TV Talk

2021 Fall TV First Look: The Wonder Years Remake and Lots of Dick Wolf Drama Ahead

ABC's remake focuses on a Black family in late 1960s Alabama. Don Cheadle narrates. Plus, video from that Friends reunion and more of the week's biggest news in TV and streaming.

by | May 21, 2021 | Comments

The annual fall TV reveal has happened, and everything old is new again in 2021. (Here’s hoping Netflix surprises us with The Witcher season 2.) That Friends reunion? It’s finally happening. Check out the trailer below. Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing a TV series for Netflix and more of the week’s top TV and streaming news.


TOP STORY

TV Upfronts Highlights Include a Delightful New Remake of The Wonder Years and Three Full Nights of Dick Wolf Franchise Programming

It’s that time of year again, when the networks reveal their new fall line-ups, meaning hope for new series looking to become the next big thing, and saying goodbye to series that you may still love, even though the nets don’t (here’s looking at you Prodigal Son and The Unicorn).

This year’s upfronts were different from those of years past not only because they again were largely virtual thanks to the pandemic, and also because most of the networks are connected to streaming services, and the upfront presentations focused on the overall content, and not just the primetime network lineups.

This year’s biggest takeaway for the networks: there was already a lot of Dick Wolf in primetime, but get ready for more. The king of network franchises will now be programming a full three hours on three consecutive nights, with FBI Tuesdays on CBS (FBI, new drama FBI: International, and FBI: Most Wanted); Windy City Wednesdays on NBC (Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D.), and Law & Order Thursdays on NBC (Law & Order: SVU, new drama Law & Order: For the Defense, and Law & Order: Organized Crime).

Somehow, other new shows managed to squeeze into spots among the Dick Wolf-ness of it all, and here are a few we’re most excited about for the 2021-22 season:

  • The Wonder Years remake at ABC. The network’s remake of its own classic comedy this time focuses on a Black family in late 1960s Alabama, with Don Cheadle narrating the coming-of-age story, and Elisha “EJ” Williams and Dulé Hill as the son and father, Dean and Bill Williams, at the center of the show. Premieres fall 2021.
  • Women of the Movement at ABC. The midseason limited series is the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who risked her life in Jim Crow South in 1955 to get justice for her son, Emmett, who was viciously beaten to death, and sparked a Civil Rights movement that continues today. Adrienne Warren stars as Mamie Till-Mobley, with Tonya Pinkins, Ray Fisher, and Glynn Turman also in the stellar cast.
  • CBS is replacing one NCIS – the outgoing New Orleans franchise – with another: NCIS: Hawaii. That means a sweet new gig for the actors who get to film in that location, but for viewers it means a new first for the NCIS universe: the first female lead, courtesy of Vanessa Lachey (Love Is Blind). She’ll portray first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor, Jane Tennant.
  • WarnerMedia’s upfront included confirmation that HBO Max’s ad-supported tier, which will cost subscribers $9.99 per month (versus the $14.99 price tag on the ad-free version) will be available the first week of June. All The Sopranos, Friends, and Game of Thrones you can handle for a 10 spot!
  • The Thing About Pam at NBC. The true crime limited series, starring Renee Zellweger, unfolds the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria, whose husband Russ was convicted of killing her. That conviction was later overturned, and her “friend” Pam Hupp – a key witness in the investigation of Betsy’s death – turned out to be the unknown evil at the center of the Hupps’ lives.
  • Ordinary Joe at NBC. A Sliding Doors–ish drama about Joe Kimbreau (Lone Star’s James Wolk), whose decisions upon his college graduation lead to three parallel versions of his life, each one “messy, exciting, tough, unpredictable…and beautiful.” It’s a concept that could be really clever and heartfelt, especially if the parallel timelines structure is milked for all its possibilities.
  • The Big Leap at Fox. Anything that brings Scott Foley back to primetime will always be worth a look as far as we’re concerned. And the high-concept idea of this show-within-a-show (inspired by a U.K. reality series) has the potential to be a breakout: a motley crew of dejected characters (who are not trained dancers) try to change their luck by competing in a reality dance series that ends with a live production of Swan Lake. “The Big Leap is a modern tale about second chances and chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours,” according to the official network description. “The Big Leap … takes viewers on a journey of self-acceptance, body positivity, and empowerment at any age.”

