News and Quick Comments

“Emily” offers warmth and humor, amid a deep funk

An excellent movie arrives Friday (Sept. 8) on cable. The less you know about it in advance, the better.
I’ll tell you a few generalities for now, then have a spoiler alert before going any further:
“Guiding Emily” (shown here) is 9 p.m. Friday on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, rerunning at 7 p.m. Sunday. It has an Emmy-worthy performance by Sarah Drew (who played April for nine years on “Grey’s Anatomy”) and solid work from the others.
It also has things you don’t expect in a serious story – subtlety, vibrant visuals and a dab of humor.
OK, that’s all I can say without spoilers. Go ahead and watch it or read on: Read more…

Here’s a party that even outsiders will enjoy

OK, I might not be the target audience for “You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.”
The movie (shown here) – which debuted today (Aug. 25) on Netflix – is about Jewish girls turning 13. I miss that by one gender, one Testament and two generations.
But I found it to be an enjoyable journey to a different world and to some too-common human frailties. Also, it has a bright look and a relentless barrage of pop music.
This is a family-friendly film and a family project. Adam Sandler produced it and plays the dad. His daughter Sunny (second from left) stars as Stacy and her older sister Sadie plays, logically, her older sister. Adam’s wife Jackie is confined to playing Stacy’s friend’s mom; instead, Adam’s wife is played by Idina Menzel. Read more…

CNN gets a new streaming site

The wobbly relationship between CNN and its new owner may be strengthened a bit.
A new streaming hub, “CNN Max,” was announced today by Warner Bros. Discovery. When it launches Sept. 27, it will be free to people who subscribe to the Max (formerly HBO Max) streamer. Specifics are unclear, but it appears to:
— Help cord-cutters, who might find themselves without a full-time news channel. This will have separate shows, but will cover breaking news and use the regular CNN anchors.
— Be a convenient place to find past productions, including the Oscar-winning “Navalny” (shown here) and two Emmy-winning travel series with Stanley Tucci and with the late Anthony Bourdain. Read more…

A sorta-super, teens-in-trouble era ends on CW

A TV era will end Wednesday (Aug. 23).
Not a great one — eras don’t have to be perfect – but one that often felt fresh and interesting: The CW network fed us a steady stream of heroes, super and semi-super.
There was Superman and Batman, Supergirl and Star Girl and Bat Woman. There was Flash and Black Lightning and Arrow and the “Legends of Tomorrow” crew. There was one show about zombies, one about witches, several about vampires, two about demon-hunters.
And there were ones about almost-ordinary teens in extraordinary situations. “Nancy Drew” (shown here) and “Riverdale” have their finales at 8 and 0 p.m. Wednesday. Read more…

For fall, FX sets horror, mystery and “Fargo”

This fall, the FX people will deliver something that is becoming scarce – new, scripted TV shows.
That will include a double shot of horror – in time for Halloween – plus a crime-solving mini-series and a “Fargo” mini-series (shown here with Dave Foley).
Even if the strikes are settled, TV will mostly lack new, scripted shows this fall. The exceptions will be premium cable (HBO, Showtime, Starz) and streamers, which work far in advance
FX occupies both worlds. Some of the shows it produces air only on the Hulu streaming service; others debut at 10 p.m. on basic-cable (FX or FXX), then reach Hulu the next day. Read more…

Good news: The CW/Canada link is sometimes fun

OK, my faith and optimism have been semi-restored.
That’s my faith in the shaky upcoming TV season. And in the wobbly CW network. And in Canada.
In short, the opening episode of “The Spencer Sisters” is surprisingly good.
The show arrives Oct. 4 on CW, which is one of the few networks to realize that Canada: 1) Is quite close to us, geographically; 2) Speaks a language very similar to our own; and 3) Makes TV shows like the ones we do … or, at least, like we did in decades past. Read more…

Emmys get a new date — on Martin Luther King Day

The Emmy Awards now have a new date – Jan. 15, four months later than the original plan.
That will be 8-11 p.m. ET (5-8 p.m. PT) on Fox, with Jesse Collins Entertaiment — producer of recent Super Bowl halftimes (shown here) and more — in charge. The announcement today (Aug. 10):
— Shows confidence that the actors’ and writers’ strikes will eventually be settled. Actors have been instructed to avoid functions until then.
— Comes just eight days after the Golden Globes telecast. The Emmys honor TV; the Globes do movies and TV.
— And is being planned partly as a Martin Luther King Day celebration. Read more…

CBS has a clever August/autumn plan, but …

So now CBS’ late-summer surge has begun.
It’s a clever strategy, an attempt to make do as the writers’ and actors’ strikes crush any hopes for a normal fall season. The network delayed four reality shows until August; that lets them sprawl into the fall, to be joined by … well, more reality.
It can work … IF those shows are well-liked. For one of them (the awful “Superfan,” shown here), that’s a big if.
First, let’s look at the overall plan: Read more…

“Dogs” drifts through quietly compelling tales

There’s a type of show that ripples through the history of the FX network.
It goes from “Louie” to “Better Things” to “Atlanta” and now to “Reservation Dogs” (shown here), which starts its final season Wednesday (Aug. 2).
Yes, this show is different in some key ways: The others were on FX; “Reservation Dogs” is produced by the FX people, but is strictly on Hulu. The others each focused on one star – Louis C.K., Pamela Adlon, Donald Glover; “Dogs” centers of four teens, drifting through life.
But the spirit is the same. These are shows that feel no compulsion to extract consistent laughs or huge plot twists; it is enough to see interesting people go through life’s odd twists. Read more…