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The Masked Singer stands as one of the most sensational shows on television, combining spectacle with mystery, music, and competition. The third season finished filming before the production shutdowns throughout the entertainment industry, and the show has been a ratings juggernaut ever since its launch, so it came as no surprise when Fox renewed The Masked Singer for Season 4. The show is slated to return in the fall despite most shows still remaining shut down. Production designer James Pearse Connelly spoke with CinemaBlend about The Masked Singer, and he shared how the show will approach its biggest challenge to safely producing new episodes.
Masked Singer fans can vouch for the fact that the audience is a big part of the show, adding energy to the performances by the various masked celebrities, some of whom (like The Frog in Season 3) really fed off of the reactions of the crowd. In an era of social distancing and quarantine, The Masked Singer can't go back to business as usual with a fourth season packed with spectators. James Pearse Connelly explained how he and the Masked Singer team are approaching production:
This year, you can expect big visuals, huge visuals because we are working or looking at solving the problem of no audience or small audience. And as you know, from watching the show, the audience is a huge character. So this year, we're going even crazier. Big art splashes to create more energy. So I'm excited about Season 4, it's going to be really awesome. We're going into production in the next couple of weeks. And I think everyone who's watching is going to be really excited to see something fresh.
According to production designer James Pearse Connelly, production on The Masked Singer Season 4 will begin in a matter of weeks, and it will manage to get "even crazier" despite not being able to include a packed audience like in the first three seasons. The camera won't have as many people to focus on, and there won't be the same kinds of reactions to the performers, but the new episodes should still be "awesome" thanks to how the show is adapting.
As James Pearse Connelly mentioned, TV viewers will likely be more than ready to see some fresh programming by the time The Masked Singer Season 4 premieres. Although some soap operas and cable shows have come up with some wild ways to get back into production, and reality shows like Big Brother and The Bachelorette are working their way around restrictions, The Masked Singer is like nothing else on television and might be just what viewers need come fall.
When asked if The Masked Singer is a good fit to bring audiences back to TV for fresh programming, James Pearse Connelly shared "the biggest challenge" and how The Masked Singer can handle it:
I think this one is so woven into artistry, that you can take big risks with it. Hands down. The biggest challenge for stage shows is audience replacement. And fixing an audience has been like, the story of my life in the last three months during a pandemic. And from what I understand is executives don't necessarily want to show a negative atmosphere in a pandemic. So it's about, you know, upgrading sets, providing an optimistic and different approach to problem solving, the physical distancing. And that's really exciting because that's where production design is a major part of that process.
The Masked Singer will have to adapt to production with a smaller or absent audience, but the goal is to not show a big empty space. Season 4 apparently won't just take place in the familiar set with negative space, and there are some upgrades in store. Fortunately, the same production designer who made The Masked Singer so dazzling in its debut is on board for the changes in Season 4.
The challenge of safely producing The Masked Singer without an audience or with a small audience is one that stage shows generally haven't had to deal with on this kind of scale in years past, and James Pearse Connelly shared some of the questions that will be answered in designing the next season:
But as I was saying, just to go back into the audience and The Masked Singer, over thousands of years, we've always leaned into audience reactions when we watch a show. And so for the first time since the Greek era, right, we don't have that. Masked Singer is asking to do big visual impressions and create super cool atmospheres to replace some of that audience where we can. I mean, listen, they still want something, they still want some audience present, and where do you fill in that negative space? And how?
Fox renewed The Masked Singer for Season 4 and already announced its place in the fall 2020 schedule back in May. The network hasn't announced a specific premiere date just yet, though, but it's a good sign that production will start in the next couple of weeks, and there are already plans being made. Even if many shows don't yet have a place in the lineup in the 2020-2021 TV season, The Masked Singer is slated to return before the end of the year with some changes but still delivering plenty of entertainment.
If you haven't checked out The Masked Singer yet or are just in the mood for a rewatch, you can find all three seasons so far streaming on Hulu. For some shows that will hit the airwaves in the not-too-distant future, check out our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule. If you're already prepared to plan ahead for what's coming down the line on the small screen, take a look at our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule. Some networks have already announced delays into 2021, while others have optimistically packed their schedules for the fall.