“The Friday TV Report” 24 from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom
I (Sally) update this ever-changing post of ongoing mini-reviews of certain TV and Netflix shows with our opinions (begun in fall, 2015), and updated premier and return dates. Check on Fridays! And, maintaining a “news” section, below, with rumors and truths of upcoming TV and Netflix shows. I also add to reviews of many previously reviewed shows with new info and opinions often, so check below “new” if you’re interested in those updates.
This is Report 24 for May 19, 2017, UPDATED June 20; next full post, mid-July, 2017.
TRUTH, RUMORS and PROBABILITIES:
—Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access for subscribers, only, but first episode also on CBS (premiers 9/24/17)
—Scandal, Thursdays on ABC, is NOT yet cancelled: returns for 7 final episodes, fall, 2017! We have watched them all, so we have to finish with the sick characters, so well-acted, of this series.
—Emmy® Award winner, Stephen Colbert, of THE LATE SHOW with STEPHEN COLBERT, will host the 69th PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS LIVE on Sunday, Sept. 17, 8:00-11:00 PM, Eastern, on CBS
—[RANT: I hate this phrase, “support the troops,” because it means that the excessively jingoistic and testosterone-fueled, for-profit, USA military-industrial complex is fear-mongering yet another war at poor people’s expense in some distant locale, while said troops have “volunteered” to go murder and cause mayhem for dubious purposes and even worse outcomes. Meanwhile, TV producers and actors wax rhapsodic and tout that phrase when military-themed shows arise, and this fall is no exception. Rant over.]
I doubt if I will watch any of these, but my mom might.
——-S.W.A.T. stars Criminal Minds‘ popular Shemar Moore (in the role Samuel L. Jackson originated in 2003) on CBS.
——-David Boreanaz barely unpacks from his vacation after ending Bones to star in SEAL Team, also on CBS.
—— Mike Vogel (from Under the Dome) and Anne Heche star in The Brave on NBC, which premiers 9/25/17.
——- Not to be left out, the CW is hosting Valor, starring Matt Barr.
—Kyra Sedgwick returns to star in what should probably be/have been a one-and-done Lifetime channel’s movie and is probably not even going to last one season on ABC, Ten Days in the Valley. Woman’s child is kidnapped. She tries to find her. A series? I do not think so.
—Shonda Rhimes wants to compete with the Chicago TV shows’ CBS franchise, so Grey’s Anatomy and is having a firefighters’ spinoff; still untitled and premier date unknown.
—NBC will have a Broadway-filmed “live” (at filming time) showing of Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday, 2018. If you’ve never seen it, very worth it. It’s brilliant. One of the first “rock operas” of the 1960s-1970s, it has almost no dialogue and many amazing songs. Much more serious and politicized/satirical than Godspell, but the same story.
—Also inexplicably (to me), ABC is airing The Little Mermaid as a “sing-along,” mixing “real-life singing with animated songs” in October, 2017. I guess kids will like it.
—We never watched the original and do not plan to watch this reboot (even though the cast is slightly more “diverse”) but some will enjoy the revival of Dynasty on the CW, which could be good: it’s from the creators of Gossip Girl. Fall, 2017, premier.
—Also on our not-watching list, but nevertheless exciting to many who love Big Bang Theory, the backstory of one of its precocious genius characters’ childhood is to be featured in Young Sheldon on CBS this fall, 2017.
—Everwood is being re-run and may be poised to be revived as well, on the CW. The show originally ran 2002-2006 with Gregory Smith and Vivien Cardone, along with Emily vanCamp and Chris Pratt playing pairs of teen siblings (Greg, Emily and Vivien actually were teens for the first few years). Starring Treat Williams and Tom Amandes as rival doctors/their respective fathers, it was fun, easy on the mind and eyes entertainment. My mom never saw it, so we’ll probably watch (I already saw most of the episodes). Premier date not set, yet.
—One of the most significant influences on my and many others’ lives was a science-fiction book published in the 1960s by Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, and this now “classic tale of a human raised by Martians is being adapted into a television series”! This is a “a co-production between Paramount Television and Universal Cable Productions” being developed for the SyFy network. Premier date not set, yet.
—Roseanne is being revived and will premier on ABC mid-season, 2017-18. Even John Goodman‘s character (who died in their last season) will return (presumably in “new” flashbacks).
Roseanne Barr, of course, will return, as will former cast members, Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman and Lecy Goranson, with Sarah Chalke also back, but in a different role. I never watched the original except in clips (in my no-TV years), but I might give this a watch. Mom says: “Yuck.”
—PSYCH is returning to the network that created it, USA, just for a “Holiday movie,” in 2017. Oooh: I hope they sing, again! So fun. I miss this show!
“…[F]eaturing fake psychic detective, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), the team will reunite once again… when the two-hour special premiers this December. Psych creator, Steve Franks, who co-wrote the movie with Roday, is directing. Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), Juliet (Maggie Lawson), Henry (Corbin Bernsen), and Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) will also return for the movie, which picks up three years after the series finale.”
—Emergency Response drama, 9-1-1, created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, starring Angela Bassett, premieres mid-season, 2017-2018, on FOX.
—A.P. Bio NBC (mid-season, 2017-2018)
Sounds interesting: Patton Oswalt (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and others I have never heard of or seen (yet) are starring in a comedy about a “cynical Ivy League professor [who] loses out on his dream job and goes to work as a high school biology teacher where he imposes his unorthodox teaching style and uses the kids to plot out revenge on those who wronged him.” Hmmmm.
—Premier date is unclear, but Deception, ABC, sounds interesting. I don’t recognize the names or faces of any of the stars, though. PR says: “When his career is ruined by scandal, superstar magician, Cameron Black, has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, illusion, and influence — the FBI. He’ll become the world’s first consulting illusionist, helping the government solve crimes that defy explanation and trap criminals and spies by using deception.”
Sounds like a White Collar and The Mentalist mash-up. We liked both those shows, so we’ll probably give it a try.
—Another possibility: For the People, a courtroom drama scheduled some time in 2017-18 on ABC. We sometimes like these, but they can be SUPER boring if not done right. Bull, yes. Chicago Justice, no. We do recognize some of the stars, so we’ll try it.
Features Ben Rappaport (Mr. Robot, The Good Wife), Hope Davis (American Crime), Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie), Lyndon Smith (Parenthood), Ben Shenkman (Royal Pains), and some others.
Blurb: “Set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, aka “The Mother Court,” the drama follows brand-new lawyers working for both the defense and the prosecution handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country — all as their lives intersect in and out of the courtroom.”
—Dylan McDermott is coming back with a workplace comedy, mid-season 2017-2018, FOX, LA TO VEGAS. We miss Pure Genius.
—One of my long-time faves, Amy Acker, is set to star in The Gifted, another show from Marvel comics (but not with Joss Whedon at the helm) (on Fox, premiers 10/2/17), co-parenting [with Stephen Moyer (True Blood)] a troupe of mutant children. Probably too much violence and fighting, but we’ll give it a try.
Also stars some others I/we have liked: Coby Bell (Burn Notice), Sean Teale (Reign, Incorporated), Emma Dumont (Aquarius, Bunheads).
Says it’s about “a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.”
—FOX plans to air a LIVE production of the Tony-award-winning musical, RENT, some time this next year. Well-worth watching, I’m sure.
—I’m kind of bored with autistic savant characters (they’re EVERYWHERE, now, aren’t they?), but this series may be interesting, despite the trite trope. The Good Doctor premiers on ABC starring Freddie Highmore in the title role, and including a couple of familiar faces [Richard Schiff (The West Wing) and Hill Harper (Covert Affairs, CSI: NY)], so we’ll try it.
—Another great cast for a new show with a shaky premise, IMO: Reverie, on NBC, brings Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest), Dennis Haysbert (24), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes), Kathryn Morris (Cold Case) and Jessica Lu (Awkward) for an as-yet-undetermined premier date, midseason, 2017-2018.
It purports to be a “grounded and dramatic thriller about a former detective specializing in human behavior who is brought in when the launch of an advanced virtual reality program has dangerous and unintended consequences.” No premier date, yet.
—We’ll be glad to see Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) back in Instinct on CBS , if they can figure out when to start showing it. No premier date, yet.
Cumming plays “a former CIA operative who has since built a ‘normal’ life as a gifted professor and writer [who] is pulled back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer on the loose. Based on the soon-to-be-published James Patterson book.”
—Seemingly a mash-up of Glee and Mr. Holland’s Opus, Rise brings in the drama classes for a new show we might like, on NBC. Starts mid-season, 2017-18, starring some cool peeps: Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother), Auli’i Cravalho (Moana), Rosie Perez (Search Party, Lipstick Jungle), and many others pretending to be teens, I’m sure.
The show “centers on a high school drama teacher and family man whose passion for the program and his students galvanizes the entire working class town. Based on Michael Sokolove’s book, Drama High, which itself is based on real-life drama teacher, Lou Volpe.”
—Orville, FOX, premiers 9/10/17 and 9/17/17 with special, 2-part, series opener, then goes to its regular day, Thursdays, starting 9/28/17.
It is probably going to try too hard and be terrible, but what if it’s great? HAVE to watch at least one episode, right? But, it hasn’t got a start date, yet; they plan to air on Thursdays.
It has quite a cast: Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy), Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle), Scott Grimes (ER), Peter Macon (Shameless), J Lee (Family Guy), Halston Sage (Crisis)
And, potentially, a great premise: “Set 300 years in the future, the hour-long dramedy follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship, in Earth’s interstellar Fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, this motley crew of space explorers will boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.”
—Emily vanCamp (Revenge, Everwood) and Matt Czuchry (The Good Wife) will star in a FOX medical drama series, The Resident, planned for mid-season, 2017-2018.
—Jacqueline Bisset to star in Journey to Miyakojima, which is scheduled to begin shooting October, 2017, in Japan. “The family drama centers on ‘a quietly ailing’ family matriarch [Bisset] and NBA team owner who hopes to ‘reunite her shattered family at a serene island off the coast of Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home.’…She convinces her granddaughter, who suffers from an eating disorder that’s getting increasingly serious, to stay at a guesthouse on the island, ‘where its beauty, a chance meeting with a treasure hunter, and a century-old shipwreck heal their wounds.’”
—The X-Files reboot, which I, a faithful fan who watched every episode of the original series, thought was TERRIBLE, has just been RENEWED and plans to return mid-season, 2017-2018, on FOX. Who makes these decisions?
—Gina Torres WILL star in a SUITS spin-off, because it will film in LA (where she lives) instead of the usual Toronto-for-NYC. Watch her on SUITS in the final winter, 2017, Episode (a brief return, only, for this season), then, watch for Torres to headline and produce the new series centered on her Suits character, Jessica Pearson.
—Sonia Braga to star in Las Reinas, a new ABC detective drama, probably for fall, 2017.
—Casey Wilson, Busy Philipps and Tina Fey are teaming up for The Sackett Sisters. Wilson and Philipps play sisters, with Bradley Whitford as their father, in the Fey-produced NBC comedy pilot, which may or may not get picked up for 2017-18.
