News and Quick Comments

Will “La Brea” sink into the quick-hook pit?

As NBC’s “La Brea” begins, the world crumbles.
A giant sinkhole develops in Los Angeles. Buildings fall; people flee. Some escape, others plunge into a giant netherworld (shown here), where ancient creatures loom. And viewers are left with key questions:
Are there really sinkholes in Los Angeles? Do extinct animals really roam under the earth? And – most importantly – can we ever trust NBC to finish what it started?
The answers are yes and no and absolutely not. Let’s take that last one first: Read more…

Here’s a one-stop overview of the new season

As the fall seaso starts, new stories keep nudging old ones aside.
Still, I wanted to keep the  fall season-preview package handy. So I’ve put all four stories together here, updating them slightly.
First is an overview; then are three lists rounding up the shows — the scripted ones on broadcast networks (includig “Ghosts,” shown here) … the unscripted broadcast ones … then a sampling of scripted cable shows. Here we go. . Read more…

TCA awards get Smart and lasso Ted

Jean Smart’s career has reached a multi-universe: She’s being honored for her past AND her present.
Smart has won the Television Critics Association’s annual Career Achievement award. At the same time, she’s won the Individual Achievement in Comedy award, for her work in “Hacks” (shown here). The awards, announced at 2 p.m. ET today, were led by “Ted Lasso” for program of the year. 
This is the 37th year for the awards and the second straight in which the ceremony was canceled because of COVID concerns. However, Smart could still have her public moment: At the Emmy awards (8-11 p.m. Sunday, CBS), she’s nominated for lead actress in a comedy (“Hacks”) and supporting actress in a movie or mini-series (“Mare of Easttown”). Read more…

New shows this fall: Here’s a round-up

It’s a small, sturdy crop – this year’s group of new shows on the broadcast networks.
There are only 11 scripted ones at the start of the season, about half the usual total. Many are spin-offs or reboots; most have sent only a rough pilot film, not ready for review. Still, a few shows already stand out. We’ll list them first, then the rest; afterward, there’s a list of broadcast’s new, non-fiction shows; each list is chronological:
The best
– “The Big Leap,” 9 p.m., Mondays, Fox (starting Sept. 20). The fictional notion makes little sense: A national dance show focuses only on contestants from Detroit … concluding with “Swan Lake.” (A reality show, setting up a ballet?!?) Once you get past that, you’ll find deep characters. Scott Foley (shown here) plays the cynical producer; Teri Polo plays someone in mid-life crisis. Other roles go to relative newcomers (led by Simone Recasner as a young single mom); you’ll quickly root for them. Read more…

Oh Joy: We can spend more money

Here’s what we all need (maybe) … a new way to spend money via our TV sets.
On Oct. 14, cable’s USA Network will debut “America’s Big Deal,” produced by Joy Mangano (shown here), It’s a little bit like “Shark Tank,” except that the businesses will be trying to sell the products instantly to viewers. Read more…

“Al” will be back (and quite serious), plus more CBS news

For weeks, viewers have had a basic question: Whatever happened to “The United States of Al”?
Now CBS has an answer. “Al” (shown here) – suddenly shelved during the Afghanistan withdrawal – has been rewriting its second-season opener.
Producers have created “an entirely new episode to address the current situation,” said Kelly Kahl, the network’s entertainment president. Read more…

Good news (partially): Zoey gets a movie

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” has just received an extraordinary reprieve.
It’s only a partial one, though. The show remains cancelled, but will have a holiday movie this year on the Roku Channel … which will also show the 25 previous episodes this fall.
“Playlist” (shown here) tells of a young woman in a San Francisco tech company, who suddenly has a strange gift: She can hear people’s thoughts, expressed through pop songs. Read more…

9/11 specials, new and old, fill the TV week

For the next week, our TV sets will become history machines.
Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with ceremonies at the 9/11 memorial (shown here) and beyond. Much of the coverage will be packed into Friday and Saturday, but there will also be a couple earlier reports.
Here are some of the highlights. Afterward, I’ve included three separate stories that I posted last week: Read more…