Stories

Her two moms brought love, fun and a court case

Ry Russo-Young was a fairly successful director, making scripted movies about fictional people.
Still, she realized that one of the best stories involved real people – her and her two moms. The result is “Nuclear Family” (shown here), an HBO documentary with new episodes on Sundays, rerunning almost daily.
It’s a story that goes back 40 years, to a time before gay marriages and gay parents. Sandy Russo and Robin Young defied tradition: Using different male donors, each gave birth. Read more…

The British master old-cop/young-cop tales

American TV may savor the good-cop/bad-cop concept.
But in England – where crime shows flourish – there’s old-cop/young cop. Just ask Neil Dudgeon (shown here), whose “Midsomer Murders” is starting a four-movie stretch on the Acorn streaming service.
“I spent a lot of times as a younger actor, (paired with) a senior actor,” Dudgeon told the Television Critics Association. “And the senior actor would do all the thinking and be rather brilliant at solving a crime. And then he would say to me: ‘Oh, look, he’s run off into the river. Chase him!’” Read more…

Hearst: life in the Trump-Murdoch-Kane lane

William Randolph Hearst lived a life of dizzying extremes.
It was part-Trump and part-Murdoch, with bits of the fictional Charles Foster Kane. It rippled with power, both symbolic (a castle, shown here, a movie-star lover) and real, with newspapers, magazines and more.
But there were also parts of Hearst that were surprisingly mellow. “People were expecting something as brash as his newspapers,” Victoria Kastner, a Hearst historian, told the Television Critics Association. “Actually, he was quite courtly and an elegant man with a sense of humor.”
astner – former official historian for Hearst’s San Simeon estate – is one of the commentators in a four-hour “American Experience” profile, from 9-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 27-28) on PBS. Read more…

He’s an accidental rock star

James Wolk is a rock star now – albeit a pretend one – and that’s ironic.
Wolk stars in “Ordinary Joe,” which reruns its pilot film at 8 p.m. Friday (Sept. 24) on NBC, then continues at 10 p.m. Mondays. In TV’s splashiest role, he plays the same guy in three lives – as a cop, a nurse and a musician.
“When Jimmy got on stage, he just completely transformed into this rock star,” said writer-producer Russel Friend. Read more…

The Lacheys: great jobs, extreme commute

It’s a problem that many couples face in this modern world – two jobs, two cities, lots of commuting.
Ten miles is workable … 50 miles is tougher … but how about 2,558 miles each way? “I’m racking up some frequent-flyer miles,” Nick Lachey said with a laugh.
The Lacheys (shown here at their 2011 wedding) are the new season’s power couple: Vanessa stars in CBS’ “NCIS: Hawaii” (10 p.m. Mondays); Nick is a judge on Fox’s “Alter Ego,” debuting at 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 22-23.) Read more…

Ali: sweet and brutal, vilified and beloved

Ken Burns keeps immersing himself in large lives, filled with contrasts.
There was Thomas Jefferson, the champion of freedom, who owned slaves. And Ernest Hemingway, the macho man with a fragile ego. And now Muhammad Ali is profiled in a four-night film, Sunday through Wednesday (Sept. 19-22) on PBS.
With the hyper speed of his boxing and his tongue, Ali could be brutal. At other times?
“He was so sweet and cuddly,” Rasheda Ali, one of his nine children, told the Television Critics Association. “Daddy was very affectionate. I think all of us are now, because of him.” Read more…

Here’s a look at the new — well, new-ish — TV season

Summer is sagging, the pandemic is persisting and we need a fresh diversion.
We need the new TV season – new shows, new …. Well, maybe we can settle for “new-ish.”
The season officially starts Monday (Sept. 20), when all of the reruns and most of the summer reality shows vanish. But with some splendid exceptions — including “Ghosts,” shown here — this won’t seem terribly new. Read more…

Daniels: a rust-raised actor at his peak

Sure, there are roles that Jeff Daniels has had to stretch for.
In real life, he’s never been painted blue; he’s never been a gay man mourning lost love. He hasn’t been a president, good (George Washington) or bad (Warren Harding); he hasn’t been dumb or dumber.
He handled those roles easily. Still, he’s at his best playing rock-solid guys with a Midwestern vibe. That peaks as Del Harris in “American Rust” (shown hee), debuting at 10 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 12) on Showtime. Read more…

Disney’s Dr. Doogie juggles worlds

The title character in Disney+’s new “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” (shown hee) keeps juggling worlds.
She’s a teen-ager, feeling her first romantic crush; she’s also a doctor. Her roots are Hawaiian/Asian on her father’s side, Irish or Scottish on her mom’s. She’s surfing one moment, saving lives the next.
There’s a crowd inhabiting her psyche … but that seems to fit Peyton Elizabeth Lee, who plays her. Read more…

The Brits (and their colonies) give us good mysteries

For more than a century, the British have mastered the art of murder mysteries.
Lately, some of their younger colonies – Canada, Australia , New Zealand – have joined in. And Americans … well, we get to watch them, at a time when they’re really needed.
Bertie Carvel, starring in a new batch of Adam Dalgliesh tales (arriving in November), points to Dalgliesh’s creator: “I think P.D. James said she thought people like murder mysteries because they bring order out of chaos …. That’s something we need right now.”
Lucy Lawless – producing and starring in the current “My Life is Murder” series (which is shown here, with Lawless and Ebony Vagulans – agreed. “It’s giving people a sense of justice. The world’s been so unjust for the last six years and people are hungry for it.” Read more…