Posted Saturday 1/13/18 at 12:37AM EST
David Letterman’s Netflix talk show would be much better without the “late-night questions”
Willa Paskin says My Next Guest Needs No Introduction offers a “perfectly serviceable interview” of former President Obama, but Letterman’s “questions are late-night questions: They are designed to elicit an expected or predicted bit, not to meander, surprise, or plumb.” As she notes, there is one point where Obama tried to “show Letterman a way to do the new show differently” by “tossing” a question back at the former Late Show host. But Dave would have none of it. In the end, it was Obama who asked the most unpredictable question of the episode: Does Letterman feel lucky? Letterman's Netflix talk show, says Paskin “is pleasant, entertaining, occasionally moving, a little funny, and almost indistinguishable from a standard late-night interview, just stretched out. It is long, but it is not particularly deep. New network, new set, new beard: same Dave. You can take the host out of late night, but you can’t take the late night out of the host. “
- Letterman fawns over his guest more than he should in a “frustrating exercise in talking a lot but, ultimately, saying a little"
- Letterman was never known for his interrogatory skills, so his “borderline small talk” is actually fascinating
- Both men seemed rusty at the art of banter, but it’s clear Obama should’ve been the one interviewing Letterman
- With its bare-bones structure and thoughtful approach, this seems like a self-reward for a long career
- Interviewing Obama is tricky, but there surely should’ve been some new material to be mined from the former president's first interview since leaving office
- It’s clear Letterman wants to talk about substance, no matter whom he's talking to
- There is a self-reflection that runs through the show that maybe Letterman is reassessing what he’s accomplished in life
- The overall production felt synthetic — like a PBS Q&A reimagined by Michael Bay — compared to the pleasant simplicity of the late-night two-shot
CBS allowing an uncensored “sh*t happens” in 1999 paved the way for this week’s “sh*thole” TV spectacle
The word “sh*thole” was all over TV on Thursday, thanks to President Trump. But as Sean O'Neal points out, there was a time when the word “sh*t” generated controversy when a broadcast network allowed its use in primetime. CBS OK’d Mark Harmon’s doctor character to say “sh*t happens” in an October 1999 episode of Chicago Hope, the David E. Kelley medical drama, citing artistic reasons. The Parents TV Council warned that allowing a broadcast network to say “sh*t” would result in other shows using the profanity. And the PTC was right. ER would eventually say “sh*t.” NYPD Blue would utter “bullsh*t.” Even Howard Stern was outraged that CBS would allow a word that the FCC would fine him for. "The producers felt strongly that the line was important for artistic truthfulness," CBS said in a statement. "We wanted to support their creative vision, but clearly this is not something that will happen on a weekly basis." Ultimately, the FCC bought CBS’ reasoning for airing the profanity.
HBO may actually benefit by having a year without Game of Thrones
HBO has to fill the Game of Thrones void, and it has plenty of options that will prepare the pay cable network for life after the fantasy series exits next year. “HBO’s 2018 lineup is shaping up to be as creative and challenging and entertaining as ever,” says Meghan O’Keefe. “Maybe the question isn’t can the channel survive, because of course it can. Maybe the question is can HBO reclaim its identity outside the smash fantasy hit. If so, then the 2018 line up, full of diverse voices and thoughtful social criticism, may in fact be an affirmation of what HBO is.”
Oprah’s Golden Globe speech is now on Spotify
Spotify’s weekly New Music Friday playlist includes Oprah Winfrey’s speech as its last track. ALSO: An “Oprah For President” billboard is up in Los Angeles.
The James Franco allegations show the BS actresses have to deal with to make it
The Los Angeles Times story in which five women accused Franco of “inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior” while he was their acting teacher or mentor, shows just how vulnerable young actresses without any clout are, and how they're often treated as disposable, says Adam Epstein. “In addition to highlighting how cruelly difficult being a young actress can be,” he says, “the accusations reveal how abuse in Hollywood takes many forms, including some that are disguised as ‘art.’”
NBC’s pilot orders include a clairvoyant crime drama and a Bellevue medical drama
In Between Lives revolves around a young woman who uses her paranormal ability to help the authorities solve crimes, while a memoir by Dr. Eric Manheimer about working at Manhattan’s famous Bellevue Hospital will serve as the inspiration for an untitled medical drama pilot.
