With the return tonight of NBC's "Hannibal," CBS' "The Good Wife" can no longer enjoy the distinction of being the only "basic-cable quality" drama on broadcast. Going forward, it must share that informal honor with "Hannibal" -- which comes roaring back tonight with even more of the boundary busting ferocity it unleashed during its abbreviated first season.
There are few things as exciting in television as watching a drama series that was very good in its first season instantly become something great at the start of its second. That's the case with FX's Cold War drama "The Americans," which seemed in its first season to be a worthwhile show that was as good as it was going to get. But after this week's season premiere, and although it is still very early in 2014, "The Americans" is suddenly in the running as one of the best series of the year.
From the looks of its early ratings -- not to mention the show itself -- it seems "Ronan Farrow Daily" won't do much to change the sorry state of MSNBC. Still, one can't fault a network with no significant traction for trying something new -- so critics and online comment-makers should cut "Farrow" some slack and stop trying to kill it before it has a chance to develop into something.
First nights are typically the worst nights for comedians who become hosts of late-night talk shows. Interestingly, former "Saturday Night Live" news reader Seth Meyers last night seemed right at home right out of the gate as the new host of "Late Night."
A&E this morning announced that it is getting into the live programming game. Next Monday, following the Season Two premiere of "Bates Motel" at 9 p.m. and the series premiere of "Those Who Kill" at 10, the network will present "Bates Motel: After Hours," a live half-hour program featuring the stars and executive producers of the show talking about the new season and answering questions from fans. I've been wondering which network would follow the lead of AMC in developing televised live after-shows that serve as companion programs to their most buzzed-about scripted series.
A funny thing happened this week on the season's first two live editions of Fox's "American Idol." During the Tuesday and Wednesday two-hour shows, in which the top girls and guys competed for a shot at being one of the Top 13 finalists, the visuals in occasional commercial breaks were reformatted in such a way as to encourage viewers not to look or click away during them. It was an immediate eye-catcher, perhaps because it was something new -- but I think Fox is onto something here.
J.R. Ewing Bourbon? All I can say is -- what took them so long? Warner Bros. yesterday announced that it is teaming up with Southfork Brewing Company to launch a new brand of bourbon -- the drink of choice of the late great J.R. Ewing on "Dallas." The third season of the current run of "Dallas" begins on TNT on Monday February 24. The bourbon will be available to the public near the end of March. Grievously, it will only be available in 14 states across the south and the Midwest. The rest of the country will have to wait …
Are the original series produced by Netflix truly designed to be binge-watched -- that is, viewed like 13-hour movies rather than serialized programs -- or is that just the new thing to do as identified and promoted by the media? We now have a new season of "House of Cards" to enjoy -- if enjoy is the right way to describe the feeling one gets watching a story about powerful people tormenting and in some cases killing less powerful and/or ordinary people.
"The Tonight Show" last night didn't simply usher in a new era in NBC's long-running late-night franchise. It also relegated Johnny Carson to the stuff of legend. Jay Leno took a lot of heat during his first year as "Tonight" host, but Fallon had no such bump last night. Equal parts interviewer, comedian, singer and dancer, and a terrific impersonator, Fallon is a strikingly qualified host for a program of this kind -- an endlessly cheerful fellow who always comes off as a fantastically talented, yet genuinely humble ordinary guy with one of the best jobs in the world.
Every year the Academy Awards try without success to be something extra special, which suggests to me that the executives, producers and other talent involved may simply be trying too hard. That's why I urge all of them to watch and carefully study the BAFTAs, England's version of the Academy Awards, which always put on the show that the Oscar team likely wishes its production could be.