“Now that it has been three years into our revamp I will stop talking about truTV’s evolution into comedy,” said Chris Linn, president, truTV, who opened up the Turner portion of the Winter Press Tour in Pasadena on Thursday.
“From here on in, truTV is the home for original creative-driven comedy series with a distinct point of view. That is our brand DNA and that is what is fueling our success. With no syndicated programming, truTV is comprised of entirely original series.”
Turner featured sessions on Bob Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters Comedic Anthology, which debuts this summer on truTV; TNT limited drama The Alienist, which opens on Jan. 22; TBS animated comedy Final Space, which premieres on Jan. 22; and scripted workplace comedy anthology Miracle Workers.
Debuting this spring, Miracle Workers stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) as Craig, a low-level angel responsible for handling all of humanity’s prayers, and Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) as Craig’s boss, God.
The signature show on truTV, of course, is Impractical Jokers, which is featured in multiple airings every day and has extended its linear presence with a live countrywide tour. But Linn also cited several of its newer programs: I’m Sorry and At Home with Amy Sedaris; live series The Chris Gethard Show; its first comedic documentary, The Problem with Apu; and the recently introduced Laff Mob’s Laff Tracks, created by Bob Sumner (Def Comedy Jam). And he praised the network for its ongoing commitment to reducing commercial loads.
At present, however, the future of truTV remains dependent on Impractical Jokers, which the network must be careful not to overexpose.
TNT, which has made a conscious effort in recent years to segue out of generic crime dramas such The Closer and spin-off Major Crimes to more cutting-edge product tailored to younger viewers, has sparked the notice of the critics and has improved the cable net’s social media presence.
”Last summer we marked the highly successful launch of Claws, starring Niecy Nash, TNT’s most socially engaging show,” noted Sarah Aubrey, TNT EVP, original programming. “And Animal Kingdom aired for its second season last summer and was only one of two top-20 cable dramas to grow year over year.”
Of course, no scripted series in this current trendier era of TNT comes near the linear presence of the aforementioned crime solvers. And no series on TNT matches the aura of sophistication on competing platforms such AMC, FX, HBO and Showtime.
Planning ahead (and in search of that big hit), TNT has greenlit sci-fi drama Snowpiercer, starring Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind); and has begun shooting six-episode One Day She’ll Darken, which follows a woman given away at birth who begins to investigate the secrets of her past.
Mirroring sister outlets truTV and TNT, the emphasis at TBS remains tailored to millennials.
”Our original programming continues to drive critical acclaim thanks to you folks,” said Brett Weitz, TBS EVP of original programming, who announced the two-season renewal of animated American Dad! “It is also the backbone of our linear and digital audience growth and ongoing success of our top-rated and re-branded cable network.”
Weitz touted the fact that the seven most recently introduced TBS series have all been renewed, singling out anthology The Guest Book, late night weekly talker Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and scripted comedies The Detour and Search Party.
”We also dove into unscripted programming with the launches of Drop the Mike, which was the number-two cable comedy, and Snoop Dogg Presents the Joker’s Wild, which was the number-three cable comedy, and which were both just renewed.”
Looking ahead to 2018, TBS is optimistic, of course, about aforementioned Final Space and Miracle Workers, the next entries in the network’s youthful and socially active lineup.
With 10 Primetime Emmy Award nominations in 2017 for its current roster of original programming — including seven for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee — the emphasis on cutting-edge product is reaping some noticeable benefits.
[Images courtesy of Turner]