News and Quick Comments

Host-less, song-less Oscars could be awful

Let’s hope I’m wrong, but this year’s Academy Award telecast has the potential to be truly terrible.
I mean dull and drab and dreary and, well, absolutely awful. Let’s review:
In recent years, the art of acceptance speeches has crumbled. People used to say something funny or angry or joyous or, at least, interesting. Now they thank their agents and managers. This year’s show will have lots of pretty people onstage — Brad Pitt (shown here) and Halle Berry and more — but nothing else.
In the past, we could at least look forward to some comedy (from a clever host) and some music (from the five nominated songs). And now? For the third straight year, there will be no host. For the first year in approximately forever, there will be no songs; they’ll be exiled to the pre-show, from 6:30-8 p.m. ET. Read more…

Beyond the blubber: Whales show rich personalities

We kind of know what whales are like – big and blubbery and such.
Or maybe we don’t know them at all. They vary widely, photographer Brian Skerry told the Television Critics Association. That can depend on the species, the region, even the individual.
“These animals do have languages,” said Skerry, whose richly crafted “Secrets of the Whales” (shown here) has an Earth Day debut on Disney+. “They do have dialects. (They) have rich lives, much like our own.” Read more…

Scripted summer shows? Fox will try some

Will summertime TV become a blur of reality and reruns?
Well, mostly. Fox, however, will try some scripted shows – two cartoons– including the new “Housebroken” (shown here) — on Mondays and, sometime in August, a new version of “Fantasy Island.”
The Fox news came shortly after ABC announced an ambitious summer plan, filling five nights with reality (including “Bachelorette”), games and quirks. Fox’s plan, with more coming, has: Read more…

ABC plans a summer surge

After losing much of last summer to the pandemic, the networks aren’t ready to do it again.
ABC has announced a line-up that has four full nights of non-reruns – or more, if you add in news and sports. That includes a quick return of “The Bachelorette” (now with Katie Thurston, shown here), a slow return of “Bachelor in Paradise” and a flood of games, quirks and reality. Read more…

The dead will keep walking

The dead will, apparently, keep walking for a while.
Last weekend (on Easter Sunday, oddly), “The Walking Dead” finished its second-to-last season. This Sunday (9 p.m., April 11), “Fear the Walking Dead” (shown here) returns.
But the season-finale also included a key announcement: The final season will start earlier (Aug. 22) and last longer (24 episodes) than usual; it will also have more size and scope. Read more…

For dramas, familiar franchises rule

Fan of “procedurals” – the TV dramas that wrap a story at the end of each hour – can get used to this:
For now, there will be lots of spin-offs from existing franchises.
CBS recently announced two of them for next season – a new “FBI” show and a reboot of the first “CSI.” with some of the original stars, including William Petersen (shown here). That comes as NBC airs its new variation of “Law & Order.” Read more…

News specials eye Asian-American bias, COVID overview

Two timely specials are airing – or re-airing – this week:
– “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” is Wednesday (March 31) on the CBS News network, at www.cbsnews.com/live, with Elaine Quijano hosting. It’s at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and midnight ET (3, 5 and 9 p.m. PT) and will air on the Smithsonian Channel at 10 p.m. Easter Sunday (April 4).
– CNN will rerun “COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (shown here, pre-pandemic) from 8-10 p.m. ET (5-7 PT) Friday on CNN. Read more…

TV helps fill any empty Easters

For the second straight year, television has a bigger Easter role.
Some churches remain closed by COVID; others downsize their events. TV, however, booms ahead. It has old movies — “Ben-Hur” (shown here) and “Ten Commandments” and such — and new ones, including “Mahalia,” on Easter eve. It has music and mini-seres and more.
Here’s a round-up of events between Palm Sunday (March 28) and Easter Sunday (April 4). Not included here are the kids’ shows, with bunnies and eggs and such. Read more…

PBS is back, filling TV’s gaps

Even in our overcrowded, overheated TV world, something has been missing lately.
That’s PBS. It provides things that are otherwise absent, even in a 500-channel universe.
For the first three weeks of March, the network mostly shut down during prime time, so individual stations could have their pledge drives. That’s fine if you happen to like music memories (we do) or self-improvement lectures (we don’t, but probably should), but it’s not what PBS does best.
Now comes a week ranging from Twyla Tharp’s choreography (shown here) to New Orleans funerals. For that, just look at its first week back (check local listings). Read more…

It’s Christmas again, for the 700th “Simpsons”

“The Simpsons” is now coming full-circle: Its first episode (shown here) was a Christmas tale; so is it’s 700th.
That’s on Fox, at 8 p.m. Sunday (March 21) – not your usual Christmas moment. But it’s a flashback story, with the usual “Simpsons” qualities: It’s fairly funny (in spurts) and always fresh and quirky.
Besides, the important thing is that number – 700 episodes.
Some sources list “Dragnet” (762) and “The Magical World of Disney” (736) as higher, but that’s only if you cobble together lots of different versions. Ignore those and “Simpsons” seems to have more episodes than any scripted, primetime show in American TV history. Read more…