Mike Hughes

Best-bets for Oct. 29: The dead (including Beethoven) arise

1) “Now Hear This: Beethoven’s Ghost,” 9 p.m., PBS. In most “Now Hear This” hours, violinist Scott Yoo (shown here) blends music, commentary and a travelog. Now comes a terrific detour: As five musicians record Beethoven’s music, the composer’s ghost (perfectly played by John Hans Tester) roams … wjth Freud’s ghost trying some instant analysis. The music – especially from Yoo and pianist Anna Polonsky – soars. Read more…

TV Halloween: the final, funny/messy stretch

It’s time for one final round-up of Halloween TV.
That starts and ends with “The Simpsons” and its off-brilliant, sometimes-just-messy “Treehouse of Horror” episodes (shown here). A dozen of them rerun Wednesday … then 30 of them air, in order, on Sunday.
There’s much more. We’ll briefly mention the scary stuff at the end (and repeat my “Chucky” story), but first let’s round up the fun stuff, Oct. 27-31: Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 28: “Walker” returns, “Positive” transforms

1) “B Positive,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. Already a good show, this has had a drastic makeover for its second season. At the core is Gina, a good-hearted (if sometimes daft) soul, brilliantly played by Annaleigh Ashford. She inherited a fortune … and bought the retirement home where she works. That lets the show add a flock of newcomers. It already had two Tony-winners, Ashford and Linda Lavin (they’re shown here); now it adds two more, Ben Vereen and Priscilla Lopez, plus Jane Seymour and Hector Elizondo. Read more…

New “Trek” brings old fans … and the others

A quarter-century ago Kate Mulgrew strode into TV history, shielded by semi-ignorance.
Yes, she knew that her character, Kathryn Janeway, would be the first female “Star Trek” captain. There was a fuss about that; the producers even lured Sally Ride (the first woman in space) to the premiere.
But what she didn’t know about was “Star Trek” itself. “I didn’t watch it …. My introduction was when I walked onto that bridge at about 7 o’clock in the morning.”
Hey, a lot of people don’t know “Trek” – including the young actors who star with Mulgrew in “Star Trek: Prodigy” (shown here), the computer-animated series that debuts Thursday (Oct. 28) on Paramount+. The actors had a virtual press conference with the Television Critics Association. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 27: fun and fright at home and in nature

1) “Nature,” 9 p.m. PBS. The osprey is an amazing creation. With a six-foot wingspan, yet weighing only three pounds, it’s a fierce flying machine. It’s the one bird that can dive down, completely submerge and emerge with a fish (shown here). In this beautifully filmed hour, a male commutes 4,000 miles to a Connecticut reunion with his annual summer mate. They raise three fledglings, while he also chases off two bald eagles (much bigger than he is) and even scatters an entire cormorant colony. Read more…

Veterans: triumph and “torture,” growth and agony

These two military veterans had opposite careers.
Angela Salinas’ tenure lasted 39 years. She started as an office worker, left as the first Latina to be a general in the Marine Corps.
J.R. Martinez had barely been in the Army for a half-year, when an explosion put him near death. He would spend almost three years in hospitals, undergo at least 33 surgeries … then go on to be an actor, a motivational speaker and a “Dancing With the Stars” champion.
They’re both part of the vast expanse of American military vets. It’s a sprawling subject, tackled by PBS’ “American Veteran,” at 9 p.m. on four Tuesdays, starting Oct. 26. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 26: openers for baseball and “Veteran”

1) World Series, 8:09 p.m. ET, Fox, with preview at 7:30. The baseball classic begins, with all the big winners already gone. The Giants (107 wins in 162 games) and Rays (100 wins) lost in their first round; the Dodgers (106) lost in the league championship. That leaves Houston (95) and Atlanta (88, shown here with Eddie Rosario’s scoring slide) … and fits history: From 2010 to 2015, the World Series champion was never the season’s top winner. Two champs lately had a sub-90 season – the Giants (88 wins) in 2014 and Cardinals (83) in 2006. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 25: CW has a debut and a season-opener

1) “4400”(shown here) debut, 9 p.m., CW. For a lawyer returning from maternity leave, this is a messy start: En route to work, she’s yanked up and dumped in a field, one of 4,400 perplexed souls there. For her, it’s suddenly 16 years later; for others, the time gap varies. This reboots a cable series, now focusing on Black characters. Like NBC’s “La Brea,” it’s a great concept, but has wildly overdrawn characters. But CW, unlike NBC, tends to finish what it starts; we might stick with this for a while. Read more…

Movie mega-mogul went from gangsters to “Sound of Music”

Sometime, try to name the old-time movie moguls.
You might come up with the guys who put their names on studios – Disney, Warner, Goldwyn, Mayer. You probably wouldn’t say Darryl Zanuck, who may have topped them all in quantity and quality.
“He wasn’t a one-trick pony,” author/historian Scott Eyman said by phone. “The others found a groove and couldn’t get out of it.”
Eyman’s previous 15 books have ranged from John Wayne to Cecil B. DeMille. Now comes “20th Century-Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio” (Running Press). It traces Zanuck from gritty gangster films to the CinemaScope sprawl of “The Robe,” “The Sound of Music” (shown here) and beyond. “He sensed what the public was going to like before the public got there.” Read more…