teased in the closing moments of the show’s first season.
For some, The Walking Dead never quite worked because Morgan was missing for so long. Debuting in the first episode as a distraught man readying himself to shoot his zombified wife’s corpse, James made a staggering impression in what was his only appearance until a single episode in season 3. The character remained alive in the story via a walky-talky and Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) constant attempts to give him some clue of where his group was headed.
But when the pair finally reunited in season 5, Morgan was a changed man. His journey to Alexandria was not an easy one, and it saw his strength collapse into profound grief over the loss of his family and a willingness to kill anyone who got in his way. Eventually, he met a man who helped him recover some of his humanity. After which, he choose to find Rick.
Despite learning a way of peace, events since joining Rick’s group have led him back to violence. Still suffering from PTSD, the control Morgan thought he had wavered in the face of the world Rick and other groups were building. Consequently, he began to kill again and later suffered hallucinations of some of his victims. When last seen, Morgan appeared ready to leave the group and heal.
Now, on Fear the Walking Dead, Morgan is maintaining his wish to be alone while healing, even if he’s coming to understand that isolation is just not practical. To those he encounters, he’s something of a soothsayer, but it may just be a matter of time before Morgan resumes the way of violence.
(Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW)
If there is one character on Riverdale who genuinely remains in the support category, it’s Kevin Keller. While presented as important part of the gang – he is Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) confidant – he is not one of the main four and often finds himself either aiding Betty or offering quippy commentary on the events of the week while passing through the halls of Riverdale High. Early in the second season, the Black Hood story line dovetailed with Kevin’s penchant for cruising, but it was dropped before anything truly meaningful could come of it, and that’s despite Kevin’s decision to come out to his father.
Nonetheless, Kevin is always around to back up the gang or literally set the stage with his production of Carrie: The Musical. And his continued presence as a supporting player may be rewarded in the third season as he and Josie (Ashleigh Murray) – another underutilized character – find themselves living under one roof when their parents decide they should become a family. Hopefully, it will lead to more of a presence for Kevin (and Josie) going forward.
After all these years, it is difficult to remember a time when Mack was an agent of a rival version of S.H.I.E.L.D., looking to steal Nick Fury’s Toolbox from Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). But as the show looked back on itself during season 5, Mack’s original status on the show underscores where he is now – the resident healthy skeptic. Even after traveling through time, experiencing another life in a computer and becoming possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance, Mack is always the first to call shenanigans on any new ridiculous threat or tech the team encounters.
But even as a plant, Mack endeared himself quickly by becoming Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) interpreter while he recovered from brain trauma and an indispensable part of Coulson’s core team when the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s merged late in the second season. Not that it’s been easy for him. He’s tried to quit multiple times and always ends up with more responsibilities as a consequence. He also carries the memory of a child he lost in real life and in that computer simulation, and his relationship with Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) has hit one of its roughest patches going into the sixth season. Through it all, Mack perseveres, though. Sometimes thanks to his faith — he’s also the only truly religious member of the team — and sometimes because he’s the guy holding the shotgun-axe.
Though Black Lightning is still a young series – its first season ran 13 episodes – it worked hard to get to places some of its CW brethren would reach far later in their runs. Consequently, the show opens with a team practically assembled already – the Pierce family; in fact, a threat to the family forces Jefferson (Cress Williams) into taking up his Black Lightning identity again.
But in the subsequent weeks, younger daughter Jennifer distinguished herself as a character to watch. While headstrong, she is not necessarily bratty. And in those times when her antics are the legitimate actions of a brat, she always finds a way to square things with Jefferson, her mother Lynn (Christine Adams) or older sister Anissa (Nafessa Williams). Despite being the odd one out in the family, the bond she felt for them was strong and always workable. And that’s before the onset of her powers.
Once her abilities emerged, and her family learned about them, Jennifer became one of the most intriguing characters on the show because she did not want them. Finally revealing that she wants “a normal life,” she took a key step toward maturity and defining who she will be even as it seems she has embraced her powers.
While much of the talk about Luke Cage’s second season centered on new villain John McIver — aka Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) — the show-stealing Mariah Dillard elevated the program in unexpected ways; for one, Bushmaster’s real conflict was with the former councilwoman and criminal mastermind. Luke (Mike Colter) just kept pushing his way into the crossfire. The character’s attempts to go legitimate underscored the legacy of her grandmother and the ugly truth about her daughter Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis), revealing the real theme of the season while also giving Mariah a layered relationship with Shades (Theo Rossi). As Bushmaster unraveled Mariah’s schemes and pushed her closer and closer to the Stokes legacy, so too did Mariah’s ability to maintain her composure and lie convincingly to those closest to her.
