10 items from 2015
In the wake of the "Parks and Recreation" finale, a Twitter follower asked me if the period when NBC had "Parks," "Community," "The Office" and "30 Rock" on the same night was the best comedy bloc ever. I replied that at least two other very strong alternatives immediately came to mind: NBC Thursdays for a few seasons in the mid-'80s with "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers" and "Night Court" (a night that also had "Hill Street Blues," and is therefore frontrunner for Best Overall Night of Network Programming Ever), and CBS Saturdays in the 1973-74 season with "All in the Family," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Bob Newhart Show." Call it, friendos: is one of those the best of all time? Is there another bloc — and all four comedies have to be great, as opposed to what "NewsRadio" creator Paul Simms once dubbed »
- Alan Sepinwall
Streaming video is a godsend if you want to catch up with recent seasons of TV series. But what's a TV fan to do who wants to stream older shows? Netflix has very little from before the millennium, and Amazon Prime has very little from before 1990.
That's not a knock; the big streaming services know their market. Still, it's worth remembering that Amazon's initial appeal as a bookseller was it's long-tail catalog, the notion that comprehensiveness was worthwhile because somebody somewhere would want that obscure or ancient title, that the markets for all those titles were collectively significant and worth catering to, and that the Internet had at last made it easier to connect those customers with what they wanted.
But until the big streaming services step into the long-tail breach, Shout Factory TV (at shoutfactorytv.com) is ready to make a home there. The boutique streaming service, which is free and requires no subscription, »
- Gary Susman
Ok, so minus the recently completed 17-year prison sentence, Taraji P. Henson’s glorious alter-ego is a real go-getter with a penchant for multitasking, dropping quotable zingers and overcoming whatever obstacles the universe throws in her path.
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But this week’s episode, “Dangerous Bonds,” reminds us there’s a big difference between Mary cracking up during a clown’s »
Spin-offs are easy. Spin-offs are hard. Spin-offs get to use pre-existing characters from popular shows — or, at a minimum, get to introduce their new characters on a pre-existing show — and therefore have an easier time getting the audience's attention than some wholly original concept. But spin-offs also remove those characters from the context where people first liked them, and they can be unfairly held to the standards of the original show, whereas a brand-new series is only judged for being itself. And it's hard to know exactly what kinds of spin-offs will succeed, creatively or commercially. Frasier Crane worked spectacularly well away from the gang at Cheers, while Joey Tribbiani seemed much less lovable once he was 3,000 miles away from Chandler and the other Central Perk regulars. "The Simpsons" far outstripped the popularity of "The Tracey Ullman Show." Sometimes, audiences instantly take to characters introduced to a pre-existing show for »
- Alan Sepinwall
Valerie Harper could have easily had just three months to live. But now, more than two years after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, the actress tells People "things are good." Harper, 73, credits acupuncture and exercise as two of her preferred therapies and says, "I'm exploring everything." Harper spoke to People at the 14th Annual Aarp Movies for Grownups Awards Monday night. "I'm not doing everything," she said. "You do what feels right for you. It's very important to follow your intuition and I have a husband who encourages me to exercise all the time and I do and I feel better for it. »
- Alexandra Zaslow, @alexandrazaslow
Even though Blythe Danner has appeared on countless TV shows (“Will & Grace”), films (“Meet the Fockers”) and Broadway plays (“Follies”), it took her 50 years as an actress to headline a movie. On Tuesday night, the Sundance Film Festival premiered “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” a comedic drama in which Danner stars as a woman who contemplates her own mortality following a tragic loss. But that description doesn’t do this crowd-pleasing indie justice. When the film debuted at the Eccles Theatre in Park City, Danner received a standing ovation. On a following morning screening, the audience showered Danner with more rounds of applause.
“I’m so overwhelmed,” Danner says later backstage. “I’m a little verklempt talking about it. I’m 71, about to turn 72. I’ve never had a film role like this.” It’s also the first time the Emmy-winning actress has received Oscar buzz, even if »
- Ramin Setoodeh
As TruTV continues redefining its niche, “Breaking Greenville” seems to offer an example of the network’s direction, for good and (mostly) ill. Basically a reality sitcom – think “The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s” newsroom setting meets “Green Acres” – the show centers on dueling newscasts in the tiny TV market of Greenville, Miss. (No. 190 out of 210 in the U.S.), a place viewed as a pit-stop by younger talent, and home by their older colleagues. While that might be a source of conflict, it’s played for laughs in a series whose reality is clouded by the participants’ eagerness to please.
Take Lucy Biggers, the co-anchor of the morning newscast on Wagb, who unabashedly yearns to be the next Kelly Ripa. Biggers has a bad habit of saying “Awesome” on air and, prodded by her producer-cameraman, high-fives a local farmer while taping a field piece, much to the chagrin of her news director, »
- Brian Lowry
Betty White is living proof that age ain't nothing but a number.
The legendary actress and comedienne is turning 93 on Jan. 17, but she hasn't slowed down one bit. She's sharing her lifelong love of animals over the weekend in her Great American Country special Betty White's Smartest Animals in America.
News: Betty White is Turning 93!
"Can you imagine being blessed at this age with still working at the career you love the best?" Betty asked Et's Nancy O'Dell. "By now they should be saying, 'Yes honey, you just stay in the rocker.'"
But there's no rocker for Betty. She's still living life on her own terms, as seen in her Gac special, airing on her birthday at 8 p.m. Et/Pt. In it, she's seen with all kinds of animals, from dolphins to tigers.
While the five-time Primetime Emmy winner has no children of her own (she lost her game-show host husband Allen Ludden to cancer »
Earlier this week Betty White won Favorite TV Icon at the People’s Choice Awards and stole the entire show! But the cutest moment of the night came when Captain America himself, Chris Evans, lent a helpful arm to the legendary comedian on her way up to the stage. During her acceptance speech, Betty proved that she is just as funny and charming as ever, stilling winning over new fans over at 92 years old. We can’t think of a more enduring and incredible TV icon, who first began her career in television in 1939. From The Mary Tyler Moore Show to The Golden Girls and Hot In Cleveland, Betty has proven that comedy chops don’t get rusty with age. Yas, Betty!
Shout out to the forever-fly #BettyWhite our #YasGirl of the week! ❤️
A video posted by VH1 (@vh1) on Jan 9, 2015 at 7:26am Pst
[Photo Credit: Getty Images] »
- Lauren Elizabeth Thompson
The presentation of the union’s highest accolade will be the centerpiece of the annual ceremony which will be simulcast live on Sunday, Jan. 25 on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. Et/ 5 p.m. Pt, the show’s executive producer Kathy Connell announced Tuesday.
SAG-aftra is honoring Debbie Reynolds for her career achievement and humanitarian accomplishments.
Also Read: SAG Awards 2015: The Nominees (Photos)
Fisher has been an actor, novelist, screenwriter and performance artist during her career. She »
- Todd Cunningham
10 items from 2015
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