—Connie Britton has already risen from the dead Rayna James (Nashville) to play a leading role in Nicole Holofcener’s upcoming Netflix ensemble dramedy, The Land of Steady Habits—based on Ted Thompson’s 2014 novel of the same name—along with Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), and Thomas Mann (Fargo). Look for it later in 2017.
—Lauren Graham is set to star in Linda from HR, a comedy for Fox.
“The show will center on the ‘one bad decision’ that throws ‘Linda from HR’s monotonous, unfulfilled life into an exciting but dangerous tailspin of balancing work life, home life, and a secret that could unravel everything.’”
We/I liked these shows, listed below, and many were left very unfinished; but, too bad (so, reviews were not kept, below, unless show has one more season or partial season still to run):
The Catch — CANCELLED;
Orphan Black— CANCELLED/ENDED;
Pure Genius— CANCELLED;
Saving Hope— CANCELLED/ENDED;
Sun Records— CANCELLED;
We didn’t like or tried but did not keep watching these, anyway:
Chicago Justice— CANCELLED;
Emerald City —CANCELLED;
Feed the Beast— CANCELLED;
Imaginary Mary— CANCELLED;
Making History— CANCELLED;
No Tomorrow —CANCELLED;
Shots Fired — CANCELLED;
Time after Time —CANCELLED.
A few others we liked are showing as TBD for their the 2017-2018 season. I no longer have my reviews, here, if they showed up as cancelled, but stay tuned.
The networks did this awful ploy of pitting one show against another for which one gets to remain on the schedule. I suppose they’re hoping to get viewers to write/email/text/tweet about their favorites; nothing about quality, of course. Sigh.
This is the twenty-fourth post, for 4 weeks ending 5/19/17 (but updated until next post as we go along). I continue to note the updated (as of 6/20/17).
CANCELLED, TBD or RENEWED shows’ statuses, below, can be found here (many shows we do not watch, on this site’s list): http://renewcanceltv.com/cancelled-ended-tv-shows-2016-17-season/1/
For the shows we watch, I put each one’s status beneath its review or listing, when it is known.
Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews or expectations for/of all shows that have been discontinued/cancelled since we started this series of posts in 2015.
My mom, 84, and I (62) are probably not the “target demographic” for almost any show on television or any movie being produced currently. We live in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Midwest, for those of you unfamiliar: think of that huge “Gateway Arch”? That’s here). I grew up here but then didn’t live here for 42 years; I’ve been back for about two years, now. We were both raised Jewish, but I have been a meditator since 1972 and a practicing Buddhist since 1996. We are both Caucasian women-born-women. We are considered “middle class” although we have almost zero dollars of “disposable income.” My mom is hetero; I am bisexual. We are both partly disabled. I am highly educated (doctoral degree plus other training); my mom has extensive work-experience, with a high school diploma.
My mom has been a TV watcher for over 60 years. I watched a lot as a kid, but from about 1972 – 2002, I didn’t have a TV and hardly watched it elsewhere, either. I usually didn’t have a TV between 2005 – 2014 as well, but I watched some shows online (Hulu, usually) or Netflix.
We think we should be part of a group that at least some producers are aiming to please, because we (especially Mom) now watch a lot of television. We also get movies regularly from DVD borrowing through our local library. We even occasionally go to a theatre to see a movie. We eagerly await the “new season” of television every one of the four times it seems to occur every year: “Fall Sweeps” happen, but so do Mid-season Sweeps, Mid-year New Seasons, and channels with an entirely different set of “seasons.”
We also occasionally watch TV shows and movies on Netflix!
However, we are consistently disappointed that many shows we do like are cancelled and some shows we despise seem to go on forever.
AND: “Why does none of these bakers ever wear a baker’s hat or a hairnet? Their hair is all over the food. Disgusting!” says my mom.
ALSO: “Why is it always so dark in all these shows? I can’t see a thing. What is the point?” We both say this.
Again, for the middle of May, 2017, I/we continue with this Report.
We don’t watch: most “sit-coms,” any zombies or vampires, reality shows (except one on BBC), extremely violent shows, premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz), most YA/”teen” shows.
Keep up with the changes! http://thefutoncritic.com/guide/
or here, for the schedule (as of May 18, 2017, for May and future months): http://renewcanceltv.com/tv-show-premiere-dates-2017-complete-guide/5/
TV + Netflix Reviews and News
Our planned evening viewing line-up for shows (updated frequently) is as follows, sort of in calendar order, BUT, those I’ve already reviewed get “bumped” to the bottom of this post.
Scroll down if you don’t see a show “on top” that you want to read my review of (because they’re so insightful!).
NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts, CARDINALS‘ BASEBALL! and my early bedtime.
**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch
Use http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/summer-2017-grid/, updated as of 6/16/17, for schedules.
*New /Returning Cable, Public & Network TV Shows
The Bold Type Freeform (premiered 6/21/17)
Because of this description: “‘The Bold Type is our love letter to modern feminism and aims to be a destination for authentic female friendship and empowerment,’ said Karey Burke, executive vice-president of programming and development at Freeform,” we tried it, but we couldn’t even get through 30 minutes, including commercials. HORRIBLE writing and acting and insipid characters with nothing to recommend it whatsoever. Too bad.
Trying too hard to be like The Devil Wears Prada but failing miserably.
Inspired by the life of Cosmo‘s editor, Joanna Coles, it centers around the staff at a fictional women’s magazine.
Starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, Meghann Fahy, Sam Page, Matt Ward, and Melora Hardin as the editor-in-chief of Scarlet Magazine.
Melora Hardin and Katie Stevens of The Bold Type
AFI Lifetime Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Diane Keaton TNT (premiers 6/15/17)
Al Pacino, Woody Allen, Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman, Steve Martin and many more are included in this tribute show for Keaton. Great clips, interviews with Keaton, and wonderful stories. Very fitting and fun tribute to such a great actor, author, singer, director, leading feminist and iconic individualist of modern theatre and film.
We LOVED this/strong>
My Mother and Other Strangers PBS Masterpiece Theatre, from BBC (starts airing 6/18/17) 5 Episodes only, this “season.”
Featuring one of our favorite actors from The Bletchley Circle [see below for review of that great series], the woman who played Alice (the one who took the prison and almost was executed to save her bio daughter), Hattie Morahan, in the title role, this mini-series is slow and somewhat purposeless as of the end of Episode 1, but we’ll watch one or two more, just to see how this unfolds. Beautiful scenery and a lot of research were found /done to re-create the 1943 northern Ireland setting.
“My Mother and Other Strangers follows the fortunes of the Coyne family and their neighbors as they struggle to maintain a normal life after a huge United States Army Air Force (USAAF) airfield, with 4,000 service men and women, lands in the middle of their rural parish.
“Compelling weekly stories, many of them based on events of the time, are held together by an ongoing love story that enfolds and imprisons Rose Coyne (Hattie Morahan, Sense & Sensibility), the parish school teacher and a pillar of the local community, in a dangerous love triangle between her husband, Michael (Owen McDonnell), and the charming USAAF liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss (Aaron Staton, Mad Men). Meanwhile, the Coyne’s children: sixteen-year-old Emma (Eileen O’Higgins); Francis, ten (Claran Hines, younger, and Michael Nevin, older); and Kate, seven (Mia Carlin), have no idea of the strains under which their parents’ marriage creaks.”
Slow, but interesting
*Still Star-Crossed ABC (premiered 5/29/17)
Shonda Rhimes‘ latest offering is a “period piece,” aka, historical drama, supposedly a “sequel” to Romeo & Juliet (based on a Melinda Taub novel), about the two families’ reactions and the political intrigues that occur after R & J’s deaths.
I’m watching, but only with half an ear/eye. It’s not very interesting or well-done and quite predictable.
Starring Anthony Stewart Head (yes, from Buffy!) Sterling Sulieman, Lashana Lynch, Wade Briggs, Rahimi Isabella (The Catch) and Torrance Coombs (The Reign).
Love Shonda Rhimes’ shows, usually, but this is not worthwhile. Not sure of the point.
*Nashville (now on CMT) (6/1/17 returned)
First episode of new season was disappointing, as they all were for the last 2 years, since there was almost not music and too much “soap opera,” again. Almost nothing from Deacon Clayborn (played by Charles Estes), musically, or anyone else. Also starring Hayden Panettiere, the only one doing much singing.
Way too much drama, none of it important or good, and not enough music. Plan on a lot of fast-forwarding to get through these episodes.
Was good, at first; then, not enough music; Season 6, RENEWED, but undeserved
Stitchers FreeForm (returned 6/5/17)
Great return for Season 3 and looking forward to the rest of the episodes!
My mom and I found Stitchers in the spring of 2015. Because it’s on ABC-Family, now FreeForm, all the violence is low-key and mostly off-camera (yeah!), while the characters and plot are much better than on “adult” stations.
Starring Emma Ishta, Allison Scagliotti (from Warehouse 13); Damon Dayoub, Kyle Harris, Ritesh Rajan, and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (from Eureka, among other shows I have liked).
Devolves a bit too often into soap opera, with too much post-adolescent angst and horrible choices made by the youngish cast of characters, but interesting. Plot is not too convoluted but does have twists and unexpected turns.
Take a hint, “adult” stations: this is what TV should be like!
KEEPING; Season 4, TBD
Orphan Black BBC (returned 6/10/17, with re-run of pilot on 6/7/17)
Okay return for 2017, but too much visual darkness (again) to see anything clearly for too many minutes.
Tatiana Maslany is amazing. She deserves every acting award, ever.
If you haven’t seen this show and love great acting, tune in (but it does get quite gruesome and violent, sometimes; I close my eyes). Got Mom into it kind of late, but she likes it. Tatiana really is fascinating.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 5 (FINAL)
*American Epic PBS (started airing 5/16/17)
A musical history documentary and additional music sessions filmed, presented by T Bone Burnett, Robert Redford, Jack White. FMI: http://www.americanepic.com/
You can watch this online or locally; check your listings. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/american-epic/
This award-winning BBC documentary was broken into three episodes for PBS, each of which details a particular era or aspect of the roots of Black and midwestern/southern and Native American music, including blues, gospel, ragtime and other uniquely American styles, in video, photography, interviews, recordings, and archived stories.
I watched the first Episode, “Blood and Soil,” and it was great! Planning to watch the other two, but got mixed up with scheduling and have to find them online, now.
King Charles III PBS (Masterpiece; premiered 5/14/17)
PLEASE watch this fabulous production of a surreal/realistic and extremely controversial, brilliant, Tony-nominated play by Mike Bartlett about the British royal family. This fable-like story begins in modern times, with the death of Queen Elizabeth II (which could occur any day; she is over 90!) and continues, in Shakespearean blank verse (!?), through the aftermath for Prince/King Charles III, Prince William and Kate, and Harry as well as various fictionalized parliamentarians and ministers.
