Broadway vanished? Not on Fridays

In a theater-less season – no Broadway, no summer-stock musicals, nothing — we need a break.
Fortunately, PBS is trying. In a five-Friday stretch, it will give us Broadway-style reruns.
That includes two musicals (“She Loves Me” (shown here) and “The King and I”), two plays (“Present Laughter” and “Much Ado About Nothing”) and a making-of film (“In the Heights”). It’s sort of a history of theater – from Shakespeare to Miranda. Here’s a rundown, with shows at 9 p.m. (check local listings): Read more…

She’s achieved her shark-filled dreams

Other kids might pester Santa with trivial requests for ponies and unicorns and such.
Kori Garza, however, was more original. At 3, she plunked on his lap and asked for a great white shark.
She didn’t get it, which was probably for the best. It would be odd, she now grants, “to have a great white swimming in the bathtub.”
But it was a fine start for her current life: Garza (shown here) is a shark expert and the central figure in “World’s Biggest Tiger Shark?” That’s at 8 p.m. Sunday (July 19), launching National Geographic’s “Sharkfest.” (See overview under “stories” and schedule under “quick news and comments.) Read more…

It’s sorta horror and kinda fun

In his childhood, Bobby Mair (shown here) was blessed with intervals of benign neglect.
“A lot of people talk about over-protective parents,” he said. “But mine were busy doing their own thing …. No one seemed to mind that a 5-year-old was watching a horror film.”
That may have been the perfect training ground for his career as a comedian … and as the host of the first reality/horror/sometimes-comedy show to reach the U.S.
“Killer Camp” debuts Thursday (July 16), as the CW network plugs schedule holes with shows that have aired elsewhere. Viewers will get to to see some odd concoctions. Read more…

Peacock joins the streaming mega-clash

For TV viewers, this is now the clash of the titans.
On Wednesday (July 15), the Peacock streaming service debuts, harnessing the power of NBC, Universal and beyond. It starts with eight new series (including “Brave New World,” shown here) and a pile of old ones, plus movies and more.
That makes it the fourth mega-streamer, alongside Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max … with plenty of near-megas – CBS All Access, Hulu, Apple TV+. Amazon, Acorn – nearby.
There are differences, including a big one: This new streamer ( starts by being free, hoping people will upgrade to Peacock Premium, adding shows and eliminating commercials. Read more…

“Sharkfest” attacks the TV void

As summer nears its mid-point, TV clearly needs a boost.
There are big holes in the schedules and in our days. What can fill the void? Well … sharks — ots and lots of them, in bursts:
– Sunday (July 19): “Sharkfest” starts on the National Geographic Channel, opening at 8 p.m. with Kori Garza (shown here) hoping to re-unite with a mega-shark. It continue there for three weeks, with 17 new shows and endless reruns.
– Aug. 9: NatGeo Wild takes over, with two weeks of reruns … and Discovery begins its Shark Week Read more…

Animation rescues “Cake” from COVID

Cartoon characters have always been a breeze to work with.
hey don’t age or ache or retire; and, now, they don’t get COVID. That helped rescue a show: “Cake” (shown here with one of its logos) opens its third season at 10 and 10:30 p.m. Thursday (July 9) on FXX, then reaches Hulu the next day.
The FX networks have been hit hard by virus shutdowns. Their original productions take a boutique approach – low quantity, high quality. Now two of the best – “Fargo” and “Pose” – are on hold.
In that scorched landscape, we’re glad to see anything new. “Cake” will do. Read more…

The Vidal sisters shared some joy … temporarily

Last year, there was joy in the Vidal world.
Both sisters were cast in ABC pilots. “We freaked out,” Christina Vidal told the Television Critics Association in January.
Their shows got orders as mid-season replacements. She and Lisa went to New York for the “upfronts,” when actors meet advertisers. “It was like the biggest, craziest party in New York …. It was so exciting, a dream come true.”
And then? By coincidence, both halves of the dream faded. Lisa Vidal’s “The Baker and the Beauty” ran this spring, got weak ratings and was canceled; Christina’s “United We Fall” (shown here) fell into limbo and then into the summertime Read more…

For ghostbuster/crimebuster, some new twists

In a long career, Ernie Hudson (shown here) has ranged from crimebusting to ghostbusting.

He’s been steady, solid, dependable; the world around him, however, keeps quaking.

Part of that involves national tumult, but other parts are strictly show-business. “I’m in awe,” said Hudson, 74. “We’re reaching people in different ways now.” Consider his current shows: Read more…

Reiner mastered the modern sitcom

Carl Reiner packed a lot of lives into 98 years.
He was the perfect straight man for Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks, the ideal mentor for Steve Martin. He wrote seven movies, directed 15 of them (including “Oh, God” and four of Martin’s films), acted in tons more. He wrote a novel and memoirs.
But TV viewers will mainly remember Reiner, who died Monday, for one thing: He created the predecessor for sharp situation comedies rooted in real life.
That was “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (shown here in a colorized episode). It “was one of the few smart sitcoms of the 1960s,” David Bianculli wrote in “The Platinum Age of Television” (Doubleday, 2016), “a decade in which the genre was awash with flying nuns, talking cars and subservient witches and genies.” Read more…