NEW TRAILERS: Friends: The Reunion: The One Where We All Finally Get the Star-Studded Special the Pandemic Tried to Deny Us

Friends: The Reunion promises to be worth waiting for (after that pandemic-forced postponement) with the entire cast and many special guests, plus looks back at and re-enactments of some of our favorite moments, behind-the-scenes dish, and the reveal of the only cast member who didn’t think Ross and Rachel were on a break (hint: it’s not Rachel portrayer Jennifer Aniston!). Premieres May 27. (HBO Max)

More trailers and teasers released this week:
• Dr. Death is the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), a Dallas surgeon who was believed to be a brilliant, talented rising star of the medical community. Until his routine procedures started ending in horrible failures or even death, and Duntsch’s colleagues began to wonder if he wasn’t incompetent, but something far more sinister. Also stars Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, and AnnaSophia Robb). Premieres this summer. (Peacock)
• Monsters at Work is the series spin-off of Monsters, Inc., and it looks every bit as fun as the movie from which it sprang. Stars Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Premieres July 2. (Disney+)
• Changing the Game is Emmy-winning filmmaker Michael Barnett’s documentary about the controversy, but also life-saving moments surrounding transgender inclusion in sports. Premieres June 1. (Hulu)
• The Good Fight returns for its fifth season with Mandy Patinkin joining the cast as a guy who decides to open his own courtroom in the back of a Chicago copy shop. Stars Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Michael Boatman. Premieres June 24. (Paramount+)
• Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is based on the author’s international bestselling thriller of the same name and follows the early adventures of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who must solve a series of deadly puzzles to stop a global conspiracy. Stars Ashley Zukerman, Valorie Curry, Sumalee Montano, Rick Gonzalez, Eddie Izzard, and Beau Knapp. Premieres soon. (Peacock)


• Sweet Tooth is the series adaptation of the comic by Jeff Lemire, a post-apocalyptic fairytale about a hybrid deer-boy and a wandering loner who embark on an extraordinary adventure together. Stars Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Will Forte, and narrated by James Brolin. Premieres June 4. (Netflix)
• The Me You Can’t See is a mental health docuseries from producers Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry. Premieres May 21 (Apple TV+)
• Home Before Dark, season 2, continues the drama based on the life of journalist Hilde Lysiak, who tries to unravel a cold case that even her own father tried to keep a secret. Stars Brooklynn Prince, Jim Sturgess, Abby Miller, Michael Weston, Joelle Carter, and Sharon Lawrence. Premieres June 11. (Apple TV+)
• Feel Good, season 2, continues Mae & George’s complicated love story continues as Mae struggles to come to terms with the ghosts from her past. Stars Mae Martin, Charlotte Ritchie, Eve, Anthony Head, John Ross Bowie, and Lisa Kudrow. Premieres June 4. (Netflix)
• Good on Paper is a comedy about a comedian who meets a quirky nerd who makes her reconsider focusing solely on her career. Stars (and was created by) Iliza Shlesinger. Also stars Ryan Hansen, Margaret Cho, and Rebecca Rittenhouse. Premieres June 23. (Netflix)
• The Ice Road is an action movie that sees Liam Neeson playing an ice road truck driver who has to lead a rescue mission across a terrifying (and thawing) frozen ocean to try to save the victims of a remote collapsed diamond mine. Also stars Laurence Fishburne. Premieres June 25. (Netflix)
• The Fear Street Trilogy is a series of horror movies that take place in 1994, 1978, and 1666, which are released as a three-week event on July 2, July 9, and July 16, respectively. Stars include Maya Hawke, Fred Hechinger, Jordana Spiro, and Gillian Jacobs. (Netflix)
• 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything is a docuseries about the music and musicians of 1971, who continue to influence the music world today, including The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, and Lou Reed. Premieres May 21. (Apple TV+)

For all the latest TV and streaming trailers, subscribe to the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel.


