• Premature Prognostication About The Fall Freshmen on ABC, CBS and NBC
    Pilots or first cuts of premiere episodes of the 2014-15 broadcast freshman class have been available to journalists, advertisers and others since May or June. Soon, the networks will begin making final "review-ready" episodes available to critics, or they will send out notification that the pilots they distributed months ago are okay to use as official review copies. But after living and working with these new shows for almost three months it doesn't seem unreasonable to begin offering carefully considered opinions about the fall freshmen, with the responsible caveat that these are not official reviews or the final word on …
  • 'The Patty Duke Show' Reminds Us Of Changes In The Media Landscape
    Once upon a time, before social media expanded communication to such a degree that it is now diluted on the local level, a well-written, smartly reasoned letter to the editor with a well-argued point of view could bring about changes in local policies, politics and practices of every stripe. Entire communities were brought together daily in one place by one or two affordable publications. Unlike social media today, there was no place for knee-jerk responses to anything in that valuable real estate. All of this came to mind while watching "Cathy, the Rebel," an episode of the classic '60s sitcom …
  • 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.
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