News and Quick Comments

ABC’s summer: lots of games and some “Wonder”

ABC is planning another few-rerun summer.
That includes lots of game shows, filling two nights and sprawling into two more. But it also has:
— The long-delayed season-opener of “The Wonder Years” (shown here).
— The next “Bachelorette,” this time centering on Charity Lawson, 26, who finished fourth in the current “Bachelor.” She has a Master’s Degree from Auburn and works as a child and family therapist.
— And some pre-summer games. “Jeopardy” will have its “Masters” tournament, May 8-24; the pro basketball tournament will continue through mid-June. Read more…

Want a clever show? Better call Bob

In a logical world, Bob Odenkirk would have taken several months – or years, or decades – off.
He had just finished 10 years playing Jimmy McGill, also known as Saul Goodman. He’d had fame, fortune, six Emmy nominations and a heart attack. As he turned 60, it was a logical time to relax.
Except then “Lucky Hank” (shown here) came along. “It happened so quickly that my head was spinning a bit,” he told the Television Critics Association.
Now the show debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday (March 19), rerunning each hour until 1 a.m. As soon as Hank (Odenkirk), a writiing professor, unleashes a rant, viewers will see why the role would be hard to reject. Read more…

Drama deluge: Three PBS shows arrive March 19

After a month-long drought, PBS drama fans will hit overload. Arriving Sunday (March 19) are:
— “Call the Midwife,” at 8 p.m. It’s the 12th season and seems destined to go on forever.
— “Sanditon” (shown here) at 9. It’s the third season – and the final one; blame circumstances for that.
— “Marie Antoinette,” at 10. It will only last eight episodes; blame the French peasants. Read more…

Oscars brought laughs, warmth and Gaga

Okay, this was what we were hoping for from an Academy Award telecast – a hearty blend of humor, warmth and potent music.
And one thing more: A clever guy (Jimmy Killmel)n was at the core, making sure it was fun.
There were a few flaws along the way. The long plug for “Little Mermaid” was annoying … the acceptance speeches were mostly bland … I kept waiting for David Byrne’s song to discover a melody … and it’s never fun to see the same show keep winning. Read more…

An “easy money” plan lingers, then crumbles

It began as a stop-gap plan. Banks were failing, economies were fading; quick steps were needed.
And then the approach lingered. “It became a semi-permanent part of the past decade,” James Jacoby said. “Then, during the pandemic, this went into overdrive.”
Now his “Easy Money” documentary, from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday (March 14) on PBS’ “Frontline,” views short-term steps that somehow stayed, leading to crypto-currency commercials (shown here) and corporatge spending sprees. Read more…

At Oscar time, doc-makers get a fiery moment

(This is a story I posted on Jan. 28, but I thought it would be fun to bring it back now, with the Academy Award telecast coming on MRXH 12. You’ll find two other Oscar stories to the left.)
As the Academy Awards near, the nominees have a descending order of fame.
At the top this year are the stars – actors (Cate Blanchett, Angela Bassett, Judd Hirsch, etc.), a director (Steven Spielberg) and some songwriters (Lady Gaga, Rihanna). And near the bottom, every year?
“You are the lowest on the totem pole as a short-doc filmmaker,” Cynthia Wade said
That’s the short-documentary category. She won it in 2008 (for the 39-minute “Freeheld)” and had her moment on global TV, being handed an Oscar by Tom Hanks; she was nominated again in 2013. Read more…

This year’s Oscars could be fun. Really.

As the Academy Awards (March 12 on ABC) get closer, the signs are encouraging: This time, these people want to entertain us.
That hasn’t always been the case, you know. Two years ago, the main ceremony swept everything aside; it had no host, no songs, no fun.
That concluded a three-year stretch of hostless gloom. The Oscars bounced back last year with three hosts and some splendid songs from Beyonce, Billie Eilish and Reba McEntire. And now:
— Already announced is music from Rihanna (shown here), from Sofia Carson and from a combination including David Byrne and the Son Lux band. With luck, Lady Gaga is next. Read more…

CBS renews most of its line-up

CBS’ line-up next season will look a lot like the one this season.
A lot.
The network announced Tuesday that nine more shows (including “CSI: Vegas,” shown here) have received early renewals for next season. That makes 19 so far; it gets easier to see which ones haven’t yet been renewed.
Only two scripted shows – one new (“East New York”) and one old (“SWAT”) – remain in limbo. That’s three if you count “True Lies,” which will debut March 1. Two others – “Blue Bloods” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” – had already announced that this is their final season. Read more…

Black Broadway: deep passion, occasional joy

By now, Black actors have become deeply embedded in the history of Broadway musicals.
It’s been 88 years since “Porgy and Bess” debuted, 56 since Pearl Bailey took over “Hello, Dolly.” A PBS special – “Black Broadway,” 8 p.m. Feb. 28 – ripples with young singers (including Corbin Bleu, show here) doing potent anthems first sung by Blacks.
Even with that, said conductor Brittany Chanell Johnson, there’s room for more and for different.
Many of the shows “are traumatic stories,” she said. There should also be room “for stories of joy.” Read more…