Stories

PBS stuffs summer with drama, music, more

This summer, PBS will fill voids left by other broadcast networks.
It will have dramas – strong, smart ones, led by “Grantchester” (shown here) – on Sundays. It will also have music – a couple concerts, an opera and a three-part look at the disco era.
Alongside that will be extended looks at ecology and comedy … plus two weeks devoted to the Republican and Democratic conventions.
The big-four commercial networks have lots of summer games and reality shows, but no scripted dramas. That’s where PBS starts to fit in; it will have: Read more…

Odom brings pulpit passion to “Purlie”

Leslie Odom Jr. spent much of his youth soaking up Philadelphia’s arts world.
He studied dance at Philadanco, acting at New Freedom Theatre, both at a performing-arts high school. But overshadowing all of that was the church.
“What the church connected me to was conviction in performance,” Odom, a Tony-winner for “Hamilton” — told the Television Critics Association.
It’s fine to sing the right notes and dance the right moves, but the bigger goal is to project passion. That became a goal “any time … I stood up in front of the congregation to do some reading. Or certainly when I heard the pastor deliver a sermon and stir us.”
Now that fits his starring role in “Purlie Victorious” (shown here) at 9 p.m. Friday (May 24) on PBS. Read more…

A pure-country Marine sparks Memorial concert

Jamey Johnson had been to way too many burials of his fellow Marines.
Each brought deep emotions and a 21-gun salute. “Sometimes, I was one of the men firing the guns,” he said.
After the emotions percolated for decades, he co-wrote “21 Guns.” Now he’ll perform it at the “National Memorial Day Concert,” at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday (May 26) on PBS.
There will be plenty of other stong voices — Gary LeVox (of Rascal Flatts); Broadway’s Cynthia Erivo, Patina Miller and Ruthie Ann Miles– plus the National Orchestra and more, including Bryan Cranston and others reading passionate stores. But Johnson will be the one bringing his years in the Marine Reserves. Read more…

ABC this fall: new doctor, few comedies

ABC will fix any doctor shortage this fall. Its comedy gap, however, keeps growing.
The network’s “The Good Doctor” wraps its seventh and final season next Tuesday (May 21). But “Doctor Odyssey” will arrive in the fall, sharing Thursdays with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “9-1-1.”
But comedies? “Abbott Elementary” (shown here) will be all alone, surrounded by non-fiction on Wednesdays. One comedy (“Not Dead Yet”) has been canceled; another (“The Conners”) will wait until mid-season for its final season.
Lots of other shows will be with it. “Will Trent” and “The Rookie” will have 18-episode seasons, but will be waiting with “The Conners” and several reality shows. Read more…

Fox this fall: no wrestlers, lots of rescuers

There will be a new feel to the Fox network this fall – no wrestlers, but lots of rescuers, no “Family Guy” (for now), but lots of football.
That’s as Fox hopes to be what Rob Wade, its CEO, calls an “independent, right-sized network.” It’s the only one of the big-four not with a movie studio and a big streamer.
The network has been tryiing to produce animated shows, instead of just buying them from outsiders. This fall it will have two – the returning “Krapopolis” and the new “Universal Basic Guys.’ That leaves “Family Guy” off the fall schedule for the first time in about two decades . It will be back at mid-season, Michael Thorn, the programming chief, promised. “We’ll give it a great re-launch.”
Fox has also finished its five-year deal with the WWE. It will try to fill the no-wrestling gap on Fridays with college football.
It will also stuff action into Mondays. “9-1-1: Lonestar,” which didn’t appear in this strike-shortened season, will be at 8 p.m. Mondays, followed by “Rescue: HI-Surf” (shown here) hich Thorn calls an “absolute adrenaline rush.” Read more…

A “beloved” soul ponders his death

It isn’t easy to face questions about your imminent death – even a fictional death.
Still, Lance Barber did that with his usual ease. In February, the Television Critics Association asked about the possible passing of his his “Young Sheldon” character, Sheldon’s dad George (shown here).
“I had fingers crossed from the beginning. (hoping) I would make it to the end,” he said.
Then he almost did. Last Thursday (May 9), a week before the show ends its seven-year run, viewers received a jolt: In the final minute, two friends arrived to say George had died of a heart attack.
Now that consumes the show’s finale. After reruns (including the pilot film) at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Monday, the last episodes are 8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday (May 16). One focuses on the funeral, the other on the aftermath. Both manage a rare feat – being deeply and subtly moving, while also including humor. Read more…

Lots of TV news: super-streamer, “The Bear,” “Frasier,” “Ted,” more

As the season winds down, TV is filled with fresh news.
That includes a super-streamer combination, a “Law & Order” shift and a return of such shows as “The Bear” (shown here), “Ted” and (via spin-off) “Orphan Black.” Details include:
— Two large streamers plan to offer a combined deal this summer. One side already has Disney+ and Hulu; now it will offer a super-streamer combination with Max, which was created when Discovery gobbled up Warner Brothers. Read more…

Summer’s Sunday surplus: Sly, “Snowpiercer,” etc.

Summertime TV is looking less sparse now.
CBS has announced a schedule that includes “Big Brother,” “Let’s Make a Deal” and transplanted episodes of Sylvester Stallone’s “Tulsa King” (shown here).
That news came on the same day as others – the final “Snowpiercer” season, on AMC, and hard-rock biographies on A&E. Both are on Sundays, when PBS has its dramas.
Add some previous news and you have a shot at a no-rerun summer. Details include: Read more…

ABC summer: Sunday movies, weekday games

This summer, ABC will go with a plan that worked during the strikes.
It will turn Sunday back into a movie night – starting with “Inside Out” (shown here) and possibly including lots of Disney films. That will let game shows sprawl across the weekdays, alongside “The Bachelorette.”
That line-up will tiptoe around the pro-basketball finals, which dominate June: Read more…

CBS’ fall line-up: prequels and familiar crimesolvers

CBS has set a fall schedule filled with the familiar.
It will have two prequels (one of which is also a sequel), two familiar crimesolving names (Matlock and Dr. Watson) and few surprises.
The biggest surprise may be the omission of two shows (“NCIS: Hawaii” and “So Help Me Todd”) … and the name of the show that takes over the Sheldon space. It’s “Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage.”
That one (shown here) is a sequel to “Young Sheldon,” but still a prequel to “The Big Bang Theory” … and will occupy the same timeslot (8 p.m. Thursdays) both of those shows had. “Ghosts” will remain at 8:30, with “Elsbeth” at 10. Now “Matlock” – with Kathy Bates taking the Andy Griffith role as a folksy old lawyer – replaces “So Help Me Todd” at 9. Read more…