Starring the recently deceased (April, 2017) Tim Pigott-Smith, as King Charles; with Oliver Chris and Charlotte Riley as Prince William and Kate; Richard Goulding plays Prince Harry. Also features Margot Leicester as Camilla; Adam James as the fictional PM; and, the love interest for William, played by Tamara Lawrance.
Look for it online http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/king-charles-iii/ if not on your PBS station. AND, stay tuned to watch the extra 30 minutes of “Behind the Scenes,” included after the 90-minute play, with the playwright, director and many of the key actors, all of whom are recreating their stage roles for the screen production.
FASCINATING and well worth your time
The Bletchley Circle Netflix (2 “seasons,” 3 Episodes, each)
After watching and loving the film, Hidden Figures, we found this excellent series featuring some more strong, brilliant women who were code-breakers during WW II and then solve mysteries in post-World War II London. Kind of gruesome in parts, but very well-written and -acted. Terrible shame that it was cancelled after Season 2, which had two 2-part stories (4 episodes).
Worth your time
*American Masters on PBS: The Silent Spring of Rachel Carson, PBS (Check online: http://www.pbs.org for video replays of this and all PBS specials.)
This wonderful biographical documentary was aired quite a while ago, but I finally got around to watching it this week (mid-May). So moving, interesting, informative, yet, also, quite sad, especially given the current administration’s idiocy regarding the department she fought so hard to start, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Rachel Carson was a brilliant scientist, writer and environmentalist (one of the world’s very first) who saved countless lives by advocating for stricter long-term testing for pesticides and other chemicals that the USA’s corporations and government were so cavalierly throwing around in the 1940s – 1960s. Horribly and ironically, she died of cancer at the young age of 56, or she would have done so much more.
The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring are STILL best-selling nonfiction books. READ THEM!
Well worth your time.
Dirty Dancing (film, remake) ABC (premiered 5/24/17)
Both my mom and I are HUGE fans of the original (we have seen it more than a half-dozen times, each), and we are JEWISH. So, our opinions of this remake count, HUGELY. It’s billed as “a three-hour filmed musical event” to “celebrate its 30th anniversary” with a lot of hype to live up to, which does not help its chances of succeeding.
This starts out all right, but without Patrick Swayze, we found it very sad. We kept having to decide whether or not to keep watching; it was that mediocre/bad.
Colt Prattes, who plays Johnny, has very little to none of Swayze‘s charisma, sexiness or extreme talent. MISFIRE, here. Pratton seemed to be channeling John Travolta‘s Grease character more than Johnny’s in the original film.
The female main characters were a mixed bag of seemingly overweight (Abigail Breslin as Baby, Debra Messing as Marjorie Houseman, and Sarah Hyland as older sister, Lisa (were they in padding or what?) and miscast leads. While we applaud not always having anorexics as dancers, it is not credible that the awkward Breslin can become a great dancer in the given 2 weeks or fewer of the plotline.
Best casting choices were: Nicole Scherzinger as Penny; Katey Sagal as the older “cougar” character (who can sing very well, BTW); and Shane Harper as the predatory waiter, Robbie.
Where did all the African-American resort staff characters come from? Very few were in the original, because Jewish-owned resorts didn’t hire many non-Anglo workers back then. So, why feature so many in this supposedly faithful remake and never once mention the concurrent civil rights demonstrations, which were very prominent in the summer of 1963 (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ring any bells?)? Diversity casting only works when it fits the era. Am I wrong? For example, Billy Dee Williams as the Black/Cubano bandleader worked fine.
Similarly, why cast a very non-Jewish-vibing actor as Baby? (Breslin‘s bio lists her as having a Jewish father and being “Jewishish,” whatever that means. Breslin was also too old (over 21 as opposed to just 18, a difference which does show) to play the role, and she’s not even a strong dancer. There are plenty of Jewish actors who are age-appropriate and better dancers who could have played this iconic part.
Also featured were a very non-Jerry Orbach-ish Bruce Greenwood as Dr. Jake Houseman, with Tony Roberts, Trevor Einhorn, J. Quinton Johnson, Beau “Casper” Smart.
This reboot had some heavy-hitters behind and in it, such as: Grammy Award-nominee, Adam Anders (Glee, Rock of Ages), who also serves as executive music producer, and Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, Bring It On, In the Heights) as the choreographer. Didn’t help.
The film PR stated that it included “memorable songs from the original movie” and “additional songs from the era,” but why include remakes of songs that definitely did NOT need remaking )(“Hungry Eyes,” “She’s Like the Wind”)? Just to honor Patrick Swayze, this film should have used his and Jennifer Warnes‘ perfect version of that class-conflict-love song. The new version’s arrangement of “She’s Like the Wind” was so TERRIBLE as to almost have been unrecognizable. WHY?
And, having all the main characters sing as well as act or dance/act was interesting but completely unnecessary. The only exception was the requisite final talent show number that starred the adorable Hyland and Johnson, who did an inexplicably Hawaiian version of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Thing Twice, It’s All Right,” which was excellent.
There are some important “marks” to hit in such a beloved remake, of both lines, emotions and actions, and only some of them were included at all; most were not done well, if done. The additions/changes to the storyline, on the other hand, added time and drama or left out key parts, and nothing significant was contributed to the story (e.g.: the divorce/not divorce marriage/intimacy problems of the parents: who cares?; and, the sabotage of Johnny being at the hands of the resort owner’s slimy nephew, Neil, and the desperate Sagal character rather than the deed having been done by the elderly grifters in the original).
And, if you think MY review was harsh, read this one, from Rolling Stone’s Jenna Scherer: http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/recaps/dirty-dancing-10-most-wtf-moments-from-abcs-tv-remake-w484152
Barely a C- grade. Watch if you are a fan; prepare to be disappointed
LATER PREMIERS/RETURNS (not yet reviewed/watched as of 6/23/17)
*American Masters on PBS: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, PBS
(At the Tribeca Film Festival 4/23/17, then aired on PBS; check local listings or watch online, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/video/all-video/?type=episodes)
I have a particular connection to Ms. Lamarr because one of my former partner’s mothers and aunt were her friends—three young women who were beautiful, talented, Jewish Austrians and Holocaust survivors. After they all had escaped from Austria and made their way to Los Angeles during Hitler’s rise in the late 1930s, these three appeared in two movies together (my partner’s relatives had very minor roles). They were also friends with another fellow Jewish Austrian, Johnny Weismuller, known for his roles as Tarzan.
“Hedy Lamarr was the original wild child. Her scandalous nude appearance in the 1933 Czech film, Ecstasy, made her infamous at the age of 17. She married a prominent Austrian businessman who became a weapons dealer to the Nazis. Lamarr, who was born Jewish, fled her husband in the middle of the night, boarding a boat for America with nothing to her name except a single designer gown. On board, she dazzled MGM boss, Louis B. Mayer, and convinced him to offer her one of the best contracts in Hollywood. As a movie star, she was considered by many to be ‘the most beautiful woman in the world.’ Songs were written about her beauty. Snow White [Disney’s original animated version] was modeled on her iconic look. She married six times and had affairs with everyone from Howard Hughes to Spencer Tracy.”
I am especially looking forward to this one
*American Masters on PBS aired Patsy Cline – Up Close, Personal in March, but it was not available here in Missouri; check local listings or watch online: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/video/all-video/?type=episodes)
Rosanne Cash narrated this, with many stars interviewed or on clips.
What a talent! Cline‘s story is sad, but her voice! Mom may watch, but probably not.
I am looking forward to this
The Great British Baking Show (Season 4 USA premiers 6/16/17, with new hosts) PBS
Not sure if we’ll like the new hosts, but they’re not on, much, and the show is great!
This is the only “reality” show (and its spin-offs) that we watch.
Also, two spin-offs, The Great British Baking Show, Master Class and The Great British Baking Show, An Extra Slice, both RENEWED.
KEEPING; RENEWED through Season 5
The Night Shift NBC (returns 6/22/17, but 2017 = THURSDAYS, 10 PM, first showing)
Yet another medical drama, but this one is set in Texas, which is unusual and inspired the casting directors to include many more Latina/o and African-American actors to play key roles. That is excellent (most other dramas are very Anglo/a).
Starring Eoin Macken, Jill Flint (loved her in Royal Pains and The Good Wife), Ken Leung, Brendan Fehr (been watching him since Roswell, into Bones, and now, here), Freddy Rodriguez, Scott Wolf (recently from Perception), Robert Bailey, Jr., J.R. Lemon and now, Tanaya Beatty.
Similar soap opera romances, intern/resident issues, family dramas and interpersonal issues, but adding in the wars the USA is engaged in (several Vets and Rangers among the medical staff, some who are re-deployed), addiction/recovery, pregnancy and fidelity issues abound.
My mom actually started watching this one with me 2016, summer.
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASON 4 (Final season)
Prime Suspect: Tennison PBS Masterpiece Theatre (premiers 6/25/17)
A prequel to the marvelous original Prime Suspect, which starred Dame Helen Mirren, these episodes show her character’s early life and beginning career days. Stars Stefanie Martini in these 3 episodes, which are set “in 1970s London. Just a probationary officer at this point in her life, Jane [Tennison] has to fight her way through the appalling sexism and bad policing that were de rigueur at the time. At the start of the series, she’s thrown into a nasty murder investigation that will shape the rest of her life.”
Three 90-minute Episodes, only: plan to watch!
*Younger TV LAND (returns 6/26/17)
I got hooked on this by watching all the previous episodes on-demand, and now eagerly await its return. I LOVE Sutton Foster, so even though the premise is ridiculous and Hilary Duff is predictably awful, I watch.
Most people won’t like this, but I somehow do.
Will ABC (starts 7/10/17)
The fictionalized story of William Shakespeare.
Could be fun!
Salvation CBS (premiers 7/12/17)
Yet another sci-fi series in which the Earth is threatened by an asteroid strike. Really? Yet, superstar Executive Producer, Alan Kurtzman, is attached and the writers are popular, also.
“The series centers on tech superstar, Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) and MIT grad student, Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe), who bring Pentagon official, Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan) a staggering discovery – that an asteroid is just six months away from colliding with Earth….Stars Santiago Cabrera, Jennifer Finnigan, Charlie Rowe, Jacqueline Byers, Rachel Drance, Shazi Raja and Ian Anthony Dale.”
Probably trite and dull: we’ll see
Suits USA (Summer, 2017, returns 7/12/17)
Michael (played well by Patrick J. Adams), is now allowed to practice law, through some nefarious and dirty dealings and extortion as well as some heartfelt pleas by friends and colleagues at the end of last season. But, why do the writers make Mike a complete idiot when he’s supposed to be a genius, though?
Rachel, played well by Meghan Markle (but often dressed inappropriately vampy), is still often too whiny, juvenile and ridiculous (and repetitive).
Sarah Rafferty as the impossibly perfect Donna and Gabriel Macht as the complicated Harvey still have the greatest tension and lines (and their characters are decades-long friends, which shows) but not much to do.
