The website was down for a couple days of technical fix-ups, but now we’re back during a busy time. I wanted to briefly mention:
— The death of Ed Asner today (Sunday, Aug. 29) at 91. This was someone who mastered both comedy and drama … inside the same character. Playing Lou Grant, he won three Emmys for comedy (“Mary Tyler Moore Show”) and two more for drama (“Lou Grant”). He could range from crusty to lovable; he laughed once when I mentioned that he holds the Jewish record for the most times playing Santa Claus.
— The upcoming debut of “Come From Away” (shown here), Sept. 10 on Apple TV+. More on that in a minute.
— And the surprise: “Manifest” is returning . Netflix will give it a final, 20-episode season, with the details pending.
“Manifest” is part of a long, sorry history of broadcast networks mistreating science-fiction shows. Fresh, fanciful concepts will be introduced … then scuttled before things are explained or resolved. NBC did that recently with “Debris” and “Manifest”; twice-stung, some sci-fi fans might skip this fall’s “La Brea.”
But occasionally, Netflix comes to the rescue, just as it did with “Lucifer.” Now comes “Manifest”; eventyually, we’ll learn why the plane landed five years late, with none of the passengers any older.
Speaking of passenger planes, they provide the real-life nudge for “Come From Away”:
After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, international flights were rerouted away from the U.S. and away from Canadian cities. Some 38 passenger planes were directed to Gander, in Newfoundland; 6,600 people had to stay in Gander (current population, 11,700) for up to six days.
What could have been a mess was instead handled in a Canadian (and small-town) way: The outsiders were welcomed, housed and fed.
That was turned into an appropriately low-key musical, requiring little more than a dozen actors (switching roles often) and some chairs. First performed in Canada, it became a Broadway surprise.
“Come From Away” drew seven Tony nominations, winning for director Christopher Ashley. It lost the best-musical Tony to “Dear Evan Hansen”… but won the Drama Desk award in the same category.
The new film version was directed by Ashley in the same spare style. It has no real set and no big stars; seven of its 12 actors were in the original Broadway show.