Sure, we hate it when the celebrities we love die. But some of us (if not most of us, or even all of us) like the comforting feeling we get when we come across the year-end tributes on TV that showcase the legends we lost in the previous year.
Watching a preview DVD of tonight's annual "Kennedy Center Honors" on CBS made me think about other shows that remain stubbornly the same, despite the many ways TV has evolved since they came on the scene. Here are some of TV's retro favorites.
For the new year to be truly "new," let's see if we can shed some of the ideas and trends in TV in 2015 by declaring some of them to be passe, or close to it.
"The Comeback" has been reported to be the lowest-rated comedy series in the history of HBO, so it stands to reason that relatively few people will make it a point to watch the one-hour season finale of this show on Sunday, Dec. 28 on HBO. That's too bad, because they will miss something special. I know this because I've seen the show, thanks to HBO, which took the unusual step of providing this finale episode to TV columnists in advance of its air date -- something HBO rarely does for finales.
In the hours preceding the midnight masses, Christmas Eve is anything but a "silent night" on TV. This year, the prime-time schedules on the four networks seem to represent an ambivalence about the onset of Christmas. Or perhaps their schedules merely reflect the fact that they don't expect many people to watch anyway, so why try? Let's take a look at what's on TV Christmas Eve, network by network, to see if we can learn anything about how the networks view Christmas.
The "Today" show suddenly dropped a planned interview segment with Adams because, the reports say, she or her press rep made it known to the show's producers that Adams would rather not be asked questions about the Sony computer-hacking scandal. Adams apparently wanted the interview to adhere strictly to her new movie called "Big Eyes," coming out on Christmas Day. But the "Today" show wanted to ask her what she thought of the hacking mess.
Craig Ferguson went out with a bang Friday night with a show-stopping musical number that managed to top the week's other late-night finale seen just one night earlier -- Stephen Colbert's farewell to "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. Ferguson and his producers shrewdly used this lavishly produced farewell performance to open the final edition of Ferguson's "Late Late Show" on CBS. It set the stage for a Ferguson finale that was everything a farewell late-night show should be -- sentimental (but not too much), entertaining and creative.
Stephen Colbert said farewell to "The Colbert Report" last night with old-fashioned, over-the-top showmanship. The centerpiece of Colbert's final "Report" was an elaborate performance featuring literally scores of celebrities and former guests all singing "We'll Meet Again," a song from 1939 that became one of the iconic sentimental favorites of World War II. This clip is really a must-see piece of video.
The tragedies and travails of some of our most iconic comedians were among the top stories in TV and all of entertainment in 2014. Robin Williams shocked us all by committing suicide, Joan Rivers died apparently from a botched medical procedure, and Bill Cosby became embroiled in an ugly sex scandal.
As some TV columnists have already observed, peace seems to have broken out in the late-night wars -- so much so that at least superficially, you can't even call them wars anymore. Behind the scenes, however, I'm sure there is still a war -- for guests, for sponsors, for viewers, for money. On the surface, however, late-night TV has become so lovey-dovey that it has become unrecognizable.