Add a legitimately award-worthy performance by Woodard and you get a stunningly complex look at a woman on the brink of getting everything she wanted, but failing to get it or the peace she was really looking to find. Even in her final acts, she chose to be vindictive instead of resolving her remaining grief with Luke or Tilda.
Post-apocalyptic worlds collided Sunday night when Lennie James’ character Morgan Jones left the world of The Walking Dead to enter the story of its sister series, Fear the Walking Dead, giving viewers of AMC’s zombie series the fan-satisfying crossover-episode experience.
So far, critics seem to approve: Fear the Walking Dead’s season 4 premiere, “What’s Your Story,” has a Tomatometer score of 100% on 12 reviews.
It’s hard to say how the concept of interweaving stories or characters from one project to another originated. The Paley Center for Media curator David Bushman argues that literature has used the trope for centuries, noting Mark Twain’s decision to make Tom Sawyer appear in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. More recently, Film Twitter lost its collective mind in March over the assertion that Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War may be the most ambitious crossover event in history and cited numerous other examples that are no doubt better because Film Twitter said so.
Whatever the origin, crossover plot tactics are extremely lucrative for the entertainment industry. So much so, in fact, that titles like Netflix’s Marvel superhero series — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist — used character crossovers as primary plot tactics to remind us that they operate in a larger story together even before The Defenders (pictured above) officially united them.
“Crossovers are a pain in the a–. Everybody hates doing them,” uber producer Dick Wolf told journalists at the winter 2017 Television Critics Association press tour, referring to the scheduling headaches that ensued to facilitate overlapping stories on his Law & Order and Chicago franchises. He added, however, that they’re “like ratings crack, and it’s a bad addiction because you don’t want to overuse it.”
That said, TV crossovers are unlikely to be going away any time soon. Paley Center’s Bushman says the consolidation of media companies that allows a larger studio to gobble up smaller ones and their media libraries makes it easier for events like Supernatural’s recent Scooby Doo episode on The CW. They’re also expected occurrences on the many series that fit into the CW’s CW’s Arrowverse programming and are signals to loyal fans of one ratings juggernaut that a new series in that orbit may be worth watching (see ABC’s introduction of Station 19 via Grey’s Anatomy).
But just because crossovers get good ratings doesn’t mean they get positive reviews. We consider some of the more noteworthy events in recent crossover history.
Zoinks! Supernatural brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) entered the world of Scooby Doo in this much-hyped animated episode in the long-running show’s 13th season. Titled “Scoobynatural,” the episode also starred Matthew Lillard, Kate Micucci, Frank Welker, and Grey Griffin as the voices of the Scooby Gang (Lillard featured in the Scooby Doo movies). It was a ratings win and pretty much every critic ate it up like a crime-solving Great Dane at snack time.
In a feat of Fox synergy, the cast of 24 leant their voices to a Simpsons parody of their high-stakes world when the pressure’s on to stop a stink bomb from igniting at Springfield Elementary. It’s one of many, many crossover stunts the long-running animated show has pulled and is often listed as a favorite when critics consider the show’s knack for both parody and casting guest talent. It also won that year’s Annie Award for best writing in an animated television production.
As weird as a crossover of the sci-fi The X-Files and crime-focused reality series COPS sounds, keep in mind that both versions are all about finding the truth that’s out there. Shot in real time and recorded on videotape, writer Vince Gilligan and director Michael Watkins’ homage to the popular police series follows Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), as they investigate a mysterious incident in Los Angeles with the hopes that a live TV crew might garner them more public support for their research into the paranormal. The episode is almost always on critics’ lists of best X-Files episodes ever.
Two TV tropes for the price of one: These two episodes of the fan-favorite series Supergirl and The Flash didn’t just have overlapping story lines, there were also song-and-dance numbers (a respected feat given that both Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin, who play the eponymous superheroes in question – as well as many others on their shows – are triple threats). The duo’s fellow Glee alum, Darren Criss, also guest stars as the Music Meister, a sort of Pied Piper-like villain who manipulates others through song. Empire magazine’s review gave it (almost) equal marks to another beloved musical episode, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More with Feeling.”
This crossover synergy from 2009 marked the first time in the franchise’s history that the trio of shows came together for one overarching story. Billed as “Three Cities, Three CSI Teams, One Big Mystery,” the events took place during a week of November sweeps. It followed Laurence Fishburne’s Raymond Langston as his hunt for a missing girl allows him to uncover a black market human trafficking operation. The Entertainment Weekly review argued that the final episode – which happened to be set at CSI numero uno – was probably the best, but that Fishburne himself was not necessarily that much fun to watch.