Gina Torres is OFF the show but may do a spin-off (see top of this post) as Jessica (and already joined another Shonda Rhimes‘ show, The Catch! this spring, 2017).
Louis is still the most richly drawn and has the most fun stuff to do, and all done very well by Rick Hoffman.
KEEPING; SEASON 8 RENEWED
Chesapeake Shores Hallmark (returns 8/6/17)
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams
Is not quite as insipid and unwatchable as some of the other shows on this channel, so we’re trying it. First episode was all right. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, though, and the writing is so heavy-handed.
We like all the lead actors.
KEEPING; Season 3, TBD.
**SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Weekend Update NBC (premiers 8/10/17)
My mom’s favorite part of SNL is its weekly “Weekend Update” segment, so I’m sure she’ll watch this four-episode try-out, featuring anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che. Additional “Saturday Night Live” cast members will also make appearances.
Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access for subscribers, only, but their first episodes are also on CBS (premiers 9/24/17)
#payTVsucks, including CBS All Access, but here is some fun! You can watch this #StarTrekDiscovery trailer (and Episode 1, this fall, 9/24/17, for free), anyway.
“…the Star Trek: Discovery series will be set about 10 years before the original series. The first teaser promised ‘new crews,’ ‘new villains,’ ‘new heroes,’ and ‘new worlds’—– and we’ve since learned that we’ll see something that unfolds within the ‘Prime’ canon of the established Star Trek universe, but not tied to the events in the movies.
“Fuller told CNN the series’ placement between the four-season prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise and the original 1966 series ‘gives us an opportunity to bridge the gap between Enterprise and the original series.’”
Episodes run through November 5, then restart in January, 2018, for the rest of the first season.
Discovery‘s Captain Lorca will be the fabulous Jason Isaacs (we loved him in Awake, but didn’t like the story of Dig, even though he was good in it).
WE WON’T PAY EXTRA TO WATCH, but we will watch first free Episode, then fume, until it’s on for free
Previously Reviewed/Returned/Returning, that I/we did not hate and are not yet cancelled (updated for 6/20/17)
*To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters PBS (aired 3/26 or later; check local listings)
This somewhat confusing (first 45 minutes or so), and only somewhat informative Masterpiece Theatre production began airing late March, so you can watch online or locally after that. This “two-hour drama depicts the evolution of three secluded, dutiful clergyman’s daughters into authors of the most controversial fiction of the 1840s.”
Mom said: “No, thanks.”
The docudrama takes the story up in two different places, time-wise, which was the source of my confusion since neither was labeled. Also, even though it is relevant, I think the writers spent entirely too much time on the brother’s alcoholism and death and not enough on each of the sister’s as a writer (Anne was especially short-changed and Emily came off as a mean person who somehow wrote amazing poetry. Charlotte, as the eldest, made the publishing occur, but we didn’t hear nearly enough about any of their ideas, personal and interpersonal struggles as writers, or feelings about having to hide then reluctantly reveal their gender as authors. I wanted to see more of “after the big reveal,” but the film pretty much ended there.
Historical aspects were produced well, but I wish they had spent as much money and time on a better script and left the verisimilitude to fester. The story left off just when it was beginning to be interesting…. Too bad.
Starring “Finn Atkins (Eden Lake) as Charlotte, who shocked society with her edgy epic, Jane Eyre; Chloe Pirrie (War and Peace) as Emily, author of the darkly gothic and disturbing Wuthering Heights; and Charlie Murphy (Happy Valley) as Anne, whose penned the true-to-life love story, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” Also, Jonathan Pryce (Wolf Hall) as their father, Reverend Patrick Brontë, and Adam Nagaitis as their brother, Branwell.”
Could have been so much better
*American Masters on PBS: Loretta Lynn: Still A Mountain Girl, PBS
(Started airing 4/16/17; check local listings or watch online) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/video/all-video/?type=episodes)
A profile of country music icon Loretta Lynn, whose hard-fought road to stardom was dramatized in the 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Included: home movies, photos and concert footage, plus insights from family, friends and fellow musicians, including Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Jack White and Trisha Yearwood.
Very interesting and worth watching, if you’re a fan of Loretta
*Call the Midwife PBS (12/25/16, special 2-hour episode; 4/2/17 returned)
Resumed with a Christmas special set mostly in South Africa in the 1960s, which was fascinating and heartbreaking, both. Great photography, stories and chracters, as usual.
8-episode run for Season 6 in the USA started in early April, 2017; same pattern for 3 more years, Seasons 7, 8, 9.
Very depressing season opener for 2017, with staffing/casting additions and changes I do not like. Probably going to keep watching, but the material has gotten very dark.
KEEPING and RENEWED for 3 MORE YEARS!
*Famous in Love FreeForm (premiered 4/18/17)
Mom wouldn’t watch this, so I watched it alone, going through all 10 episodes “on demand,” since they were available. I was surprised by how great the acting was, and pleasantly interested in the plot and a few of the characters. There are some (expected and delivered) 2-D characters, stereotypes and trite, with accompanying plot points, but mostly, better-drawn than many shows’ are. I plan to continue, but I expect it to devolve into cliches very soon.
The series’ messages are quite disturbing, though. EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is dishonest about something major with people they love/care about; many, more than one topic, more than one person. Favorite negativity tropes, so far: infidelity; betrayal; broken promises; secrets; paternity; fake student status; fake jobs; stealing; murder; other criminal activity; extortion; blackmail; planting evidence/framing someone; parental/family status; fake living situation; fake names; broken contracts; inappropriate/impossible expectations; terrible parenting; sexual orientation lies; relationship status lies; blaming others for one’s own problems. Very sad state these people are in, but this is supposedly depicting some kinds of “success.” Sigh.
“Life changes for ordinary college student, Paige (Bella Thorne), after she auditions for a movie and lands a role in the big-budget blockbuster. The newfound-fame turns Paige into Hollywood’s new ‘it’ girl, forcing her to navigate the highs and lows of celebrity life — all while trying to balance her college workload. While Paige’s new career offers her a chance to meet new people — including attractive co-star, Rainer (Carter Jenkins), with whom she develops strong chemistry — it strains her relationships with her current friends, especially Jake, who may want to be more than just friends. …[B]ased on a novel of the same name written by Rebecca Serle.
Does feature some more well-known actors, including supposed appearances upcoming by Mark Valley and Vanessa Williams (she really gets around; check her out on The Librarians!), but I did not see either of them.
Watched all 10 Episodes. May be CANCELLED for Season 2
*Genius National Geographic (premiered 4/25/17)
Bio-pic series based on the life and work of Albert Einstein. Probably just I will watch.
Flips back and forth between college-aged (Johnny Flynn) and professorial-/World War II-aged Einstein (Geoffrey Rush). Also stars the great Emily Watson as his second wife.
Directed by Ron Howard (yes, that one). http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/genius/ has trailers and more info.
Divided into 10 “Chapters,” with each episode’s airing more than once per week.
Excellently done, but the rise of Hitler is disturbing to watch, given current USA politics; Season 2, RENEWED
Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (Comedy Special) TBS (premiered 4/29)
Samantha Bee welcomes journalists and “non-irritating” celebrities from around the world as a necessary alternative to, and, coincidentally, which happened at the exact same time as the official White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Proceeds support the organization that supports truth in journalism, and you can donate any time during or after watching. Well worth it! This event already raised over $200K!
Clever, insightful, moving, and true. The “commercials,” which all feature Bee as some other celebrity in another era, are priceless.
Much-needed and great laughs
*The Americans TNT (returned 3/7/17)
I like this show, but the content is quite disturbing, for sure. The morality, ethics, honesty and deception issues are quite seriously depicted, there is a lot of violence (which I don’t like), and people are very screwed up, on all sides. Multiple complexities and grey areas are not shied away from, and they include many key events/issues from the USA’s 1980s: bravo to the writers, actors, director, fact-checkers/researchers!
I hate to read subtitles, but having the Russians speak Russian adds verisimilitude, for sure.
Both Matt Rhys (Phillip) and Keri Russell (Elizabeth) give nuanced, fascinating performances, especially when interacting with their now-“read-in,” adolescent daughter, Paige (played admirably by Holly Taylor).
Remarkable performances also by the great Frank Langella, with key moments played by Callie Thorne, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, Lev Gorn make/made this a show well-worth watching. So do Keri Russell‘s and Matthew Rhys‘ real-life romance and child together!
Frank Langella gave such a moving speech when he won a Tony (June, 2016) for best actor, referencing Orlando and gay rights, support for diversity and for all, etc., that it gives me a new perspective on him for his role in this show.
Mom watched a few, but bailed.
Cringing, but KEEPING and RENEWED for final season, 6
The Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoring Eddie Murphy aired 2/26/17 for the 2017 Prize; Bill Murray was honored 10/23/16 for 2016 [I have no idea why these were so close together in linear time].
The laugh-out-loud funny clips are excellent. The Kennedy Center in New York City is the setting for each broadcast on PBS. These specials are great, featuring clips and/or live appearances by friends, colleagues, admirers, those who were mentored by these greats, and more. Each gets re-broadcast frequently and you can also watch it online.
Past recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Carol Burnett, Jay Leno.
For other PBS special productions (Great Performances of filmed live plays, concerts, more), stream them online: http://www.pbs.org
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize: Smokey Robinson was awarded this highest honor for songwriters for 2017, on PBS, which started airing 2/10/17 and is being aired online and at various other dates/times, locally. Check listings, because it gets rebroadcast.
What a national treasure Smokey Robinson is as a songwriter, performer, music producer and arranger, and well-deserving of this prestigious award, recently given to its first woman (Carole King), in 2016. Want to be impressed? Here is a list of the songs he has written that have been recorded (mostly made famous by other singers/groups, like The Temptations, Mary Wells, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, and not all by his group, The Miracles, or him as a solo artist).
Many early hits are credited as having been co-written with Berry Gordy, Jr., but the word on the street is that Smokey was the genius and Gordy just helped out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_written_by_Smokey_Robinson
What Boomers can ever forget such hits as “Tears of a Clown,” “Shop Around,” “Broken Hearted,” “You Beat Me to the Punch,” “You’ve Really Got A Hold on Me,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Guy,” “My Girl,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Ain’t That Peculiar,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Get Ready,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Cruisin’.”
Humans AMC (returned 2/13/17)
Great return. Strong characters back again and some new ones. We like how the director instructs the actors who play “Synths” to walk in a distinctive way and gives them all these green contacts so we can tell them from humans right off. A bit violent, but intriguing. Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Lucy Carless We really like this show and welcome it back. Very creative, raising important, thought-provoking social issues about who/what is “human” and what is not, and well-acted.
KEEPING; Season 3, RENEWED
*And Still I Rise, Maya Angelou tribute on PBS, started airing 2/21/17, then online and locally at other times/dates; check local listings.
FABULOUS! Must see this, and watch with your teens/young adults. Moving, informative, amazing portrait with clips from every part of her life, interviews, stories. Poet, author, singer, actress, dancer, political activist, inspiration to many all around the world, and outstanding woman, Maya Angelou‘s story and works are well worth remembering/learning about.
