The supply of masked celebrities apparently never ever ends.
The Masked Singer is coming back for season five in less than a week with a whole new roster of singing stars, with an extra twist this time around in the form of wildcard rounds. While 10 celebs, in two groups of five, will compete normally throughout the season, other masked singers can crash rounds out of nowhere to compete for the trophy.
Why? Well, it's all in the name of keeping the show new and exciting in its fifth season, according to executive producer Craig Plestis.
"It just adds a freshness to the whole show," he said during Fox's Winter virtual TCA press tour. "And it just brings a whole new life to the series, so we're really excited by it."
The fact that these wildcards join the show later in the game appears to not make a difference in terms of their connection to the audience. EP James Breen teased that one of the wildcards gives "one of the most emotional performances of the season."
Another new feature of season five involves Niecy Nash. When host Nick Cannon tested positive for COVID-19, Nash stepped in as guest host. Cannon will rejoin the show in the second half of the season, Breen revealed, but had nothing but good things to say about Nash's turn as emcee.
"Niecy just stepped in—and it was pretty last minute—and immediately had her own chemistry with the panelists," he said. "She was just a producer's dream. Absolutely fantastic."
Nash was equally thrilled with the gig.
"I have never felt so welcome. You know, it's not like we all started together or we you know what I mean. I just walked in the door, and every single person supported me, it was so kind."
The production team even had a surprise for their new guest host, which she shared during the TCA panel.
"They gave me such a beautiful surprise," she said. "I'm recently married, and...they gave me a beautiful video message from my new wife, and I wanted to cry my eyelashes off."
One thing that isn't changing in season five is the attention to detail in those wild costumes, though this new clip might feature the creepiest yet. Below, you can watch a pair of Russian Dolls sing "Shallow." Note how they can barely move!
Another thing that's not changing this season is the use of the fake audience. The show can't use a real audience due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but they can and will continue to use footage of old audiences to give the illusion of a full house.
"I think people are pretty sophisticated and I think everyone knows what's going on in the world right now, so I don't worry that people think it's real," Breen said. "I also think big community events are what everyone's missing right now. We wanted to keep that atmosphere and that fun for everyone. I think it would be a very different show without any audience, so yeah this season is going to be the same as season four in terms of this virtually created audience and audience cutaways from previous seasons, but I think that's the best we can do unfortunately right now."
Panelist Robin Thicke added, "We want to give people something that takes them away from reality. We want to give them some time to celebrate great music and great times and remind us that those times are coming soon again."
Ah yes, The Masked Singer, the show that most reminds us of when things were normal.
Season five of The Masked Singer premieres Wednesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. on Fox.