"Murphy Brown" returns to television screens this fall with the original cast largely intact while the "Charmed" remake features a diverse cast of multiethnic women as the witch sisters.
The fall TV season is upon us and with it comes a rash of reboots/revivals, more movie stars in streaming series and the continued presence of actors from the Seattle area in starring roles.
Everything old is familiar, if not new, in TV this fall.
There are spinoffs — “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors,” “The Conners” (from “Roseanne”) and “Legacies” (from “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals”) — and remakes (“Magnum PI,” “Charmed”) and revivals (“Murphy Brown,” “Last Man Standing”) galore.
Network executives like familiar titles because it makes marketing the shows easier if consumers know what to expect. While the remakes get tweaked some from the original — the new Magnum is Latino with a female Higgins — the revivals do their best to approximate the original.
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Like the return of “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne,” “Murphy Brown” (9:30 p.m. Sept. 27, KIRO) is back with the original series’ cast largely intact. Murphy (Candice Bergen) returns to TV for a morning news show and recruits her former “FYI” team, including lifestyle reporter Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford), investigative journalist Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto) and producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud).
“I think we were approached [about returning] only because of the political atmosphere,” said returning showrunner/series creator Diane English. “But certainly, the success of ‘Will & Grace’ was encouraging. And they came back and almost didn’t skip a beat and were very embraced because it’s always a worry that you are going to go back and ruin your legacy.”
The CW’s remake of “Charmed” (9 p.m. Oct. 14, KSTW) assembled a diverse cast of multiethnic young women to play the trio of witchy sisters.
“We want to explore each of their unique heritages and, also, the interesting ways that different cultures intersect with witchcraft,” said executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman (“Jane the Virgin”) at an August press conference for “Charmed.” “There is a really rich tradition [of witchcraft] in a lot of different cultures and we want to explore that.”
And then there’s a book adaptation, HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend” (9 p.m. Nov. 18), based on Elena Ferrante’s novel and brought to life entirely in Italian with English subtitles.
American writer Jennifer Schuur (“Hannibal”), who grew up locally, served as an executive producer on “My Brilliant Friend” alongside a phalanx of Italian writers and producers.
“I am American through and through and when I first read the books, there were so many things about them that I related to, being a small-town girl outside of Seattle, as far away from post-World War II Naples as you could get,” she said. “The themes, and the obstacles, and the issues that run throughout every single one of these four novels, they speak to a universal audience. Violence is violence, love is love, loss is loss. … I feel like once you get into it and you start watching it unfold, it’s very magical and very relatable.”
Movie stars in TV shows
Already this month, Hulu subscribers have seen Sean Penn starring as an astronaut training for a mission to Mars in Hulu’s “The First.”
Coming Nov. 2, Amazon Prime Video debuts Julia Roberts’ first TV series, “Homecoming,” comprising 10 half-hour episodes all directed by Sam Esmail (“Mr. Robot”) and based on a fictional podcast of the same name.
A twisty drama set in a corporate-run center for soldiers returning from war, “Homecoming” aims for a classic thriller vibe.
“This did have that old-fashioned, old-school thriller vibe to it,” Esmail said at a July press conference. “So really we more hearkened back to Hitchcock and his successor, [director Brian] De Palma.”
For Roberts, the experience wasn’t that different from making a film, since Esmail was the sole director and the first season was shot like a movie.
“I guess I didn’t really think of it as small screen-big screen,” Roberts said. “I don’t know. My television is very big.”
Seattle stars exported
Young Andy Walken, who grew up in Mukilteo, had his biggest role to date playing Ralphie in Fox’s “A Christmas Story Live!” last December. That’s where the producers of ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright” (8:30 p.m. Oct. 16, KOMO) first spotted him.
Now the 12-year-old is playing one of eight rowdy boys in a 1970s Southern California Irish-Catholic family on the new ABC comedy.
Walken attended the Soundview School in Lynnwood through fourth grade. His family moved to Los Angeles a year ago once it became clear the former competitive figure skater was making a go of it as an actor.
“There’s not as much green and I miss all the rain,” Walken said in a recent phone interview. But he’s learning all about the 1970s in his “Kids Are Alright” role, particularly fashion. “The clothes don’t stretch and I can’t get my head through the collar sometimes.”
And then there’s actor Richard T. Jones (“Judging Amy,” “Narcos”), who got inspired to move his family from Los Angeles to the Seattle area after spotting Mount Baker in the distance while filming 2014’s “Godzilla” in Vancouver, B.C.
“It was something powerful about that mountain,” recalls Jones, who stars opposite Nathan Fillion in ABC’s new cop drama “The Rookie” (10 p.m. Oct. 16, KOMO).
After visiting Seattle in 2014, Jones and his wife decided to move their four children to Edmonds.
“We were trying to get out of California to raise our children in a little bit less of a Hollywood environment,” Jones said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “Let them see real people, not Hollywood people and models.”
Jones said he hadn’t worked in Los Angeles for the five years before his move to Seattle. Of course, now that he’s living outside L.A., that’s where his most recent jobs have been, including last fall’s short-lived CBS drama “Wisdom of the Crowd.” Now he’s weighing staying in Washington and commuting to L.A. or moving the family back to California.
“We really have to knuckle down and if it gets to be too much, we’ll have to move down here,” he said. “I can’t be away from my family for too long.”