Year: 2020

Yes, we like it; no, we don’t understand it

There’s a genre that we’ll call “whaaa(!?!) television.” Or, simply, “WTF TV.”
These are shows in which the characters have no idea what’s going on. Nor do the viewers. We kind of hope the writers do, but we’re never sure.
Reality is juggled, time is shifted, minds are bent. The result is both compelling and confusing; and now two such shows are arrived, almost simultaneously.
Hulu’s “Devs” will be March 5, so we’ll discuss it another time. It’s set among tech geniuses, so we expect them to be bending and shifting and such. But AMC’s “Dispatches From Elsewhere” (shown here) is another matter, it arrives Sunday (March 1), descending on four ordinary people. Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 28: Country classics, movie greats

1) “Country Music: Live at Ryman.” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Here’s a rerun of a superb concert. Last fall, it preceded Ken Burns’ “Country Music” series, offering great moments. There’s jet-paced instrumental work from Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart (shown here), Vince Gill and more, plus deep emotion – a Johnny Cash song by his daughter Roseanne … a Hank Williams one by his granddaughter Holly … “I Will Always Love You” by Gill … and “Crazy,” sung with stunning power by Rhiannon Giddens. Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 27: Lots of drama, on comedy’s big night

1) “Grey’s Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC. For four straight weeks, ABC says, this has been Thursday’s most-watched show … if you stick to ages 18-49 and include three days of delayed viewing. The network’s entire night – “Station 19” at 8 p.m., “A Million Little Things” at 10 – does well with young adults. This “Grey’s” should continue that: During a blizzard, Dr. DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti, shown here in a previous episode) volunteers for a life-threatening task, startling Meredith and his sister Carina Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 26: “Trouble” is good, “Party” isn’t

1) “Good Trouble,” 10 p.m., Freeform. What began as a romp – two foster sisters, starting their big-city lives – has become intense … and surprisingly well-played. Tonight, that starts in the lush penthouse where Callie lives with her boyfriend (shown here in a previous episode); a crisis arrives. Also, Mariana probes the e-mail that alleges reverse-sexism at work … Malika is squeezed by family pain … Gael shares his anguish … and Alice finds a brew of sex, comedy and competition. That sounds like a lot, but the writing and the young actors show subtle skill. Read more…

A young actor’s dream: Pal with Pacino

Imagine being Logan Lerman.
He’s a young actor who’s done the usual young-actor roles. (As a kid, he did a couple Mel Gibson films and starred in a “Hallmark Hall of Fame”; as a teen, he starred in a superhero movie, later doing a sequel.)
But he’s also a film buff who admires the classics. And suddenly, at 28, he’s starring (shown here) with Al Pacino. “He’s my favorite actor,” Lerman said.
For “Hunters” – which debuted Feb. 21 on Amazon Prime – they were colleagues. “It’s mainly Logan’s story,” said Pacino, 79. Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 25: Miles masters music

1) “American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. For starters, this has a glorious soundtrack. Miles Davis (shown here) plays turbo-charged bebop music … then his own, subtler sound … then fusion and more. Alongside that is a life filled with fascinating detours. The son of a prosperous Midwestern dentist, Davis went to New York. He had three marriages, two addictions, one five-year gap. But he kept having comebacks, fueled by talent and creativity. It’s a sprawling story that director Stanley Nelson tells beautifully. Read more…

Tip for Trump: First, see the movie

There really are some things that Donald Trump and I agree on. For instance:
1) We both feel Nancy O’Dell is attractive. (Only one of us, I should add hastily, has tried to lure her into breaking her marriage vows);
2) We both feel the Vietnam War was a mistake; and;
3) We were both surprised when “Parasite” (shown here) won the Academy Award for best picture. Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 24: Fantasy time for singers and bachelor

1) “The Voice” opener, 8-10 p.m., NBC. Blake Shelton is on his own this time. He’s always been able to bounce his jibes off his friend Adam Levine and/or his mate Gwen Stefani. Now neither is here; this is the fifth edition for Kelly Clarkson, third for John Legend and first for Nick Jonas. At first, the two pals dominated; in 13 editions, Shelton — shown here surrounded by Jonas adoration — had six winners and Levine had three. Then Clarkson arrived, winning three of four. Legend also won as a first-timer … which is a good sign for Jonas. Read more…

Miles Davis: The many layers of a cool life

Rich contrasts flowed through the life and music of Miles Davis.
This was the consummate cool-guy trumpeter, with fans ranging from Sinatra to rappers. “I don’t know any other musician who has played with Charlie Parker and Prince,” drummer Vince Wilburn told the Television Critics Association last month.
Davis played in the turbo-charged style of the 1940s, then switched to a slower, emotional style. As Farah Griffin, a music historian, put it in a new PBS film: “I want to feel the way Miles sounds.”
The film (9-11 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25) is aptly called “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.” Davis’ sound and image were so cool that we might guess he was born in a grotto and raised in a jazz club. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Feb. 24: Dramas and masterful Miles

1) “Dispatches From Elsewhere” debut, 10 p.m. Sunday, AMC. From its start — a narrator introducing a bland chap – we know this is strange and maybe wonderful. Odd messages lure the chap (Jason Segal, who directed and co-wrote) to strangers (Sally Field, Andre Benjamin, shown here, and transgender actress Eve Lindley). “Dispatches” will then jump to Mondays … the same move AMC already made with “Better Call Saul.” The intriguing “Saul” season-opener reruns at 7:45 p.m. today, with a new episode at 9 p.m. Read more…