The Television Critics Association upfront presentations are on now out in California, as major networks both traditional in the vein of NBC and less traditional, like Netflix, gather before reporters to hawk the upcoming fall slate of shows, and tease what may be down the pike for spring.
Opening day went to Netflix and the like with their Gilmore Girls revival, and a bit more about the upcoming Luke Cage. Yesterday and today are a run of PBS panels, covering all the different companies that live under their umbrella, from stand alone PBS programming, like The Great British Baking Show, to the companies that for some define PBS programming, like Frontline, Nature, NOVA and of course, Masterpiece Theater.
The two major panels that dominated yesterday’s coverage were the Hamilton documentary presentation, and Masterpiece Theater‘s major roll out of BBC’s Poldark season 2, and ITV’s Downton Abbey substitute, Victoria. Today’s major presentation will be from Great Performances, which are bringing the second cycle of The Hollow Crown series, The War of the Roses to stations this coming December.
Poldark will be airing first on PBS. As we noted a couple of weeks ago, the September 25th start date, with the double episodes at the beginning and end means it will only run a week behind the BBC airings, and then end at the same time. Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlison were both on hand to discuss the characters of Poldark and Demelza. we were warned that Poldark’s “nasty side” would be on display this season (People who know the Poldark story probably have a good idea what he’s hinting at.) There was also a discussion of Masterpiece’s “expanding footprint” which will also include bringing Season 4 of Sherlock to PBS. (Early 2017 was all they said, but that’s all be know from the BBC as well.)
As for Victoria, the pall that the loss of Downton Abbey from the PBS schedule could not be denied, though everyone put on their best faces. There seems to be a determination with Jenna Coleman in the lead role and the sheer wealth of material that if the show lands (and apparently the Royal Family is “not unhappy” about what they’ve seen, so that’s one good sign) it could run for years. “Victoria ruled for 63 years. Season 1 covers the first three. You do the math.” said showrunner Daisy Goodwin. Sadly the trailer for Victoria was not posted yet, but hopefully it will be coming soon, at least an ITV cut of it.
And finally, Hamilton. I believe the quote of the panel (other than Daveed Diggs being Daveed Diggs all over the place) was on how the one two punch of Hamilton and the upcoming Harry potter and the Cursed Child is bringing a revival of theater to the public forefront, and how PBS stands to benefit greatly from this if they play their cards right. To that end, they are putting Lin-Manuel Miranda in charge of their fall arts showcase, the Sixth Annual PBS Arts Fall Festival, to bring awareness of music and theater to public TV audiences, hoping that his popularity will translate to people tuning in to watch him host.
Like Victoria, the sizzle reel for the Hamilton doc is not out yet for public consumption, but everyone getting excited should remember this is a “behind the scenes making of” and NOT the musical being aired on TV. Adjust your expectations and soundtrack listening accordingly.