Apple TV+ Unveil Slate of Shows at TCA 2021 Winter Press Tour

19 Feb

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Apple presented a slate of shows to the Television Critics Association on Friday, highlighting seven scripted original shows including recent hits, returns and new original series joining the award winning streaming service later this year.

For the second year in a row Apple shunned the usual tradition of an executive session with neither video heads Zack Van Amburg nor Jamie Erlicht involved in the presentation. Instead Apple gave full focus to those creating those magical rays of light that flood out of our screens, showcasing a number of existing shows, returning shows and new original series with sessions for 'Physical,' 'The Mosquito Coast,' 'Losing Alice,' 'Servant,' 'Lisey's Story,' 'Mythic Quest: Season 2,' 'For All Mankind' and ''Schmigadoon!'

Finally, Apple closed this years presentation to esteemed television critics with a showcase of more Apple Originals coming in Spring 2021 and beyond including 'Foundation,' 'Mr. Corman' and 'The Shrink Next Door,' as well as upcoming second seasons for award-winning series 'Home Before Dark,' 'The Morning Show,' 'Trying,' 'Truth Be Told,' 'Central Park' and 'See.'

In a series of tweets that followed shortly afterward, Apple have confirmed when to expect the return of successful original series and the debut of new originals not presented earlier. Spring sees the return of 'Ghostwriter' season 2 part 2 whilst subscribers can expect to see the return of 'Central Park,' 'Home Before Dark,' 'The Morning Show,' 'Ted Lasso' and 'Truth Be Told' in the Summer along with new original series 'Mr. Corman.' Season 2 of 'SEE' will premier in the Fall along with the debut of 'Foundation.'

Here's a roundup of everything Apple confirmed today coming to Apple TV+ screens later this year:


Comedy | 10 episodes | Summer

'Physical' is a 10-episode 1980's dramedy chronicling the journey of Sheila Rubin - Played by Rose Byrne - as a woman that finds financial independence yet still lacks agency which leads her to a journey of empowerment. Created by Annie Weisman, credits on the series are predominantly female with the show being described as a companion piece to the FX hit 'Mrs America' as the lead character is an active feminist in the same era as the aforementioned show.

Apple TV+ press release follows:

Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, “Physical” is a half-hour dark comedy following Sheila Rubin, a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband’s bid for state assembly. But behind closed doors, Sheila has her own darkly funny take on life she rarely lets the world see. She’s also battling a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image… that is, until she finds release through the unlikeliest source: the world of aerobics.

At first hooked on the exercise itself, Sheila’s real road to empowerment comes when she discovers a way to merge this newfound passion with the burgeoning technology of videotape to start a revolutionary business. The series tracks her epic journey from a stifled, overlooked enabler to a powerful, confident economic force, as Sheila transforms into someone we take for granted today (but was entirely radical at the time) — the female lifestyle guru.

'Physical' is expected to debut later this summer on Apple TV+.

The Mosquito Coast

Drama | 7 episodes | April 30th

'The Mosquito Coast' image courtesy of Apple

Based on the 1981 novel of the same name, 'The Mosquito Coast' explores what lines we would cross to protect the ones we love. The high stakes drama promises shocking twists, and a new adventure which follows the dangerous journey of a radical idealist and brilliant inventor, Allie Fox (Justin Theroux) who uproots his family for Mexico seeking a safe haven. The limited series also stars Melissa George, Logan Polish & Gabriel Bateman and is executive produced by Neil Cross & Rupert Wyatt.

Justin Theroux is the nephew of the novels author Paul Theroux and said that he viewed the the story through a slightly different prism from the novel, which is great to hear as the novel had already been adapted for screen in a 1986 feature starring Harrison Ford. Justin Theroux told those in attendance how he had unprecedented access to his uncles thoughts on Allie Fox and the different aspects of the family that make him what he is.

Apple TV+ press released a brief description and teaser for the upcoming show:

Adapted from the best selling novel, “The Mosquito Coast” is a gripping adventure and layered character drama following the dangerous journey of a radical idealist and brilliant inventor, Allie Fox (Justin Theroux), who uproots his family for Mexico when they suddenly find themselves on the run from the US government.

'The Mosquito Coast' will premiere April 30th on Apple TV+.

Lisey's Story

Thriller | 8 episodes | Summer

'Lisey's Story' image courtesy of Apple

Stephen King's romantic suspense thriller is getting a screen adaptation starring Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joan Allen, Dane DeHaan and Ron Cephas Jones. The 2006 novel tells the story of Lisey Landon, the widow of a famous and wildly successful novelist, Scott Landon. The novel is comprised of two stories—Lisey's story in the present, and the story of her dead husband's life as remembered by Lisey.

