News and Quick Comments

A good try, but a bit too Austen-ish

When adapting a Jane Austen novel, the trick is to not be too … well, Jane Austen-ish.
Keep her plot and her sharp sense of character, but relax her stiff, centuries-old dialog.
Lately, several projects have done this quite well. The newest one, however, is a decent attempt that’s sometimes buried in Austen excess.
That’s “Sense and Sensibility” (shown heere), at 8 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 24) and 5 p.m. Sunday on the Hallmark Channel. It’s of special interest because it: Read more…

The genial side of an imposing icon

As an ambitious mini-series ends, a question lingers: What was Malcolm X (shown here) really like?
“So many people, all they know about Malcolm X is the one picture of him holding a gun, looking out the window,” Gina Prince-Bythewood told the Television Critics Association. “Or some of his words, taken out of context.”
She’s one of the producers of “Genius: MLK/X,” an eight-parter that has its final two episodes at 9 and 10:08 p.m. Thursday (Feb.22) on the National Geographic Channel,” but then remains available on Disney+.
This is a joint biography of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. “Way too often, these two men are pitted agaist each other,” she said. But “they were coming closer and closer together. They had the same goal. They just had two different ways of going about it.” Read more…

Want dramas? ABC has a Tuesday surge (briefly)

Tuesdays have become a feast-or-famine time for ABC.
For months, the night was confined to reruns and reality and such. Now, starting Feb. 20, comes a drama surge.
It’s the second season of “Will Trent,” the sixth of “The Rookie” (shown here), the seventh and final one of “The Good Doctor.” Three popular shows return, back-to-back.
And then, after just 10 episodes, their seasons will be done. More on that later. Read more…

Sam Spade’s wine-sipping detour concludes

Sam Spade’s French adventure is ending now. Zombies are ready to take his timeslot.
First, the story needs to be resolved – or, in this case, semi-resolved. The “Monsieur Spade” (shown here) finale is 9 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 18) on AMC.
Viewers can also catch the full, six-episode experience on the Acorn or AMC+ streaming services. They’ll find an Americana classic – the tough, terse-talking private eye – transferred to an opposite world.
“I just thought it was as far away from Sam Spade as possibly could be: Having a vineyard, even drinkng wine at all,” producer-director Scott Frank told the Television Critics Association. Read more…

This year, Olympics won’t wait for primetime

For Olympic fans, the days of the primetime surprise may be over,
NBC will have a different approach for the games (July 26 to Aug. 11) in Paris: Every major event (including gymnastics, with Siimone Biles shown here) will be live in the daytime, then repackaged for night.
That’s a big change from the days when it was easy to keep secrets. Major events – including, in the winter, U.S-Russia hockey and Kerrigan-Harding skating – could be delayed for hours, then delivered to surprised viewers at night.
Not any more. “The network is going to be live (in the daytime), no holding back,” Molly Solomon, president of NBC’s Olympics coverage, told the Television Critics Association. At night, the same events will be in “a curated presentation – the best performances of the day, distilled down to three hours.” Read more…

Equality in space? It faced some hurdles

One day in 1961, Ed Dwight’s high-flying life took an abrupt turn.
“I had a very successful military career … flying five different airplanes, which is a pilot’s dream,” he recalled.
Then he got word that he should prepare to become the first Black astronaut. He didn’t particularly want it, but his mother did; so did John Kennedy.
Dwiight’s story is at the core of “The Space Race” (shown here with Victor Glover, Dwight and Leland Melvin), an intriguing documentary about Blacks and NASA. It reaches Hulu and Disney+ on Tuesday (Feb. 13), after debuting at 9 p.m. Monday on the National Geographic Channel. Read more…

Spanning a 200-year gap, Hallmark meets Austen

Two fonts of romance – Jane Austen and the Hallmark Channel – are finally together.
The channel has been around for 31 years, the Austen books for 223. Both have wise women fall in love (carefully and chastely) with sturdy men.
Now – each Saturday in February – Hallmark has an Austen-oriented tale.
“She was so ahead of her time,” said Deborah Ayorinde, who stars as Elinor in a “Sense and Sensibility” remake (shown here) on Feb. 24, adding: “A lot of the things that Elinor was dealing with, I felt like I could relate to.” Read more…

Apple — the new HBO? — offers size and spectacle

An old tradition – the Television Critics Association tour – has returned, with a surprise:
For now, it seems, Apple TV+ — with “The New Look” (shown here) and other large mini-series — has become the new HBO.
Certainly, the old HBO is still around and sometimes thriving. “Successiion” has gobbled up all those Emmys and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has returned.
But in the past, HBO led the semi-annual TCA sessions. It delivered the biggest stars (Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Garth Brooks, Briitney Spears, etc.) and shows (“Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones”). This time? Under new ownership (as part of Warner Bros. Discovery), it didn’t show up. Read more…

TV gets a burst of gospel glory

At times, gospel music might be overlooked in a rock/rap world.
Not now, though. Coming is a five-day stretch overflowing with big voices and huge passion. That includes:
— Friday (Feb. 9): “Gospel Live,” at 9 p.m. on PBS, with some stations repeating it at 10. Henry Louis Gates hosts the show with Erica Campbell, who opens with some impressive vocals. More big moments are coming from Shelea, John Legend (shown here in a previous performance), LaTocha, Anthony Hamilton, Mali Music, Lena Byrd Miles and more. Read more…