In terms of original series, pay-cable giant HBO seemed to be drifting a bit after a golden period in which its schedule included "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The first three series in particular impacted popular culture in ways that nothing on broadcast and basic cable seemed able to do. But then along came "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" and "Girls" and "True Detective" and "Silicon Valley" and all of a sudden HBO is back at the top, casting its shadow over an ever-widening television and streaming entertainment landscape.
Did you know that Barbara Walters was once a regular guest host of "The Tonight Show"? Apparently she filled in on occasion for Johnny Carson, back when she worked for NBC on the "Today" show. Oddly, I learned about this when she appeared Wednesday on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight." I use the word "oddly" because since Fallon has taken over as host of "The Tonight Show" the show has played more like an inventive comedy revue than a talk show of genuine substance from which one might glean interesting information. That seems to be working out just fine for NBC.
The Daytime Emmys this year couldn't find a home on a broadcast or basic cable network, so instead they will be streamed online on June 22 (at daytimeemmys.net). What does this say about daytime programming, its relationship to the networks, the mindset of broadcast and basic cable executives and the viability of placing a significant awards program -- one that just a few years ago had been a big broadcast sweeps event -- on a Web site?
Many new series have debuted and many veteran shows have returned on broadcast and basic cable networks and streaming services since late May. But my early summer favorite doesn't seem to be getting very much coverage at all, so maybe I can help to get things rolling. I'm referring to truTV's "The Carbonaro Effect," a funny observational reality series starring actor and mind-bendingly talented magician Michael Carbonaro that recalls all sorts of hidden camera shows, especially the timeless classic "Candid Camera," which debuted way back in 1948 and has been revived numerous times since then.
I don't share the utterly unrestrained enthusiasm most people have for "Orange," but I do enjoy it very much and I admire it more than just about anything else on television, even in the medium's second Golden Age. But the fervor with which critics and reporters from a variety of entertainment magazines and Web sites try to top each other in their bubbling praise for this show can be off-putting. It's as if there is nothing else as good on television, or that there never was anything of its caliber before "Orange" came along.
Critics are reviewing it, and TNT is promoting it -- but given the resume of its executive producer it is somewhat surprising that the premiere of TNT's new legal drama "Murder in the First" isn't causing more of a stir. Steven Bochco, the man behind "First" and so many other extraordinary television series during the last 30 years, is one of the very few program creators I can think of who actually challenged basic assumptions about what series television could be and then created shows that would forever impact the medium.
Tonight at 9 p.m. ET History will present "D-Day in HD," an ambitious high-definition documentary on the subject that should be required viewing for young people and should be on the radar of anyone old enough to appreciate the significance of its content. AHC today is repeating the 13-part 2008 documentary series "World War II in Color." Meanwhile, NBC tonight at 8 p.m. ET will present "Brian Williams Reporting: Journey to Normandy," featuring interviews with four WWII veterans, while HBO is marking the 70th anniversary with a marathon of its already classic 2001 miniseries "Band of Brothers."
Every year at this time I say the same thing: The annual CMT Music Awards telecast is one of the best of its kind, and in some ways the best music awards presentation of all. Last night's production proved me right once again.
Debates are raging this week on many Web sites that cover television programming about one of the two episodes of "Louie" that were telecast on FX Monday night in which the usually lovable lump Louie clumsily but aggressively attempted to force himself on Pamela, a young woman with whom he has had an on again, off again shared attraction for some time now. I'm not sure which would be worse: Louie somehow being redeemed in future episodes or the deeply disturbing events being forgotten and never referred to again.
As far as broadcast television is concerned, this seems to be the summer that everyone has been waiting for, because for the first time in memory, and perhaps ever, each of the Big Four networks has programming of substance -- that is, programming that would fit very nicely into their September-May schedules -- running at various times and in different durations throughout June, July and August.