When you’re immortal, you’ve got plenty of time to travel – particularly when you’re hiding out from a vampire hunter, as The Vampire Diaries’ Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) did in this crossover episode with The Originals. While it wasn’t uncommon for characters on these shows to swap places – despite what its name suggests, The Originals was a spin-off of TVD – but fans liked that one of the Salvatore brothers made the trip to the Big Easy. Reviewers also liked that the story lines intersected in a natural way that didn’t feel like an obvious promotional ploy.
It was about time Scandal’s Olivia Pope and How to Get Away with Murder’s Annalise Keating got to share some screen time. During Scandal’s final season, actors Kerry Washington and Viola Davis appeared in the same episode for a one night Shondaland extravaganza. Audiences paid attention via a noticeable ratings boost and critics mostly embraced the stunt. The A.V. Club called it “fanbait,” but a “well-crafted” one.
This ambitious four-way crossover event has the heroes of the Arrowverse banding together to stop an alien invasion, marking the first time characters from all four of that world’s live-action shows would join forces at the same time. The spectacle, for which all shows but Supergirl were coyly titled “Invasion!,” was such a commercial and critical success that they repeated their efforts the following season.
While Richard Belzer’s John Munch has popped up in several series (even in Arrested Development!), the Law & Order franchise has long made use of crossover episodes with intersecting story lines over various shows. The first time it happened with Law & Order: SVU was in 2000, which was that show’s freshman season. The gamble that audiences would double-down on gritty crime dramas paid off, with The Washington Post saying the stunt packed “twice the punch.”
Another Dick Wolf franchise, the Chicago series shares Law & Order’s penchant for showy crossover episodes. There have been two instances of crossovers involving just Chicago shows, the most recent one happening in 2017 when the franchise welcomed Chicago Justice to the family (and was thus the reason why Wolf was grumbling earlier). Not only did the stories cross over among the Chicago Justice, Fire, and P.D. series, but some of the Chicago Med characters also came along for the ride.
This episode, which set up the story for Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19, reminded audiences that they now had the option to watch hot firefighters learn how to save a life. It also welcomed actress Jaina Lee Ortiz’s Andy Herrera into the family of powerhouse Shondaland women. According to an interview with creator Stacy McKee, there are still chances for more crossovers to come.
Of course Parenthood’s Crosby (Dax Shepard) and About a Boy’s Will (David Walton) are poker buddies. Not only did they both have man-child tendencies and live in the same city, but they’re also fictional characters on two shows developed by Jason Katims. Crosby was a natural fit to introduce Will to Parenthood’s Kleenex-clutching audience. (Incidentally, this is not the only time Katims has made his series’ worlds intersect. Some cast members from Friday Night Lights also appeared in a Parenthood web series).
Zooey Deschanel’s Los Angeles lady, Jess Day, got more than she bargained for on her New York vacation when Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) needed her help with a case. This attempt at comedy synergy, however, was not as open-shut. Slate ran a lengthy take-down on what was described as a “missed opportunities” for both shows and IndieWire called it an “ill-fated pairing.”
Bones’ Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) help Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) solve a case of historical significance in this Halloween-themed crossover. It drew decent ratings, but critics were mixed. TV Line argued that, for a scenario involving particularly eccentric circumstances and people, the event was “just not that weird.”
Fox animated series The Simpsons and Family Guy each have strong fan bases — so devoted are they that they sometimes turn on each other to argue similarities in the shows’ premises or episodes. So it seemed appropriate that the two would join forces for a two-part episode of the latter to prove that everything is derivative — with a special surprise guest making the final ruling. Vulture called it an “anti-classic” while The Telegraph argued that it suffered from too much forced humor.
Did you watch The Walking Dead–Fear the Walking Dead crossover? What did you think? Tell us in the comments.
(Photo by AMC)
When we first met Payne as Jesus in season 6, he seemed too good to be true — but it was quickly apparent that the man lived up to his nickname with an even hand and kind heart. He helped strengthen the Hilltop community by supporting Maggie (Lauren Cohan), bolstering her confidence to take control and oust the ineffective Gregory (Xander Berkeley) and encouraging the survivors to band together with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the others in order to defeat Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
Ahead of The Walking Dead Season 7’s DVD and Blu-ray release on August 22 and its season 8 premiere on October 22, Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the British actor to find out what he watches on his down time. Plus, he also sheds some light on what’s going to happen when the gang goes to war with Negan in season 8.
(Photo by HBO)
I’ve been watching [the HBO documentary miniseries] The Defiant Ones. Lots of stuff I didn’t know about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre and how they came together. I like stuff that has a bit of history in it and education. Also, in my business, you have to be very positive and open to situations, and it’s fun to watch people who are in similar creative industries and being successful at it. You have to be a certain type of person to be as successful as Jimmy or Dre, so it was cool and inspiring to watch.
