TV in 2014: From the return of Jack Bauer to Barbara Walters' retirement
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From the retirement of Barbara Walters to the rise of "social TV," the year in television will be dramatic and possibly revolutionary. Technological forces that have already changed what you see on TV and how you see it will accelerate. Meanwhile, the pillars of "old" TV will perceptibly shift. Along with the departure of Walters, a new host begins at "The Tonight Show," while the former one explores his options. That alone should make 2014 a year to remember.
JIMMY FALLON'S 'TONIGHT SHOW' -- AND JAY LENO'S NEXT MOVE TV history changes Feb. 24 when Fallon becomes the next host of "The Tonight Show." But it also changes noticeably a couple weeks earlier, on Feb. 6, when Leno steps down. Fallon's "Tonight" is already something of a known quantity, in that it will be -- he has said -- almost a carbon copy of his "Late Night." But what about Leno? Already there is speculation about his next move. Leno, even off-screen, could generate more attention next year than his successor.
BARBARA WALTERS' RETIREMENT She officially wraps one of the grand careers in news and television in May, when she steps down as first-among-equals co-host of "The View." She has hinted that she may launch other shows, making this one of the shortest "retirements" in TV history, but Walters has essentially said "enough."
LINDSAY LOHAN GETS MORE ATTENTION In 2013, Lohan cut a deal with Oprah Winfrey that will result in an eight-part "docu-series," which recorded her post-rehab life following a 90-day court-ordered stay that ended last summer. Lohan may end up scooping herself (she's reportedly mulling one of those tell-all books, and there does appear to be plenty to tell here). But on the bright side, at least this won't be "Liz and Dick II."
'24': ONE MORE WORST DAY EVER FOR JACK BAUER "24" never really quite ended, but the end may indeed arrive in 2014 -- unless ratings are through the roof for this summer 12-part series, in which case Bauer may live another day after "Live Another Day." The series reunites Kiefer Sutherland with show runner (and LI native) Howard Gordon, "and retains," says Fox, "the real-time, fast-paced format with split screens and complex interweaving story lines." Oh, yes, also a must-watch.
'HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER' WRAPS After nine seasons, the shaggiest shaggy dog story in TV history officially ends, when we learn -- indeed -- how Ted (Josh Radnor) met Mom (Cristin Milioti). There are rumors that this could all be one sad, or bittersweet, wrap. But at least -- after all these years -- we will finally get a wrap.
THE NEXT BIG THING AT AMC? AMC has had two of the most esteemed dramas in TV history -- "Breaking Bad," which ended this year, and "Mad Men," which will split its seventh and final season between 2014 and '15. As such, "What's Next" is of keen interest to TV fans. AMC has announced a number of projects, but an aliens-from-the-great-blue-yonder romp "Area 51" -- from Gale Anne Hurd ("Aliens," "The Walking Dead") -- surely sounds intriguing. So does that "Walking Dead" spinoff. Both should land in '14.
THE YEAR OF THE REVIVAL There's always an "x-factor" -- that development that no one quite predicted, but everyone seems to know about this one already -- remakes of the classics. But maybe there is an x-factor here: Could a TV revival of "Star Trek" actually happen? Fan sites have been full of speculation for months that CBS is considering a revival of the TV classic. If not "Trek," 2014 will indeed be the year of the revival, with networks looking to dust off a handful of classic series, including an NBC redo of "Murder, She Wrote."
SOCIAL TV COMES OF AGE? Social TV -- a catchall term that's been around for years -- has for most of that time been big on promise (and hype) but short on real-world applications. Could all that finally change in 2014, when the interaction of the viewer with content, in real-time, takes off? A recent think piece in Ad Age said social TV has reached the "tipping point," in part because of a flurry of acquisitions that could improve the ability of viewers to interact with their TV screen, and TV programmers -- in response -- to interact with them. Those real-world, real-time applications are certainly fun to speculate about -- you decide whether Olivia Pope kisses President Grant ... or pushes him out the Oval Office window -- but some of them might even finally happen.
MORE PLAYERS, MORE ORIGINAL CONTENT -- AND THIS TIME, FROM MICROSOFT Speaking of points that have tipped, 2013 enjoyed a major one when a flurry of Internet players got into the "original content" business -- Netflix, among the most prominent. There is no indication that these new players are going away, and -- quite the contrary -- are about to become part of a jostling crowd, filled with even brawnier competitors. Microsoft, which recently launched its next-generation Xbox One, promises to fill the thing with original shows "in the first quarter, at minimum second quarter," Nancy Tellem, chief of Microsoft Entertainment (and former CBS Entertainment boss), told a conference recently. One possible show -- "Halo," produced by Steven Spielberg, and yes, this could be, and likely will be, part of the gathering "social TV" trend.
JAN. 8 People's Choice Awards (CBS)
JAN. 12 Golden Globes (NBC)
JULY Emmy nominations announced
LATE AUGUST Emmys (NBC)