The Watchman: Next Chapter in Stephen King’s Hot TV Hand, and ‘The Contender’ Returns to the Ring

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The second season of Mr. Mercedes starts Aug. 22 on AT&T Audience Network. Brady Hartsfield is in a vegetative state, and retired detective Bill Hodges is trying to break from his Brady obsession.

Irishman Brendan Gleeson plays Hodges. He was pleased to see how the first season landed back in Ireland, where it showed on RTE. “People set aside Tuesday nights to see it, in a way they hadn’t in a few years,” he said. “It got a real following.”

Men and women in Ireland had a different take on the incest-y relationship between Deborah Hartsfield, played by Kelly Lynch, and son Brady, played by Harry Treadaway, Gleeson said. Guys found justification for Deborah’s dodgy behavior, while women “had very little excuse for her,” Gleeson said. “I found that really fascinating, the genuine difference in the way people viewed it.”

Exec producers include David E. Kelley and Stephen King, who wrote the novel the series is based on. Gleeson said he’s “dabbled” in King’s novels, and calls Mr. Mercedes his favorite. “The characters are so incredibly drawn,” he said.

King made a cameo in the first season, getting a hatchet in the back while in a restaurant. “He’s kind of a wonder in terms of plot,” Gleeson said. “Exploring your worst fears and nightmares, your dark places.”

And boxing competition series The Contender is back. Thirteen years after it debuted on NBC, the show returns on Epix Aug. 24. Premium cable means no commercials, less editing of the fights to keep casual viewers watching, and “much more of a docu feel,” according to executive producer Eric Van Wagenen.

“The fights are shown in their entirety,” he added. “Boxing fans that love to see live boxing will definitely feel like they’re ringside.”

Sixteen fighters face off. Former pro boxer Andre “Son of God” Ward hosts. Van Wagenen calls Ward “probably the most pleasant surprise” of the new Contender.

The focus of the sport has shifted from heavyweights to guys in the 130 to 160 pound range, noted Van Wagenen. The middleweights “have become the stars of boxing,” Van Wagener said. “That’s the sweet spot of the show.”

Every fighter comes with a nickname, such as Ievgen “The Ukrainian Lion” Khytrov, Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker and Quatavious “Cash” Cash, though we’re not sure that qualifies as a nickname. Walker was incarcerated at 15, and had to learn to box to survive.

Also in the running: Shane “Sugarman” Mosley, son of legendary scrapper “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

Van Wagenen said Burnett spoke frequently of rebooting The Contender. “I never believed it,” he said. “I always thought it was just talk.”

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