(Photo by HBO)
True Detective. The first season I still haven’t gotten around to watching because I know it takes a bit of time, so I want to be in the right frame of mind. But it’s definitely something there, waiting for me to watch.
(Photo by Netflix)
There’s a show out of England, which changed its name when it came over here, called Lovesick. It’s on Netflix. In England, it was called Scrotal Recall. It’s a silly premise but it works really well, about a guy who finds out he has an STD and he has to go through all of the people he has been with in the past and call them. Each episode is based on a call with a different girl and then also what’s going on in his life. It’s very British, first of all, so it’s very nice for me to watch being over here. It’s very British humor and has hysterical moments. I have a friend of mine, Dan Ings, who is one of the leads in it, who lived with me a bit in Los Angeles. He’s just really great in it. Yeah, Lovesick on Netflix, a half hour comedy that’s really fun, silly and great to laugh along to.
(Photo by Netflix)
The last show I watched because it was so fun, involving, and nostalgic was Stranger Things. I’m excited for the next season of that. I trust them, but I hope they don’t mess what made the first one so special. I do think what made it so special was the nostalgia aspect of the whole thing, the tone. When I was a kid, I was a big X-Files fan, and it has a bit of that in there — The Goonies and all those ’80s things you really liked. I used to watch The Outer Limits as a kid, too. [Stranger Things] just had all these flavors of things I really enjoyed when I was younger.
(Photo by AMC)
Kit Bowen for Rotten Tomatoes: In The Walking Dead, how much responsibility did you feel to get the character of Jesus right?
Tom Payne: Quite a lot, actually. The comic book fans were the ones I was most nervous about — for silly reasons, really. I’m not as tall as the guy in the comic books and maybe not as brawny, but they do a little remix on the characters before they come on the show. When he comes into the comic books, he’s kind of a finished character. He comes in and that’s who Jesus is. But what I like is on the show, we’ve definitely seen some growth with the character and who he is to become. From when he first came in to what we are shooting right now there’s a definite progression, which has been really nice to show – to give a bit more depth to the character.
Like being “Hand of the Queen,” so to speak, to Maggie?
Payne: Aha, that’s great! I like that. That’s a role in which [Jesus] feels comfortable. I think things have changed, where he might not necessarily have respected Gregory. I can pretty certainly say he didn’t. That’s a lot of the reason why he’d spend a lot of time outside the walls, going on scouting missions and such. He couldn’t quite stomach Gregory. Now, he’s much more inclined to spend time at the Hilltop and work with Maggie to make the place better. So that’s definitely a comfortable position for him to be in, and he will assist her in any way he can for the good of the community.
What was the atmosphere like on the set when you finally all came together to fight Negan?
Payne: It was amazing. I know Andy [Andrew Lincoln] was super excited and super happy to finally to be taking the fight back. Everyone was. Last season, everyone was all split up, so people are back together, working for a common purpose. So yeah, it’s exciting because last season everyone was so beaten down. It was nice to be on a more positive trajectory, like, “Now we are going to enact our plan.” It was very cool.
What can we expect from Jesus in the next season?
Payne: The war is happening. The war has started. Everyone will take different opinions on different situations that arise during the war. Jesus has a very strong moral compass, moral code, and there are situations that arise and there may be differences of opinion on the best way to go forward. So I think Jesus will be in different situations where he has to stick up for what he believes in.
(Photo by AMC)
How will things escalate in season 8?
Payne: The stakes are higher. If you enter into a situation where you’re committing to war, then you recognize that you have to throw everything into it. And that’s what everyone is committed to do. With that comes victories but also losses. As much as we are taking the fight back, there are things that aren’t necessarily going our way. There’s ebbs and flows within the whole situation. War is a very messy and scary thing, but everyone believes so much in what could happen after that they are willing to commit to that. They’ve come this far and they’ve been beaten down so much in the past that they recognize they don’t want to live in a world with Negan’s rules. They’d much rather live in a different place.
It sounds like it’s going to be pretty action-packed right from the start.
Payne: Yeah, the first four episodes — which we were told before we started shooting but we couldn’t believe it — have even more action than the one before. It just gets bigger and bigger. Just from a shooting thing and an acting thing, there was a lot to do. Anyone who thought last season was too hard and maybe stopped watching, just felt like it was too bleak, the advent of season 8, there’s some light. I think people could watch season 7 knowing that 8 is coming. We’re taking the fight back.
And there’s going to be sadness, too?
