The Watchman: NBC Sports Net’s High ‘Octane’ Offering, Ben Stiller Goes to Prison, Fox’s ‘Kids’ Are Alright

Season three of car-enthusiast series Caffeine and Octane is revving up on NBCSN. The series finds the funkiest cars out there, but is more interested in the folks behind the wheel.

“The cars are one thing,” said Ed Coughlin, executive producer. “The people behind the cars are what we seek out.”

The Aug. 14 episode checks in with former MLB pitcher Kenny Rogers and his teen son, who isn’t all that into baseball. “He and his kid were looking for something to bring them together,” Coughlin said. “Cars did that.”

Other highlights include a profile of Demetrio Montalvo, a Cuban cabbie who hits the U.S. car shows for parts, and Magnus ‘Urban Outlaw’ Walker, who collects Porsches and “takes them a step further,” Coughlin said.

It’s not hard to figure out the Octane part of Caffeine and Octane. Caffeine refers to people meeting for coffee before heading to the car show. “Our three hosts meet at a coffee shop and go to the show together,” Coughlin said. “It’s a unique way that we get viewers into the show.”

Caffeine and Octane is looking beyond car enthusiasts for viewers. “We want to keep car guys, but I got them,” Coughlin said. “We want to attract the car guy’s wife.”

And coming home after the Summer TCA Press Tour, packed with new show sizzle reels and panels, a few series look promising. One is Escape at Dannemora, Ben Stiller’s Showtime series about the two guys who busted out of prison, and the female prison employee who abetted them, in upstate New York in 2015.

Stiller got to know some residents of Dannemora, N.Y., while shooting. “At first, they were a little bit skeptical, and I understand that,” said Stiller, who noted that many figured he was there to shoot a comedy, given his background. “The biggest thing was, tell the whole story. A few bad apples aren’t representative of what really goes on here.”

And The Cool Kids, starring Martin Mull, Vicki Lawrence, Leslie Jordan and David Alan Grier as upstart residents of an old folks’ home, looks kind of cool. It will air on Fox.

Despite its mature cast, creator Charlie Day said Cool Kids did particularly well with younger viewers in tests. “It’s probably the same reason The Golden Girls worked,” he said, one of several Golden Girls mentions during TCA. “You just make a funny show, and it doesn’t matter to the viewer the age of the cast.”

Mull referred to his new gig as “my gold watch” after so many years in television. “It’s a thank-you note,” he added, “for doing this for 50 years.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.