Here’s the good, the bad and the schlocky

Yes, movies keep trying to be bigger and better.
But it’s time to celebrate the opposite – ones that are brash and bizarre and, at times, really bad.
On Friday night (June 16), Turner Classic Movies has a sort of schlockfest, from “Beach Blanket Bingo” (shown here) and “Barbarella” (8 and 9:45 p.m. ET) to the notorious “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” at 5:45 a.m.
All of them fit the loose category of “camp.” In a short film on its website, TCM describes camp as when “artifice and exaggeration transcends taste” and when it has “style over substance,” a place where “pretentiousness and virtue are left behind.” Read more…

CW fills out its summer line-up

The CW network – in the midst of a year-round makeover – has finally set the rest of its summer plans.
Even before the writers’ strike, the mini-network (under new ownership) was shedding its expensive superhero adventuress. Instead, it’s going for unscripted shows or scripted ones from other countries.
An example of the former is “Inside the NFL,” coming to CW this fall, after previous runs on HBO, Showtime and Paramount+.
That fall line-up will have several Canadian shows, which are also key to the plans now (including “Family Law,” shown here). Here’s the summer line-up: Read more…

Summer surprise: There are still lots of new, scripted series

As we settle into our summertime, strike-time lives, here’s a surprise:
Even now, we can find some new, scripted episodes on broadcast networks or basic cable.
Yes, those networks have started their summer slumber … which could be prolonged. The writers’ strike is expected to linger, affecting fall line-ups. We can still find plenty of new scripted shows on premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz) or streamers, but are there any on broadcast or basic cable?
Surprisingly, yes. Some nights — Wednesday (“Wonder Years” is shown here) and Sundays — are loaded. Read more…

Sunny summer? Cruel summer? They’re both here

Summer can be cruel, if you’re a TV viewer. Scripted shows fade; reruns and reality shows bloom.
And it can be either kind or cruel if you’re a teen-ager. That depends on which life you’re living – the one that soars through commercials and beach movies or the one that often lurks in real life.
Now both extremes exist in “Cruel Summer.” The show starts its second season (shown here) at 9 and 10 p.m. Monday (June 5) on Freeform, with new character and the same sort of scripted depth.
The setting is right out of a teen’s summer ideal. This is a fictional town, nestled along a lake. Read more…

“Yellowjackets”: Another gem on “Succession” night

In an all-or nothing world, this sort of fits:
Here we are in TV’s summer season, when viewers figure nothing worthy is available. Yet two important hours are at exactly the same time – 9 p.m. Sunday, May 28.
One is the series-finale of “Succession,” on HBO; the other is the season-finale of “Yellowjackets” (shown here in a previous episode) on Showtime. Both show the extremes people will reach for survival and dominance.
And yes, you can still see both of them, by: Read more…

He’s memorializing again … on a much bigger stage

For many people, it’s a brief blip: On Memorial Day, they remember fallen soldiers; then life goes on.
But for Michael Trotter, it seemed to be daily – writing and singing tributes to his late colleagues. “Sometimes it would be six in a week,” he said. “Sometimes six in a month.”
These days, he’s half of the powerhouse, married duo called The War and Treaty (shown here), which will sing at the National Memorial Day Concert, at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday (May 28, the eve of the holiday) on PBS. They’ll be alongside gospel great Yolanda Adams, country stars Trace Adkins and Jo Dee Messina, “American Idol” champion Phillip Phillips and more.
It continues a journey that began two decades ago, when Trotter wrote a song on (really) Saddam Hussein’s piano. Along the ways, there have been harsh detours. “We’ve gone through a lot of difficulties,” said Tanya Trotter, his wife and music partner. “We were homeless a lot.” Read more…

As strike lingers, fall schedules range afar

All the major TV networks have now set their plans for next season.
That used to be a big deal, you know. It’s a smaller deal now (with viewers fleeing to streamers), but it offers an intriguing look at different approaches to the writers’ strike, ranging from family-friendly (“Wonderful World of Disney” revived) to frisky (“FBoy Island,” shown here, That includes:
— Three networks – ABC, Fox and CW – are already resigned to the strike lingering. They’ve assembled makeshift fall plans that can be devoid of new, scripted, live-action shows.
— The other two – CBS and NBC – show some optimism … which they might have to discard. Read more…

Once a Xeroxed comic, it’s now a mini-series and more

Gene Luen Yang never expected his graphic novel to be read by the multitudes … or by anybody.
“I actually did ‘American Born Chinese’ as a Xeroxed comic,” he told the Television Critics Association. “I would finish a chapter; I’d take it to my local Kinko’s. Remember Kinko’s.
“I would staple it by hand and I’d sell like 16 copies. It would be like 15 of my friends and my mom.”
He’s way past that now. On Wednesday (May 24), Disney+ debuts the entire eight-part “American Born Chinese” mini-series (shown here). In the 17 years since it was formally published, it’s caught on big. Read more…

Fox fills fall with reality, cartoons, more

Facing the prospect of a long writers’ strike, Fox seems ready to go either way:
— If the strike gets settled soon? The network plans two new dramas: One, based on a European hit, is about a doctor who has lost eight years of her memory; the other – not ready until mid-season – is a Hawaiian surf-rescue show. They join four returning dramas, plus one comedy.
— And if it lingers? Fox has “an embarrassment of riches” in animation (including Jon Hamm’s “Grimsburg,” shown here), said Michael Thorn, president of scripted shows, with six shows that were written well in advance. It also has a pile of games and reality shows.
“We knew there was a high probability of a strike,” said Allison Wallach, the president of unscripted shows. So the network has eight games or reality shows ready for the fall and beyond, not counting the six that will air this summer. Read more…

NBC turns cautious: three new shows, lots of back-ups

In the not-so-distant past, every autumn brought a deluge of new network TV shows, each heralded as bigger and better.
Don’t expect that now: NBC has announced a line-up with only three new shows (including “Found,” shown here); that comes after CBS set one with only two.
That means NBC viewers won’t face much separation pain. Three comedies – “American Auto,” “Young Rock” and “Grand Crew” – have indefinite futures. Two dramas (“New Amsterdam” and “This Is Us”) have ended runs of five and six years; another (“The Blacklist”) has a 10th and final season ending this summer. Other shows– even “Lopez vs. Lopez,” blasted by critics – will be back sometime. Read more…