*Madiba BET (mini-series aired mid-February, 2017)
A FANTASTIC, original mini-series (from BET’s press release, April 2016) “BET partners with executive producers, Lance Samuels, Kweku Mandela and Daniel Iron for an original production that focuses on the story of Nelson Mandela, the globally beloved humanitarian, as well as the many other leaders of the African National Congress — Oliver Tambo (Orlando Jones) and Walter Sisulu (David Harewood) — who fought alongside Mandela in the multi-racial, multi-national movement that led to the end of South African apartheid. Academy Award(R) nominee Laurence Fishburne completely transforms in the lead role, under the direction of Kevin Hooks (Passenger 57, Prison Break), who also serves as Executive Producer.”
Very moving, informative, inspiring. Sad and important, both, that we’re still fighting these fights.
Learned a lot from this.
*When We Rise ABC (5-part miniseries, started airing 2/27, with the two-hour series premiere, then aired the rest, every night through 3/3/17, but it will also be available via ABC On Demand and probably online as well; May have another Season!).
This is/was my era. I know people whose names are on the AIDS quilt: dead friends and loved ones, friends’ partners and relatives. I am bisexual and was a reproductive rights, pro-ERA, feminist activist for many of these interlocking movements. These are my people. I remember these arguments, coalitions’ building and falling apart, feminists divided by homophobia, race-baiting among the GLBT and feminist communities: searching for safety among women only to find myself rejected as a bisexual; searching for camaraderie among the gay men only to find the misogynistic, hateful attitudes to be unworkable; wishing for cis-gender and heteronormative people, especially those with money and power, to wake up and grow up (still waiting for most of them).
This series is excellent! Each episode is so moving, well-done, informative and true-to-life that it ought to be required viewing for all politicians, GLBT people and their families, friends, allies and detractors, and the rest of the USA population. A lot of this series’ scenes have moved me to tears.
“Written and created by Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black…chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today.”
Starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Ivory Aquino, Carrie Preston, Michael K. Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg.
The extra hour within this series which aired before Night III, has interviews with some of the actual people this series is based upon, real footage of their meetings, speeches, marches, encounters, photographs of the original activists and their work. Extremely inspiring.
YOU MUST WATCH ALL OF THIS; TBD for Season 2
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (finished for 2017, Winter)
Erin Krakow is great as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who leaves her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house, with an adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.
Lori Loughlin is cast as her typically maternal and saccharine character but she does play the best friend/ cafe owner/ widow/ adoptive mother/ landlady well. Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel’s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18!) more than I fault the actors. Also has Cat Montgomery, played well by Chelah Horsdal.
The show is very sappy, predictable, silly and overly sentimental, with many stereotypes and tropes, but I still watch.
Keeping; Season 5, RENEWED
Designated Survivor ABC (returned 3/8/17)
Strong start to a very scary and realistically drawn scenario in which everyone at the State of the Union address is murdered by a bombing of the Capitol’s Congressional Assembly building (where it is always held) and only one Cabinet member (the “Designated Survivor”) remains and is now made the President. Kiefer Sutherland and Natascha McElhone are excellent as the HUD Secretary and his attorney wife, with creative and poignant scenes between them, their children, and others as everyone grapples with this tremendous tragedy and changes wrought by it.
Glad they killed off that insipid VP this week (mid-March). But, with the wife also dead, who is in charge?
Great to see Kal Penn (the only actor with actual White House experience IRL!), Maggie Q and Italia Ricci in supporting roles.
KEEPING and PICKED UP for FULL SEASON 1 and RENEWED for SEASON 2
The Librarians TNT (returns later in 2017 for Season 4)
Fun and satisfying, sometimes, but getting much sillier and not so interesting, this year.
Excellent special effects and well-drawn characters, even the villains.
Don’t quite believe the romance between Noah Wylie‘s nerdy scholar and Elizabeth Romijin‘s former Secret Service ninja (Noah wishes…), but it’s all light and fun.
Miss Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain; John Larroquette just doesn’t have what they have. Now, no Noah Wylie for Season 4, too? How will that work?
John Harlan Kim, Lindy Booth, and Christian Kane round out the “regulars.”
image from http://www.tvline.com
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 4
Timeless NBC (returns later in 2017 for Season 2)
We really LOVE this show. The writing is strong, the characters are interesting, and the twists (due to time travel, of course, and junk science…) are fascinating. We also LOVE Abigail Spencer (Rectify, Suits). We are enjoying Matt Lanter (90210), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers), and Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), who are new to us. We also appreciate the returns of Goran Visnjic (ER) and Claudia Doumit (Scandal) from previous shows we like, and I’ve seen and liked Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards).
KEEPING and RENEWED for Season 2
This is Us NBC (returns 9/26/17)
Mandy Moore (Red Band Society), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes and Gilmore Girls), Justin Hartley (Revenge), Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Chrissy Metz (American Horror Story), Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie), Chris Sullivan (The Knick), Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
We were very surprised by the quality of the acting, story’s twists and turns and unexpected pathos in the first Episode and look forward to more.
Milo Ventimiglia was amazing and so was Sterling K. Brown (from my home town, Olivette, in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA!), in very emotionally demanding roles. Always like Mandy Moore, and were pleased with two new actors for us, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson. Alan Thicke had a funny cameo and we loved Justin Hartley‘s scenes as well. Even liked the ubiquitous Gerald McRaney in a key role in the pilot, especially his scene with Milo. Great writing and acting, here.
Terrible series’ finale, though, for Season 1. Disappointing.
KEEPING and RENEWED for Seasons 2 and 3
Major Crimes TNT ((returns later in 2017 for Season 6)
Excellent show. Strong return. Glad to see Caryn Manheim, although her agent keeps getting her the same parts, it seems (see her in Person of Interest and you’ll see the resemblance to this new character).
However, we find the “romance” between Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), to be completely unbelievable. No chemistry at all!
With Michael Paul Chan, G.W. Bailey, Raymond Cruz, Graham Patrick Martin, Robert Gossett, Phillip P. Keene, Jon Tenney and many others from its predecessor, The Closer, which we loved.
Keeping; Season 6, Renewed
*The Magicians SyFy (returns in 2018 for Season 3)
Don’t know how I missed this last year, but catching up, now, and liking it enough to keep going. Kind of trite, but interesting. Liking Anna Dudek in the headmistress role.
First episode of new season was boring and filled with predictability. Disappointing in every way. Nothing at all at the school, and too many Narnia tropes and Neverending Story steals.
KEEPING, but may quit; RENEWED for SEASON 3
Bull CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Tuesday, 9/26, 9 PM Eastern)
Great cast: Michael Weatherly (NCIS), Freddy Rodriguez (The Night Shift), Geneva Carr (Law & Order: SVU), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Annabelle Attanasio
LOVE this show, even though it’s often complicated and convoluted, and with surprisingly little dialogue from Weatherly, even though he is the star and a pivotal character (and the main draw, for us, as long-time NCIS fans). Very good writing and acting all around, with the “good guys” usually prevailing. We like that. Lie to Me did some of this much better, though. We like the way they’re bringing in more from each of the main characters’ pasts by having them take cases of ex-lovers, siblings, etc.
KEEPING and RENEWED for Season 2
Elementary CBS (RENEWED but no premier date set for 2017-2018, yet)
We both like this show a lot even though it’s very difficult for us to understand some of the dialogue or to understand Sherlock because of the show’s poor audio quality and his rapid-fire speech in a British accent.
Great to see Lucy Liu, Johnny Lee Miller, John Michael Hill and Aidan Quinn back again.
KEEPING, and 6th season RENEWED
Madam Secretary CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Sunday, 10/8, 10 PM Eastern)
GREAT SHOW! But how can it keep its title if she becomes the VP? After the second-season’s pilot, we’re not sure how they’re going to dig out of it, but we’re staying hooked! LOVE Tea Leoni and Tim Daly, and the “kids” are still great as are the others.
KEEPING and RENEWED for Season 3
Scorpion CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Monday, 9/25, 10 PM Eastern)
Could be that this show, like so many, is becoming a bit too formulaic, a caricature of itself. This season’s Episodes had a few too many “Oh, one of the bizarre genius’ amazing ideas, number four, didn’t work, so we’re going to die” moments.
Why does Katherine McPhee almost never sings in this show? She has a spectacular voice. What a waste.
Watched all Episodes. Started putting a quarter in for every crisis. Topped out at $3.00 for one Episode!
BUT the double-Episode season Opener for 2016 broke the bank! While we weren’t laughing so much as frightened (VERY realistic…) and disgusted (why do the writers make most of the team behave like rotten middle-schoolers?), we will keep it on our list.
Interested to see where it will go now that Scott Porter is leaving and that may free up Paige (Katherine McPhee) to pay attention to Walter.
Predictable but interesting. Good for laughs. Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
Supergirl CW (returns later in 2017 for Season 3)
Maybe they’ll allow her to become an adult this year…? Not so much.
Well, sort of. Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and her boss, Cat (written and played better this year by Calista Flockhart), have some important conversations about her growing up, choosing a career path (as Kara), and being more decisive in the opening episode for this season.
However, bringing in her “younger” cousin, Superman (why is he a “man” but she is a “girl,” DC???), and his announcing he’s going to “stick around for a while” muddies the maturity and “who’s in charge?” waters immensely. Then, the writers go and put her incipient romance with Jimmy (Mehcad Brooks) who is inexplicably “James” in this version of the story, so why can’t she be “Superwoman,” then?) on hold, indefinitely.
Excited they were finally singing (but not on Supergirl, only on The Flash, so record both: March 20 & March 21) for the cross-over musical episode.
Cautiously keeping, but somewhat disappointed; RENEWED for Season 3 on CW
Blindspot (returns 10/27/17)
Now with with Archie Panjabi (Good Wife). Got very confusing, very dark, and now, completely off the rails (killing off two main characters). Why?
Still watching, but under duress; Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 3
Quantico (returns later in 2017 for Season 3)
My mom and I liked Quantico for the first half or so. Then, it devolved, as so many do, into chases and violence and not much (else?) to commend it.
The premise was supposed to be that this is a show about a new cohort of recruits at the FBI federal training academy (Quantico) in the USA. Why didn’t they stick with that? Why did they think they needed a terrorist bombing/ “moles”/ multiple deceptions-based plot?
We know it’s an FBI show and we did expect some of the above. But, really, when more than a few minutes of every show is devoted to pursuit chases and macho posturing/inappropriate blame and shaming, we look at each other and say: “Not enough plot, eh?”
UPDATE in November: going back in forth in time from the cadets to the present is a good idea but not done well at all. Relying too much on different hairdos for the female characters and who’s having sex with whom to anchor the timeline (who cares?). Still watching, but not sure why. it’s worse and worse this fall.
Watched the entire year but hated the poor visibility and convoluted storylines; BUT, not yet CANCELLED for Season 3, fall, 2017
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (ongoing in 2017)
I loved Samantha Bee on The Daily Show and awaited her new individual show with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.
