TCA press tour preview: Hello ‘Better Call Saul,’ goodbye ‘Mad Men’ & ‘Parks and Rec’

We're about 15 minutes from the start of the winter 2015 Television Critics Association press tour, or TCA for short. If you've been following me for a while, you know all the ins and outs of press tour. If you haven't, the primer that I published again back in the summer is still very useful(*).

(*) Tweeting a link to that primer last night led a fellow TCA member to unearth this picture of me inadvertently photobombing a young, unknown Jennifer Lawrence, back when she played Bill Engvall's daughter on a short-lived TBS sitcom. Press tour is a strange place, man.

I actually won't be there for the tour's first few days, or its last few, as I'm trying to cut down the amount of time I'm away from my family, but Fienberg will be there today, and for virtually the entire tour (look for coverage on his blog), and I wanted to give you some day-by-day highlights to give you a sense of some things one of us or the other may be covering over the next couple of weeks. (NOTE: This is far from an exhaustive list of shows being paneled, and keep in mind that no network panels all of its shows, for logistical reasons. Even FX, the only cable channel to get a full day, only panels the shows it has debuting between now and summer tour.) 


The first of several cable days starts off with a few hours of Netflix panels, whicih will include Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper talking about the migration of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” from NBC, the all-star cast of “Bloodline,” and Netflix president Ted Sarandos declining to provide concrete answers about how many people are actually watching his shows.


Winter tour tends to feature more returning shows than the summer version, and for cable as well as broadcast. So among the Discovery panels is one for “MythBusters,” which will allow some discussion of the recent cast shake-up. HBO's also doing its customary three-plus hours, including the Duplass brothers' terrific “Togetherness” (which I'll be reviewing later this week), the docu-series “The Jinx” and Jack Black and Tim Robbins in the upcoming political comedy “The Brink.”


Lots of different cable networks here, including Carlton Cuse with his A&E remake of “The Returned,” Pivot with its interesting North Pole mystery “Fortitude” and Starz bringing several returning shows, notably “Outlander.”


My first full day of the tour, and the one I didn't want to miss, because it starts off with a hello to “Better Call Saul” and a goodbye to “Mad Men,” with lots of actors and producers from both shows. BBC America is bringing Tatiana Maslany and company for some “Orphan Black” love, and also paneling its “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” adaptation. Robert Smigel brings Triumph out of mothballs for Adult Swim's “The Jack and Triumph Show” with Jack McBrayer, and Larry Wilmore (who was at summer tour for “Black-ish”) will get to preview “The Nightly Show.”


It's Golden Globes day, which has half of Hollywood paralyzed and gives the TCA only a half day with the folks from the CW, which will include the fun “iZombie,” and a joint “Arrow”/”Flash” panel.


CBS splits the day with corporate sibling Showtime, as we'll get to meet new “Late Late Show” host James Corden, new “Odd Couple” stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon, and get to pepper Patricia Arquette with Oscar/”Boyhood” questions at the “CSI: Cyber” panel. The most interesting-looking Showtime panel is called “Sexuality and Television: A Female Perspective Panel,” featuring actresses and producers from “The Affair,” “Masters of Sex” and “Shameless.”


A mixed day, including panels for several series on digital platforms – most notably the gang from “Community” discussing the move to Yahoo! – and set visits to “Scorpion” and “Jane the Virgin.”


ABC's day, which will include a panel for “Agent Carter,” which debuted last night, and “Fresh Off the Boat,” which seems like the best new mid-season comedy.


Various representatives of NBC's cable empire – including E! (with its first scripted drama, “The Royals”), USA, Bravo, Syfy, Esquire, Oxygen and Sprout – spend the day in Pasadena.


The NBC network itself, with a mix of new shows (“Allegiance,” “The Slap”) and returning ones, most notably a farewell press conference from Amy Poehler and the “Parks and Recreation” gang.


It's the first press tour for new FOX execs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who will likely spend a lot of their inaugural exec session distancing themselves from the failures of the Kevin Reilly era. We'll also get our annual “American Idol” panel, plus a bunch of new shows like Rainn Wilson in “Backstrom,” “Empire” (which may be a hit or a huge flop by the time Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson get to press tour), “Wayward Pines” and Will Forte's “Last Man on Earth.”


A full day of FX/FXX content, including “Archer,” “Always Sunny,” “Louie,” “Justified” and “The Americans,” plus new shows “Man Seeking Woman,” “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” and “The Comedians.”


PBS comes in for the tour's home stretch, with Damian Lewis in the “Wolf Hall” adaptation, Ken Burns talking “Emperor of Maladies,” and a “Sesame Street” panel I'm sad to be missing.


The last day of what Tim Goodman calls Death March with Cocktails concludes with more PBS panels, including “Shakespeare Uncovered,” an “American Masters” on Ricky Jay, and stuff from “Nova” and “Independent Lens.”