19 Best Releases From NBC Network
When Frasier premiered in the fall of 1993 it had massive shoes to fill. That's probably an understatement. Its parent show, Cheers, was a critical and commercial monster in a way that can only happen when there are only three shows for two hundred million people to choose from. It was nominated for almost two hundred Emmys over the course of its eleven-year run, and its series finale aired to 90 million people (40% of the country’s then population) three months before Frasier’s start. So yeah, expectations were pretty high, and Frasier ended up pretty much meeting them all. While never as popular as Cheers (nothing has been as popular as Cheers since Cheers), it was nevertheless a solid commercial hit that carved out its own identity and won more Emmys than its parent show over the course of its own eleven-year run. A lot of that success was rooted in Frasier’s ability as its own, independent show with its own characters and rhythms instead of being Cheers 2.0. Continue Reading →
After averting the Apocalypse and stopping a more militaristic Leaper from the near future by leaping into his own past, Ben (Raymond Lee) and everyone else at Quantum Leap expected him to leap home. Instead, he was nowhere to be seen. Continue Reading →
In 1983, a group of crooks broke into a vault at the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London, patrolled by Brink’s Mat security conglomeration. The Brinks company was already famous for a famous robbery, one that was carried out in the '50s in the North End in Boston, an incident that turned into a charmingly strange movie by William Friedkin in 1978. Continue Reading →
Night Court’s first time on the television dial ran nine seasons from 1984 to 1992. Throughout its run, NBC paired it with such sitcom titans as The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Family Ties. Far and away the oddest of the quartet, it never caught fire critically or creatively in the same way. Nonetheless, its off-center charms worked their magic on enough people to make it a syndicated favorite and to get referenced by the likes of 30 Rock. Continue Reading →
The Night Shift
Ron Howard has been directing feature films for almost 45 years now (his latest, Thirteen Lives, has just opened) and I think most would agree that he long ago proved himself behind the camera—he works well with actors, tells his stories cleanly and efficiently and, barring outliers like How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Hillbilly Elegy, even his films that don’t quite work never go completely off the rails into complete disasterdom. If there is a flaw to Howard’s method, it is that there is never a personal touch or sensibility to most of his films—even the most ardent auteurist would struggle to find any sort of artistic throughline connecting his work. Sure, there is something to be said for solid, sensible craftsmanship, but Howard as a filmmaker could stand to let his artistic freak flag fly once in a while. Continue Reading →
Stuck outside a closed door with her hands full, Julia Child sighs, “I have a cake. Would you mind?” Continue Reading →
The Thing About Pam
The thing about The Thing About Pam is that there’s no thing there. Tonally run amuck, the limited series is a whimsical take on a deadly serious story that can’t come to grips with its darkness. There are moments to enjoy, but overall the series does little to prove itself necessary. There’s a lot of play happening, but little of it is constructive. Continue Reading →
For about five years, beginning in the late aughts and ending in the early teens, a favorite plot component emerged. Increasingly, the bad guy was getting captured about halfway through, and then it turning out it was. His. Plan. All. Along! Some, like The Dark Knight and Skyfall, used it to great effect. Others…less so. Continue Reading →
The network sitcom, much like the American auto industry, is a dying breed in fields looking to modernize and capitalize on newer, flashier models. NBC’s new American Auto sadly won’t revitalize either one. It's a two-dimensional sitcom that follows an inept CEO (Ana Gasteyer) as she attempts to shake up a Detriot auto manufacturer Payne motors. Continue Reading →
The appetite for true crime stories can seem insatiable. Mountains of podcasts, TV series, and movies, the latter two sent directly to streaming services, have been released over the last decade, making it more difficult for these narratives to find a wider audience. Netflix’s newest documentary series, Heist, attempts to cash in on this trend to mixed results, telling three stories over the course of six episodes. Continue Reading →
After his attempts to further push the boundaries of cinema with One from the Heart resulted in a financial disaster, director Francis Ford Coppola spent much of the 1980s looking towards the past. Period pieces like Peggy Sue Got Married and The Outsiders saw the filmmaker providing glimpses into the past, to varying degrees of critical success. He continued his fixation on bygone eras with his 1988 motion picture Tucker: The Man and his Dream. Though set in the 1940s, it was a yarn that also paralleled experiences Coppola himself was having in the then-modern world. Continue Reading →
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
The Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime crossover event on April 1st will mark not only the premiere of a new Law & Order spinoff, but also the return of one Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). For the first 12 seasons of SVU Stabler and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) were the SVU team, the perfect partners. Continue Reading →
In the first three episodes of Season 4 provided to critics, Good Girls one begins to feel a creeping sense of the same. The “girls”—Ruby (Retta), Beth (Christina Hendricks), and Annie (Mae Whitman)—are still jockeying for power with Rio (Manny Montana). Beth is finding herself, once more, in a sexually charge situation with a known felon—this time a hired killer named Mr. Fitzpatrick (Andrew McCarthy)—while her husband Dean (Matthew Lillard) is left in the dark in that and so many other ways. Ruby and Stan’s (Reno Wilson) child, this time their son, is getting in trouble, the kind of trouble their criminal endeavors make both easier and harder to deal with. A zealous federal agent, Phoebe Donnegan (Lauren Lapkus), is closing in on them all, too. Continue Reading →
Peacock's attempt at reviving the classic 80s sitcom with some vague modern touches is as meaningless as it is harmless.
