LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Coming off a year with record numbers for "Ray Donovan" (averaging almost six million viewers a week, its highest rated freshman series ever) and "Homeland" (its first series ever to reach the seven million viewers a week mark) and its all-time subscribership high (over 23 million in the fourth quarter), Showtime opened its portion of the TCA Winter Press Tour with news of two new series pickups: the ensemble drama "The Affair" and the Philip Seymour Hoffman-led comedy "Happyish."
David Nevins, President of Entertainment, subsequently spent the network's executive session teeing up its future plans, including what's in store come season four of "Homeland." "Obviously, there's a big reset," he said. "I know that this is a show that is fundamentally about a field operative, and we really haven't seen her - with the exception of the very beginning of season one and the very end of season three, we haven't seen her much out in the field operating.
So the likely plan for next year is you will see her on the ground in a foreign capital doing her job. And I haven't had much presented yet, and those guys are working right now. Here, next week, they're going to spend a week in Washington, and they've got an amazing itinerary. They're being set up on the top floor of a CIA club, and they're going to be spending a lot of time with real people, and we'll see. You know, there's a couple of things they're working on, and we'll see what comes back in a month."
When asked about the future of Mandy Patinkin's character, Nevins clarified that, "My expectation is he'll be central. He'll be important." He likewise defended the show's creative this past season, saying "I thought this season was, I think, pretty brilliant in its architecture, and they started on this story about Iran and the audacity of regime change in Iran before Rouhani... So I thought it was very clever and very audacious what they set out for."
Beyond "Homeland," Nevins says we'll see both "Happyish" and "The Affair" "sometime within the next year. I imagine we'll be introducing them this summer to you guys."
Rounding out the session, the executive was asked about the newly scrutinized pilot season on the broadcast side. "I like how we do it, and there's not one answer. You know, I develop scripts and work on scripts and work on scripts. We think they're ready. We go. We take as long as it takes to cast it." He went on to cite "Happyish" as a long-gestating project, with Philip Seymour Hoffman ultimately making it totally worth the wait; while "Penny Dreadful" went straight to series after John Logan wrote all eight episodes before a single frame was shot.
As for the drama pilot "The Vatican," which wasn't ordered to series, Nevins admitted "one of the fundamental issues with 'The Vatican' is the world changed on us. That show was conceived and written while Pope Benedict was still in charge of the Vatican, and it was conceived in a world that I think now would feel very dated. So I'm glad we hadn't made 13 episodes of that."