This Week in TV:
BrainDead teaser; Hell on Wheels ending; Ballers trailer; NatGeo orders its first scripted series; and Stephen Root joins Barry.
The first teaser has been released for CBS’ upcoming political comedy BrainDead. From The Good Wife creators Michelle and Robert King, the series is described as a comedy/thriller that centers around an alien invasion in Washington D.C. While the video doesn’t offer much new information in terms of the plot of the series, it does confirm that “bugs are eating people’s brains,” perhaps explaining some of the strange decisions being made on Capitol Hill.
BrainDead stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as Laurel, the daughter of a famed politician. Though her family wanted her to continue their long tradition of serving in the U.S. government, Laurel abandoned the political landscape and became a documentary filmmaker. At her brother’s request, she returns to Washington to begin investigating what is happening Congress, discovering otherworldly forces guiding the country.
BrainDead premieres on June 13th, 2016 on CBS.
Hell on Wheels Comes to an End
AMC has announced that the seven episodes of the fifth and final season of Hell on Wheels will begin airing Saturday, June 11th. This season will see the journey of Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) come to a dramatic close as he continues to work on America’s first transcontinental railroad. The massive project proves to be a breeding ground for corruption, greed, and murder. To complete the project, Bohannon will have to contend with a number of characters trying to stand in his way, including the vicious Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl), the mercenary Chang (Byron Mann), and the greedy Thomas “Doc” Durant (Colm Meaney). The railroad will be completed, but whether or not Bohannon lives to see the final spike driven into the ground remains to be seen.
Showrunner John Wirth released the following statement regarding the ending of Hell on Wheels:
“Making this show has been the highlight of my career. I can’t imagine a better cast, crew, group of writers or network. Thank you, Charlie Collier, Joel Stillerman and Susie Fitzgerald for supporting us every step of the way.”
Hell on Wheels returns to AMC on Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at 9:00 p.m. EST.
HBO has released a new trailer for the upcoming second season of Ballers. The series stars Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas) as Spencer Strasmore, a retired NFL player currently working as a financial manager. The ending of the first season saw Strasmore opening up his own financial firm with his partner Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry). Unfortunately, as is shown in the trailer, Strasmore will be coming up against the seedy money manager Andre (Andy Garcia) in his quest to land some big-name clients.
Ballers is produced by Johnson along with the Entourage producers Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson. The first season of the show was a proven success for HBO, rating as the most highly watched half-hour series on the network for the last six years. Though the series has not been especially popular among critics, the undeniable charisma of Johnson is enough to earn a dedicated audience.
Ballers returns to HBO on July 17th, 2016.
NatGeo orders First scripted series
The National Geographic Channel has officially ordered their first-ever scripted series. The cable network gave a straight-to-series order to Genius, a new anthology program that tells the stories of history’s most brilliant pioneers. The first season will focus on Albert Einstein, with a script based on the book Einstein: His Life and Universe by author Walter Isaacson. The script will be written by Noah Pink (Bad Day, Good Day, Bad Day) with Ron Howard (Rush) set to direct the first episode.
Pink, Howard, and Brian Grazer (The Bastard Executioner) will all serve as executive producers on the series. FOX 21 Television studios will produce alongside Howard and Grazer’s Imagine Television, EUE/Sokolow, and OddLot Entertainment. FOX 21 president Bert Salke released the following statement:
“We couldn’t be happier to be working with Imagine and OddLot to bring our spirit of creative adventure and passion for great storytelling to NatGeo as they embark on their first scripted series. And to have Ron direct the first episode is incredibly exciting. ‘Genius’ is a franchise with infinite possibilities. We think this installment that tells the fascinating backstory of the man who articulated the theory of relativity is just the beginning of a long and successful partnership between our companies.”
While Genius is the first scripted series to be ordered by NatGeo, the network is currently developing a number of new scripted projects as they transition toward new programming opportunities. In December of 2015, NatGeo brought Carolyn Bernstein (Gracepoint) on board as the head of scripted programming.
Stephen Root joins Barry
Stephen Root (King of the Hill) has joined the cast of the upcoming HBO comedy pilot Barry. The project, co-written, starring, and directed by Bill Hader (Trainwreck), centers on an ex-Marine (Hader) who has found work as a hitman in the midwest. There’s not much happiness to be found in his life, until he is forced to travel to Los Angeles to complete an assignment. There, he finds happiness in the theater and a group of accepting thespians.
Root will be playing series regular Fuches, a lawyer who arranges all of the hits. The series will also star Henry Winkler (Arrested Development) as an inspiring theater teacher. Silicon Valley executive producer Alec Berg is working as Hader’s co-writer and will join him as a producer on the series. Barry is a product of Hader’s current exclusive development deal with HBO.