News and Quick Comments

Corman mastered micro-budget movies

Roger Corman – who died recently at 98 – will probably be remembered most for all the great careers he launched.
This was the guy who gave many people their directing debuts. That included James Cameron, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme. Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich and more.
But something else made him stand out: He was the master of getting something for (almost) nothing.
Corman (shown here) had an engineering degree and a sophisticated manner, but his specialty was making entertaining schlock on tiny budgets. In a world now stuffed with people dreaming of making movies on their smartphones, he was someone to sort of emulate. Later, I’ll have a longer commentary on his life and work. Read more…

Strike survivors key to NBC’s fall line-up

After helping NBC survive the strikes, two dramas will be rewarded with cushy timeslots this fall.
“The Irrational” (shown here) will be at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, after the second “Voice” night. “Found” will be at 10 p.m. Thursdays, after two “Law & Order” shows.
They’ll be joined by just one new drama – “Brilliant Minds,” with Zachery Quinto – and two new comedies. One, from the “Superstore” producer, is set in a hospital and will be paired with “Night Court”; the other, starring Reba McEntire, will be paired with “Lopez vs. Lopex.”
To make room, the network is moving “Law & Order: Organized Crime” to the Peacock streamer and dropping several others. They includes “Magnum P.I.,” the sci-fi shows “Quantum Leap” and “La Brea” and the Jon Cryer comedy “Extended Family.” Read more…

Fox’s summer starts early, with games and balls

If you’re in a hurry to see summer-TV shows, then Fox is your network. It starts one on May 16 and willl add five more before the end of the month.
And if you don’t want summer shows? Alas, the other networks also begin soon.
NBC starts “America’s Got Talent” on May 28 … ABC adds Sunday movies on June 2 (starting with “Inside Out”), but holds everything else until a spurt starts with “Bachelorette” on July 8 ….CBS builds its summer around the three-a-week “Big Brother,” starting July 17.
By then, Fox’s shows will be deep into their run. The network has one new show (“The Quiz With Balls”), four season-openers (including “Food Stars,” shown here with Gordon Ramsayand Lisa Vanderpump) and two shows that are returning after filling in during or shortly after the strikes. The line-up — chronologically, with at least one more show expected — is: Read more…

Broadway spree begins: Hamlet, Audra, Purlie, more

Each year, PBS does something others overlook: It celebrates Broadway.
There used to be lots of TV people who did that, from Ed Sullivan to Rosie O’Donnell. But for now, it’s mostly this one burst — four Fridays on PBS (May 10-31) and then the Tony Awards on CBS (June 16).
In that stretch, PBS will offer two plays (“Hamlet,” shown here, and “Purlie Victorious”) and two concerts, stuffed with Broadway tunes. One has Audra McDonald, the all-time Tony-leader, alone and another has her joined by lots ofother stars. “I’m the only one I’ve never heard of,” powerhouse baritone Michael Ball says during the concert.
These shows offer awesome talent … but still aren’t for everyone. For instance: Read more…

CBS’ fall schedule: Stick with the steady viewers

As younger viewers drift away, TV networks pondered alternate solutions:
1) Go after them. Copy what the streaming networks are doing. Get guttier and grittier. Interweave some tough stories that stretch over eight or 10 hours.
2) Don’t chase them; they won’t be back anyway. Service the viewers you still have.
That second one has worked fairly well in the Nielsen ratings for CBS. Now it ripples through the play-it-safe line-up the network has announced for fall, including a “Matlock” reboot (shown here). Read more…

After loooong pause, tough drama returns

The second season of “61st Street” (shown here) will arrive this summer – finally.
The opener – 9 p.m., July 22, on the CW network – comes more than two years after the first season ended on AMC. And 14 months after the CW bought the rights. It’s even a year after the second season streamed in Australia.
Now it’s part of CW’s summer plans: “All American” (now airing at 9 p.m. Mondays) is adding two more episodes, to continue through July 15. “All American Homecoming,” its spin-off, will air two episodes alongside it, then will be the lead-in to “61st Street.” Both will be anomalies, in a summer when scripted shows are rare on broadcast TV. Read more…

Broadway time is coming, on PBS and CBS

For TV viewers, the Broadway season is coming up.
Well, maybe it’s a mini-season – five busy weeks, when Broadway-type shows get the focus. That starts May 10 with “Hamlet” on PBS … continues with three Friday concerts … then wraps up June 16, with the Tony Awards, which have just announced their nominations. And it includes some interesting crossovers:
— “Purlie Victorious” will be on PBS on May 24, three weeks before its shot at a Tony for best play revival.
— Audra McDonald (shown here), the all-time Tony champ, will be in two of the PBS specials. She has a solo concert May 17, then joins others May 31 for “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 80th Anniversary.” McDonald is the only person to win six Tonys in competetive acting categories; Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris each won five plus an honorary one. Read more…

Amid a ratings surge, “Daily Show” expands staff

Convinced that its ratings surge will last, “The Daily Show” has finally beefed up its team of correspondents.
The show has added Troy Iwata, Josh Johnson and Grace Kuhlenschmidt. Previously, the team had dwindled to four main people – Ronny Chieng, Desi Lydic, Jordan Klepper and Michael Kosta – plus occasional use of Dulce Sloan and Lewis Black.
Comedy Central is giving the show a one-week break now (stuffing the week with marathons of “Seinfeld,” “The Office” and “South Park”), but will return to its schedule on May 6: New “Daily Show” episodes are at 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, rerunning at 1:25 a.m. and then going to Paramount+.
The Monday hours are hosted by Jon Stewart (shown here) – the source of the recent surge. Comedy Central said the new hires are “on the heels of ‘The Daily Show’s’ huge ratings growth,” a claim that Nielsen seem to back up. Read more…

Crimesolving is fun again, beyond paradise

Every now and then, TV returns to something it’s quite good at – light tales that solve a mystery at the end of each hour.
That isn’t its first choice. It prefers deep, dark tales that go for weeks – good ones like “Parish” (9 p.m. Sundays, AMC) or “Veil” (starting April 30, Hulu).
But a few shows have the right, light touch. There’s the delightful “Elsbeth” (10 p.m. Thursdays, CBS) and occasional British shows on PBS and streaming on Acorn or Britbox. Right now, I’d point to Britbox’s “Beyond Paradise” (shown here). Read more…