Mike Hughes

Best-bets for July 12: Two seasons end; two more will soon

1) “Snowpiercer” season-finale, 9 and 9:58 p.m., TNT. As the current heat wave grips much of the country, here’s the exact opposite: The temperature outside is minus-122 Celsius, which is worse than it sounds; in Fahrenheit, we’re told, that’s minus-188, People are safe only as the train keeps moving. But inside the train, Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly (shown here) battle for control. And outside, there are potent new forces. It’s a tautly crafted finale, but don’t expect an ending. Mostly, this propels us to next season. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for July 13: Old country, new Peacock

1) “CMA Best of Fest,” 8-11 p.m. today, ABC. Some of TV’s best summer moments come when ABC has music fron Nashville’s CMA Fest. This year’s festival was canceled, but the show goes on, with Luke Bryan hosting. He’ll do new music, as will Darius Rucker; others will be shown during 16 previous years. We’ll get newer stars (Luke Combs, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini) and A-list veterans – Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood (shown here), Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambrt, Keith Urban, more. Read more…

Best-bets for July 11: Beefy guys, funny guys

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. It was beefy-guy night, when this aired on Super Bowl eve. JJ Watt, 6-foot-5, 288, hosted; Luke Combs, 5-8, 198, sang (shown here). Watt is a pro football star – three times named defensive player of the year. Combs played football in high school, but then soared as a singer. He’s quicklty had eight songs reach No. 1 on the country chart; “Beautiful Crazy” stayed for seven weeks. Here, he offers the important musical message: “Beer Never Broke My Heart.” Read more…

Animation rescues “Cake” from COVID

Cartoon characters have always been a breeze to work with.
hey don’t age or ache or retire; and, now, they don’t get COVID. That helped rescue a show: “Cake” (shown here with one of its logos) opens its third season at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Thursday (July 9) on FXX, then reaches Hulu the next day.
The FX networks have been hit hard by virus shutdowns. Their original productions take a boutique approach – low quantity, high quality. Now two of the best – “Fargo” and “Pose” – are on hold.
In that scorched landscape, we’re glad to see anything new. “Cake” will do. Read more…

Best-bets for July 10: Some “unladylike” heroes

1) “American Masters: Unladylike,” 9 p.m., PBS. This summer’s PBS shows have been propeling us toward a milestone – the 100th anniversary (Aug. 26) of women’s vote in federal elections. But before the national change, individual states stepped in. We meet Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, who was elected in 1896 to Utah’s state senate and sparked health reforms; her statue (shown here) is alongside the state capitol. And Jeannette Rankin, elected by Montana to Congress in 1916. It’s a strong hour that also includes black, Latina and American Indian activists. Read more…

Best-bets for July 9: Two seasons end, one show begins

1) “In the Dark” season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. For the second straight season, “Dark” started slowly and built to a crescendo. Murphy (who is blind) and friends have until midnight to find and return the drugs Ben stashed before his death. Now they collide with Dean (the crooked ex-cop), who also wants the drugs. This has a too-long detour that strains believability, but then wraps things up powerfully … and propels us toward next season. Despite its flaws, “Dark” has subtly gifted actors (especially Perry Mattfeld and Brooke Markham, shown here, as Murphy and Jess) in a gripping story. Read more…

“Stargirl,” a summer surprise, is renewed

Right now, we’re short of good news and of new, scripted shows in the summertime.
So here’s something that combines both: “Stargirl” (shown here) has just been renewed for next season.
The show was created for the DC Universe streaming service, then set a two-part plan: Each week this summer, a new episode reaches DC on Mondays, then airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on CW.
The result has been a pleasant surprise, with smart writing and sharp casting. It still has six more episodes for this summer … and now more: For next year, DC Universe will drop out; CW will air each episode first, then move it to its next-day streamers. Read more…

More Reiner tributes on the way

The first phase of TV’s Carl Reiner tribute has finished now, but there’s much more on the way.That includes “Dick Van Dyke Show” reruns on digital networks and Hulu, plus five movies July 28 on cable’s Turner Classic Movies.
That first phase included CBS rerunning two “Van Dyke” episodes that had color added by computer. One of them – Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) accidentally tells the world that her husband’s boss Alan Brady (Reiner) wears a toupee – was hilarious. The other – a nude painting of Laura, who had posed fully clothed – was only so-so; it was apparently chosen strictly because Reiner played the artist.That toupee episode reran Sunday on the digital MeTV network and will run yet again at 10 p.m. this Friday (July 10) on the digital Decades TV. And you can catch all of the “Van Dyke” episodes on Hulu.

Other tributres continue, That includes: Read more…

Best-bets for July 8: Tough folks, real and sci-fi

1) “Tough as Nails” debut, 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. Here is tough-guy Americana – a retired Marine with four combat tours, a scaffold-builder, two firemen and more. And here are tough women, too – a farmer, a welder, an ironworker … and Michelle Kiddy (shown here), baggage-handler who is 62 and described as “5-foot-nothing.” That’s the charm of this working-skills show. which Phil Keoghan co-produces (with his wife), directs and hosts. The bad news is the repetition of cliches; the good news is a solid human core. Read more…

The Vidal sisters shared some joy … temporarily

Last year, there was joy in the Vidal world.
Both sisters were cast in ABC pilots. “We freaked out,” Christina Vidal told the Television Critics Association in January.
Their shows got orders as mid-season replacements. She and Lisa went to New York for the “upfronts,” when actors meet advertisers. “It was like the biggest, craziest party in New York …. It was so exciting, a dream come true.”
And then? By coincidence, both halves of the dream faded. Lisa Vidal’s “The Baker and the Beauty” ran this spring, got weak ratings and was canceled; Christina’s “United We Fall” (shown here) fell into limbo and then into the summertime Read more…