And now, with another Thanksgiving holiday upon us, let us give thanks to all that TV gives us all year long. Thank you, TLC, for airing a binge-worthy marathon last Sunday of your timely reality series about immigration, "90 Day Fiance" ..
The story was tailor made for television. Even President Obama thought so. "There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction," the President said in his televised remarks following the announcement Monday evening that Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown. "And it will make for good TV," Obama acknowledged, referring apparently (if not awkwardly) to the images of unrest that were already coming out of Ferguson. Here was the President issuing a plea for calm, while at the very same time, the scene in Ferguson was anything but.
The past, present and future of late-night TV were all on view on Friday night's Letterman show. From out of the past -- seemingly -- came a musical performance that was as close to the sublime as television ever gets. It was an opera star -- Jessye Norman -- singing "Midnight Special," a plaintive, bluesy folk song thought to be about 100 years old. David Letterman won't be saying his final farewells until well into 2015, but he is about to enter his final holiday season as the host of "Late Show."
When the broadcast networks chose not to air President Obama's immigration speech, they were just acknowledging what everybody else already knows: Speeches like this are available to watch in a thousand other places, so why should a broadcast network feel obligated to preempt its entertainment shows for such a thing? While the broadcast networks greet the White House's request for airtime with yawns, for the news channels, a presidential speech like this one coming right at the onset of their prime-time talk shows is like winning the lottery.
While watching a preview DVD of this Sunday's tribute to Jay Leno on PBS, I wondered: Why isn't this show on NBC? The special, airing Sunday, Nov. 23, plays like a show that any broadcast network should have been eager to air. I realize PBS apparently has the rights to his annual Mark Twain Prize show. And it takes nothing away from PBS to say that it seems ironic that one of the biggest stars of the last two decades on network TV would be saluted on public television.
The (high) times they are a-changin'. Following in the footsteps of a handful of cable channels that got there first, CNN and MSNBC have both discovered marijuana -- not for smoking but for programming. These two cable channels, which are having a difficult time competing in the news business during the many hours when news isn't breaking, are looking at various ideas for reality- or documentary-style TV shows in an attempt to boost sagging ratings. And the two channels -- especially CNN -- are not above looking toward these other reality-oriented cable channels for "inspiration."
Whose bright idea was it to bring back Bill Cosby for an NBC sitcom? NBC first confirmed this news last January, but provided almost no details. And there's been no evidence that it will materialize anytime soon. But there is a lot of talk about it because suddenly Cosby is embroiled in a sex scandal stemming from accusations from women that he sexually assaulted them.This week, the TV Web sites have caught up to the sitcom angle, with various stories asking whether a new Cosby sitcom is tenable under these new nasty circumstances.
Tonight, NBC will introduce its new drama series about the War on Terror with a plot line involving the threatened execution of an American aide worker being held hostage by Muslim extremists. Over the weekend, a similar story happened in real life with the U.S. government confirming on Sunday that aide worker Peter Kassig was beheaded in Syria by Muslim extremists. Yet there have been no signs today that NBC is thinking about rescheduling tonight's episode or subbing the premiere episode with a later one because of the news about Kassig.
"Worricker: Salting the Battlefield" on PBS is one of these shows that seems to have come to American television almost completely unannounced. I can't remember seeing a single ad or any other piece of publicity about "Worricker," a series of three made-for-TV movies starring the incomparable Bill Nighy as a British spy. And here's some bad news: Due to the lack of buildup this show seems to have received, it's very likely you missed last week's "Worricker," which was just about the finest production I'd seen on TV in weeks.
Few forms of so-called "journalism" are as useless as the TV recap. And yet they're all over the place.This kind of writing about television lacks value for two big reasons. People who are fans of a TV show getting recapped have, in all likelihood, already watched the show themselves, which means they have no reason to read a recap, and if these fans of a TV show happened to miss the show and they've recorded it to watch later, or plan on watching it on-demand, then they have another reason not to read these detailed, morning-after summaries, which can only …