PASADENA — It was three years ago that we headed home from the Television Critics Association sessions, already looking forward to the next ones.
These trips, twice a year, run for two-plus weeks in California, bringing blue skies, sunshine, optimism and TV stars. Then the world stopped.
Today (Jan. 9), the TCA finally started its first in-person sessions since January of 2020. Onstage this morning was Kiefer Sutherland … just as he’d been so often in the past. He was followed by the young cast of a “Grease” prequel (shown here). Everything was back to normal … except, of course, it wasn’t:
— California forgot to be sunny. We left it in the midst of blue skies and a drought; when we returned, it was in a slow drip.
— The sessions are sort of muted. We wear masks; there’s no rushing the stage afterward.
— And TV itself has changed.
These two shows (debuting March 26 and April 6) are on Paramount+, which barely existed three years ago. Back then, it was called CBS All Access and had about four million subscribers; now it has 46 million … plus a new name and new ambition.
“We’re not as restricted in what stories we can tell or how we tell them,” Sutherland said. In “24” on Fox, he was racing through 24 episodes a year; a “Rabbit Hole” season is one-third of that, while weaving in romance, action and conspiracies.
Even more ambitious is “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.” It tells the story of four outsiders who find their own form of ‘50s-cool … all while offering vibrant music and dance in long-ago styles.
That’s a major undertaking for the cast – self-described “theater kids” trying to do it all.
“What is really great about musical-theater people is they like to work,” said Justin Tranter, the show’s music producer. He has them racing between rehearsals, re-creating a pre-pandemic era when, we thought, it never rained in California.