New In TV Sneak Peek

Jan 20, 2020
Originally published on January 20, 2020 2:31 pm
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Kim Kardashian speaking about how to stop mass incarceration, magician David Blaine sewing his mouth shut while pulling off a card trick and Hillary Clinton breezing through to talk about a documentary - just a few of the things that happened at the TV Critics Association's Winter Press Tour, which just wrapped in Los Angeles. It's an event to give TV critics a sneak peek into what's expected on television over the next six months. And NPR TV critic Eric Deggans was there for much of the action.

Hey, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I am exhausted (laughter)...

CHANG: (Laughter) I bet you are.

DEGGANS: ...As you can imagine (laughter).

CHANG: I mean, it sounded like a whole range of TV people were out there peddling their wares this weekend. What was - what's sort of the biggest trend you think you're going to see in TV the next few months?

DEGGANS: The biggest trend was more. I mean, every major platform for television is just trying to create more content, and everybody who has a track record of making television - from "Get Out" director Jordan Peele to Reese Witherspoon - announced deals to produce new shows for streaming platforms and cable channels and network TV. This competition between streaming services and premium cable channels especially has created this tremendous battle for talent in front of and behind the camera. And that makes the biggest currency in Hollywood - which is fame and whether or not you've been successful before - even more valuable.

CHANG: Well, what about all the competition between the different streaming services? Like, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus started last year. Did you glean anything about how the streaming wars are panning out?

DEGGANS: Well - and don't forget. We've got streaming services like HBO Max and NBC's Peacock coming this year. We seem to be midway through the first phase of the streaming wars with a few more of these new services coming. The people running these services insist that there's enough room in the marketplace for more outlets. They've got studies showing that the average household will subscribe to about three or four of these. Mostly, I think, they don't know a whole lot more than the average consumer does. I mean, they're pushing out this content based on what their instincts are telling them about what might work because everything about this is so new. Now, we're seeing the further merging of film and TV. You know, we've got movie stars like Al Pacino and Nicole Kidman starring in some highly anticipated TV shows. And there's this real debate between whether consumers want a service that's highly curated, you know, where there's a smaller number of high-quality TV shows like - that's something Apple TV Plus is trying to do - or a service where there's a lot of shows in all genres, like HBO Max is going try to do or what Netflix does today.

CHANG: Well, speaking of Apple TV Plus, I mean, after their success in all these recent months, what are their plans moving forward and getting bigger?

DEGGANS: Well, it's interesting because they haven't held a lot of press events. They came to the press tour for the first time. And I think with critics, they were trying to counter this notion that their rollout wasn't as successful as Disney Plus. You know, their flagship program with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, "The Morning Show," got some pretty negative reviews, and there still isn't the sense that they've found, like, a defining hit the way Disney Plus did with "The Mandalorian." They need something that really sums up the brand for consumers and gives people a sense of what an Apple TV Plus show is. Now, the people that I talked to at Apple say it's still early days, and they're mostly focused on putting out more quality shows. In fact, a show that I think is their best yet is this anthology series about immigrant stories called "Little America" that just debuted a couple of days ago.

CHANG: OK, so what shows are you most excited about? Like, what should I put on my must-watch list?

DEGGANS: So many shows.

CHANG: (Laughter) Do I have the time?

DEGGANS: OK. OK. First, I've got to recommend CBS All Access' new Star Trek series, "Picard." It does a really good job of presenting the story that longtime Trek fans might like, while also offering a tale that even people who just kind of know what Star Trek is or what Picard is will kind of like. I'm watching Pacino's new series for Amazon called "Hunters." He plays the leader of a group of people secretly hunting Nazis living undercover in 1970s-era New York. It's executive produced by Jordan Peele - really interesting. And finally, I really like this show "The Plot Against America." It's an HBO series that's based on the Philip Roth novel about what might have happened if an anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh was elected president. David Simon, the creator of "The Wire," is executive producing that. I mean, lots of really interesting shows coming - I am going to be really busy over the next few months.

CHANG: (Laughter) That's NPR's Eric Deggans.

Thanks, Eric.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.