Month: April 2021

CW sets surge of scripted summer shows

In the vast void of summer TV, is there a place for new, scripted shows?
We’ll find out this year, when the CW network makes a huge push. This summer, it will start the seasons of eight scripted shows (including “Dead Pixels,” shown here) … return two others after long rests … and continue five spring shows that overlap deep into the summer.
That follows the 2020 slump, when the COVID lockdown crippled networks’ summer schedules.
For this year, networks are planning a return to normal. But that means reality shows – “America’s Got Talent,” “Bachelorette,” “Big Brother,” etc. – plus a pile of ABC games. Broadcast networks are avoiding new, scripted shows in the summer … except for PBS on Sundays and CW almost every day. Read more…

Amy Tan finds joy amid deep despair

Amy Tan was 15 when her world disintegrated.
“My brother was dying and then my father was dying,” she told the Television Critics Association . “My mother became a little unbalanced … . She and I had many arguments.”
In a six-month stretch, she lost two people to brain cancer; she was soon whisked from California to Switzerland by her mother, who had known previous depths of despair.
Tan, 69, has told versions of these stories often – in “The Joy Luck Club,” which became a best-seller when she was 36 (shown here) in other novels and in non-fiction. Now they’re in an intriguing PBS documemtary Monday (May 3). But alongside all the agony, there’s also a surprising layer of fun. Read more…

Best-bets for May 2: opening night for “Pose,” “Legends,” “Latenight”

1) “The Story of Latenight,” 9 p.m. and midnight ET, CNN. It was almost 60 years ago that TV jumped into the giant, late-night void. After launching “Today,” NBC’s Pat Weaver (Sigourney’s dad) started “Tonight” in 1952. He wanted news and sports; Steve Allen (shown here), the host, preferred comedy, music and talk. The result, one person says, was “chaotic” and “joyous.” When Allen went to prime time, NBC stumbled, then discovered Jack Paar and Johnny Carson … which is where this fun opener ends. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for May 3: big changes on Monday, Friday

1) “The Voice” (shown here), 8-10 p.m. today, NBC. In a sudden surprise, this ratings-leader has the night to itself. It had been competing with “American Idol,” and winning by 3-2 margins. (“Voice” ratings have dropped 10 percent this year, but “Idol” on Monday is down 27 percent; in the 18-49 age groups, the drops are steeper.) Now “Idol” has been pulled from Monday; it’s Sundays-only, concluding May 23. Tonight, with 16 of its final 17 chosen, “Voice” will pause to review the season and the 19 previous seasons. Read more…

ABC makes Monday switch: “Idol” out, cartoons in

There’s a quick change for Monday-night TV: Cartoons are in; “American Idol” is out.
“Idol” will remain on Sundays, picking a champion on May 23. The Monday editions, however, are gone; instead, ABC is reviving its old “Wonderful World of Disney” banner; that starts May 3 with “The Incredibles 2” (shown here).
Like most shows, “Idol” has seen ts ratings crumble this season. On Sundays, its total viewership is down 15 percent, which is about average; but in the key 18-49 age group, that’s down 27 percent.
And on Mondays – when the show goes eye-to-eye with NBC’s “The Voice” – the decline is huge: “Idol” is down 27 percent overall, and 46 percent in ages 18-49. Read more…

Best-bets for May 1: A big-screen epic reaches TV

1) “Tenet” (2020), 8 p.m., HBO. Here’s the film that tried to revive moviegoing. Christoper Nolan (“Inception”) spent $200 million for a time-twisting science-fiction film starring John David Washington (shown here) aimed at big screens. Americans, however, weren’t ready to go back to theaters; it made only $58.5 million here and in Canada, doing better overseas. In the aftermath, other big-budget films were delayed or moved to streaming. “Tenet” did win an Oscar for its special effects and a nomination for its set design. Read more…

Re-living a past nightmare, Porter finds hope

Surveying a life in shambles, the “Pose” protagonist sums it up:
“The world is cold and cruel and full of disease,” Pray Tell says.
That seems like a line about today, but “Pose” – starting its final season at 10 p.m. Sunday (May 2) on FX – is set in 1994, when the gay community was shredded by AIDS and police crackdowns. For Billy Porter (shown here in an earlier and cheerier season), who stars as Pray, the eras merge. “I think the parallels are quite profound,” he said.
Porter, now 51, reached Broadway just as the crisis was soaring. He was a “Five Guys Named Moe” understudy in 1992, then was Teen Angel in the “Grease” revival in ‘94 – a peak year for AIDS deaths. Read more…

Best-bets for April 30: Mac, Magnum, music, more

1) “MacGyver” series finale (shown here), 8 p.m., CBS. This reboot lasted five seasons (two fewer than the original version), generally doing wel. But the Nielsen ratings dropped 22 percent this year, so Mac won’t be back. Tonight, he and Riley go missing. They wake up in a corn field, with no idea what happened; they must figure out who took them … and how to get nanotrackers out of their bodies. Read more…

“Mosquito Coast” spans Theroux generations

You kind of expect Justin Theroux to be well-read.
His mom is a novelist. His dad is merely a lawyer, but four paternal uncles have written novels.
And his link to “The Mosquito Coast” – by Paul Theroux, one of those uncles – is especially strong. “I have a long history with the novel,” he told the Television Critics Association.
He was 10 when it was published, 15 when it became a movie, with Harrison Ford and River Phoenix. And now, at 50, he stars in a seven-hour mini-series (shown here) that starts Friday (April 30) on Apple TV+ Read more…

Best-bets for April 29: football stars, political puppets

1) Football draft, 8-11:30 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN and NFL Network. As other shows stumble in the ratings, live events get extra attention. This year, ABC will be there for the full ride – the first round tonight (expected to start with Jacksonville choosing Trevor Lawrence, shown here) … the second and third, 7-11:30 p.m. ET Friday … and the final four, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Only 224 players will be drafted, but ABC says it has prepared packages on 450 possibilities, with vignettes on 35. It will have 50 cameras in the draft hall, plus others with 40 players and each of the 32 teams. Read more…