This Week in TV:
HBO announces premiere dates for The Leftovers and True Blood season 7; Syfy orders 12 Monkeys for a 12-episode first season; The Big Bang Theory and Lucasfilm team for a 'Star Wars Day' episode; and Netflix announces a series based on the story of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel titled Narcos.
HBO announced premiere dates for two highly-anticipated season premieres this week, setting The Leftovers for a June 15, 2014 debut and True Blood's final season to commence the following Sunday, June 22.
With Damon Lindelof (Lost) producing, Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) directing the pilot and stars like Liv Tyler, Justin Theroux and Christopher Eccleston in the cast, The Leftovers has certainly piqued the interest of TV fans - especially those who are familiar with Tom Perrotta's eponymously-titled novel, from which the show is based. Even those who may have rolled their eyes when Lindelof was announced as leading the series have to take comfort in the fact that Perrotta is helping Lindelof adapt his book, which tells the story of a small town dealing with the sudden disappearance of many of its citizens, an event that some refer to as a Biblical rapture.
Meanwhile, True Blood is getting all the attention and adulation one would expect a popular series would receive as it enters its final season. Of course, many fans who have been with Sookie and the entire supernatural gang of Bon Temps since the beginning have remained skeptical at how successfully the series will wrap up - especially considering ratings and general interest in the soapy drama have dipped a bit in recent years. Will season 7 of True Blood resonate with its faithful followers like Breaking Bad's final run did, or will it pull a Dexter and leave viewers scratching their heads? We'll have to wait until June to find out how the last ride will begin.
The Leftovers season 1 and True Blood season 7 begin on June 15 and 22, respectively, on HBO.
After ordering a 12 Monkeys pilot last year, Syfy decided this week to green light the series - which is based on Terry Gilliam's 1995 film of the same name - for a 12-episode rookie season.
In an effort to beef up its scripted programming roster, the network was reportedly eyeing two potential new series, but ended up choosing Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett's (Nikita) 12 Monkeys adaptation over Bryan Fuller's (Hannibal) latest project, High Moon. It's unclear whether the network actually saw a higher quality end product in the 12 Monkeys pilot, or if it saw some untapped potential in the property, which, despite being critically and financially successful as a film, was left as a standalone story and a cult hit among genre fans.
Like the film, the series will follow the journey of a time traveler from a post-apocalyptic future who is sent on a mission to jump back to present day and eliminate the source of a deadly plague that will eventually decimate the human race. Aaron Stanford (Nikita) is set to play the show's main protagonist (played by Bruce Willis in the film). Cast members also include Noah Bean (Damages), Kirk Acevedo (Oz) and Amanda Schull (Suits).
Syfy's 12 Monkeys is expected to premiere on the network in January 2015.
The show's characters will partake in the holiday, which celebrates the famous film franchise every year on May 4, in an episode titled "The Proton Transmogrification" set to air May 1. The deal with Lucasfilm will allow the hit CBS sitcom to re-create the remote swamp world of Dagobah, which served as Master Yoda's refuge during his exile. In the episode, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is guided by visions of his childhood idol and mentor, Professor Proton (played by Emmy winner Bob Newhart), who will represent Sheldon's own Jedi teacher, playing a character (likely Yoda) from the original films.
Fans of the show - many of whom also celebrate Star Wars Day by screening the classic films - will certainly be excited to see the cast play around in iconic Star Wars sets, but the creative minds behind the series are just as thrilled at the idea.
Said showrunner Steve Molaro:
"We knew that Bob [Newhart] was coming back and Lucasfilm called us, and we realized that that this might be an opportunity to mix both stories and come up with something special."
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays @8pm on CBS. The Star Wars Day episode will air May 1, 2014.
Brazilian film star Wagner Moura (Elysium) has re-teamed with Robocop director Jose Padilha for a Netflix series titled Narcos, which will tell the story of real life drug lord Pablo Escobar and the infamous Medellin Cartel.
Moura, who worked with Padilha on Brazilian action films Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, will portray the ruthless money-hungry Escobar in the series, which will attempt to take on all-new approach to the story of Escobar's notorious reign atop the drug world 1970s and 80s.
Said Netflix Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos:
“Jose and Wagner together created one of the most sophisticated and chilling portraits of criminality and official corruption ever in their 'Elite Squad' movies. Their version of the Escobar saga will be like nothing ever seen before.”
Of course, the real story became much bigger than one man's rise to power in Colombia, which is something the series will also focus on, according to Padilha, who said:
“Our idea is to tell the true story of how cocaine became such a huge problem in the U.S. and Europe – and how it all started here in Medellin.”
Season 1 of Narcos will begin filming in Colombia soon and is set for a 2015 premiere on Netflix. Let's just hope the show turns out better than Vincent Chase's poorly-received attempt at the story in HBO's Entourage.