Teen years are tough (and funny) the second time

The first time they were teenagers, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle  found life was tricky.
“You’re hiding all of the freaky parts of yourself,” Erskine said.
And what’s it like, now that they’re teens again, in Hulu’s “Pen15” series? The more she gets into it, Konkle said, “the more confused I get about who I was.”
In “Pen15,” the actresses (both 33) play 13-year-old versions of themselves. (They’re shown here, with Erskine at the back of the bike.) Read more…

The Emmys could go wrong … maybe in fun ways

Are you wondering what the Emmys telecast will be like Sunday?
So are Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart (shown here). And they’re the producers.
“Things are going to go wrong,” Stewart said. “It’s never been done before.”
Emmy ceremonies have been done; this is the 72nd one, most of them on national TV. But the others had most of the nominees in one place, ready to step onstage and gush. Read more…

Here we go: a preview of the season that semi-starts Sept. 21

We finally have an answer to TV’s peskiest question: When will the season start?
It’s starts (sort of) on Sept. 21. It will be smaller than past years, but it will have lots of new shows on the five commercial broadcast networks.
Fox is the most thorough’ starting with the slick “L.A.’s Finest” (shown here) it will be rerun-free. Others are at least adding several shows now, with more in the next few weeks. Read more…

Drew Barrymore: She’s done it all … and is happy to talk

Heading into her new talk show, Drew Barrymore has one big advantage.
She’s already seen it all, done it all, been it all. And most of that was decades ago.
“I hosted (‘Saturday Night Live’) when I was 7 years old,” she reminded TV critics. Then came the wilder years, when she was “blacklisted at 12. (When) you’re on the cover of the Natonal Enqurier at 13 years old for being institutionalized, there’s not much people can throw your way.”
All of that is deep in the past. Now she’s 45, thrice-divorced, with two young children and a life she once described as “almost a nun.” And she’s ready to talk; she always has been. Read more…

In the midst of shutdown, five actors made at-home movie

For months, actors were simply in limbo.
“People used to say show-business was Depression-proof,” Bette Midler told the Television Critics Association recently. “In the Depression, the movies were the only things that survived.”
Not this time. During the COVID shutdown, writers kept writing and musicians kept recording, but actors mostly stayed at home and waited … except for five of them.
Those were the actors in “Coastal Elites” (shown here with Kaitlyn Dever ), which debuts at 8 and 11:20 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 12) on HBO, rerunning often. Working in social-distanced ways, they did monologues about distanced lives. Read more…

Wonder-ful Elinor sparks new cartoon series

There really is an Elinor, it seems, and she often wonders why.
That’s key to “Elinor Wonders Why,” which has just started. (It’s 10:30 a.m. weekdays on most PBS stations, plus 3:30 and 11:30 p.m. on PBS Kids.) “We wanted the show to be fun for the kids and to engage with them,” said co-creator Daniel Whitson.
So each episode has a little girl/bunny named Elinor discover things about nature. And yes, that girl is a lot like Elinor Cham, daughter of the show’s co-creator. Read more…

NBC, ABC join plans for a scrambled fall

Right about now, TV viewers should be getting antsy. Hey, this is September. When will the new network TV seasons start?
Soon, but in trimmed form. The two most reluctant networks finally now have plans:
– NBC will bring back some of its top shows in a four-week stretch between Oct.19 (“The Voice”) and Nov. 13 (“The Blacklist”). That November week also includes “This Is Us” (shown here) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and all three Chicago shows. Many others, however, will wait until January or beyond.
– ABC will prop up four of its nights with games or reality shows – Mondays, starting Sept. 14; Thursdays, Sept. 24; Tuesdays, Oct. 13; and Sundays, Oct. 18. Its scripted shows remain in limbo. Read more…

Swank’s century: Seething in jail, soaring in space

If you flash through Hilary Swank’s career, you might decide that society is improving, after all.
There she was in “Iron Jawed Angels” (2004), as real-life militant Alice Paul, surviving arrests and hunger strikes while fighting for women’s right to vote.
And here she is in “Away,” which Netflix debuts Friday – 100 years and nine days after that voting-right became official. She plays the captain of a Mars mission.
“We’ve definitely come far in the last hundred years,” Swank told the Television Critics Association recently. “And we still have so much more to accomplish in equality for women. But … the show is such a beautiful reflection of where we’re headed.” Read more…

“Wolves” leads a pack of fresh streaming shows

As September arrives, the streaming networks are determined to keep their grip on us.
Yes, several networks have plans for makeshift fall seasons; PBS and cable have more. By Sept. 21, the TV world will feel sort of busy; by Sept. 27 – the launch of two engrossing cable series, “Fargo” and “Comey Rules” – it will seem packed.
But the streamers are loading up first. On Thursday – one day before Netflix’s ambitious “Away” debuts and Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” returns – four series or mini-series arrive, including Ridley Scott’s “Raised by Wolves” (shown here): Read more…

Conventions are over; take a breath … then rush

For a moment, TV people can pause for breath. It’s post-conventions rehab time.
The two parties have had their virtual gatherings. (The Republican finale is shown here.) People can worry about something else now … briefly. Coming soon are:
– Town halls, with candidates talking to undecided voters. ABC has set Donald Trump for Sept. 15; it has invited Joe Biden for a separate night.
– Debates. They’re set for Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; the vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7. Read more…