• Naked Summer, Part 2: Nudity On The Rise In Scripted Programming
    As I was writing Monday's column about VH1's "Dating Naked" and the unprecedented amount of bare skin on display in that series and several other recent basic cable reality efforts, it occurred to me that nudity is also on the rise this summer in scripted basic cable programs. Even a cursory viewing of current series has made clear that fresh displays of skin are everywhere. I'm used to nudity on pay cable programs and shows on streaming services -- aren't we all? Still, as far as nudity goes, basic cable is suddenly busting out all over.
  • A Fond Farewell To Robin Williams
    Many actors have found great success in both film and television, but few have accomplished more in both than Robin Williams. The coverage of his shocking death by film and television journalists has straddled both media in a way that is at the very least uncommon. I might have years added to my life if I were given back all the time I spent enjoying Williams' work. But I don't think I would make the trade. Williams' contributions to all of our lives were outstanding in that capacity. I can't imagine the last 40 years without him in them.
  • Naked Summer: VH1's Frisky Flesh Fest 'Dating Naked'
    VH1's "Dating Naked" is currently at the forefront of the new wave of super-naked TV. TLC's "Buying Naked" and Discovery's "Naked and Afraid" got there first, but the nudity in both is supposedly not the focal point -- even if it does prompt people to tune in, and perhaps turn on. "Dating Naked" is something else altogether. It takes this new adventure in TV exposure to an entirely different plateau because it's all about nudity as a component of sexual attraction.
  • Starz' Striking 'Outlander' May Be The Most Impressive New Series Of The Year
    "Outlander" is full of life right from the beginning, even if it is in no rush to tell its story or startle its viewers. It seems to go against almost everything we have recently been led to believe that a successful television series has to be to compete in this time of dizzying competition among content providers. In other words it is instantly refreshing. Before the first episode is half over, the very qualities that set it apart make it stand out in all the right ways.
  • Syfy's 'Ascension' Is Already One Of The Most Talked About TV Events Of The Fall Season
    As I contemplate the dizzying number of shows that I previewed at the Summer 2014 Television Critics Association tour and the San Diego Comic-Con, one of the very few that I cannot wait to see is Syfy's "Ascension," an uncommonly ambitious six-hour mini-series scheduled to debut in November. The buzz is already building because of its exposure at two major media events and because it is that rarest of television productions -- one that seems to have been designed to appeal to people of all ages, including boomers who may have childhood memories of President Kennedy as well as Millennials ...
  • Will British Actor James Corden Be Our Next Late Night Star?
    Apparently, the very entertaining British actor James Corden is in the running to take over as host of CBS' "The Late Late Show" when Craig Ferguson departs at the end of the year. When I first heard about this, my thoughts immediately went to the BBC's "The Graham Norton Show" -- arguably the most consistently entertaining talk show of any kind anywhere and one on which Corden has appeared more than once as a guest. I had long ago put aside any hope of any network putting together a nightly talk show with half the comic energy of Norton's weekly ...
  • Married,' 'You're The Worst,' 'Partners': FX's Uneven Comedy Triple-Play
    It may look like FX is suddenly trying to make a name for itself in the sitcom field, especially at a time when good comedies seem not merely to be exceptions but happy accidents in the development process. But this is not new territory for the network.
  • The Passing Of An 'American Idol' Favorite Evokes Fond Memories Of A Fading Franchise
    "Idol" and other shows like it are now full-blown media circuses. The very personal emotional connection that "Idol" established on a seemingly singular basis with its viewers during its first eight years is a thing of the past. It was so simple and so intense -- no wonder it was a sensation. Johns was one of the fortunate few to enjoy it at its best. Perhaps that's one reason why his death has so many of us feeling a sense of loss.
  • Funny Or Die Scores Again With 'Mary Poppins Quits'
    Critics, bloggers and advertisers have been fully immersed in the dozens of new series set to debut this fall on the broadcast networks and the many new series on broadcast and basic cable last month that made July feel like the new September as far as original programming is concerned. Something jumped out at me this week that felt very much like a respite from the very serious business of television programming and scheduling -- or perhaps a palate cleanser, depending on one's point of view. It's a video recently posted on Funny or Die titled "Mary Poppins Quits."
  • Summer Of 'Sharknado' - The Sequel
    Syfy's "Sharknado" may be the only movie franchise in history to be the television event of the summer for two consecutive years under completely different circumstances. It came out of nowhere, with no special advance promotion, and became a true pop-culture sensation even before the end of its first telecast, thanks to a burgeoning real-time response on Twitter by a handful of Hollywood heavyweights and their legions of followers. The media hasn't stopped talking about it since.
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