Bee was funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all worked great, for me. I laughed out loud and sighed with relief at many of her “bits.”
Finally: a feminist’s POV delivered with wit and humor about this horrible election season! Yeah! And, more coming, I’m sure.
Strong return for Season 2, but I AM SO SICK OF TRUMP!
Definitely keeping and glad it was RENEWED for SEASON 2
**The Blacklist NBC (returns 10/4/17, Wednesdays at 8 PM Eastern)
Glad Lizzie isn’t dead, but this show is off the rails for real. We watched opener for new season and I hated it; Mom liked it slightly more. Very violent and confusing, but, somehow, compelling.
Keeping and RENEWED for Season 5
NCIS New Orleans CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Tuesday, 9/26, 10 PM Eastern)
Good start to the new season last year (2015). Still liking this, especially Scott Bakula‘s character. Like the new character played by Shalita Grant (female, African-American, kind of snarky and good at her job).
Season 3 was off to a bang, but very sad to lose Zoe McLellan as Meredith Brody (and so was everyone else on the show, apparently). As of this posting, she’s not telling anyone, yet, as to why she left the show, but it was her decision.
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASON 4
*Grey’s Anatomy ABC (returns later in 2017 for Season 14)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo
Love the anti-homophobia storylines and the actions/discussions the show inspires, especially for parents of LGBT kids and for everyone about bullying. Excellent PSAs built right into the show.
Very strong return for season 11 (!?!), and I’m looking forward to more of this show this year, even though some key characters keep leaving/being asked to leave (no spoilers, here).
Keeping and SEASON 14 RENEWED
How to Get Away with Murder ABC (returns later in 2017 for Season 4)
Glad Viola Davis won the Emmy. She deserved it. Good acting by her and many on this show is not enough to save it, though.
The writers of this show are a weird bunch, for sure.
The production values are so bad and the timeline jumping done so poorly that we have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Filming is too dark and cuts are too quick. Dialogue is not loud enough.
New season’s starter was no better than last season’s ending: violent, confusing, oddly written and strange all around.
Keeping but mostly hating; SEASON 4 RENEWED, unbelievably
Blue Bloods CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Friday, 9/29, 10 PM Eastern)
My mom LOVES this show and watches re-runs for fun, mostly because she loves Tom Selleck as the family patriarch and Chief of Police. It’s grown on me.
Great acting and we love the characters.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 8
NCIS CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Tuesday, 9/26, 8 PM Eastern)
Definitely missing Michael Weatherly for 2016-17, and don’t know if the trio (now duo) of actors they plan to “replace” him with are going to cut it. I already don’t like one of them. We’ll see.
Keeping and RENEWED for SEASON 15
Sherlock BBC (Season 5 returned January 1, 2017, for 3 more episodes)
Yippee! Yahoo! Best BBC return-to-season EVER! Fabulous reunions and loved the Season 4 “premise” (No spoilers, here). How great is Benedict Cumberbatch? And, Martin Freeman!
Also, great mystery to be solved.
Not liking the addiction story line in this or Elementary‘s Sherlock (or any show, for that matter), but I guess it is part of the Sherlock character.
Keeping; Season 5, RENEWED
*Speechless ABC (returns later in 2017 for Season 2)
Another series, The ‘A’ Word, seemed to cover this same ground (raising a disabled or atypical child) and we didn’t like it at all, so we gave this one a pass last fall. However, Minnie Driver is always great and I gave it a try when I found out it was renewed for Season 2. I’m sorry I’m late to this sit-com party. I started watching this month via ABC On Demand, from the beginning).
The first 2 episodes were so delightful that I put it on our “record” list. I am going to try to get Mom to watch (although she doesn’t like sit-coms, usually, because she liked The Red Band Society and she likes The Good Place, she might like this: it sort of combines them both, humorously).
I appreciate the spot-on jokes at the expense of the do-gooders—white liberals and somewhat clueless—the Principal, played perfectly by Marin Hinkle , who is excellent in many other shows I’ve watched, and one of J.J. DeMeo’s teachers, played fabulously by the always-funny Rob Corddry.
(Micah Fowler, who was great in Labor Day, is amazing as the main character, J.J. DeMeo, who has something like cerebral palsy (but they don’t say exactly what in the early episodes) and a great sense of humor, who is a budding adolescent who needs to individuate, big time. He is helped admirably by Cedric Yarbrough as his African-American personal Aide, which allows the writers to poke at racism and biases.
The siblings (played well by Mason Cook—cast in many shows, including The Night Shift and Grey’s Anatomy—and Kyla Kenedy, also on The Night Shift) and the dad (also played strongly by John Ross Bowie, round out the cast and bring the plot into areas that aren’t always about having a disabled family member, which is great.
EXCELLENT and KEEPING; RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Being Mary Jane BET (returns later in 2017 for Season 4)
Strange return to new season, for Episode 1 of this year. Usually, excellent writing, sensitive topics [alcoholism, child abuse/molestation, suicide, disfigurement/physical “beauty”/ageism for women (particularly Black women), extortion, drug addiction, dysfunctional parenting, loyalty among friends (or not)], all very well-handled. Great music choices, also. Not off to a great start, but I’ll try a few more episodes.
Mary Jane’s character (played even better, now, by Gabrielle Union) is getting some chutzpah (FINALLY) and growing up (ALSO OVERDUE). Supporting characters (Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Stephen Bishop, Richard Roundtree, Raven Goodwin) are getting more to do, which is great.
Glad to see Loretta Devine on this show, even though her character is so delightfully SCUMMY.
KEEPING and RENEWED for SEASONS 4 & 5
Colony (returns later in 2017 for Season 3)
I guess we weren’t the only ones who complained about being very confused and a bit impatient with the way this series’ pilot threw viewers into the middle of an alternate Earth near-future without sufficient explanations. For its return this winter, they “went back” and explained the beginning/back story for several elements, including the Arrival, sequestering, and more.
We like seeing Josh Holloway, since we liked him so much in the all-too-soon-cancelled Intelligence, and Amanda Righetti, from The Mentalist, which we loved.
But, we never watched Lost, The Walking Dead or Hercules, so the others are new to us, except for Peter Jacobsen, from House and Madam Secretary, and Paul Guilfoyle, from CSI.
Luckily, I had taped the “Colony: Behind the Wall” show, which we watched after we saw the pilot. That was excellent, because it explained a LOT. We also got to see how and why they established some of the special effects and sets for this series. We are now looking forward to seeing the subsequent episodes.
Without giving away too much. we appreciated the parallels the producers/creators are deliberately creating between Nazi-occupied Paris and a hypothetically occupied Los Angeles, asking us all (and all the characters are also asking themselves and each other): what would you do? Would you be a collaborator or a resister? Are you a pragmatist/selfish/greedy “winner,” or are you trying to keep going with “normal” life while wresting control from the occupiers and collaborators as you do? What lengths would you go to and what risks would you be willing to take under these circumstances?
Excellent questions and cool concepts.
You can go to the series’ website and choose your side and see what you get into there! http://www.colonytv.com/
Keeping this one, but it’s now more horrifying, in the #45 Fascism-is-rising era in which we now shudder to live. RENEWED for Season 3
“The Great American Baking Show stars some of the nation’s best amateur bakers as they compete in a series of themed challenges and eliminations all hoping to be crowned Holiday Baking Champion. For four weeks, James Beard Award-Winning pastry chef and author, Johnny Iuzzini, joins England’s “Royal Queen of Baking,” author and television personality, Mary Berry, as they judge the decadent and delicious holiday fare these bakers create as they throw down their best culinary skills.”
Fascinating for my mom and me, who are NOT bakers, since a lot is explained both for how to create good and how the mistakes are made for bad “bakes.” Everything can go wrong, especially during the “Technical” bakes, whose recipes are extrapolated from very skimpy instructions (deliberately vague) from one of the two judges each week. Disasters occur from bakers’ forgetting to turn on or check the oven temperature, to mistakenly using salt instead of sugar, to neglecting to allow enough time to accomplish it all, to using ingredients/proportions of ingredients that are too weakly or strongly flavored or getting the dough too wet. “Crisp” and having a “good bake” are big on this show.
We like the artists’ renditions in sketch books of each participant’s planned creation for the final segment each week, the contestants’ “Show-Stoppers.” They obviously have weeks to concoct and practice prior to the contest date, and it shows.
What we also like are the camaraderie among the announcers and judges and how respectful the judges are to each contestant and they to one another. None of that “reality show” staged back-biting and fighting here (if there were, we’d turn it off). They give a bit of bio and film scenes at their homes and/or day jobs for each of the semi-finalists and finalists, which we look forward to seeing.
This and its American spin-off are only reality shows we watch because the baking concoctions and watching the bakers create them are fascinating, always unusual and new to us, informationally. Many funny moments, but not at any baker’s expense, usually, which we like.
Plus, none of the competitors is actually a professional baker: a student; one makes satellites; a retired teacher; one also paints. So interesting that these individuals chose to compete in this way.
Watch for its last Episodes on BBC with the original judges, Mary and Paul, and the original hosts, Mel and Sue (all but Paul are not continuing) for the last Christmas British Bake-Off at the end of 2016.
The Great British, now, The Great American Baking Show (was BBC, but moved to ABC on 12/1/16) The new show is hosted by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and husband, Ian Gomez (Felicity, Cougar Town, Supergirl).
RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. CHANGED BROADCAST STATIONS and HOSTS after SEASON 7 (no longer BBC)
All the “old” episodes are on Netflix, BTW.
Want to know more about British TV and those who star(starred) in its shows for 2017? http://renewcanceltv.com/great-british-bake-off-mrs-browns-boys-bbc-christmas-special-renewals/
HAMILTON on PBS
October special with interviews and clips from the show and others (including President Obama), all part of this presentation. Very fun, and for those who can’t get to a performance due to lack of proximity, funds, tickets, or all three, this is the closest we can get to Broadway! My mom and I dislike rap and hip-hop, but we LOVED this special about the show.
Also, the background of the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda (first HAMILTON lead and originator of all the songs, lyrics, book, ideas) and his creative team do the writing and visiting historic sites for accuracy provides a GREAT American history lesson, all containing facts and perspectives I have never heard (or don’t remember hearing).
This was part of a Friday night at the Arts series which included a performance of GYPSY with Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose (who knew she could sing and belt songs?), Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe, Alan Cummings’ cabaret show and more. Check your local public television station’s schedule for re-broadcast dates or watch online.
*Norman Lear was featured in Just Another Version of You PBS American Masters Series Premiered 10/25/16 and re-broadcasts often: check local listings or watch online. Very informative, moving, funny, poignant. Many great memories for me and my mom in this.http://pbs.org/americanmasters/
Entertaining! What a creative, courageous mensch Lear was!