Why Victoria is preferable to The Crown
Netflix’s Queen Elizabeth II series has received more buzz and critical acclaim than the Masterpiece drama based on Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother. Of the two, Mike Hale finds Victoria to be more “immediately gratifying.” He adds: “So call me shallow, or just contrary, for preferring the breezy, full-blooded pleasures of Victoria to the more finely wrought, stiffer virtues of The Crown. Who would have thought that the person for whom the Victorian Era was named would be this much fun?”
The Stranger Things kids have become annoying with all their TV ads shilling products
“I’m sick of the Stranger Things kids selling me stuff,” says Jeremy Gordon. “The sight of the Stranger Things kids pushing everything from Converse shoes to some Italian video player called the Casa 3 (they even invented a referential storyline, in which Will disappears again) felt more grating than usual, because it was too close to the way the show actually works,” he says. Gordon adds: “To see so many of these precocious children conscripted into such trickery makes me further distrust the insistence that this is all fun and games — that somehow a commercial can be amusing, or even good, when the fundamental concept is to hawk some sh*t to us by playing on our feelings…To watch someone like the talented Millie Bobby Brown make dozens of goofy faces to promote the Converse Chuck Taylor, as she does in one commercial, is the lie behind Stranger Things being exposed in real time — that if we can be made to feel this cheaply good about a shoe, then of course it would be the same for a monster show.”
Family Guy staffers reflect on 300 episodes
Two producers say Sunday's Episode 300 is their very favorite episode of the series, in part because it includes a gag about ranking the Fast & Furious films.
West Covina is basking in the glow of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The Los Angeles suburb, whose ordinariness was a main reason it was chosen for The CW series' setting, hasn’t received much money from film permit revenue. Nor has it received much Crazy Ex-Girlfriend-associated tourism. But it has had an impact in that people nationwide actually know it exists. “Nowadays, I think I’d tell people, ‘I’m from West Covina,’” says City Councilmember Ben Wong. “I can name-drop my city now,” adds longtime resident Lisa Mayo, who first came to know West Covina as “past Pasadena.” Rachel Bloom says she and fellow co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna “liked the idea of West Covina being a symbol for what America now is: A diverse group from all walks of life going to the same chain stores and restaurants.”
Robin Givens is coming to The Bold and the Beautiful
The Riverdale star will play Steffy Forrester’s obstetrician in a three-episode arc.
The Last Man on Earth still manages to push its creative boundaries
“The premise isn’t an easy one to work with,” says Lea Palmieri, “but somehow The Last Man on Earth writers have figured out a way to expand their world without breaking the rules they’ve set in place, or eliciting skepticism or anything close to boredom from invested viewers. This season alone has delved into topics such as feminism, former cartel leaders, and parenting. Bit of a variety there, wouldn’t you say? But, just like the extreme measures they’re taking when it comes to potentially gruesome moments, it all seems to make sense.”
Pete Holmes’ Crashing feels more like his story in Season 2
“One of the most glaring issues with Crashing Season 1 was how it acknowledged Pete Holmes’ unique background — that he’s a relatively clean comic thanks to his religious upbringing — without ever doing anything special with it,” says Ben Travers. “While a perfectly enjoyable season of television that set up its basic premise a little too well, Holmes’ initial HBO offering felt like any other stand-up comic’s story. Season 2 does not. It feels like Holmes’ story, and it’s better for it — in part because it fully commits to how belief can distinguish a comedian when he or she engages with the concept.” ALSO: Crashing is a good show that has moments of greatness.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams goes hand in hand with Black Mirror
Amazon's 10-part anthology series starring such big names as Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin and Steve Buscemi has been referred to as the streaming service’s answer to Black Mirror. “Stylistically and philosophically, though, they’re a binary set,” says Spencer Kornhaber. “Electric Dreams is televisually muddy next to Black Mirror’s austere confidence, but it has an emotional generosity that the Netflix series lacks, serving up plenty of happy endings with twists that are more conventional. Of greater note are the contrasts in the shows’ thematic emphases. Electric Dreams usually insists that the tyranny of the collective is the urgent concern. Black Mirror is often a fantasy of individualism taken too far. The dystopian drama most apt for 2018 might be a synthesis of the two.” ALSO: Some episodes are real gems, while other feel overly familiar.
- David Letterman’s Netflix talk show would be much better without the “late-night questions”