Payne: Like I said, there are big cheering moments but also big heart-stopping moments. No one is safe, more so in this season than any other season, I think. I’ve always said that’s one of the show’s greatest strengths. There shouldn’t be any golden geese, and it can be anyone at any time. Might be me, might be someone who has been there for years. It’s no fun if everyone is invincible. I know this is a little deep, but I’ve said this about the show for awhile: It’s life, just made more apparent. The real aspect of the show is that death lurks around every corner and it does for us in real life as well. It’s a TV show, but it’s not that far away from life. The job of fantasy is to show you real-life situations that are slightly heightened.
More importantly, when and if you do leave the show, how excited are you to cut your hair?
Payne: [Laughs] Very. Very excited to cut my hair. It’s going to be a lot grayer, I think. When I cut my hair, you’re going to be able to see my gray more. I’ll look completely different. I’ll do it in stages, I think. I don’t want to shock anyone too much.
It’s the end of the year and, as we see it, you have two choices: waste hours of your life trying to find fun, or enjoy hours of your life, bringing the fun to your living room. To facilitate the latter, we’ve put together a list of the best TV marathons happening this week so you can ring in the new year with style! (And by style, we mean footie pajamas and central heating.)
Ash vs. Evil Dead Marathon
Starz, Monday, Dec. 28 through Wednesday, Dec. 30, starting at 9 p.m.
TV’s favorite chin (sorry, Jay Leno) is getting his own TV marathon, starting tonight when Starz will play every episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead starring Bruce Campbell. For three nights this week, catch three half-hour episodes of Sam Raimi‘s cult classic rebooted for TV just in time for Saturday’s season one finale!
The Walking Dead and Fear Marathons
AMC, Tuesday, Dec. 29, starting at 2 p.m.
For that niche group of doomsday’ers who believe that with the New Year comes the end of the world, feast on the fall of humanity with a mega TWD marathon, which will include every episode since the beginning of season two (not sure why they skipped the six hours of season one, but you can watch them now on Netflix), and wrapping up with the latest episode, “Start to Finish.” The marathon will also feature all six episodes of Fear the Walking Dead.
Mr. Robot Marathon
USA Network, Tuesday, Dec. 29, starting at 11 p.m.
Watch every episode of the first season of Mr. Robot, considered by critics everywhere to be one of the best shows of 2015. Whether you’re meeting Elliot for the first time, or giving fsociety a second look, this is one marathon that’s sure to keep you questioning everything into the New Year.
The Twilight Zone Marathon
Syfy, Wednesday, Dec. 30, starting at 7 p.m.
For its 21st annual marathon of The Twilight Zone, Syfy will air all 156 episodes of Rod Serling’s legendary TV series chronologically in HD — a first for the network. If you can’t make time for the entire 87-hour marathon, be sure to DVR “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” starring William Shatner and “The Encounter” starring George Takei. Other highlights include “Time Enough At Last,” “Living Doll,” “To Serve Man,” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
Breaking Bad Weekly Marathons
SundanceTV, starting Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 9 p.m.
Here’s a marathon you can savor for weeks to come. Beginning on Dec. 30, SundanceTV will run four episodes of the highly-acclaimed series Breaking Bad starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul every week in chronological order until they air all five seasons (which, by our count, should take you all the way through April). Not a bad start to the year — by the time you finish the marathon, it’s already a third over. Yeah, bitch!
The Twilight Zone (2002) Marathon
El Rey Network, Thursday, Dec. 31, starting at 6 a.m.
Black and white not your thing? El Rey is hosting a 24-hour marathon of the 2002 remake of The Twilight Zone, which aired for just one season on UPN and featured host Forest Whitaker in the Rod Serling role as narrator. Be sure to look out for “One Night at Mercy,” starring Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander as Death; “The Pool Guy” with Lou Diamond Phillips as the titular pool cleaner; and “Cradle of Darkness,” featuring Katherine Heigl on a time-traveling mission to kill baby Hitler.
Doctor Who Marathon
BBC America, Thursday, Dec. 31, at 6 a.m.
It’s a bit of a random sampling over 24 hours, but after this year’s stellar season, who doesn’t want more Doctor Who? This New Year’s Eve marathon will feature episodes from series two and three, plus a smattering of holiday specials, including “Voyage of the Damned,” “The Next Doctor,” “The Snowman,” and “The Husbands of River Song.”
The Thin Man Marathon
TCM, Thursday, Dec. 31, starting at 5 p.m.
Make your New Year’s timeless with TCM’s marathon of Thin Man movies, starring Myrna Loy and William Powell as master husband-and-wife sleuthing team Nick and Nora Charles. The network will run all six classic films, starting with The Thin Man, and following with After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and Song of the Thin Man.
“The Simpsons New Year’s Resolutions” Marathon
FXX, Thursday, Dec. 31, starting at 6 p.m.
