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CBS sets a staggered start this fall

After rushing into a post-strike season this spring, CBS is taking a pause.
Its new season will officially start Oct. 14, three weeks later than usual. And its ratings-leaders – “Tracker” and “The Equalizer” –will wait until Oct. 27.
Those dramas usually dominate Sundays. This fall, however, the Sunday slot will be used for various things – advance previews of “Matlock” (shown here) and “The Summit,” a music special and “Big Brother,” a summer show that extends to Oct. 13. Read more…

“Shogun” and “Hacks” lead TCA awards

“Shogun” and “Hacks” dominate this year’s Television Critics Association awards.
The top overall awards – program of the year and best new program– .go to “Shogun.” So do the two drama awards, for best show and best individual (Anna Sawai, shown here). The comedy ones go to “Hacks” and its star (Jean Smart).
There are also awards for the “Baby Reindeer” mini-series, some non-fiction shows and two Disney+ family shows, “Bluey” and “Doctor Who.”
Overall, the awards are a sign that traditional television – or semi-traditional – can still do well, if given some modern touches. Read more…

Really? A cheery musical fits the election year?

It’s probably by accident, but the new Disney+ movie fits this campaign year.
“The Descendants: The Rise of Red” (shown here), arriving Friday, June 12, has two opposite forces. The Blue one wants kindness, warmth and inclusiveness; the Red wants power and revenge.
The Red leader underlines that with a song that savors the fact that “red” rhymes with “you’re dead” and “off with your head.”
The Blue is currently in charge, but then the Red thugs start to break in. “What?” their leader asks. “You’ve never heard of a coup?” Read more…

A surprise: Older crimesolvers are welcome again

Right now, TV is going back to its future.
That’s almost 30 years back. That span connects “Murder, She Wrote” to “Elsbeth,” “Matlock” to … well, “Matlock.”
At the core is a key change: Broadcast networks were once ignoring older viewers; now they need them. Let’s go back to 1995, when:
— “Matlock” was canceled – again. NBC had dumped it after seven seasons; ABC took three more, then dropped it.
— “Murder She Wrote” was still thriving. In its 11th season, it was No. 8 in the Nielsen ratings; it reached the top-10 in seven other seasons, peaking at No. 4. But CBS moved it to an impossible timeslot, then cancelled it a year later. Read more…

Let’s talk about movies and/or urinals

So I’m in California now, ready for a spurt.
TV coverage has been fairly sparse in the first half of summer, but that will change when the Television Critics Association sessions begin Wednesday.
The 2,000-mile flight used to be draining, but not this time. I spent my time trying to decide if the flight attendant was Michael Cohen or merely a guy who looks exactly like Michael Cohen. (Anything’s possible when your original profession — altrnately listed as “fixer” or “thug” — dries up.) I also caught a double-feature of “Madame Web” (shown here) and “Lisa Frankenstein.” Read more…

Wild Wednesdays inside Corman’s world

Imagine being trapped in a drive-in theater for three days.
The popcorn and Raisinets would be be fine, the movies would be mercifully brief and this would be kind of fun in a monster-mash way.
That’s roughly what Turner Classic Movies plans: On three Wednesdays, it has films by Roger Corman, the micro-budgeter who died last month, at 98.
The first two nights (July 3 and 10), go from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., In a combined 20 hours, they show 13 films (yes, mercifully short), all directed by Corman, concluding with the surprisngly gppd “Wild Angels” (shown here). Then the final night (July 17) switches to Corman productions directed by his underling – including Martin Scorcese, Francis Coppola, Joe Dante and Jonathan Demme. Read more…

All the Brat-Pack films? Well, here’s a start

In other lands, film fans might argue about auteurs or noir or such.
But in the U.S., we have a bigger issue – defining which ones are the “Brat Pack” movies. That came up now, as Hulu:
— Released the “Brats” documentary. Andrew McCarthy visited colleagues who – almost 40 years ago – were tarnished by that “Brat Pack” tag.
— Then sent an announcement that: “All nine Brat Pack films are now streaming on Hulu.”
There are only nine? For a while, it seemed like there were 900.
Apparently, Hulu meant all nine that it has. It’s a decent enough collection, led by “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Taps” (shown here with Tim Hutton) and “Ferris Bueller,” but it’s just a start. And three of the nine don’t include any of the original Brat-Packers Read more…

Tonys: high-octane, high-spirited fun

OK, that was a reminder that award shows can, on occasion, be really good.
The Tony Award show was high-octane, high-spirited and mostly very entertaining. It started with two big production numbers – one with Alicia Keys joining the music from her “Hell’s Kitchen” – and ended with a moderate surpise: “The Outsiders,” (shown here) not “Hell’s Kitchen,” was for best musical.
The rest offered few surprises. Of course, “Stereophonic” – most nominated play in Tony history – won for best play. Of course, “Merrily We Roll Along” – finally repairing a show that Stephen Sondheim never quite fixed – won for best revival, alongside two of its stars.
But the real surprise was how the show kept soaring. Read more…

With the right heroine, “Bridgerton” soars

OK, I’ll admit that I once had misgivings about “Bridgerton.”
When the show arrived – on Christmas Day, 2020 – I said the show is “part classy Jane Austen and part tawdry Harlequin novel.”
It still is, but the classy side keeps gaining. This third season – which released its second half on Netflix Thursday (June 13), four-weeks after its first half – is a delight, partly because of the surprising choice (shown here) of whom to focus on.
(One caution: I won’t spoil anything that happens in this second half. I will, however, talk about things that preceded it. If you haven’t seen the first half — or the first two seasons — stop reading and start watching.) Read more…

TCA nominations: “Dogs,” “Bear,” “Hacks” and newcomers

Some new– or almost-new — titles are up for the top prize in the Television Critics Association awards.
“Baby Reindeer,” “Ripley” and “Shogun” – each in its first (or only) year – are nominated for program of the year. They’re jpined by three returning shows – “Hacks,” “The Bear” and “Reservations Dogs” (shown here) … which is seeking some belated awards glory, after its third and final season. Read more…