On a light panel day at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, set visits to new CBS series ‘Three Rivers,’ ‘NCIS: Los Angeles,’ and returning Fox shows ‘Bones‘ and ‘Dollhouse‘ took up the bulk of the day.
First up was a trip to Paramount Studios for ‘Three Rivers.’ Set in the world of organ donation, this new hospital drama features the much-anticipated return to series television for ‘Moonlight‘ star Alex O’Loughlin. The whole cast was present for a Q and A session with the critics as they were in the midst of wrapping their first episode. Executive Producer Carol Barbee (‘Jericho‘) said she had “the hospital of her dreams,” and after traipsing around the set I’d have to agree with her. It was an enormous, glistening new set that seemed to go on and on – corridor after corridor along with plenty of ICUs, meeting rooms and patient rooms.
The panel was asked if they are all currently organ donors, and while O’Loughlin said he already was, new series regular Alfre Woodard commented, “I am not an organ donor, and I never thought about it. And just as quickly as I got swept up into this, I imagine I’m going to within the next couple weeks.” The rest of the cast already was, or is in the process of becoming donors as well.
Next up was a short walk on the Paramount lot over to the Spanish villa inspired set of the show with probably the most expectations this fall, ‘NCIS: Los Angeles.’ The entire cast was joined by showrunner Shane Brennan, who broke the news to the press that ‘NCIS‘ star Pauley Perrette would be crossing over to the spinoff in Episode 2 and would be “deeply involved in solving the case.” Perrette will be the second actor from the “mothership” as Rocky Carroll calls it, to appear in the spinoff. (Carroll’s character, special agent Vance will be a semi-regular on ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’).
It was especially good to see the wonderful Linda Hunt back in action and when she was asked why she’d return to series TV now she retorted, “Not working at all had a lot to do with it. You know, I’ve been living a life of a retired old person for quite a while. So perhaps I’ll just change all of that and wor harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, which, I think, is what this is going to be judging from my first week.” The cast did seem to have an easygoing camaraderie already, and they’ll need it with all the heavy expectations placed on the show, airing right after the franchise ‘NCIS,’ Tuesday nights at 9pm. (The series premieres September 22nd on CBS).
After a quick bus trip over to the Fox lot in Century City, we arrived on the ‘Bones’ set where a panel of stars Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz and EP/Showrunner Hart Hanson were there to greet us. The actors and Hanson were very excited about the rare two season pick-up that guarantees the show will be on Fox through the 2010-2011 TV season. Hanson called it “an immense vote of confidence” and went on to say “it really frees us up in terms of storytelling and plotting out exactly where we want to go in the next few seasons.”
Deschanel addressed the controversial season finale in which we were finally to have seen the duo hookup. And while we did see them in bed together, it wasn’t real. As to whether it was in Brennan’s book or Booth’s mind (or both she teased), “it will definitely change the way we deal with each other.” Hanson also said he would not shy away from continuing to release spoilers, even after the backlash he received from many fans after the finale.
While walking over to the ‘Dollhouse’ set on the Fox lot, we passed by none other than Dr. House himself – Hugh Laurie– riding a motorcycle past us. Only in LA…
Our last and final stop was the ‘Dollhouse’ – Joss Whedon’s series that surprisingly got a second season despite very low ratings. At the panel on set, Whedon said that he was “just happy to have gotten a chance to play with these people for one season” and “the traditional way of measuring ratings and success is constantly evolving today.” The show is one of the most time-shifted and DVR’d series due to its Friday night airing and those numbers apparently were taken into consideration when a second season was greenlit.
Whedon commented that the only-on-DVD episode “Epitaph One” would play into the second season’s storytelling and we would continue to see flashes of that future, but he did leave room for some wiggling around to avoid or possibly change that bleak outcome we saw. Star Eliza Dushku got so emotional during one scene in the first episode they are currently filming that she “literally broke down crying. That’s something I didn’t do all of last year.” The stories for season two are much more involved and Echo will be remembering parts of her past every episode and not totally wiped clean as was teased in the season finale.
Full episodes of ‘Dollhouse’ are available on Fancast.