Kicking off with The Simpsons Movie, FXX will ring in the New Year, Springfield-style, with 30 hours of resolution-themed programming featuring Marge, Homer, and the rest of the gang as they make life-changing decisions over a 27-season time period.
The A-Team Marathon
Encore Classic, Thursday, Dec. 31, starting at 7 p.m.
We pity the fool who misses this 24-hour marathon featuring a “crack commando unit” who survives the Los Angeles underground by working as soldiers of fortune. Highlights include a guest-star appearance from Hulk Hogan and Murdoch’s big win on Wheel of Fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help — and if you can find them — maybe you can binge-watch The A-Team.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Dark skies by 4:00 p.m., temperatures below 30 degrees, and — best of all — crazed shoppers at every turn. Fortunately, there is no shortage of quality television to watch over the holidays, so to go with your December shopping list, Rotten Tomatoes has prepared your December bingeing list — a mix of new shows, returning shows, and what’s fresh on DVD and Blu-ray — some naughty, some nice!
What it is: The most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Jessica Jones, about a broken superhero (Krysten Ritter) who runs her own P.I. business. Battling PTSD, our anti-hero finds herself struggling to defeat Kilgrave (David Tennant), a super-villain who has inflicted unconscionable harm upon countless innocents.
Why you should watch it: Marvel’s Jessica Jones is a dark, psychologically complex, and thoughtful meditation on what it means to be a hero. It is also engrossing, action-packed, compassionate, and visceral. Jones is binge-worthy for a number of reasons, but what elevates this well-executed comic adaptation is having a powerful female centered alliance at its core.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: About 11 hours.
What it is: Jeffrey Tambor plays a father who wants to live his life as a woman and needs to tell his adult children.
Why you should watch it: Tambor’s turn as Maura is award-worthy, but what is most surprising is how it’s just one facet of this family dramedy. All the members of the Pfefferman clan are struggling with their own demons and each storyline is full and fascinating to follow. It’s a study of faith, family, and dysfunction that is well worth the day or two it takes to binge-watch it.
Where to watch: The complete first season is streaming on Amazon Prime now, with season two scheduled to drop on Dec. 11.
Commitment: 10 hours for both seasons.
What it is: A prequel to the AMC hit The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead begins in Los Angeles at the dawn of the zombie outbreak as the government employs survival tactics that fuel the apocalyptic fire.
Why you should watch it: Even though fans know what’s coming, somehow the prequel is even scarier than The Walking Dead. All of the shortcomings of the human race — fear, abuse of power, false trust — become factors in the death of society, as one already-dysfunctional family must stick together to survive. It’s not just zombies they must battle, though, but also the failing system that was designed to protect them.
Commitment: Five hours.
What it is: A group of five slacker friends — known collectively as “The Gang” — run an Irish pub in South Philadelphia and get into all sorts of predicaments because they lack both common sense and social graces.
Why you should watch it: Sunny isn’t a sitcom for everyone; its characters are self-centered, misanthropic, and frequently obnoxious. That said, their resilience in the face of countless defeats is strangely endearing, and their adventures are so outrageous and hilarious that it’s almost therapeutic to watch them scramble through each half hour. With season 11 set to premiere in early January, now’s the perfect time to catch up with the Gang’s insane antics.
Where to watch: The first nine seasons are available to stream on subscription services Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, and you can rent or purchase episodes from all 10 seasons on Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation Video, Vudu, and Xbox Video.
Commitment:About 42 hours.
What it is: This BBC drama follows a brilliant Detective Chief Inspector (Idris Elba) who finds it difficult to strike a work-life balance as he struggles to toe the line between genius and madness.
Why you should watch it: Elba won a Golden Globe for his performance as DCI Luther, a sexy cross between Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, in this gritty character study that adds a new dimension to the cop show genre. Plus, fans of The Affair will enjoy Ruth Wilson in her role as the seductive serial killer Alice Morgan. Catch up in time for season four, which starts on Dec. 17.
Commitment: 16 hours.
What it is: Based on Blair Tindal’s tell-all book, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, this lighthearted comedy from Amazon Studios shows the inner workings of the contemporary fictitious New York Symphony, led by a young upstart conductor (Gael García Bernal).
Why you should watch it: What makes Roman Coppola’s adaptation of Mozart such a spritely binge is the commanding and hilarious performance by Bernal as Rodrigo (based on the Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel), along with memorable turns by Bernadette Peters as the elegant Symphony manager, Lola Kirke as the oboe-playing ingénue, and Malcolm McDowell as the ousted old-guard maestro.
Where to watch: Season one is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Season two premieres Dec. 30.
Commitment: Five hours.
What it is: Criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) assists the FBI in apprehending serial killers, but as the job begins to eat away at his mental health, he starts meeting with therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a cannibal who murders rude people and serves them at fancy dinner parties.