*Good Behavior TNT (returning fall, 2017, for Season 2)
Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is amazing in this new series based on the Blake Crouch stories surrounding Letty Dobesh (an American ex-con con artist), “in a near future where corporations have unlimited power,” like, NOW…. I watched the preview by myself, not sure if Mom would like it. Still not sure, but she says she’ll probably give it a try. A lot of violence, drug use and pathetic people are not what either of us wants to watch. However, we are somewhat interested in con games and this may prove to be more interesting than violent. Juan Diego Botto plays a complicated love interest for Letty. Very interesting dynamic between them.
I like this show, but it’s DARK; RENEWED for Season 2
The Good Place NBC (returns 9/28/17, season 2)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber), Manny Jacinto (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story), William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden
Probably too silly, but…I do love Kristen Bell!
We watched the first two Episodes, since they were aired back-to-back. Reminded me very much of Pushing Daisies in its production values (lots of bright, primary colors and over-the-top fakery) and premises/characters (bold, farcical, stereotypical), with some of many other films/TV shows (Dead Like Me, Defending Your Life) that are quirky and about the afterlife/death. It was somewhat entertaining and amusing, but I think it will get old fast.
It got better
Got better and RENEWED for Season 2
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors (11/30/16) NBC; may return in 2017
Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love is s sequel to the fun 2015 film based on her memoirs and recently released as a children’s book, Coat of Many Colors.
We were somewhat mystified and disappointed at the role the adult Dolly Parton gave herself in this sequel biopic, of one fall of her childhood at age 9: why would she have the local business owner (played by Parton’s real-life younger sister, Stella Parton), call her out as a prostitute? The child-aged Dolly says things like: “I want to look just like you when I grow up!” and the adult Dolly, known as “The Painted Lady” in the film, responds: “Maybe you will!” big smile. Very bizarre. The Painted Lady is a benefactor whose money is considered “dirty” and taken away by the store owner from child Dolly, but she keeps appearing throughout the film. Unclear as to why.
Which begs the question I’ve long had: why would anyone do to themselves what Dolly Parton has done (all the plastic surgery, wigs, false eyelashes, excessive dieting, garish make-up and clothes, for decades), and refuse to age gracefully? Dolly Parton is an inspiration and role model for many singers/songwriters and business owners, and she does consider herself an advocate for women. So, why does she refuse to look like a ordinary person?
Alyvia Alyn Lind, who plays young Dolly, reprised her role from the film last year and did a splendid job most of the time, but she could have been directed better. Some of the scene in which she has to speak more than a line or two are very stilted and artificial. The shorter interactions and her singing/playing guitar scenes are the best parts. Jennifer Nettles and Kelli Berglund, playing the eldest daughter, were excellent and well cast as Dolly’s mom and oldest sister. Mary Lane Haskell reprised her role as the school teacher, Miss Moody, who I hope is true-to-life and lived long enough to see how successful Dolly Parton became.
WARNING: This film has a very strong mystical, grandiose/romantic, heavy-handed Christian /Christmas messages which the adult Dolly definitely still believes in and wants everyone to know. There are appearances of visions, prayers, Baptisms, magic, God, blessings, angels and the like in her life and in this and the former film. If you believe in all that or like watching films like this, you’ll love it. We are not so fond (raised Jewish and practicing Buddhist, here).
may return in 2017
*The Crown Netflix (returns later in 2017 for Season 2)
Deserves every award it got and then some. I’m about half-way through its first season and it has already made me laugh, cry and get goosebumps.
John Lithgow and Clara Foy are outstanding, as are all the rest of the cast and writing. Truly remarkable.
Mom isn’t interested, but I keep her posted on how great it is.
If you like this and don’t know much about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign or the concomitant history, watch In her Own Words: Queen Elizabeth, also on PBS or online. Aired in late May, 2017, so available any time.
Watched and LOVED all of Season 1; Seasons 2 and 3 RENEWED!
Julie’s Greenroom (3/17/17 released) Netflix
Starring Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Created by Judy Rothman Rofé. “Ms. Julie (Julie Andrews) teaches performing arts workshops with the help of her assistant, Gus, at their Wellspring Center for the Performing Arts.”
Could be fun; mostly for kids; has Muppets
A sci-fi series starring Eric McCormack which, in our opinion, had a very rocky start (Episode 1 is confusing and extremely violent), but may improve.
Dubious foundations as well, but we’ll give it a few more Episodes, perhaps. Another episodic time travel show has the premise that the agents come from the future and have to take over the bodies of people in the past (our “present”) in order to stop the end of the world. At least they are supposed to “battle their own guilt at the harm they sometimes have to do for the greater good,” a conscience that is sorely lacking in several of Timeless‘ characters, for example.
Watching, but it’s DARK; RENEWED for Season 2
Grace & Frankie Netflix (Season 3 returned 3/24/17)
The writing has deteriorated even worse for Season 3.
My mom and I enjoyed Season One enough to watch Season Two, but we were constantly disappointed.
We saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on talk shows often and we do respect them as actors. However, each of their characters has become a caricature of its original concept, and the characters of all the gay men, including Martin Sheen ‘s and Sam Waterston‘s, were always pathetic stereotypes.
Robert (Sheen) and Sol (Waterson) are wooden and unbelievable as passionate lovers. Lily Tomlin is still performing a hippie character trope. Jane Fonda was the only one of the four who actually inhabits a realistic version of a character via acting, but she has been doomed to repeat rather than enact Grace’s growth and insights.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are given, as Sheen’s and Fonda’s adult daughters, mostly comedy bits and one-liners to enact, and they are not getting the sisterly relationship in any believable way. Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry (Tomlin’s and Waterston’s adult sons) are not given even that much to do, and even that is more slapstick than acting.
Most of the supporting characters are written as stereotypes of whatever group they are purported to belong to by ethnicity, age, job or other status, which is sloppy and lazy writing and disappointing for the talents of these actors. Ernie Hudson returns as Lily’s friend, now lover, Jacob, isn’t given much to do, either. We hoped these great actors would get to do more than mug, crack jokes and be cardboard cutouts.
This show could be SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing trivializes what few actual issues there are, going for silly and getting sillier even though the topics are significant. For example,
—What kind of gay are the characters of Sol and Robert? They apparently haven’t discussed this, much. Are they even the same kind as one another? Are they flamboyant “queens,” political/marchers in gay pride parades, attendees and singers at Broadway Bingo called by a Transvestite (or Transgender: the show didn’t even bother to make the distinction, or…?
— Why trivialize the muggings, burglaries, robberies and other crimes committed against senior citizens while parodying real concerns about home owners having loaded guns on site?
—How do women raising several children deal with husbands who won’t grow up?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on infidelity deal with their infidelitous leanings, lifetimes of duplicity and dishonesty, and other problems that do not disappear once they are “out”? Sol has sex with Frankie on the eve of marrying Robert. Frankie has trouble not telling Robert, who is her life-long friend. She, however, didn’t seem to have any trouble cheating with Sol on Robert.
—Does none of these characters have a distinct moral compass? They all lie to each other.
—Good to raise the issues senior citizens deal with in relationships and sexuality (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest, but why not show more respect, even in a comedy?
–How do/can addicts “make amends” when they’ve lied, stolen, destroyed property and relationships/trust for many years and still can’t be readily trusted?
—Do children ever “get over” sibling rivalry? Do in-laws ever get along? How do jealousy and competition and affect adult relationships?
—How could adults deal effectively and respectfully with children’s phobias and anxieties rather than patronizing or minimizing?
Wish the writers would tackle these and other issues head-on rather than with one-liners and sit-com scenarios. The actors would then actually have something to do and the viewers would probably be feeling that their time had been well-spent instead of wasted. They need to watch When We Rise. For real.
CONTINUING, but constantly disappointed; RENEWED for SEASON 4
*Gilmore Girls, “A Year in the Life,” NETFLIX (returned 11/25/16 as four 90-minute “movies”; May have a Second “Year in the Life,” TBD.)
New Season/Revival of/kind of Season 8, but add 10+ years, I watched them all, and I could only convince Mom to watch the first one. Mom hated it.
I thought, being a die-hard GG fan, that Part I, “Winter” (they’re all named for one season), held up all right as a movie in its own right, with a few explanatory moments from me to Mom about characters’ histories and relationships prior to this Episode. This was no worse (and no better) than many of the Hallmark Channel movies we also struggle to watch/like.
—The Rory-boyfriends subplots were more than ridiculous and insulting to the kind of young woman she had seemed to be developing into at the series’ end, but otherwise, everyone was seemingly true to form, albeit older. Same with her now being a vagabond/homeless freelance writer.
—The pieces about grief and loss were well-done, triggered by the actual loss of an actor, Edward Herrmann, who played the grandfather/patriarch/father Gilmore. He actually passed away prior to their making this film series, but recently enough that some of the grief seemed authentic to the characters as well as actors).
—The revisiting of having more children for Lorelei/Luke seemed odd and unlikely, at their ages.
—Lane’s band seemed to be inserted for no reason at all.
—The citizens of Stars Hollow were even more annoying and absurd than before, or else I have less patience.
—Much of the dialogue seemed more like a race between/among characters than a conversation, true to its usual series’ style.
—Seems odd to have three more in this sequence: where can they actually go?
I watched the other 3 “seasons” alone and was both dumbfounded and astonished in all directions (crying, laughing, bored, appalled). The dialogue, plots, characters and situations were a strange mixture of insipid and ridiculous with inspired and poignant thrown in with romance and realism. Perhaps the writers have more than one personality, themselves?
Also, having not just cameos but actual appearances by many uncredited and quite famous guests was fun but odd. Sutton Foster, Christian Borle, Carole King, Melissa McCarthy, and several others had more than just a walk-through: the first three performed (sang, danced; played piano and sang)! Fun, but very weird.
Very strange; often moving and entertaining as well as horrible
*Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix
“This adaptation of the children’s book series of the same name manages a hilariously melancholy tone. Neil Patrick Harris slays the role of the ridiculously evil Count Olaf, and the rest of the show is full of great performances from a series of stars.” We love Neil.
I will give this a try and let Mom know about it if it’s good.
*Black Mirror Netflix
This British version of an updated Twilight Zone-ish series is very unsettling (I’ve only watched two episodes, but those were so disturbing I may not return any time soon). However, they are well-written, well-acted and “realistic,” as far as they can be while venturing into odd and futuristic territory. Recommended if you like bizarre, weird, unnerving and challenging. I know my mom won’t like it, so I watch when she’s not around.
I recognize some of the actors from other BBC series (Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, New Tricks and others), so that is fun.
VERY DARK. I have watched about 6 episodes, now. Many are truly awful, dystopian, nightmarish depictions of our future.
It’s now in its third season, so if you can stomach it, there are many episodes to watch!
Watching, but nauseated; RENEWED for Season 4
New season of Jessica Jones resumes late in 2017 or now (late June, 2017), perhaps not until 2018… when? We like this show!
and, a spin-off of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, just got renewed for its second season on Netflix. We watched Episode 1, but it was so violent and not very interesting that we probably won’t return to it.
Longmire (returns fall, 2017) Netflix
Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips
We LOVE this show and are so glad Netflix picked it up and continued it! Yea for Season 5! We started watching in October and appreciated the entire season, but hated the cliffhanger and that this upcoming one is its last!
