News and Quick Comments

An honorable judge sinks into chaos

This is a basic challenges of fiction: Find a plausible way for an ordinary person to plunge into an extraordinary situation.
That’s what “For Honor,” the mini-series starting at 10 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 6) on Showtime, does so well. Aided by the subtle skill of Bryan Cranston (shown here with Hunter Doohan), it keeps sinking deeper into a pit.
Such stories are best if the protagonist starts with a small sin he wants to hide. He joy-rides in a car, unaware there’s a body in the trunk … sneaks into an apartment, unaware it’s a drug house … cheats on his wife, unaware that the object of his lust is obsessive.
In this case, there’s an extra layer – a widowed dad is desperate to help his son. Read more…

Pro football: No home, no name, no quarterback, no (?) schedule

There was a time when every pro football team had a home. And a name. And a quarterback (several actually). And a schedule, set in stone.
That was a dull-but-simple time, before the chaos of 2020. Now the changes keep coming.
There are games — some involving the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers (shown here) — at unexpected times – this Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 2) … early Monday evening (Dec. 7) … and Tuesday night (Dec. 8). For the second time, a Thursday-night game will be scrapped. And schedules have changed and unchanged for NBC, ABC and Fox.
Most, but not all, of this is COVID-related. The changes include: Read more…

“The Crown”: Great drama, flaws (many) and all

Many shows vanish in an eyeblink. Moments after fading from the screen, they fade from our minds.
Then there’s Netflix’s “The Crown” (shown here), which sticks around. Two weeks after the fourth season arrived (Nov. 15), the British press has been awash with commentaries. Even the New York Times – located 3,500 miles from Buckingham Palace – had several pieces about it, including Nov. 27 and 28. So let me jump in here, with a few comments:
From a sheer drama-craftsmanship view, this season is a resounding success. Even with some flaws – and there are big ones – it is brilliantly written, filmed and (mostly) played. Catch all 10 episodes.
And accuracy? That seems to be another matter. Read more…

There’s lots of Christmas TV; here’s the list

This sounds like the title of the worst holiday movie ever: “COVID Conquers Christmas.”
Fortunately, it didn’t work out that way. TV people adapted, adjusted, improvised. In quantity, we’ll have about the usual number of Christmas shows – somewhere between a zillion and way too many.
And in quality? We’ll notice some changes, right away on Thanksgiving Day. One “parade” (on NBC) will only ba a block long, with some of the music acts taped in advance; the other (on CBS) will mix new music with clips of past parades. At night on ABC, Derek and Julianne Hough (shown here) will start with a new song-and-dance number … then simply show ones from past specials. Read more…

When do shows return? Here’s an update

After months of delays and adjustments, the TV networks have now scheduled most of their fall shows.
Many, however, will be arriving mid-winter, not in the fall. That starts with four CBS shows in early December (including “Magnum, P.I.,” shown here), then speeds up in January.
The latest news involves January starts for three ABC shows – “The Rookie” (Jan. 3), “Mixed-ish” (Jan. 26) and the new “Call Your Mother” (Jan. 13). Still in limbo are a few shows that were expected this fall – CBS’ “Evil” and “Equalizer” and NBC’s New Amsterdam” and “Manifest.” Also, ABC reversed course and canceled Stumptown.” Read more…

ABC sets return of “Rookie,” “Mixed-ish” and new comedy

The last pieces of the new TV season are finally in place – almost.
ABC has set January starts for the return of “The Rookie” (shown here) and “Mixed-ish” and the debut of a comedy, “Call Your Mother.” That will finally return it to two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) with comedies.
Now there are only two shows that were originally planned for fall, but remain in limbo. Both are on CBS – the second season of “Evil” and the Queen Latifah reboot of “Equalizer.” One show (ABC’s “Stumptown”) was set for fall, then canceled. The ABC moves are: Read more…

Good news: A new way to see Charlie

The dire prospect of a no-Charlie-Brown season has now eased slightly.
In a last-minute change, two classic cartoons will air at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 Central) on PBS Kids and on some PBS stations. Both are on Sundays:
– Nov. 22: “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”
– Dec. 13: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (shown here). Read more…

Cable in 2021? TBS, TNT, TruTV try

After facing a brutal 2020, some cable channels are ready for better things in 2020.
TBS will lasunch the “Go-Big Show” – a competition that may grab cable’s wrestling fans – on Jan. 7. Then TNT will launch the second season of “Snowpiercer” (shown here), its ambitious fantasy drama, Jan. 25. The next day, TBS starts a new season of its “Misery Index” game show.
Eight days later, Tru TV will start the season for its “Impractical Jokers,” followed by the new “Fast Foodies” and “Impractical Jokers: After Party.” Read more…

Country Christmas concerts boom ahead

Country-music people keep finding ways to have TV specials in a COVID era.
Now come two more announcements – a CBS special with Garth Brooks (shown here) and Tricia Yearwood, Dec. 20 on CBS, and the line-up for an intimate “CMA Country Christmas,” Nov. 30 on ABC. That comes shortly after CBS announced a Dolly Parton special, Dec. 6 on CBS. Read more…

Mid-season plans set: from old “Idol” to new “Masked Dancer”

Just as the fall TV shows belatedly arrive, there’s a bonus: Two networks – ABC and Fox – have announced mid-season plans.
For ABC, that ranges from “The Bachelor” on Jan. 4 to “American Idol” on Valentine’s Day. For Fox, it includes January starts for six scripted shows – five of them returning, plus a new comedy that Jim Parsons is producing, with Mayim Bialik (his “Big Bang” wife) as star – along with “Hell’s Kitchen” and the new (shown here) “Masked Dancer.”
Read more…