Month: May 2022

Best-bets for June 2: basketball’s kings, England’s queen

1) Basketball finals, 9 p.m. ET, ABC. For the next couple weeks, the pros will dominate ABC and beyond. That starts with the Golden State Warriors (shown here) hosting the Boston Celtics. It happens again Sunday, then moves to Boston on June 8 and 10. The other games, if necessary, are June 13, 16 and 19. Games are at 9 p.m. ET (except 8 p.m. Sundays). The preceding hour (today, that’s 8 and 8:30 pm.) has a Jimmy Kimmel special and a pre-game show. Read more…

Best-bets for June 1: “Abbott” gets promoted

1) “Abbott Elementary,” 9 p.m., ABC. At a time when most new shows stumble, this has been an exception. It arrived at mid-season, with just 13 episodes and a little-known star; praise (and solid ratings) followed. Now “Abbott” has been promoted to the central spot in the comedy line-up (nudging “Conners” to 8 p.m.) this summer and next fall. Here’s the pilot film, written by Quinta Brunson (shown here); she plays a new elementary teacher, with earnest colleagues and a clueless principal. Read more…

Let’s all rise for a show that keeps surviving

In the fragile TV world, a small glitch might doom a show.
Then there’s “All Rise” (shown here), belatedly starting its third season on June 7. It has managed to survive:
— The Covid shtudown, late in its first season. It even did a special episode, with characters having only Zoom-type conversations.
— Controversies surrounding its creator/producer. He was investigated twice, then fired. By then, another executive producer and five of the seven original writers had quit, complaining about his views on Black and female characters.
— And what’s usually the final blow: After the second season, CBS canceled it. “We thought we were over,” showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence told the Television Critics Association. Read more…

Best-bets for May 30: dueling biographies — Julia and Teddy

1) “Julia,” 8 p.m., CNN; rerunning at 10. Julia Child (shown here) grew up comfortably, going to prep school and Smith. She did office work during wartime, moved to Paris with her husband … and discovered French cuisine. That changed her life; then she changed cooking, publishing and public TV. Child spent a dozen years co-writing “The French Chef,” sort of invented the book tour and, at 50, created breezy, no-script TV. Here’s a delightful documentary, from the people who profiled Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read more…

Yes, it’s still pleasant to visit Downton

A visit to Downton Abbey always seems to be pleasant and unassuming.
That doesn’t sound like much … but it’s what we need now. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (shown here) is not a great movie (or even an exceptionally good one), but it’s still worth catching.
For a couple hours, we’re in splendid settings, re-meeting people who – flaws and all – are good and well-meaning.
The film starts sluggishly, with a dispassionate wedding and then some stiff scenes about an unexpected windfall. “New Era” seems determined to show us everyone – it’s a HUGE cast – while getting us involved with no one. Clearly, something more is needed. We get that, when a movie is filmed in the mansion, at the very end of the silent-film era. Read more…

Here’s a great stretch of documentary profiles

This is something TV does beautifully – long-form profiles of complicated people.
From Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Washington and Lincoln to Ken Burns’ Franklin and Hemingway, films have found the points where history and personality merge. Now comes a confluence:
— Monday (Memorial Day): Goodwin’s “Theodore Roosevelt” begins at 8 p.m. on History. That’s the same night that CNN debuts “Julia,” its Julia Child (shown here) film, at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
— Tuesday: The second half of the Roosevelt film is at 8 p.m., preceded by a 5:30 rerun of the opener.
— Friday (June 3): Most PBS stations air “Joe Papp in Five Acts,” at 9 p.m. Also, on Saturday: CNN reruns “Julia” at 9 p.m. ET. Read more…

Best-bets for May 29: music, memorials, military music

1) “National Memorial Day Concert,” 8 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 9:30. For the first time in three years, this is back to what it does brilliantly – a live event on the Capitol lawn (shown here), on the eve of Memorial Day. Some of Broadway’s greatest voices – Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga and Norm Lewis – will be there, plus country star Craig Morgan, old-time/blues master Rhiannon Gibbons and Pia Toscano, once a powerhouse “American Idol” singer. There will also be tributes, including one to the late Colin Powell. Read more…

Summer TV? Here’s one more update

As June arrives, we accept the inevitable: The summer TV season is here.
The real season – the one with lots of scripted shows and few reruns – officially ended May 25.
The bad news is that two scripted shows – Fox’s “Fantasy Island” and CW’s “Coroner” – were set for summer, then delayed until fall. Fox’s “Lego Masters” was also delayed, except for one “Jurassic World” episode, which airs at 8:30 p.m. June 5
And the good news is everything else. There are a few new, scripted shows – including one, “All Rise” (shown here), that jumped from CBS to cable – and lots of returning ones. And there’s the usual reality cascade; CBS’ “Big Brother” and “The Challenge” have finally been scheduled, so we’ve added them to this updated list. Read more…