News and Quick Comments

“Elvis”: a story worth re-re-re-re-telling

Every person, we’re told, has a story. Every life would make a good movie.
Perhaps, but TV and movies keep telling one life-story over and over. That’s Elvis Presley.
The latest example is Baz Luhrmann’s glittery, jittery “Elvis”(shown here) now in theaters. Some critics found it too frenetic, but most approved; with a few reservations, I liked it a lot. Read more…

Emmys avalanche brings some good news

So now the Emmy nominations are out there – approximately 3.4 billion of them.
You can catch the full list at www.emmys.com or other sites. But amid the avalanche, let met point to a few things:
— Some summer shows timed this perfectly: Their new seasons are airing now, just as nominations arrive for the previous ones. “Better Call Saul” (9 p.m. Mondays, AMC) is up for best drama. Up for best comedy are two delights — the jaunty “Only Murders in the Building” (shown here with Selena Gomez, Tuesdays on Hulu) and the wonderfully weird “What We Do in the Shadows” (10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX). Try them. Read more…

Another “Magnum” surprise: NBC grabs it

It’s been a season of surprises for “Magnum P.I.” fans.
The first surprise – a big one – came when the show (shown here) was cancelled by CBS. The second came this weekend (seven weeks later), when NBC decided to pick the show up.
For now, fans can still catch reruns at 9 p.m. Fridays on CBS. The new episodes will be limited – only 10 a year (not the usual 22) for two seasons, with the first perhaps arriving early in 2023. Read more…

“Only Murder” sequel is bloody-good fun

When we last saw Mabel, she was covered with blood and confusion.
Not to worry. She’s back in the second season of “Only Murders in the Building,” which seems to be even better than the first.
“Only Murders” was a pleasant pandemic surprise – a mini-series assembling mis-matched elements. It was mostly a murder mystery and drama, but added ample humor. It was mostly about old guys – Steve Martin and Martin Short (shown here, left and center), plus guest stars – but also centered on Selena Gomez.
Now the first two episodes of the second season have debuted on Hulu. The other eight will arrive – one per Tuesday – for the rest of the summer. Read more…

CBS remembers (sometimes) to make it special

In a pre-packaged, pre-processed world, television should be its best when it’s live and, well, special.
TV specials have offered music, humor and even bits of spontaneity. Then they seemed to disappear … except on CBS.
That comes to mind now, after a one-two punch: On June 12 was a terrific Tony Award ceremony, propelled by the immense talent of Ariana DeBose. On June 24 was a Daytime Emmy (shown here) ceremony that was really quite adequate … which makes it roughly 3,000-percent better than last year’s show. Read more…

“Abbott” leads TCA nominations

At a time when network comedies are staggering, a couple of new ones managed to stand out.
ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” (shown here) leads all shows with five nominations for Television Critics Association awards. CBS’ “Ghosts” landed two.
For “Abbott,” that includes program of the year. It faces three other new shows – “Squid Game,” “Severance” and “Yellowjackets” — plus the returning “Hacks,” “Succession” and “Better Call Saul.”
Both “Abbott” (9 p.m. Wednesdays, sometimes ousted by sports) and “Ghosts” (9 p.m. Thursdays) were also nominated for new program and comedy. In addition, “Abbott” had individual nominations for Quinta Brunson (shown here) – who created the show and stars as a teacher – and Janelle Jones, who plays her self-obsessed principal. The nominations were officially released at noon ET today (June 16), with the awards in August. Here are some of the key program categories: Read more…

Dr. Adam — real and fictional — mixes humor and emotion

There are two key things to know about Dr. Adam Kay (the fictional version).
First, he says “I’m sorry” a lot. Second, he has good reason to.
And there are many things to know about former-doctor Adam Kay (the real one), starting with this: He’s a brilliant writer, one who can toss off funny asides, while building a deeply moving moment.
Now the two combine for “This Is Going to Hurt,” a terrific series streaming on AMC+. We meet a character – sharply written by Kay, perfectly played by Ben Whishaw (shown here) – a lot like the real Kay. Read more…

Yes, it’s still pleasant to visit Downton

A visit to Downton Abbey always seems to be pleasant and unassuming.
That doesn’t sound like much … but it’s what we need now. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (shown here) is not a great movie (or even an exceptionally good one), but it’s still worth catching.
For a couple hours, we’re in splendid settings, re-meeting people who – flaws and all – are good and well-meaning.
The film starts sluggishly, with a dispassionate wedding and then some stiff scenes about an unexpected windfall. “New Era” seems determined to show us everyone – it’s a HUGE cast – while getting us involved with no one. Clearly, something more is needed. We get that, when a movie is filmed in the mansion, at the very end of the silent-film era. Read more…