Month: September 2021

Her two moms brought love, fun and a court case

Ry Russo-Young was a fairly successful director, making scripted movies about fictional people.
Still, she realized that one of the best stories involved real people – her and her two moms. The result is “Nuclear Family” (shown here), an HBO documentary with new episodes on Sundays, rerunning almost daily.
It’s a story that goes back 40 years, to a time before gay marriages and gay parents. Sandy Russo and Robin Young defied tradition: Using different male donors, each gave birth. Read more…

Best-bets for Sept. 27: A good doctor, a good/bad mogul

1) “American Experience: Citizen Hearst,” 9-11 p.m. PBS; concludes Tuesday. William Randolph Hearst stormed into a stodgy newspaper world. He had money (thanks to an obliging mother), ambition and imagination – sometimes too much of all three. His papers had sharp writing and human-interest stories; at times, they also tended to exaggerate. Hearst built a castle, dated a movie star, had fancy dinner parties (shown here) ran for office; he built an epic life that crumbled during the Depression. Here’s a fascinating portrait. Read more…

The British master old-cop/young-cop tales

American TV may savor the good-cop/bad-cop concept.
But in England – where crime shows flourish – there’s old-cop/young cop. Just ask Neil Dudgeon (shown here), whose “Midsomer Murders” is starting a four-movie stretch on the Acorn streaming service.
“I spent a lot of times as a younger actor, (paired with) a senior actor,” Dudgeon told the Television Critics Association. “And the senior actor would do all the thinking and be rather brilliant at solving a crime. And then he would say to me: ‘Oh, look, he’s run off into the river. Chase him!’” Read more…

Hearst: life in the Trump-Murdoch-Kane lane

William Randolph Hearst lived a life of dizzying extremes.
It was part-Trump and part-Murdoch, with bits of the fictional Charles Foster Kane. It rippled with power, both symbolic (a castle, shown here, a movie-star lover) and real, with newspapers, magazines and more.
But there were also parts of Hearst that were surprisingly mellow. “People were expecting something as brash as his newspapers,” Victoria Kastner, a Hearst historian, told the Television Critics Association. “Actually, he was quite courtly and an elegant man with a sense of humor.”
astner – former official historian for Hearst’s San Simeon estate – is one of the commentators in a four-hour “American Experience” profile, from 9-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 27-28) on PBS. Read more…

Best-bets for Sept. 26: Broadway’s back, with Tonys and more

1) Tony Awards, 7-9 p.m. ET, Paramount+. Back in March of 2020, Broadway suddenly closed. No one knew when it would be back or what would happen to the Tony Awards, with half the season’s shows still waiting to open. Now we know: Audra McDonald hosts a ceremony (a year late) for the half-season that happened. That skips three categories; see next item. And one category — best actor in a musical — has only one nominee, Aaron Tveit (shown here) in “Moulin Rouge.” Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 27: Everyone turns 50

1) Anniversary specials. Let’s celebrate the 50th anniversaries of places that range from soaring sopranos to talking mice. First (9 p.m. Thursday, CBS) is “The Price is Right,” which is actually 65, but moved to CBS on Sept. 4, 1972 – making this its 50th season. Then (8 p.m. Friday, ABC) is Disney World (shown here) – exactly 50 years after its Oct. 1, 1971 opening. Also (9 p.m. Friday, PBS) is the Kennedy Center, which started Sept. 8, 1971; performers include Renee Fleming, Keb’ Mo’ and Kelli O’Hara. Read more…

Best-bets for Sept.25: a Joyful “SNL” rerun

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Next week, this show starts its 47th season, filling a vast void on Saturdays. First, here’s one more rerun. Hosting is Anya Taylor-Joy (shown here), who is almost an Emmy-winner. (Her “The Queen’s Gambit” was named best mini-series; she was nominated for best actress in a movie or mini-series.) Lil Nas X is the music guest. Read more…

Here’s a one-stop overview of the new season

As the fall seaso starts, new stories keep nudging old ones aside.
Still, I wanted to keep the  fall season-preview package handy. So I’ve put all four stories together here, updating them slightly.
First is an overview; then are three lists rounding up the shows — the scripted ones on broadcast networks (includig “Ghosts,” shown here) … the unscripted broadcast ones … then a sampling of scripted cable shows. Here we go. . Read more…

He’s an accidental rock star

James Wolk is a rock star now – albeit a pretend one – and that’s ironic.
Wolk stars in “Ordinary Joe,” which reruns its pilot film at 8 p.m. Friday (Sept. 24) on NBC, then continues at 10 p.m. Mondays. In TV’s splashiest role, he plays the same guy in three lives – as a cop, a nurse and a musician.
“When Jimmy got on stage, he just completely transformed into this rock star,” said writer-producer Russel Friend. Read more…