Month: August 2023

This time, the actor and role merge neatly

Sure, we know that actors do make-believe.
Chances are, Tom Hanks has never piloted a space ship, Anthony Perkins hasn’t stabbed anyone, Anthony Hopkins hasn’t eaten anyone.
But in the rare times when an actor and a role merge neatly, the resultscan be fascinating. Meet Professor Jasper Tempest. “This character really, really fascinates me,” said Ben Miller (shown here), who plays him.
When “Professor T” begins its season (8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, on PBS), it could be considered the start of the TV season. Two shows follow – “Unforgotten” at 9 p.m., “Van der Velk” at 10. Each has smart mysteries, at a time when strikes have silenced most scripted shows; “T” also has an intriguing blend of the main character and the actor who plays him. Read more…

Best-bets for Sept. 2: Lots (and lots) of football

1) College football. The first full Saturday of the season is stuffed with games, none of them pitting two nationally ranked teams. That starts at noon ET and continues into primetime, with 7:30 p.m. games on NBC (West Virginia at Penn State, which is ranked No. 7) … ABC (North Carolina, shown here, No. 21, at South Carolina) … and CBS (Texas Tech at Wyoming). There’s much more, plus baseball on Fox. Read more…

Best-bets for Sept. 1: “Law” season ends, “1887” repeats

1) “Family Law” season-finale, 8 and 9 p.m., CW. For two seasons, this Canadian drama has offered a pleasantly adequate blend of court cases (some of them lightweight) and lawyers’ personal dramas (some quite serious). Tonight’s first hour finds a Britney Spears-type star fighting a conservatorship. The second has Abby (Jewel Staite, foreground) trying to help her half-sister (right) get legal status as a baby’s parent; and as her probation ends, Abby ponders leaving the firm her dad (left) runs. Read more…

Fresh chances to savor a near-eternal TV host

TV viewers will have several chances to see Bob Barker, the game-show host who died Saturday at 99. That includes:
— Thursday (Aug. 31): CBS airs “The Price is Right: A Tribute to Bob Barker,” at 8 p.m. Drew Carey – who took over “Price” when Barker retired –will host the hour, with clips that will include Barker’s first and last episodes (in 1972 and 2007) and a return visit on his 90th birthday.
— Saturday (Sept. 2): The Game Show Network will have an eight-hour marathon of “Match Game” episodes with Barker as a panelist, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
— Monday (Sept. 4): The CBS special will rerun in the daytime slot of “Price”; for most stations, that’s 11 a.m. ET, but on the West Coast it’s 10 a.m.
That special will trace a life that seemed eternal. Barker attributed his longevity partly to food habits. Read more…

Best-bets for Aug. 31: Football starts, “Shadows” ends its season

1) Football, 8 p.m. ET, Fox. Tonight starts the first full weekend of the college season … which makes it sort of the start of the fall TV season. With most of the new, scripted shows blocked strikes, networks depend on sports. This weekend has primetime college games Saturday on ABC, CBS and NBC … and even Sunday on ABC. Today’s game has Nebraska (shown here, 4-8 last season) at Minnesota, which went 9-4, including a Pinstripe Bowl win. Read more…

His new life takes him … well, everywhere

For his first 45 years, Baratunde Thurston (shown here) has managed a sort of mobile semi-fame.
He’s alternated between coasts, alternated between comedy and politics. He’s written books, done podcasts, been the digital guy for both The Onion and “The Daily Show.”
But now, in a strike-strewn time, he gets a new focus. Think of him as one of the first broadcast-network stars of the new season.
The big-time dramas and comedies are on the shelf for now, but PBS has its full line-up. Mysteries start Sept. 3; soon (8 p.m. Sept. 6), “America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston” opens its second season.
The show takes him to some less-visited spots. “We have oyster farmers, we have ranchers, we have wild-land firefighters, we have fire-restoration experts,” he said.”All that’s very important.” Read more…

Best-bets for Aug. 30: “MasterChef” and master spy

1) “Archer” season-openers, 10 and 10:30 p.m., FXX; rerunning hourly until 3:30 a.m. The 14th and final season of this animated action-comedy finds Sterling Archer still convinced he’s the world’s greatest spy. In this two-parter, however, he’s working with a woman who matches him in skill, beauty and ego. (They’re shown here.) Meanwhile, Lana is the boss, worrying about budgets, human-resource issues and a skeleton in the office wall. That result is erratic, but entertaining. Read more…

Best-bets for Aug. 29: murder and rage in fiction and fact

1) “Justified: City Primeval” finale, 10 p.m., FX. This started as a light, bright tale, then turned brutal. Now the manic Mansell is pitted against Raylan (Timothy Olyphant, shown here), the stoic U.S. marshal who is sleeping with Mansell’s lawyer. Both men have been hauled away by mobsters, while cops are framing someone else for Manseill’s murders. It’s a complicated story that seems to end early, then re-starts, then DOES end early, leaving room for some warm surprises. Read more…

Best-bets for Aug. 28: finales for “Claim” and “Mars”

1) “Claim to Fame” finale, 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. There have been plenty of wrong guesses this year, most aimed at Chris (shown here, left). Despite obvious clues – teen idol, puppy love, Utah, many-colored dreamcoat — people guessed he was related to Elvis Presley, Elton John and Billy Idol. They also linked Karsyn with the wrong race-car driver, Jeff Gordon. Now both remain, with Gabriel (shown here, right) and Monay. One person is ousted the first hour, two more in a fun finale. Read more…

Here’s a party that even outsiders will enjoy

OK, I might not be the target audience for “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.”
The movie (shown here) – which debuted today (Aug. 25) on Netflix – is about Jewish girls turning 13. I miss that by one gender, one Testament and two generations.
But I found it to be an enjoyable journey to a different world and to some too-common human frailties. Also, it has a bright look and a relentless barrage of pop music.
This is a family-friendly film and a family project. Adam Sandler produced it and plays the dad. His daughter Sunny (second from left) stars as Stacy and her older sister Sadie plays, logically, her older sister. Adam’s wife Jackie is confined to playing Stacy’s friend’s mom; instead, Adam’s wife is played by Idina Menzel. Read more…