Why you should watch it: The third (and likely final) season of the critically acclaimed show comes to Blu-ray December 8. There really isn’t anything quite like Hannibal; it’s a crime procedural and a psychological thriller, filled with horror and just the right dash of romance and comedy.
Commitment: 27.5 hours.
What it is: Based on the award-winning BBC series of the same name, Showtime’s hit dramedy stars Oscar winner William H. Macy and tells the story of the scrappy Gallagher kids as they struggle to keep body and soul together despite the constant burden of a dysfunctional alcoholic father.
Why you should watch it: Shameless features a great cast, including a stellar Emmy-award winning performance by the ever-adorable Joan Cusack. Holidays have always been a time for dysfunctional family fun, and nobody does it better than the Gallaghers. Shameless comes back for a sixth season on Jan. 10 so now is the perfect time to binge.
Commitment: 60 hours.
What it is: In this western-sci-fi mash-up, humans, aliens, and hybrids all fight for their rights and acceptance, while a human lawkeeper bonds with his adopted Votan (alien) daughter in 2046 Defiance (formerly St. Louis, MO).
Why you should watch it: Defiance’s backstory is wonderfully complex and reads like a lesson in mythology. The humor is addictive and the scenery and creature designs are breathtaking. The show’s inter-species tension is a clear commentary on cultural struggles, but not presented as a lecture on contemporary acceptance. Rather, it throws intense action, soapy character interaction, and some sexy stuff at you. And Grant Bowler (Nolan) is still one hot leading man.
Commitment: 26 hours.
What it is: The residents and domestic staff of a grand English country estate deal with household intrigue and societal upheaval in the first decades of the 20th Century.
Why you should watch it: With its lavish setting and British accents, this might look like your typical PBS prestige show at first glance. But Downton Abbey gives equal dramatic weight to the household staff and the Crawley family. Indeed, what makes the show so compulsively watchable is its richly nuanced characters, each of whom are bound by societal conventions but occasionally finds a way to expand their limits.
Commitment: 43 hours.
What’s better than a show about the zombie apocalypse? Two shows about the zombie apocalypse! One Walking Dead show just wasn’t enough, so AMC created Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel set in the same universe.
Last month, the cast and creators spoke to the Television Critics Association via a panel that included Dave Erickson, David Alpert, and Adam Davidson, along with cast Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, and Mercedes Mason. Plus, we spoke with stars Alycia Debnam-Cary and Elizabeth Rodriguez at a press roundtable and screened the first episode so we could share these nine things to expect when Fear the Walking Dead premieres this Sunday.
The Walking Dead is so Georgia that you can go crazy from the chirping cicadas in the background of every scene. Fear the Walking Dead has a different sort of ambiance. It’s set in Los Angeles and begins just as people are starting to turn into zombies from the outbreak. Only the first episode was actually filmed in L.A. The rest is in Vancouver, but Vancouver is used as L.A. more often than L.A. these days, so it actually works.
Don’t worry if you’re part of the 99 percent of the viewing public who also doesn’t live in L.A. Debnam-Cary moved here from Australia and said that the show captures her impressions of L.A. well.
“I hated L.A. when I first got here, hated it,” Debnam-Carey said. “Now I think I’ve welcomed it finally when I found this bizarre charm to it. It’s this huge city, but it’s got these kind of cracks that are just bursting with so much life and story. It’s very romantic and artistic in many ways. The palm trees, the sunsets… the sunset’s made out of smog by cars. I think the show does a great job at finding that.”
Way back in season one of The Walking Dead, when Rick reunited with his wife and son, it was only to find out that she’d been sleeping with his best friend, Deputy Shane. Give her a break! She thought Rick was dead. On Fear, the Clarks are a mess before the zombies even show up. Madison Clark (Dickens) is in a relationship with Travis Manawa (Curtis), and their respective kids from previous marriages do not get along. Alicia Clark (Debnam-Cary) is a straight-A student with a boyfriend and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is a drug addict. When Travis goes looking for his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), he’s got to get through his ex-wife Liza (Rodriguez) first. Jeez, we’ll take our chances with the zombies.
They’re not called Walkers, because why would Los Angelenos use the same name as southerners? The producers say these are just the early stages of infection, so they’re not full-fledged zombies yet, but we’ve seen the show. We can guarantee that you won’t mistake zombies for early stages of the sniffles.
Since these are the first Walkers, what we don’t see are fully rotted corpses or severed torsos re-animated. So they save a little time on makeup, but all it takes is a rotted jaw snarling and biting, and you’ll know you’ve got to stab ‘em in the head and run.
