The years when television offered so much innocent fun are long gone, but wonderful memories remain. It is in that context that I also feel thankful for the sudden abundance of retro-programming networks -- all of which, I'm pleased to say, are available to me on my cable system. Amid the madness and the multitasking and the mounting daily stresses of this new millennium, there are instant diversions to be found on Me-TV, Antenna TV, This TV and Cozi TV.
ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" remains one of television's most tantalizing puzzles. It is still one of the most entertaining shows on any network. Although it's bigger and glitzier and faster-paced, elements of it often remind me of the variety series of yesteryear, especially when special guest stars perform on its stage. We're often reminded that its audience is "older" than that of its competition, or of many other popular broadcast programs. And yet it continues to sit high atop the Nielsen ratings and it has become one of the most tweeted-about shows on television.
The embrace of the old by the new seems to be happening everywhere. The most recent example is this week's announcement that Katie Couric, one of the biggest names in traditional broadcast network news during the last twenty years, is leaving her current position at ABC News for a new role as Global Anchor for Yahoo's growing news franchise.
In a strange turn of events that might be described as unfortunate, two of CBS' finest procedural crime dramas -- "Person of Interest" and "The Mentalist" -- are currently telling very similar stories in ramped up multi-part episodes strategically scheduled to maximize the November sweeps performance potential of each series. Most of the time these two shows are nothing alike, although they both center on the solving or prevention of criminal activity. But at the moment they could support the ongoing assertion that the television writing community is running out of original ideas.
The aging Television Generation has a lot to contemplate this weekend, as almost every major media outlet commemorates the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963 and the events of the long weekend that followed. At the time, the wall-to-wall coverage comprised the first major television "event" for what was still a very young medium. The entire world stopped that day and remained breathless for days to follow, transfixed by television news coverage in a way it had never before been.
Proving once again that commercials don't have to be an intrusive component of television viewing, and that under certain circumstances advertiser messages can even be pleasant to watch, Target unveiled several components of its holiday campaign during three of ABC's comedies on Wednesday night.
One week ago, my column "The Night That Twitter Changed Television" chronicled the excitement of watching "The Voice" the night before -- when NBC's red-hot competition show initiated a new feature in its viewer voting process. Host Carson Daly turned the whole ballgame over to viewers with Twitter accounts. Watching all that play out last week was exciting, mostly because it had never been seen before on a reality-competition program. This week, watching it play out was decidedly less compelling. Gimmicks are like that -- they tantalize at first, but quickly fade upon repetition.
In another win for broadcast television in the early weeks of the 2013-14 season, Fox has a successful new Monday night -- a major accomplishment, because the two shows on the network's new Monday schedule, "Sleepy Hollow" and "Almost Human," are both fragile freshman series. "Sleepy Hollow" has quickly emerged as one of the most popular new series of the season with critics and audiences alike and is now paired with "Almost Human," making Fox's Monday a dream destination for the millions of genre enthusiasts who currently have significant influence over much of television. Fox is giving us all a …
With only a few weeks left in 2013, critics and bloggers have already begun formulating their annual Top Ten lists, albeit with more anxiety than usual. It's been darn near impossible in recent years to limit such lists to ten choices, given the wealth of extraordinary dramatic programming on pay and basic cable networks and the steadily improving state of sitcoms on the broadcast networks. And this year critics have all those great new series on Netflix and Amazon and Sundance Channel making their decisions even more difficult. AMC's "Breaking Bad" will surely appear on every Top Ten list. Furthermore, …
The Internet yesterday exploded, as they say, following the online release of a totally unexpected seven-minute mini-episode titled "The Night of the Doctor" that serves as a setup to the feverishly anticipated "Doctor Who" special "The Day of the Doctor," which will mark the 50th anniversary of this formidable franchise with a global television premiere on Saturday, November 23. Other than the soap operas "Guiding Light," "As the World Turns" and "General Hospital" is there another scripted television franchise that has lasted that long?