KEEPING for its 6th and final season on Netflix for 2017
On our Fall, 2017, TO WATCH list (use this link for full schedule: http://www.thefutoncritic.com/guide/fall-2017-grid/, updated frequently)
—Sean Hayes, Debra Messing, Eric McCormack and Megan Mulally are back for Will & Grace in fall, 2017, NBC; now 9 PM on Thursdays. YEA!
CBS is airing Wisdom of the Crowd (premiers 8:30 Eastern, 10/1/17, Sunday) starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage, Mr. Selfridge), Monica Potter (Parenthood) and a bunch more, to run a crowd-funded/sourced version of APB.
So, one network ditches APB but another picks up a show with an almost-identical premise, stolen from Israel. Really? Just bring back APB, please? I guess not.
“Inspired by the notion that a million minds are better than one, a tech innovator creates a cutting edge crowd-sourcing hub to solve his own daughter’s murder, as well as revolutionizing crime solving in San Francisco. Based on the Israeli format of the same name.”
—9JKL, coming on CBS (premiers Monday, 8:30 PM Eastern, 10/2), has a very good cast with a very stupid-sounding premise. Supposedly based on some true-life experiences of its star, Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains), his parents (played by the great Linda Lavin and Elliott Gould, and his other relatives all in one apartment building for a while. Why?
On Mom’s list, only, and she’s keeping them:
**Hawaii 5-0 CBS (fall, 2017, premiers Friday, 9/29, 9 PM Eastern)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago P.D. NBC (1/3/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED.
**Chicago Med NBC (1/5/17 returned)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED.
**NCIS Los Angeles CBS (premiers fall, 2017, Sunday, 10/1, 9:30 PM Eastern)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure and RENEWED for SEASON 8
**Law and Order—SVU NBC (returned 1/4/17)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure; RENEWED.
**Criminal Minds NBC (fall, 2017, premiers Wednesday, 9/27, 10 PM Eastern)
Mom is keeping this on her list, but bored with it.
**Chicago Fire NBC (moving to 10 PM Thursdays, fall, 2017)
Mom continues to love this. One of my CHANGES conversations between authors‘ guests, poet performer, James Gordon, has recurring minor roles on this and Chicago PD!)
Stays on Mom’s list; RENEWED.
The Shows We/I Gave Up On that are NOT (yet) Cancelled (updated for 6/5/17)
*Rebel BET (premiered 3/28/17)
This was so awful I couldn’t even finish the first half of the pilot Episode. Trite, overly violent, filled with cliches, stereotypes and ridiculous scenarios, and that was just in the first 20 minutes.
“BET’s new scripted drama…takes on the unique and complicated relationship the Black community faces with police officers. Directed by John Singleton, the series follows Rebel (Danielle Moné Truitt), a police officer who leaves the force after being under an intense Internal Affairs/criminal investigation for shooting her partner in the hopes of stopping him from gunning down her little brother. Continuing to fight crime as a P.I., Rebel struggles with her brother’s murder while defending herself from the dirty cops who are out for revenge…[T]he series examines the conflicted relationship officers of color have with their jobs at a time when police forces are rife with brutality and misconduct…featuring many issues ripped from the headlines.”
Also starring: Giancarlo Esposito, Mykelti Williamson, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, LaTanya Richardson, Brandon Quinn.
This one may hit too close to home (I live in St.Louis and recently taught G.E.D. classes to youth from the Ferguson area).
OFF MY LIST and probably cancelled
Brockmire IFC (premiered 4/5/17)
Starring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet. “Jim Brockmire (Azaria) [is] a famed major league baseball announcer who suffered an embarrassing public meltdown live on the air a decade ago after discovering his wife’s infidelity. Now, looking to reclaim his career, reputation, and love life, Brockmire takes a job in a small American rust belt town, calling minor league baseball games for the Morristown Frackers. Peet co-stars as Jules, the strong-willed and hard-drinking proud owner of the Frackers.”
Also featuring Tyrel Jackson Williams.
Usually like both Azaria and Peet, but their characters are completely unrealistic and unlikable, as is the plot. Too raunchy and off-kilter for us and RUINS baseball announcers forever.
OFF OUR LIST; Renewed for Season 2
The Son AMC (premiered 4/8/17)
Same writer, Daniel C. Connolly, as The Colony and other things, this new series starring Pierce Brosnan (YES!) is “based on Philipp Meyer’s best-selling novel, The Son… [It] spans 150 years and three generations, tracing the story of Eli McCullough (Brosnan) and his transformation from good-natured innocence to calculated violence, as he loses everything on the wild frontier on the path to building a ranch-and-oil dynasty.”
Not one likable character in this show; we couldn’t even finish Episode 1.
Too violent for us, even though we love Pierce Brosnan; OFF OUR LIST, but RENEWED
**Great News NBC (premiered 4/27/17)
Mom said it was too insipid and took it off her list after just a few minutes. “A New Jersey mom puts her relationship with daughter to the test when she lands an internship at her new job, which comes with many challenges.”
Starring Briga Heelan (Undateable), Andrea Martin (Difficult People), Adam Campbell (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mixology), Kimrie Lewis-Davis (Scandal), Nicole Richie (Chuck), John Michael Higgins (Wilfred), Horatio Sanz (SNL)
OFF OUR LIST but RENEWED for Season 2
Imposters Bravo or USA
We gave this The Catch imitation a try for one Episode and part of Episode 2 and ditched it. Trite, unlikable characters and not-believable situations. Also, very BORING. Wanted to see Mary Kay Place, but she was hardly in it.
OFF OUR LIST; but, unbelievably, RENEWED for Season 2
The Good Fight (premiered 2/19/17) CBS, then only CBS “All Access,” for subscribers which ROTS and I can’t believe this is a trend. We already pay for cable, then they want us to pay for “super” cable? NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.
Spin-off of The Good Wife, includes Christine Baranski reprising her role as Diane Lockhart and Cush Jumbo as Lucca), as well as Rose Leslie, Delroy Lindo, Sarah Steele, Paul Guilfoyle, Bernadette Peters, Justin Bartha and Erica Tazel. I guess we’ll watch it when it’s available elsewhere, some day, but Episode 1 is on regular CBS (just to tease us all).
It was good but not great. Won’t miss it.
WE WON’T PAY EXTRA TO WATCH THIS; first (FREE) Episode was good; RENEWED and staying on PAID All-Access for Season 2
The Match Game ABC (started summer, 2016)
My mom and I are old enough to have watched the original version of this game show and since we liked some of the principles and the promised celebrities, we gave it a try. We keep watching even though it’s so silly and raunchy. Each Episode consists of 4 segments (both segments have the same celebrities but two new contestants for each of the two segments in each hour-long show). Rosie O’Donnell (who seemed to be having a great time and was the contestants’ favorite in her Episodes) and one or two others re-appear; the rest rotate.
My mom and I are usually only familiar with 3 or 4 of the 6 celebrities, plus the show’s host, Alec Baldwin, each time.
We aren’t prudish (I especially am not, being a hippie and all), but we were shocked at how lewd, graphic and sexually focused the clues, responses, jokes and reactions were. A lot of the bits are improvised (supposedly), but none of their remarks was censored (self- or network-) or even attempted to be made more family-oriented.
I expressed my surprise at its bold raunchiness and my mom replied: “Well, it is on at 9 PM Central time…,” shaking her head.
So, fair warning. Some of it is funny, most of it is silly, and it’s all in “good” fun (if you’re into lewd types of humor).
**MacGyver CBS (premiered 9/23/16)
Lucas Till (X-Men), George Eads (CSI), Justin Hires (Rush Hour), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
We aren’t even going to bother with this. A friend watched the pilot and said it was horrible, with the majority of the time spent blowing things up.
OFF OUR LIST but RENEWED for SEASON 2
Taboo FX (premiered 1/10/17 and ran as a miniseries)
An eight-episode series set in 1814. Really dark, awful production values, very gruesomely realistic. After almost 30 minutes, still did not get the point, except that the brother-sister love affair is not obvious, yet. So what? Boring.
OFF OUR LIST but RENEWED for Season 2
Beyond Freeform (formerly ABC Family)
Very odd sci-fi/medical premise (being in a coma allows one to “live” elsewhere, like, another dimension? and learn/uncover “powers”), but interesting. We’re both watching and glad it was renewed for next year, because they have a lot of ‘splaining to do!
They aren’t explaining it all sufficiently, credibly or fast enough for us and it’s getting much too violent.
We gave up on this, but it is RENEWED for SEASON 2
*Modern Family ABC
This season will include guest appearances by Nathan Fillion (LOVE him) and Martin Short (could do without him). Most of last season was tedious, so I may not watch much of this one; my mom doesn’t watch at all. We’ll see. I thought it had lost its sparkle and originality; storylines were repeating.
Also, the child acting as “Lily” (Aubrey Frances Anderson-Emmons) is AWFUL and very badly directed. Too bad. Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Reid Ewing co-star.
Watched pilot for fall, 2016, and it was as bad as expected. I did enjoy fast-forwarding to catch Nathan Fillion on a few episodes, but hated his role.
NOW so stupid that it’s OFF MY LIST, but RENEWED
Despite the inclusion of the ever-talented and great Queen Latifah, this show is a poor imitation of both Empire and a more hip-hop-focused Glee with The Fosters thrown in for who-knows-what-reason. The plot is cliched (which explains both Lenny Kravitz and Benjamin Bratt‘s roles), boring and not credible. The singing is lip-synched, the choreography is uninspired and overly sexualized (especially for a teen rape survivor), and the main characters (Jude Demorest. Ryan Destiny. Brittany O’Grady) aren’t that talented as singers, actors or dancers. Since I suppose this was cast by having thousands of teens and young women audition, that’s very disappointing.
The (by now) required trans and drag characters are also absurd and stereotyped. The strip club as venue is (by now) overdone.
And, really? Another hair salon for the Queen? Please.
DROPPING after one episode and not making Mom watch at all; Unbelievably, RENEWED for Season 2
Little Big Shots NBC (returned 3/5/17)
We USED to LOVE this show, but with Steve Harvey now a Trump supporter, it is harder to watch. We fast-forward a lot.
This show can be very fun and showcases some amazingly talented/skilled youngsters, but I recommend recording it also to fast-forward through some of the acts that are not so interesting to you (everyone is different, after all). We like the singing, dancing and some of the oddities, but not martial arts or simply cute. Steve Harvey is great interacting with these kids.
KEEPING, but fast-forwarding through most of each episode
*People of Earth TBS (10/31/16 premiered)
Wyatt Cenac investigates people who encounter aliens: How fun! Or, so I thought. Instead, this 1/2-hour sit com approach is insipid, trite, and boring, stealing from any and every previous TV, film, written and spoken version of these same stories. It is rife with stereotypes, one-liners as jokes or characters, and predictable situations, and that was just the pilot.
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME; but, amazingly, this was RENEWED for Season 2