TNT and TBS, the television channel equivalents of the bro who’s also in show choir and the guy who always shows up to the party a little too early, are getting makeovers. Kevin Reilly, the president of both networks, took to the television upfronts to hold court about the channels’ new directions, a process that, as Deadline reports, mostly involves some new shows and a little of the old rebranding magic. Reilly referred to TNT’s change as merely an “evolution,” whereas TBS’s shakeup is a full-on “revolution,” presumably implying the imminent death by firing squad of every current member of the TBS family. Let’s look at what’s in store for each of them, shall we?
TNT is being molded into a home for “edgier original programming,” a nice way of saying the channel is getting tired of Rizzoli And Isles. To that end, it has picked up some shows meant to be totally full of edges, man. That starts with an adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, an event series we recently reported would be directed by True Detective helmsman Cary Fukunaga. It’s about a doctor in turn-of-the-century New York City, back when hard edges were everywhere. He uses the newly emerging field of psychology to track a serial killer, thus setting the stage for nearly every subsequent American ripoff of Sherlock Holmes.
The channel also picked up two shows that began life elsewhere. First is the series Animal Kingdom, a project that began life years ago at Showtime, but is only now finding a home with the proper degree of edginess. Based on the 2010 movie of the same name, it’s a family crime drama, set in a “gritty surf community,” where edges abound because tough surfer types don’t like smooth surfboards. The network also picked up Will, about the adventures of a young William Shakespeare. It’s from Baz Luhrmann’s longtime writing partner, so naturally it’s a period drama with a cutting-edge soundtrack and gonzo production design, because that’s all that Baz Luhrmann and associates know how to do. Also, nothing says “edgy” like the absolute center of the canon of Western literature.
TBS, on the other hand, will be getting a complete rebranding by the end of 2015, a change so radical and antiestablishment that Reilly could barely contain himself when explaining the nature of his corporate marketing strategy. “The new TBS will have a huge slate of awesomely in-your-face and effortlessly diverse programming,” he crowed, presumably as prelude to announcing the inclusion of Poochie in every new show. After all, revolution begins at home, because that’s where there are Big Bang Theory reruns that singlehandedly delivered your channel’s best numbers.
Reilly said that more than 15 scripted and unscripted series will be coming to the channel over the next two years. This bevy of in-your-face awesomeness begins with Wrecked, a comedy series about the aftermath of a plane crash on a remote island. The flaming wreckage of a jet should contain sufficient fiery blasts of gas explosions to singe off their cast members’ skin, thus getting quite literally into their faces.
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Reilly also announced several other new comedies, because it is very funny, regardless of evidence to that end. The Group is about alien abductees, and comes from Conan O’Brien and The Office creator Greg Daniels. It will presumably involve alien probes that entered people’s noses rather than the ever-popular rectal probe, the better to maintain fidelity to faces, and getting in them. There’s also the new comedy Angie Tribeca, starring Rashida Jones; The Detour, which stars former Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones (nothing’s more in your face than people with the last name of Jones); and a series in development set to star Jones’ wife, Samantha Bee.
TNT is also launching something called Separation Anxiety, which is being described as “a relationship-based game show with a unique twist.” Hopefully, the twist is that the anxiety is generated by people being separated from their faces, so that their significant other can actually step into them, thus fulfilling Reilly’s promise of awesomeness and the visages that will be gotten into.