The Highs and Lows of Winter TCA 2022: ‘This Is Us’ Says Goodbye, ‘Promised Land’ Makes a Move and More

THIS IS US -- "The Challenger"
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The seemingly endless — but in actuality seven-week-long — Television Critics Association press tour finally concluded on Wednesday after a dizzying number of sessions. Once again virtual due to the pandemic, the press tour was so long that a new show hyped by ABC one week into the tour had already been pulled from its lineup by the time TCA ended.

The virtual tour was also marked by greater-than-usual access to executives, and had its share of technical glitches along with bittersweet goodbyes. Here, Variety breaks down some of the highs and lows of the tour.

Exec Sessions: Less Filling

Heading into TCA, journalists were pleasantly surprised to see more executive sessions on the schedule, since they allow media to pursue topics that network heads may not otherwise want to discuss. That kind of verbal sparring used to take place in a scrum following sessions, when reporters would approach execs with questions.

With the virtual format, however, it’s become nearly impossible to re-create that access. While TCA has brought back the executive sessions via teleconference, it has failed to find a way to replicate the in-person experience, turning microphones on and off seemingly at will and making it difficult for members of the media to pose follow-up questions.

And the (Bzzzt!) Goes to …

Although this was the fourth virtual press tour — they began in July 2020 mid-pandemic — technical issues persisted. While ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich was announcing that this year’s Oscars would have a host for the first time in three years, the audio kept cutting.

ABC Promised Land

Broken ‘Promise’

On Jan. 12, “Promised Land” cast members joined showrunner Matt Lopez and executive producer Maggie Malina to talk about their Latino family drama. It debuted Jan. 24, but ABC moved it out of primetime onto Hulu after five episodes. The shift is good news for fans of “The Good Doctor,” which now returns Feb. 28.

Farewell Tour

There were plenty of Zoom goodbyes at this winter’s tour as showrunners and talent from departing series faced the press together one last time.

Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Justin Hartley, Jon Huertas and creator Dan Fogelman celebrated the conclusion of their six-season run on “This Is Us” during NBC’s day, while “Blackish” creator Kenya Barris and his cast reflected on the sitcom’s impact during its eight seasons on ABC. Among the A-list guest stars set to pop up in the final stanza: Magic Johnson, Simone Biles and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.

“Killing Eve” stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer got to tout their BBC America show’s fourth and final go-round. And the “Better Call Saul” panel marked the first for Bob Odenkirk since he suffered a heart attack on set last summer; he took time to thank everyone for the outpouring of support. AMC revealed the show’s sixth and final season will be cut in two, with part one debuting in April and the final six episodes kicking off in July.

‘Mountain’ of News

Paramount Plus’ TCA sessions on Feb. 1 teased upcoming fare, including a “Criminal Minds” revival. But the parent company behind the “mountain of entertainment” made bigger headlines on Feb. 15 during ViacomCBS’ annual investors event. The company said it was changing its name to Paramount Global — or more simply, Paramount — and announced a slew of TV and film news. Notable mentions on the TV side include the pickup of six international scripted original series, part of a plan to roll out 50 new such shows through 2022; the expansion of Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” world; and a massive spinoff push in the unscripted space.