CASTING: Disenchanted, the Enchanted Sequel, Finds Newcomer Gabriella Baldacchino Moving to the ‘Burbs With Mom and Dad Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey

Amy Adams in Enchanted

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

Disney+ has set the cast of Disenchanted, the live action musical comedy sequel to the Oscar-nominated movie Enchanted. Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel return from the original; newcomer Gabriella Baldacchino will play Morgan, the daughter of Giselle (Adams) and Robert Philip (Dempsey); and new cast members include Maya Rudolph as Malvina, Giselle’s new adversary in Monroeville, Kolton Stewart (Some Assembly Required) plays Malvina’s son, Yvette Nicole Brown will portray Rosalyn, Jayma Mays (Glee) will play Ruby, and Oscar Nunez will play Edgar. The sequel finds Giselle and Robert leaving Manhattan and moving to the ‘burbs.

Jeremy Irvine (Treadstone) is a leading contender to play gay superhero Alan Scott (the first Green Lantern) in HBO Max’s Green Lantern series, Variety reports. Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story: Freak Show) has already been cast as Guy Gardner in the series.

Add another one to the impressive Knives Out 2 cast list: One Night in Miami Oscar nominee and Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr., who joins Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monae, and Dave Bautista to shoot the sequel for Netflix in Greece this summer. (THR)

Jenna Ortega (Scream, The Fallout) has been cast in the Tim Burton-directed Wednesday, a live-action Netflix comedy about Addams Family daughter Wednesday Addams. The series will be not only Burton’s TV directing debut, but it will mark the first time Wednesday has been the star of her own adult vehicle, separate from her creepy, kooky, altogether ookie family. Netflix’s official description of the series: it is a “sleuthing, supernaturally infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years as a student at Nevermore Academy. Wednesday’s attempts to master her emerging psychic ability, thwart a monstrous killing spree that has terrorized the local town, and solve the supernatural mystery that embroiled her parents 25 years ago — all while navigating her new and very tangled relationships at Nevermore.” Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) will be the Wednesday showrunners.

Grey’s Anatomy alum Sara Ramirez has joined the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That …, playing a non-binary queer comedian, Che Diaz, who hosts a podcast that Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) frequently guests on. (TVLine)

Noah Mills (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) has joined the cast of CBS’s NCIS: Hawaii spin-off, where he’ll play a former homicide detective named Jesse, who moves to Hawaii to start a new life. (Variety)

Cherry Jones will play a hospital administrator in Five Days at a Memorial, the limited series about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, at Apple TV+. The Emmy and Tony winner will star with Vera Farmiga in the project, from Carlton Cuse and John Ridley, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by author Sheri Fink.


Jon Bernthal

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jon Bernthal, Josh Charles, and Jamie Hector have joined the cast of We Own This City, HBO’s limited series about the Baltimore PD’s Gun Trace Task Force. The Walking Dead alum Bernthal will play a police sergeant at the center of the federal corruption case surrounding the Task Force, while Hector (The Wire) plays a BPD homicide detective who had to testify before the jury in the case, and Charles (The Good Wife) plays a Baltimore cop whose brutality on the job made him the subject of many complaints from the city’s residents. Based on the book of the same name by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, the six-episode series is executive produced by The Wire producers David Simon and George Pelecanos.

The second season of HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones is adding Eric Roberts, Eric Andre, and Jason Schwartzman to the cast of the televangelist family comedy. Roberts will play the son of John Goodman’s Eli, who suddenly re-enters his father’s life; Andrew plays a megachurch pastor from Texas; and Schwartzman plays a journalist doing a story on the Gemstone Salvation Center.

The cast of Mindy Kaling’s HBO Max comedy The Sex Lives of College Girls has added Sherri Shepherd, Rob Huebel, and Nicole Sullivan to a line-up that stars Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Reneé Rapp, and Alyah Chanelle Scott as the titular roommates at a prestigious New England college.

Outlander star Graham McTavish has confirmed he is in the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon, though he declined to share any details about his role in the series about the ancestors of Daenerys Targaryen. Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Rhys Ifans, and Sonoya Mizuno also star in the HBO series.

HBO has added several cast members to its Watergate drama White House Plumbers, Variety reports, including Gary Cole, who will play the deputy director of the FBI, who was eventually revealed to be the famous “Deep Throat,” and John Carroll Lynch will play John Mitchell, the head of Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. Nelson Ascencio,  Toby Huss, Zoe Levin, Zak Orth, Tony Plana, and Tre Ryder will also join leads Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, and supporting cast Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson, Kiernan Shipka, Ike Barinholtz, Yul Vazquez, David Krumholtz, Rich Sommer, Kim Coates, and Liam James in the five-episode project.


PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT: Arnold Schwarzenegger Father-Daughter Spy Series a Go a Netflix 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

(Photo by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images)

Netflix has picked up to series an untitled Arnold Schwarzenegger spy drama that is the action movie star’s first TV series. Ah-nold and Monica Barbaro (Top Gun: Maverick) will play a father and daughter who are forced to work together after learning they’ve both actually been working as CIA operatives for years. Schwarzenegger will also be an executive producer on the project.

Like The Last Dance with Michael Jordan, The Captain is an upcoming ESPN docuseries that will include full access to its subject – New York Yankees legend and Baseball Hall of Fame member Derek Jeter. The series will be executive produced by Spike Lee, and is scheduled to premiere in 2022.

Peacock has ordered a 10-episode season of Vampire Academy, another vampire drama from Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries and The Originals). The series is an adaptation of a series of YA paranormal romance novels by international bestselling author Richelle Mead.

Hulu will premiere McCartney 3,2,1 on July 16. The six episodes will feature Beatles legend Paul McCartney in conversation with super producer Rick Rubin, with McCartney doing a deep dive on “his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music” with the Beatles, Wings, and his decades of solo songwriting and singing.

Great news for fans of Housewives and various people who sell real estate and work on yachts: BravoCon returns to New York City in October. Tons of “Bravolebrities” will be in attendance at the follow-up to the massively popular inaugural 2019 event, as well as series producers and the ring leader of the entire event, Andy Cohen.


Kumail Nanjiani

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Kumail Nanjiani will star in and executive produce the eight-episode true story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the Indian-American entrepreneur who started Chippendales in Hulu’s Immigrant. Banerjee’s tale is, Hulu says, an “insane, darkly comedic, crime-ridden story” about his revue that became a pop culture phenomenon. Meanwhile, Discovery+ is producing Curse of the Chippendales, a four-part true crime docuseries that “tells the story of how a new kind of dance troupe took the L.A. nightclub scene by storm and ended up with international fame and untold wealth, along with bizarre murder plots and multiple deaths entwined in their legacy.”

FX has ordered two seasons of Welcome to Wrexham, a docuseries that will unfold the story of how It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mythic Quest creator Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds bought one of the world’s oldest professional football (soccer) teams. McElhenney and Reynolds were social media pals when they teamed up in 2020 to buy the struggling British team from Wrexham, a working-class town in North Wales, UK. The series will document their efforts to make the underdog Red Dragons a comeback story, as well as the actors’ commitment to doing right by the townspeople rooting for the team. The Red Dragons were founded in 1864, and currently compete in the National League, the fifth tier of the English football league system.

Issa Rae is bring back Project Greenlight, the HBO reality series in which the next generation of female filmmakers are given the chance to direct a film. The eight-episode series will find Rae mentoring the women along the way, as they make a film that will then premiere on HBO Max.

30 Rock alum Jack McBrayer will produce and star in an Apple TV+ kids series called Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show, a live-action series that uses McBrayer’s infectious humor and positivity to teach children how to solve problems with “The Three Cs”: Caring, Connection, and Cascading from one person to another. McBrayer created the series with Angela C. Santomero, co-creator of Blues Clues and the author of the book Radical Kindness.

WarnerMedia is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a five-night event that includes four one-hour quiz shows that will give Potter fans the chance to share their knowledge of the Potterverse, followed by a retrospective special on the movie. The event will premiere on HBO Max, Cartoon Network, and TBS at the same time, later this year.

J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves, and Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm (one of the gold standards for superhero storytelling) are executive producing Batman: Caped Crusader, a new animated reimagining of the Batman mythology for HBO Max and Cartoon Network. The networks are also teaming up for My Adventures with Superman, another animated series that will feature The Boys star Jack Quaid as the voice of Superman/Clark Kent.

Adult Swim is launching four new digital shorts that are spin-offs inspired by characters from Rick and Morty, Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell, Robot Chicken, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The online series will feature all new storylines, and will premiere later this season. Each spin-off series – The Vindicators, with superhero characters from Rick and Morty; Alabama Jackson, a time traveler played by Donald Faison, who also created the character during a Robot Chicken panel at San Diego Comic Con; Aquadonk Side Pieces, a where are they now continuation of the Aqua Teen world; and Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell: The Animated Series, a fifth season of the comedy, now animated – will consist of eight to 10 episodes.

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