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Super Bowl preview aims at fans … and all the others

TV has abandoned the notion of grabbing all the viewers at once … except on Super Bowl Sunday.
Nowadays, a show is a hit if it gets five million people to watch it live. The Super Bowl? At a typical moment during the game, more than 100 million people are watching.
That means the sprawling pre-game show faces a challenge: It must range “from people who like football to people who aren’t that much football fans,” said Drew Kaliski, who produces the show.
Yes, there will be talk about the game itself (Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Bucs), which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS. We’ll have more about that at the end of this story. But the pre-game shows, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET, will also have Joe Biden, James Corden, Jay Pharoah, The Weeknd, Roy Wood and Desus & Mero (shown here , with lots of packaged features. “They’re informative, they’re emotional, they’re entertaining,” Kaliski said. Read more…

This game will be super … or not

This year’s Super Bowl will be the greatest game ever, we’re told.
Or maybe not.
Those views – both quite reasonable – emerged in the same hour, as CBS sportscasters talked to reporters about the game, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 7).
Tony Romo takes the best-ever view, based on the quarterback confrontation of Tom Brady (shown here) and Patrick Mahomes. Jim Nantz points to the last time hopes were this high: “It may (have been) one of the least memorable games ever.” Read more…

Here’s the Super Sunday schedule

We’re in Super Bowl Week now, so it’s time to peek ahead at Sunday. It will have lots of talk, some music from The Weeknd (shown here), some football … and then the surprisingly good debut of an “Equalizer” reboot.
Under “stories” — top of the main page, on the left — I’ll have three things: A look at the game itself, an overview of the day and a story about “The Equalizer.”
First, however, here’s the schdeule for CBS on Sunday (Feb. 7); sll times are ET: Read more…

Let’s celebrate the very worst

We spend a lot of time talking about good shows, so it’s time for the opposite.
Let’s consider a show that is really, truly awful – but in a fun way that’s worth watching: “Plan 9 From Out Space” (shown here) has its primetime moment, at 8 p.m. ET Monday (Feb. 1) on Turner Classic Movies.
“Plan 9” is a 1959 film that jumped to fame in 1980, when the book “Golden Turkey Awards” proclaimed it the worst movie ever. Since then, it has shown up at bad-film festivals and more. Read more…

“Long Song” mingles classy drama and soapy bits

As “The Long Song” begins Sunday (Jan. 31), we’re clearly in a distant time and place.
This is Jamaica, early in the 1800s. It has blue sky, sprawling vistas … and deep, wrenching pain. Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell, shown here with Tamara Lawrance)– who owns the plantation with her brother – mostly stays in the mansion while her sadistic overseer drives the slaves.
Then come all the events – love, lust, rape, revolt, betrayal – that we might find in a Harlequin novel or in a quality production. By the end of the three-week mini-series (9 p.m. Sundays on PBS), we’re left with the same question raised by Netflix’s recent “Bridgerton”mini-series: Where is the line that somehow separates tawdry soap opera from classy, period-piece drama? Read more…

CBS may have all-Lorre comedy night

By this spring, CBS could reach a worthy goal – an all-Chuck-Lorre comedy block.
The network announced today (Wednesday), that “United States of Al” (shown here) will debut at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1, after “The Unicorn” finishes its season.
If nothing else changes, that would put it after three other Lorre comedies – “Young Sheldon,” “B Positive” and “Mom.” Lorre also has “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” at 8:30 p.m. Mondays. Read more…

“Frontline”: GOP “capitulated” to Trump

The images rippling through “Frontline” are familiar enough, with a mob (shown here in a news photo) storming the Capitol.
But beyond that, the hour (10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, on PBS) asks a broader question: How did these people entwine with the stately restraint of the Republican Party?
“We’re the party of Lincoln,” Bob Corker, the former Republican senator from Tennessee, says in the film. So “demonizing people because of their color or background (is) not the party I grew up in.”
It’s convenient to simply point to Donald Trump, but Charles Sykes, a conservative author and former radio host, takes a wider view: “The Republican Party completely capitulated to him.” Read more…

Yes, sitcoms are fine — mostly on Thursdays

TV keeps teetering between two extremes – comedy is king and comedy is dead.
Now we’re at the latter. Laughs are scarce … except on Thursdays, when they reach excess.
Now the best ones are back: After a four-week break, CBS’ Thursday comedies have new episodes Jan. 21. Three are very funny (including “B Positive,” shown here), one is adequate, all are welcome.
And all are in a tough time for situation comedies. As Variety, the trade paper, put it: “Three episodes of CBS’ ‘Young Sheldon’ were the only sitcoms to make this year’s list of top 100 telecasts with total viewers. Among adults 18-49, there were none.” Read more…

Inauguration adds Garth, Gaga, more

Some more starpower has been added to Inauguration Day.
Now Garth Brooks (shown here), Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are scheduled to perform during the ceremony at noon ET Wednesday. That’s in addition to the evening TV special that will include Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, John Legend and many more. Details include: Read more…

“Miss Scarlet” conquers Victorian obstacles

There are good reasons for dramas to retreat to the past.
They need limits and obstacles. Romances work best amid “don’t” and “mustn’t”; crime stories are best if you can’t just call the cops or check the DNA and the video footage.
So Americans return to cowboy or pioneer days … the British visit the Victorian era … and “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” (shown here) – debuting at 8 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 17) on PBS’ “Masterpiece” – fits that era well. Read more…