The marvelous new drama series "Masters of Sex" is a modest hit for Showtime that will likely become even more popular once the show begins receiving nominations for various awards (as it did last week with the Golden Globes). "Masters of Sex" is a profoundly insightful character study based on the lives of legendary sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson and the groundbreaking studies they carried out in the 1950s in the areas of human sexuality and sexual response. The real reason that "Masters" deserves so much acclaim is the caliber of the performances by its extraordinarily talented cast …
Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of one of the most heinous and unsettling crimes in American history -- the mass murder of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in bucolic Newtown, Connecticut. If you took a stroll today through Sandy Hook, you would notice dozens of signs printed in big red letters posted around town, all issuing the same warning: "No MEDIA. Police take notice." These signs are the work of residents who are determined to avoid the kind of extended media invasion this weekend that compounded their grief last December.
Why do we even care about the Golden Globes? Contrary to popular belief, there is no significant correlation between victories in the movie categories and wins at the Academy Awards. And whatever attention the Globes pay to television series and performers fades away long before Emmy time rolls around. Plainly, the only reason we pay any attention is that the event itself is widely (and rightly) regarded as the most entertaining movie and/or television awards show of the year. That has a lot to do with the fact that NBC's annual presentation of the Globes is the first awards telecast …
Is there any point in complaining about oversights and exclusions from the television categories in this year's Screen Actors Guild Award nominations? After all, the SAGs are all about actors honoring their peers -- first with nominations and then with specific awards. Can those of us who are not members of the Hollywood acting community really insist that when it comes to giving special recognition to actors we know better than they do? Of course we can! With all due respect to the nominees, SAG members need to sharpen their focus -- or at least start watching more television.
One of the many delights of watching NBC's telecast of "The Sound of Music Live!" was the absence of annoying on-screen graphics throughout. Like avoiding commercials, experiencing television without intrusive clutter and other elements that often make the initial viewing experience unpleasant is another reason why many people prefer to watch via streaming platforms. The increasing heavy-handedness of onscreen promotion isn't doing television -- or any other media -- any good at all.
if ever there was a network entertainment program that deserved dignified and unqualified support from the press, "The Sound of Music Live!" was it. It wasn't just a triumph of live entertainment programming -- no network had attempted a live telecast of a fully produced musical in 50 years -- it was the finest night of family-friendly programming on a broadcast network in recent (or perhaps distant) memory. Broadcast television today provides very little family entertainment of the caliber that might be remembered many years in the future. "The Sound of Music Live!" proved it could still be done.
Critics and journalists who cover television are already buzzing: January is the new September. The amount of new and returning programs on broadcast and cable schedules next month is impressive, to say the least. Some will insist it's overwhelming, and they won't necessarily be wrong. Dozens of shows will be competing for attention during that brief post-holiday pre-Olympics window, but one is already looking like a standout: Syfy's sleek new thriller "Helix," set to premiere January 10.
Writing earlier this week about AMC's "The Walking Dead" and NBC's "The Blacklist" I got to thinking about violence on television. How much is too much, or is it even an issue anymore? Is supernatural violence somehow more palatable than the kind that characterizes so many procedural crime dramas? Should we even acknowledge content differences between broadcast and basic cable, given the way younger generations have grown up consuming television without regard for how it is delivered or for whom it may have been intended?
How can a Christmas special produced in the Sixties continue to dominate holiday programming almost 50 years after its first telecast? Last Tuesday, CBS' presentation of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- a stop-motion animation classic first seen on NBC in 1964 -- was, according to CBS, the No.1 program of the night among adults 25-54 and tied NBC's "The Voice" as the evening's top show among adults 18-49. Does this speak to the power of broadcast TV to turn almost anything into a must-see program or to the enduring quality of "Rudolph" itself? I suspect the answer is "both."
Why am I so accepting of content in "The Blacklist" that I might once have objected to? Aside from the general feeling of being desensitized in recent years by escalating violence and brutality in television and other media, I think it still comes down to the overall quality of the show. Watching these characters enter simple factories or warehouses or abandoned buildings and discover the horrors within often feels like witnessing a descent into hell. If the intensity of it is uniquely unrelenting, that's because it represents a confluence of excellent storytelling, direction and acting.