Mike Hughes

McNally conquered everything … except coronavirus

Terrence McNally (shown here in his early days) survived a previous epidemic, when AIDS decimated the gay community.
Two of his boyfriends died, but he survived the era. He also beat lung cancer, alcoholism and bigotry … but not the current pandemic. He died recent;y at 81, of complications from COVID-19; PBS has its excellent “American Masters” portrait available until Wednesday (April 1) at www.pbs.org/americanmasters..
Praise flowed in quickly. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “Hamilton” creator, called him “a giant in our world.” Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, called him “a great New Yorker, one of the most renowned members of our cultural community.” Read more…

Best-bets for March 26: Season ends for “Deputy,” “Million”

1) “Deputy” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox. The first season ends the way it started – with fierce waves of emotion. We’ve grumbled about some overwrought episodes in-between, but this one makes the passions feel justified. Sheriff Hollister rage at the outing of his informants,but also savors the joy of his daughter (Latina on her mom’s side) at her quinceanera (shown here). Things are wrapped up potently. Read more…

Yes, TV still has spurts of music

Television still has an occasional dab of music – just not as much of it.The good news comes in small bits – a new date (Sept. 16) for the Academy of Country Music awards … some music guests via video chat … and a flood of concert reruns (including Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, show here) on the AXS cable channel.
The coronavirus has led to the postponement of the ACM and Billboard awards and jeopardizes “American Idol,” which was supposed to begin live broadcasts on March 30. In addition, the latenight shows that usually have music have switched to full or partial reruns (see spearate satory under “News and Quick Comments”). Dua Lipa was scheduled to be on “Saturday Night Live” March 28, but that’s been switched to a rerun, with Scarlett Johanneson and Niall Horan as music guest.
The new developments are Read more…

Best-bets for March 25: Kelsea and Kenny and more

1) “CMT Crossroads” (shown here), 10 p.m., CMT. Here are gifted stars with opposite roots: Kelsea Ballerini grew up on a farm near Knoxville and sang in church. Halsey is a city kid from New Jersey; she had some rough years and homelessness in Manhattan. But they’re similar in age (26 and 25 respectively) and in the ability to propel emotion. A sampling of this concert hour shows great duets on Halsey’s “Graveyard” and on Ballerini’s “Homecoming Queen.” Read more…

As “This Is Us” ends its season, its mini-trend continues

When “This Is Us” arrived, it was an anomaly. Now it’s a trend.
Well, maybe a mini-trend … or a micro-trend. At least, it’s made an impact.
“I feel really lucky,” producer Joan Rater told the Television Critics Association in January. “We get to tell these stories, thanks to shows like ‘This Is Us.’”
Her new show (“Council of Dads,” shown here in its waterfront Savannah setting) has a direct link: “This Is Us” has its season-finale at 9 p.m. Tuesday (March 24) on NBC; “Council” follows at 10:01, aiming for a similar audience. Read more…

Statlers’ song said it all

Who would have guessed that a Statler Brothers song, recorded 55 years ago, would neatly reflect our virus-shutdown lives?
But there it is, complete with a reference to Captain Kangaroo. In 1965, the Statlers sang these immortal words, written by their tenor, Lew DeWitt; approximately:
“Counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all; Read more…

“Daily Show” revises; latenight adjusts

A fresh version of “The Daily Show” will debut Monday (March 23), with a catchy title.
“The Daily Social Distancing Show” will be 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays on Comedy Central. It’s the latest answer to latenight’s effort to stay topical, yet stay safe.
As the coronavirus shutdown set in, latenight shows retreated to reruns. ABC even nudged Jimmy Kimmel back an hour, at least temporarily, to 12:35 a.m. weekdays; “Nightline,” with its virus reports, moved up to 11:35 p.m. Read more…

Best-bets for March 24: A double shot of warmth

1) “This Is Us” season-finale, 9 p.m., NBC. This richly layered drama manages to end each season with jolts of emotion. We’ll expect that tonight, much of it coming from the two brothers. As last week’s fascinating episode ended, their mom reluctantly agreed to go away for a clinical trial, trying to head off Alzheimer’s disease. That soothed Randall (Sterling K. Brown, show here), but may enrage Kevin. They collide tonight, at the first birthday party for Jack, the blind son of their sister Kate and her husband Toby. Read more…

Stuck at home? Here are some strong choices

As the virus shutdown continues, it’s time to dive deeper into the TV pool.
I’m guessing you’ve already found some of the streaming giants, from Amazon’s marvelous “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to Netflix’s deeply observant “The Crown.” But now let me offer some of my personal preference to dig through.
A few are coming up quickly – the first half of a nature gem (shown here) on Monday (March 23), the season-finale of “This Is Us” on Tuesday. Most, however, are easy to find; here they are, in five chunks: Read more…