Existing in a cotton candy-tinged alternate 2021 (the year is specifically noted, but there’s nary a mask or online class in sight), Peacock’s new reboot of ‘80s touchstone Punky Brewster exemplifies the question asked of all reboots. Who is this for? The adults who grew up with Punky are likely to ignore this entirely and it’s hard to imagine any child or teenager clamoring to watch it either. It’s a wispy throwback with vague trappings of “the messages of today." And a laugh track. In this economy?
Punky (Soleil Moon Frye), a professional photographer, still lives in the Chicago apartment where she lived with adoptive father Henry, but now with her own three children. Said children are Hannah (Lauren Lindsey Donzis) a teenager’s teenager, who loves TikTok and Timothee Chalamet as the teens do; Diego (Noah Cottrell); and Daniel (Oliver De Los Santos). These three are shortly joined by Izzy (Quinn Copeland) AKA Punky 2.0, a sprightly foster child whom Punky’s lifelong BFF Cherie (Cherie Johnson), now a social worker, encourages her to take in. Izzy appears to have wandered in from a casting call for The Great Gilly Hopkins, all adorable wisecracks and beanies. Also in the mix is Punky’s ex-husband Travis (Freddie Prinze, Jr), from whom she is recently divorced, although neither of them seems to remember that regularly. Continue Reading →
Like any human being, I am predisposed to like Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. The man is charisma incarnate, a shockingly charming person who has proven to have not just skill, but that ineffable something that true stars possess. So know I don’t take lightly what I am about to say. Continue Reading →
NBC’s new sitcom Mr. Mayor will inevitably be compared to 30 Rock, the network’s previous sitcom from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Both feature rich men in power butting heads with their female colleagues. Both shows share a composer, Jeff Richmond (also an executive producer, and Fey’s spouse) crafting another bouncy score. Different from her New York-based shows (30 Rock, Great News, Kimmy Schmidt) Fey and company take on Los Angeles politics this time. While occasionally funny, the show fails to instill a vote of confidence in the future of the series. Continue Reading →
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Six weeks after her father Mitch’s (Peter Gallagher) death and funeral, Zoey (Jane Levy) emerges from her self-imposed exile, spurred on by Mo (Alex Newell). In her disconnect from the world, things have changed. Joan (Lauren Graham) is on her way to greener pastures. Leif (Michael Thomas Grant) has done his best to run the fourth floor in her absence, resulting in a fraternity-like atmosphere with Tobin (Kapil Talwalkar) as the unofficial lead “brogrammer.” Her dueling love interests Simon (John Clarence Stewart) and Max (Skylar Astin) have become friends. Life moved on while she sat out and recovered. Or tried to recover, anyway. Continue Reading →
Apple TV+'s reboot of the Spielberg-created anthology series gets off to a lackluster start.
There’s something really special about an anthology series: it allows show creators to let their imaginations run wild and try different concepts that may not work for a movie or longer series. Apple TV+’s latest series, Amazing Stories, has the fledgling streaming service trying its hand at the format, but the episode available for preview doesn’t live up to the show’s title.
It’s actually kind of odd that Apple is rebooting Amazing Stories. The 1985 original run wasn’t a hit and while reruns played on The Sci-Fi Channel before it became Syfy, it doesn’t seem to have a large cult appeal. Still, the series does boast a producing credit by Steven Spielberg and its showrunners are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of Lost fame, so at least Apple has some star power to bolster the lagging nostalgic appeal.
Name recognition can only get you so far, however, and the success of the show will have to rely on its 5 episode run. Apple has only supplied one episode for critics, titled “The Cellar”, which was directed by Chris Long (The Americans). The story follows carpenter Sam Taylor (Dylan O’Brien, Bumblebee), who is restoring an old house with his brother Jack (Michah Stock, The Right Stuff). Continue Reading →