Film takes a fierce view of China’s one-child past

This isn’t what a filmmaker expects her mother to say at a premiere.
Nanfu Wang was presenting “One Child Nation,” which would go on to big things. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and debuts Monday (March 30) on PBS.
The film takes a fierce look at the policy that dominated China for 36 years, using everything from propoganda (shown here) to punishment, limiting families to one (and in some cases two) children. It offered horror stories of forced sterilizations and abortions, of children abandoned or sold.
American audiences tend to be horrified. And the reaction of Wang’s mother, who was a Chinese villager during the that era? “At the premiere Q&A, somebody asked her what she thought about it,” Wang said. “And she said, ‘Well, I think the film is great …. But I still believe the one-child policy was necessary.’ And that was surprising to me and surprising to everyone.” Read more…

This one is a jet-fueled “Project Runway”

When “Project Runway” began, Tim Gunn had modest expectations.
“I thought, ‘Well, this will be good cocktail-party talk. This will never happen again,’” he recalled.
Then it happened again and again and …
There were 16 seasons with Heidi Klum (shown here) as host and Gunn as mentor; there have been two more since they left to plan “Making the Cut,” the designer show that’s debuting now on Amazon Prime. There have been two junior editions with Klum and Gunn and seven all-star editions without them. Read more…

McNally conquered everything … except coronavirus

Terrence McNally (shown here in his early days) survived a previous epidemic, when AIDS decimated the gay community.
Two of his boyfriends died, but he survived the era. He also beat lung cancer, alcoholism and bigotry … but not the current pandemic. He died recent;y at 81, of complications from COVID-19; PBS has its excellent “American Masters” portrait available until Wednesday (April 1) at
Praise flowed in quickly. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “Hamilton” creator, called him “a giant in our world.” Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, called him “a great New Yorker, one of the most renowned members of our cultural community.” Read more…

As “This Is Us” ends its season, its mini-trend continues

When “This Is Us” arrived, it was an anomaly. Now it’s a trend.
Well, maybe a mini-trend … or a micro-trend. At least, it’s made an impact.
“I feel really lucky,” producer Joan Rater told the Television Critics Association in January. “We get to tell these stories, thanks to shows like ‘This Is Us.’”
Her new show (“Council of Dads,” shown here in its waterfront Savannah setting) has a direct link: “This Is Us” has its season-finale at 9 p.m. Tuesday (March 24) on NBC; “Council” follows at 10:01, aiming for a similar audience. Read more…

Stuck at home? Here are some strong choices

As the virus shutdown continues, it’s time to dive deeper into the TV pool.
I’m guessing you’ve already found some of the streaming giants, from Amazon’s marvelous “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to Netflix’s deeply observant “The Crown.” But now let me offer some of my personal preference to dig through.
A few are coming up quickly – the first half of a nature gem (shown here) on Monday (March 23), the season-finale of “This Is Us” on Tuesday. Most, however, are easy to find; here they are, in five chunks: Read more…

“One Day” adjusts to TV changes

For the “One Day at a Time” actors, there have been some sharp adjustments.
The first was the notion of having a studio audience. “I was terrified,” Justina Machado recalled.
And the second is NOT having one. On March 10, “One Day” became the first situation comedy to forego a studio audience because of coronavirus concerns.
By then, the show was taping its fourth season and actors were comfortable. “I could not even imagine this show without an audience,” Machado had told the Television Critics Association in January.
That’s been one or many changes for “One Day.” It was canceled by Netflix and then rescued by cable’a Pop network, where it starts its season Tuesday. Read more…

Our friend, the Web, brings monopolies and lies

The World Wide Web began as a sort of democratic ideal.
There were no borders, no barriers; it was equal access and equal potential. And then … well, human nature took over.
These days, Niall Ferguson (shown here) says in a PBS special Tuesday (March 17), the Web is “an increasingly polarizing and unstable pace, where the truth itself is at a disadvantage.”
It’s also far from equal. In their respective fields, he said, Amazon has 40 percent of the business … Facebook has 70 percent … Google has 90 percent. Read more…

Stock crashes are fun … in fiction

This is the sort of timing that no one could plan – we hope.
Showtime had set Sunday, March 15, as the season-opener of “Black Monday” (shown here). That’s a loose drama-comedy, centering on the 1987 stock market crash.
Then, on March 13, newspaper headlines proclaimed the worst Wall Street crash since 1987. Hey, all we know is that the fictional crash is a lot more fun than the real one. Read more…

Social-distancing? We can all be Butt-head

Most of us have that inner voice, telling us to watch less television.
It’s always been there. We were told not to watch so many cartoons or so much sci-fi silliness, not to watch Beavis and Butt-head (shown here) watching videos. We’re reminded not to become Beavis or Butt-head.
But now that changes: With coronavirus concerns, watching TV is a socially responsible thing to do.What used to be anti-social behavior is now a fine form of social distancing.
Fortunately, the timing is right; this is the “platinum age” for TV fiction, when quantity and quality intersect. If you’re just getting re-acquainted with your TV set, here’s an update, starting at the top Read more…

A good time for actors, great time for ‘Blood’

Glancing over four decades of TV and movies, Adrian Dunbar was upbeat
.“This is a great time to be an actor,” he said.
He said that quite convincingly – well, actors can do that – and the facts back him up.
Right now, Dunbar, 61, has deeply nuanced roles in two British shows that reach the U.S. via streaming.In “Line of Duty,” he plays an honest-but-troubled cop; in “Blood” and its jolting new seque (shown here)l, he’s an earnest-but-troubled doctor. Read more…