Month: June 2020

Reiner mastered the modern sitcom

Carl Reiner packed a lot of lives into 98 years.
He was the perfect straight man for Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks, the ideal mentor for Steve Martin. He wrote seven movies, directed 15 of them (including “Oh, God” and four of Martin’s films), acted in tons more. He wrote a novel and memoirs.
But TV viewers will mainly remember Reiner, who died Monday, for one thing: He created the predecessor for sharp situation comedies rooted in real life.
That was “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (shown here in a colorized episode). It “was one of the few smart sitcoms of the 1960s,” David Bianculli wrote in “The Platinum Age of Television” (Doubleday, 2016), “a decade in which the genre was awash with flying nuns, talking cars and subservient witches and genies.” Read more…

Here’s a guide to at-home 4th

So now we face the prospect of a stay-at-home 4th of July.
In many places, that means no fireworks, no parades, no music. In others … well, it still seems safer to stay away this year.
Not to worry, television is ready to fill in … just as it did for Easter and Memorial Day. It has two big-deal shows, with music and fireworks – PBS (see separate story, alongside this one) in Washington, D.C. (shown here), NBC in New York. It also has shows aimed at the day’s emphasis on history or music; here’s a guide: Read more…

Best-bets for July 2: ‘Dads,’ ‘Dark’ dramas

1) “Council of Dads” season-finale, 8 p.m, NBC. Last week ended with a fierce hurricane ripping through town. People huddled in Oliver’s home, where he delivered the baby he and Peter hope to adopt. Robin left to save her son Theo and was trapped … until Anthony arrived. Now this strong finale surveys the damage (shown here) and answers questions: How is the baby? Will Peter accept him? Did the restaurant survive? Can Anthony be forgiven for lying and leaving? Will Robin imagine one more chat with her late husband? Read more…

Supervise my bath, please

Sometimes, you pass by a sign that jolts you.
That happbned to me today. It was an election sign that simply said: “Curtis For Bath Supervisor.”
What? We elect people to supervise our bathing? The mind jumps to — well, Ernie (shown here) singing “Rubber Ducky.” Or Marilyn Monroe in a bubble-bath secne or some such.
It sort of needs context, I guess. Like the time I saw a sign that said “Rich Girls Track Team.” Read more…

NBC on the 4th: country, rock & fireworks

Now we have two large-scale choices for the 4th of July. And neither involves wedging into a noisy crowd of COVID-deniers.
NBC has just announced its plan for the night. It includes some country, some rock, a tad of poetry and a lot of fireworks. That’s at the same time that PBS (see separate story) has country, pop, Broadway …. and a lot of fireworks.
The annual NBC event has been linked to Macy’s fireworks (shown here in a previous year), which were on hold for a while, while New York worked out a way to avoid people congregating: Read more…

Best-bets for July 1: Some high-stakes sci-fi

1) “The 100,” 8 p.m., CW. This show manages to leap between big-scope science-fiction and intensely personal drama. Tonight, it has three jail-cell duos — the heroic Octavia and the un-heroic Echo (shown here) … Diyoza, considered a mass-murderer, and her tough daughter Hope … and Russell and a hesitant chess partner. Each encounter is intense and well-acted. And late in the hour, there are two fierce surprises; also viewers will learn the identity of the “True Disciple Leader.” Read more…

Best-bets for June 30: A world of hype and talent

1) “World of Dance,” 10 p.m., NBC. As the “duels” round begins, there’s lots of hype and posturing, pretending the joyous act of dance is actually a grim battle. Still, these dancers deserve plenty of … well, better hype. The first two duels involve talented groups … one offering vibrant quasi-bellhops. Then the night’s final match-up hits a peak – an individual (Kurtis Sprung) who projects deep passion and a duo (Styles & Emma, shown here) whose ballet skills create a sensual elegance. Read more…

A 4th of July void? TV has an answer

For four decades, “A Capitol Fourth” has had a cozy place in holiday plans.
It was a choice – a traffic-free, mosquito-free way to catch music and fireworks on the 4th of July. Some years, it was PBS’ most-watched show.
And now? Suddenly, it’s gone from being “a choice” to being almost “the only choice.” With cities canceling fireworks — and with only one other network (NBC) stepping in – “Capitol Fourth” (shown here in a previous year, with Kelli O’Hara) gets a fresh focus.
“So many people have called, wanting to be part of this,” said Michael Colbert, the producer. “We have 15 new performances – the most we’ve ever had.” Read more…

Best-bets for June 29: Activist women, horny men

1) “POV: And She Could Be Next,” 9-11 p.m., PBS; concludes Tuesday. Filmed in 2017-18, this fits the current surge in minority activism. We see women fighting the odds in political races. Tonight wraps up two stories: In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib (shown here) tries to be the first Muslim woman in Congress; in Chicago, Bashra Amiwala, a Palestinian-American teen, runs for county board. It also starts several other stories, including Stacey Abrams in Georgia. The result is long and slow, but involving.
Read more…

“Pose” stars link for special tonight

This is short-notice, but let me get it out there :
At 10 p.m. today (Friday, June 26), three networks – FX. Freeform and Hulu – combine for an event called “Pose-a-thon.” Billy Porter, shown here, will co-host.
That gives you a night of virtual shows. First, catch the Daytime Emmys at 8 p.m. on CBS; then switch to “Pose-a-thon” at 10. Read more…