We witnessed with our own eyes some gory zombie action in Fear the Walking Dead. The actors tell us there’s more, as survivors sustain regular injuries in their escapes, and the same makeup team creates graphically realistic wounds.
“I had to learn, Liza learns, how to do all these medical things,” Rodriguez said. “It was still way too much gore, way too much blood. I wasn’t good with blood, doing medical things, and seeing special effects of bones sticking out of people. It was traumatic. I had to act like I knew what I was doing and play as if I was comfortable with that world.”
The Walking Dead gave us Michonne, Andrea, Lori, Maggie and Carol — all capable women who rose up when their friends and family needed them. Now Fear the Walking Dead gives us more badass women. Debnam-Cary said to watch for her action in an upcoming episode, for which she had to learn a new skill she couldn’t reveal.
“I can’t say that yet,” Debnam-Cary said. “She does have to learn one thing. It’s fun. I liked her edginess. There’s a power within her that’s quite strong that I hope you get to see evolve.”
Liza is not just the other woman. “The fact that I found out that Travis didn’t leave her, that it was a choice Liza made, was a breath of fresh air because she’s not a victim,” Rodriguez said. “She’s not just a scorned woman. She felt really independent and she’s a single mother that’s burning the candle on both ends, making things happen.”
Madison is a schoolteacher, but after a few episodes, Dickens got addicted to kicking ass. “There’s so much excitement and action that I would get a little bit disappointed if I just had a dialogue scene some days,” Dickens said. “I’d be like, ‘Oh, I don’t get to run and jump and fight and scream.’”
You’ll meet Ofelia Salazar (Mason) once the looting starts. Holed up with her family, Ofelia has to grow up fast too. “I think the biggest survival guide is to stop being so innocent, because the nice ones are always the ones who die first,” Mason said. “So she really has to grow a set. I’m a lady, guys. She has to grow a set.”
Fear the Walking Dead takes us back to the beginning and the first season is only six episodes. Don’t worry, there’s already going to be a second season and it will run 15. So, it’ll be a while before the Los Angeles survivors catch up to the world Rick woke up to, where supplies are already pillaged and human survivors are minimal. We won’t even see that in L.A. until next year.
“You’re going to have to wait until season two,” Erickson said. “I think by the end of season one, we definitely know the world has changed. We definitely know that it is the end of the world as we know it, but we aren’t necessarily at the same place we were when Rick woke up in Georgia.”
One advantage to starting so early in the outbreak timeline is that you can tell stories that would be irrelevant by the time the full zombie outbreak happens. Rick and co. on The Walking Dead are pretty much focused on finding a safe shelter, gathering supplies, and dealing with their own in-fighting. Fear still has a society to deal with. Some people know more than others, and some people are still holding onto the civilized world.
“Are we going to get to a place where we’re looking for the next sanctuary and we’re battling our way into the sanctuary?” Erickson asked rhetorically. “That’s not something that I anticipate in season two. I can’t speak for season three because it hasn’t been ordered yet and I’m not that far ahead.”
As we’ve said, there are zombies, but Fear is taking its time getting to them. That’s on purpose. “We will see walkers,” Erickson said. “There will be a build. We tried to slow-burn the story, make it as much about the anxiety and tension and paranoia that goes with this outbreak, as much as it is about the actual confrontations with zombie.”
This is good news. The worst part of any prequel is when they explain the stuff that was so mysterious in the original. Luckily, the producers of Fear the Walking Dead have no plans to reveal what caused the whole zombie apocalypse in the first place.
“No,” Erickson said. “Short answer, no. We’re not going to be looking at it from the people who are trying to find the cure, find the solution. It’s really very much the ground roots. We’re never going to tell the story from the perspective of someone at the CDC or someone in the military. It’s not the generals, not the politicians, but how we see a military presence and we will get a sense of how first responders reacted when things started to go sideways and what they did to protect their own families.”
If this is before the end of the world, it means that Shane and Lori are still alive, as well as our other favorite characters! But they’re all the way in Atlanta, so it would be really hard to have them meet our new L.A. heroes. The point of Fear the Walking Dead is that it is a new stand-alone story, so unfortunately there won’t be any crossovers.
“There’s no crossover plans right now,” Erickson said. “[By] telling parallel narratives that live under the same mythological umbrella, I think the instinct for me would be… to see those stories conflate at some point but there’s no plans to do so. There’s no intention of having Easter eggs or character references. I’m sure there will be things that come about over the course of the season.”
Another producer contradicted Erickson, so we might get a few callbacks. “There might be an Easter egg or two,” David Alpert said, “It’s possible.”
Fear the Walking Dead premieres this Sunday, August 23, at 9 p.m. on AMC. Read reviews here.