The TCA tour rolls on! Thursday was a day of studio tours, with TV critics hitting up a number of different sets while meeting with actors, show runners and producers.
Here are the highlights. Be sure to check out the photos from the day as well.
The first stop of the tour was in the LA suburb of Pacoima. Keep in mind I've never lived in California, so I have no actual idea where Pacoima is. It sounds funny though.
Something else to keep in mind, without the mountains to tell me which way was which, I get turned around in LA all the time. As we'd bounce from one studio to another, we'd get on one highway, leave it, hop onto another and repeat the process. It's easy to get disoriented around here. But I digress.
The set for "LA's Finest," which is a TV spin off of the "Bad Boys" films, is like many TV sets for a small network or streaming service. It's located in a nondescript building. People drive right past it every day and likely have no idea what it is. It just looks like an office building.
The interior, however, is incredibly impressive. The first section we entered was a police station, then we moved on to the home for Jessica Alba's character, the apartment for Gabrielle Union's character and finally the police station office where the desks for the main characters are located.
I spoke with Union, Alba and actor Ernie Hudson, who plays Union's father. With Union and Alba, my conversations were mostly about the series. With Hudson I asked about "LA's Finest," his role in "Congo" (a guilty pleasure movie) and "Ghostbusters" (he's spoken with the Reitman's but he hasn't been cast yet).
While the set was striking, I'm not sure how "LA's Finest" will perform ratings-wise. It was originally supposed to air on NBC but they passed after seeing the pilot. It's now on Spectrum, which has a limited audience. The cast is strong and from what I've seen, it has some potential (it reminds me of Fox's "Lethal Weapon" series) but I'm not sure if it will reach enough viewers to get a second season, even though Sony is bankrolling it and they have deep pockets.
Dear White People
Next up was a stop to the set of the Netflix series "Dear White People." Critics were able to go to a number of different areas of the set and talk to the cast.
Much like "LA's Finest," the set for this series was in an average looking building. The sets were quite detailed and we were able to check out two dorm rooms and the radio station.
I quite enjoyed the tour for this set and the cast was incredibly gracious. The third season of the critically acclaimed "Dear White People," which was still filming when we stopped by, debuts later this year.
The Big Bang Theory
Our third stop was to the Warner Bros. lot to visit the set of "The Big Bang Theory." Critics were able to watch a run-through, which is a rehearsal for the show.
The set is large and has multiple sections that make up different parts of the show. Sheldon and Leonard's apartment, the comic book store and Bernadette and Howard's house along with several other locations viewers are familiar with are all in the same large studio.
The cast and a large crew moved from set to set and walked through an episode airing in April. Meanwhile, critics viewed the action from bleacher seats where studio audiences typically sit.
After the run-through, critics saw the dedication of the building as The Big Bang Theory Stage. It's one of only five stages on the Warner lot that have been so honored. The others include "Friends," "Ellen" and two others I can't remember.
Once the dedication was over, critics were free to chat with show creator Chuck Lorre and every member of the cast. Well, almost every cast member. Jim Parsons left immediately after the dedication.
Check out a few pics from the set in the gallery above.
The Kominsky Method
Right after "The Big Bang Theory" we walked over to the stage where "The Kominsky Method" is shot. This is another Chuck Lorre show so he was on that panel, as was Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.
The panel took place in a room next to the set of Sandy Kominsky's office. This was probably my most enjoyable panel of the day, as Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas have a great rapport and Douglas is endlessly charismatic. Seeing these guys go back and forth reminded me that I need to finish the first season of this Netflix series. I've only watched the first two episodes.
This is Us
Our final set visit of the day was at Paramount for "This is Us." The first stop was to Jack and Rebecca's house from the 1980s. On set were Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley to answer questions about the show. I took a tour through the Pearson house (their fridge had letter shaped magnets in it, they really need to clean up) before we went to a small theater for a screening of an episode that airs in two weeks.
The episode we viewed focused on Randall's wife, Beth. To be honest, I gave up on "This is Us" after season two. I found the Pearson kids to be emotionally stunted, which was a source of frustration. Your dad died, grow up already!
However, the episode I watched, which featured Phylicia Rashad as Beth's mother, was incredibly powerful. It reminded me of why I fell in the love with the series in season one.
After the screening there was a panel with a couple of cast members, two writers and the director of the episode. It was a great way to end a long (12 hour) day of studio tours.
Gazette TV critic Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.