Apple TV+ press release follows:

Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, and adapted by the author himself, “Lisey’s Story” is a deeply personal thriller that follows Lisey Landon (Academy Award winner Julianne Moore) two years after the death of her husband, famous novelist Scott Landon (Academy Award nominee Clive Owen). A series of unsettling events causes Lisey to face memories of her marriage to Scott that she has deliberately blocked out of her mind.

An Apple Original limited series, “Lisey’s Story” is directed by Pablo Larraín, and hails from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television. King, Moore and Larraín executive produce alongside Abrams, Ben Stephenson and Juan de Dios Larraín. Every episode of the series was personally written by King. Joan Allen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Dane DeHaan star alongside Moore and Owen.

'Lisey's Story' s expected to premiere this summer on Apple TV+.

Mythic Quest: Season 2

Comedy | 10 episodes | May 7th

'Mythic Quest' Season 2 image courtesy of Apple

Mythic Quest returns for it's second season (with a new logo might I add), exploring the challenges of creating a new game expansion, working with a dysfunctional team, and navigating HR-approved relationships. The second season finds (almost) everyone back in the office.

During today's panel co-creator Rob McElhenney noted that unlike his other show 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' the characters don't stay the same for 15 years and that in season 2 Ian and Poppy's relationship is less combative and more collaborative. Before everyone goes crazy thinking that collaboration could lead to love, executive producer Megan Ganz had this to say:

"I see Poppy & Ian being in a non-sexual child rearing relationship. The child is the game. We won't ever make that a romantic relationship. All of their love is put into the game, they are putting their time into it"

Apple TV+ press released a brief description and teaser for the upcoming season:

With the quarantine finally over, the new season of "Mythic Quest” finds everyone back in the office (well, almost everyone), attempting to build upon the success of Raven's Banquet by launching an epic new expansion, but Ian (Rob McElhenney) and the newly promoted co-creative director, Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), struggle with the game’s direction. Meanwhile, C.W. (F. Murray Abraham) reconciles some unresolved issues from his past, the testers (Ashly Burch and Imani Hakim) test the bounds of an office romance, and David (David Hornsby) loses yet another woman in his life as Jo (Jessie Ennis) leaves him to assist Brad (Danny Pudi).

'Mythic Quest' returns for season 2, premiering May 7th on Apple TV+.


Comedy | 6 episodes | Summer

'Schmigadoon!' Cecily Strong & Keegan-Michael Key first look image courtesy of Apple 

'Schmigadoon!' brings Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key together for a sing-song in a "deconstruction" of 1940's golden age musicals in this new original limited comedy series. They play a bickering couple whose relationship is put to the test after a walk through the forest lands them in a quirky town out of classic musical.

Created and Executive Produced by Cinco Paul, the production called for everyone to sing and dance live on set (no pre-recorded tracks) so of course they went to people who had legitimate musical chops. The cast will be a joy for fans of stage and includes Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Jaime Camil, Dickinson's Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada. The extraordinary cast and the promise of easter-eggs and hidden references make for a show thats sure to be an absolute blast!

Apple TV+ press released release follows:

Apple TV+ unveiled a first look at “Schmigadoon!,” a new musical comedy series executive produced by Lorne Michaels, and starring Emmy Award nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key that is set to make its global debut this summer on Apple TV+, presented today at the Television Critics Association Winter 2021 Press Tour.

“Schmigadoon!,” a parody of iconic musicals, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship when they discover a magical town in which everyone is living in a studio musical from the 1940s. They then discover that they can’t leave until they find “true love.” The first season of the six-episode series also stars Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada.

Hailing from Broadway Video and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, “Schmigadoon!” is co-created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Cinco Paul serves as showrunner, and wrote all of the original music for the series. Barry Sonnenfeld directs and executive produces. In addition to starring, Cecily Strong serves as producer, and Ken Daurio serves as consulting producer and writer. Andrew Singer executive produces with Lorne Michaels on behalf of Broadway Video.

'Schmigadoon!' is expected to premiere this summer on Apple TV+.

Apple is growing from strength to strength not just in terms of engagement but in with its growing library of premium original content. Each major new original announcement is followed by a record viewership announcement but of course it's yet to be seen if those free trials convert to paid subscriptions. My guess is that the quality of Apple's originals will prevail, along with the incredible value offered in the Apple One bundle of services.

I think we're in for a great year ahead with more surprises to come.

Sigmund Judge
Sigmund is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of ScreenTimes where he began his Apple TV coverage in 2016. With an unwavering passion for Apple, storytelling and storytellers alike, he writes about Apple TV with a focus on the arts, development, tvOS, home theatre and accessibility. Sigmund also co-host’s Magic Rays of Light, a weekly podcast exploring the world of Apple TV and the many talents bringing our screens to life.