Month: July 2020

Lewis tribute leads flood of Black-themed shows

John Lewis will receive another TV tribute –this time in prime time on CBS.
“John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero,” will be 10 p.m. Tuesday, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Brad Pitt and Gayle King. That’s one of many shows that have been added lately, as TV networks pay increased attention to Black people and issues.
Lewis died of cancer July 17 at 80, after 33 years in Congress and 57 years of civil-rights leadership. He was a prime force in the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma bridge march in 1965. (He’s shown here in a reunion march at the bridge.) Read more…

Best-bets for Aug. 2: Funny tasks and bouncing balls

1) “Taskmaster” debut, 9 p.m., CW. These are games we rarely try: Make a ventriloquist dummy from odd objects … Bite doughnuts off a line, so they fall into your pail … Play hide-and-seek at a railroad yard … And bring a potent smell from home. Alex Horne created and writes this oddity, but works as the semi-silent sidekick to the flashier host, Greg Davies. (They’re shown here.) An American version had a one-season run on Comedy Central, but these are the original British episodes, which are weirdly likable. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 3: “Big Brother” is back, “Coroner” is strong

1) “Coroner” (shown here) debut, 9 p.m. Wednesday, CW. This mini-network keeps importing shows to plug holes. Some are goofy (“Killer Camp,” “Task Master”) or bland (“Fridge Wars”), but this one is surprisingly good. Based on a series of novels, it starts with a life-changing moment for Dr. Jenny Cooper; then we flash forward. She’s the new coroner in Toronto, ready to help solve cases. The first – set in in a youth detention center – is a tough, smart story. Sharply written and acted, “Coroner” is a summer surprise. Read more…

African immigrants (fictional or real) have their TV moments

Stories of African immigrants are getting a rare spurt of TV attention.
You can find them Monday (Aug. 3) in a witty comedy – “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” 8:30 p.m. on CBS — and a serious documentary, “POV,” 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). You can even see this beneath the reality-show glitz of “Real Housewives of Potomac,” at 9 p.m. Sundays on Bravo.
And yes, that’s a huge range – from comedy and glitter to the PBS film. which describes the six-year ordeal of a woman simply identified as Sabine (shown here), who went from country to country. Read more…

A national diary soars in the time of COVID

As the year began, PBS launched a sort of national diary.
People could simply send in their stories, via video (usually) … or photos … or prose … or whatever.
Eventually, some would be tied into a special – one of which (shown here) airs at 10:30 p.m. this Sunday (Aug. 2) on many stations. It would be kind of pleasant and PBS-y.
Then COVID came and everything changed. Read more…

Best bets for Aug. 1: Lotsa basketball, many movies

(Here are the five TV best-bets for Saturday, Aug. 1; feel free to use in any form, all or some, print and/or web)

1) Basketball, all day, ESPN. On the third day of the rebooted season, we get a four-game marathon. It’s Heat-Nuggets at 1 p.m ET, Jazz-Thunder at 3:30, Pelicans-Clippers at 6 and Lakers-Raptors at 8. That collides with the second weekend of baseball; at 7:15 ET, Fox has Red Sox-Yankees or (in some regions) Astros-Angels. And on Sunday, basketball moves to ABC.
Read more…

Even in a pandemic, PBS is busy

The world may be in a slow-down, shut-down mode, but you can’t prove it by PBS.
The network – now in a three-day stretch of press conferences with the Television Critics Association – somehow seems busier than ever.
There is Ken Burns (shown here), juggling films. “I am, like an idiot, working on eight projects,” he said.
And Henry Louis Gates, doing a four-hour, February film about Black churches … and glad that the church portions were filmed early. “This is not exactly the safest place to be at the time of a pandemic.” Read more…

Best-bets for July 31: “Little Women,” big talent

1) “Little Women” (2019), 8 p.m., Starz. This story is perfect for its time – and any other time. It was admired in 1868; 150 years later, PBS viewers put it No. 8 on their favorite-novels list. Jo March, wise and determined, came alive in 1933 (Katharine Hepburn), ‘49 (June Allyson), ‘94 (Winona Ryder), 2018 (Maya Hawke) and here. This won an Oscar for its costumes and nominations for best picture, its script (by talented director Greta Gerwig) and Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh, as Jo and Amy. Read more…

Emmys like “SNL” and Pitt (or Fauci)

Donald Trump has another reason to fume: Dr. Fauci – or, actually, Brad Pitt playing Dr. Fauci – has an Emmy nomination.
Pitt (shown here) played him in a brief opening sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” Now he’s part of the show’s big haul for acting nominations.
That includes three regulars (Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon) and three hosts (Eddie Murphy, Adam Driver and Phoebe Waller-Bridge), plus guest actress Maya Rudolph and Pitt. Read more…