Signal Horizon

See Beyond

ATX TV Fest 2023 The Best Of Days 1 and 2- A Mix Of Nostalgic Greats, New Hits, And The Future Of Television

Everyone knows about the big names in entertainment festivals. SXSW, Cannes Film Festival, Sundance, and TIFF are well known, even if you aren’t obsessed with television and movies. The massive festivals take over cities and pack them with actors, directors, producers, press, and fans. It can be overwhelming but fun. ATX TV Fest isn’t nearly as well known, which is a shame. The fest, which is in its twelfth year, is devoted to television and is often an undercelebrated medium. For some reason, TV is considered the lesser of the visual arts.

The serial format made some think it was easier to create than films. Those of us long-time fans know telling a story over seasons requires restraint, imagination, and dedication. The characters we grow to love over the course of several seasons develop in front of our eyes. In many ways, we change with them. That relationship the fans have with the story and the characters is what makes it so unique. ATX TV Fest celebrates that love and provides fans with a unique look inside the world of television storytelling. Days one and two of ATX Fest 12 were full of everything that makes this festival special. Here’s a rundown of the highlights.

ATX TV Fest 2023 Photo Credit: Waytao Shing

Day 1 Highlights

The festival kicked off with the wildly popular Outlander panel. Attending the panel was Executive Producer and actress Caitriona Balfe and Executive Producer Maril Davis. Screening at the Paramount Theater, a packed crowd was treated to all the inside dirt from the women of Outlander. Happening on World Outlander Day, it fleshed out all the hows and whys of Claire’s journey. Why she does the things she does and how she copes with the shifting changes of time travel, romance, and a changing homeland were all discussed. It was a must-see for Outlander fans hungry for news about Seasons 7 and 8 of Starz’s hit series.

An early screening of the first episode of Manifest Season 4 Part 2 was also a hit. The large cast filled the stage, and their chemistry made it obvious why fans love this series. The cast was funny and engaging and dropped just enough breadcrumbs about the season finale currently streaming on Netflix to make even a casual fan anxious for its release. It was truly what ATX TV Fest is all about. The cool Montego Flight 828 photo-op installation allowed attendees to board the flight and tempt their fate.

Justified: City Primeval, presented by FX Networks, was the final big panel preceded by an exciting Red Carpet. Panelists included star and EP Timothy Olyphant, EP Sarah Timberman, and cast members Boyd Holbrook, Adelaide Clemens, and Vivian Olyphant. Fans were treated by a special screening before the July 18th premiere, followed by a raucous Q and A. The crowd was enthusiastic, and Olyphant said he would be open to additional seasons of the series if given a chance,

ATX TV Fest 2023- Photo Credit: Michelle Maurin

Day 2 Highlights

For science nerds, the Artifical Intelligence & Us presented by Hollywood, Heath & Society was an unexpected delight. AI is no longer a fantasy relegated to sci-fi movies, it is here, and this deep dive into the practicalities, philosophy, ethics, and dangers of AI as explored through the lens of a TV screen was as educational as it was thoughtful. These kinds of hidden gems are the kinds of things ATX TV Fest does so well. Panelists included Kevin Bigley(Cast, Upload), Dr. Emilia Javorsky(Future of Life Institute, Alena Smith(Showrunner, Dickinson), and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Writer, Cowboy Bebop).

Cruel Summer Season 2 cast, EP, and Directed hosted a panel following an early screening of Cruel Summer Season 2, premiering on Freeform on June 5th, 2023. The anthology series follows a new set of characters in a new location dealing with a murder mystery. Following the multiple timelines framework of the first season, it is a twisty turny series that the talented new young cast was game for.

Lastly, no TV fest would be complete without one of the quintessential appointment-viewing greats from the past. The Cheers Reunion, presented by Paramount+, was a dreamy walk down memory lane. The cast and creatives of the show that ended thirty years ago also featured a script read-through with other stars, including Harold Perrineau of MGM+’s horror series From. Co-creators Les and Glen Charles and James Burrows, plus original cast members Ted Danson, George Wendt, and John Ratzenberger. The panelists reflected on how the show had changed their lives and the making of a television icon. The unprecedented insight into the lives, careers, and creative choices of what amounts to lexiconic television history is unparalleled at any other festival.

Perhaps the most unexpected delight from the first two days was connecting with old and new TV fanatics. You can’t imagine the camaraderie this festival produces. It is a unique experience that feels intimate and accessible. The passion for television that the attendees and attentive staff have is contagious. It truly is like being at an adult camp for TVaholics. Find all our ATX TV Fest 2023 coverage here.