Category Archives: Television

The Story of Late Night Review

For many of us, our day ends with a late night talk show.

The new six part CNN series, The Story of Late Night, takes viewers through the history of late night television. It started as a way to fill the air time after the primetime shows and turned into a completely new genre. Initially headlined by television legends Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson, these programs have kept the country laughing for 70+ years. While being introduced (or re-introduced, depending on your age) to these television personalities, the audience is given back stage tour to the places and people that were not in front of the camera.

I enjoyed the first episode. It was educational, but not in a stuffy or academic way. It was both a learning experience and a good laugh. One of the hosts I was surprised to learn about is Faye Emerson. My impression of the era was that men were the face of the genre, women worked behind the scenes or were part of the act. Knowing that she led her own show was a lovely surprise.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Story of Late Night airs on CNN on Sunday nights at 9PM.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Television, TV Review

Chef Boot Camp

At some point in our professional lives, it is easy to forget why we chose that job. There are two paths to take. One would be to change careers. The other is to re-discover what inspired us to join that profession in the first place.

On the new Food Network series, Chef Boot Camp, each episode focuses on three chefs who have lost their cooking mojo. The owners of the restaurants where these chefs work have reached a breaking point. Under the tutelage of Chef Cliff Brooks, they will be forced to learn new dishes and hopefully re-ignite their love of being in the kitchen. If they are not able to succeed, they may find themselves out of a job.

I find this program to be interesting. Though it is a reality show, it feels like it extends into real life because the consequences of what happens on the show extend long after the credits roll.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Chef Boot Camp airs on Food Network on Thursday at 10PM.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 Review

*Warning: the post contains spoilers about the end of the third season. Read at your own risk if you are still catching up.

The anticipated release of a new season of a favorite television series is both exciting and nerve wracking. It has to build on the narrative of the previous seasons while opening the door to wherever the new season may go.

The 4th season of The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Wednesday on Hulu.

The first episode starts off right where the 3rd season ended. The plane full of women and children has safely landed in Canada. In Gilead, the repercussions of June/Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) rebellion have created a ripple effect. She has become a Moses like figure to the fugitive handmaids who are desperate for freedom. The authorities in Gilead have a different take on her actions and have deemed her to be enemy #1.

In Canada, Commander and Serena Joy Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) are in the custody of the government and bickering. Meanwhile, June/Offred’s husband, Luke Bankhole (O-T Fagbenle) and her friends who are refugees, are dealing with the consequences of her actions from another angle.

So far, the first three episodes are fantastic. It is dark, gripping, and completely intoxicating. Next Wednesday and episode 4 cannot come soon enough.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Hulu, Television, TV Review

Bargain Block Review

Anyone in the world of real estate can tell you that having one long standing empty property on a street brings the value of the entire block down. Multiply that by many streets in a neighborhood and a city and that is much bigger issue to contend with.

On the new HGTV series, Bargain Block, the audience follows Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas as they bring Detroit back to life by buying run down homes, renovating them, and then selling at an affordable price.

Starts at :19

Though the format is standard for this channel and this genre, I like that Keith and Evan are giving back to the community instead of just running a business.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Bargain Block airs on HGTV on Wednesdays at 9PM.

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Stabler Told Benson He Loved Her: The Jaw Drop Ensues

For the last twenty two years, the partnership of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) on Law & Order: SVU (and it’s off shoot, Law & Order: Organized Crime) has been the favorite of fans across the world. Somewhere between being pseudo-siblings and besties, their relationship was reason we came back week after week.

Last week, a bomb was dropped that no one saw coming.

I have no idea where the story is going for the rest of the season, but that moment was one for the books.

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Filed under New York City, Television

No Demo Reno Review

Anyone who is fan of the home renovation show knows that a major part of the process is taking the property down to the studs before rebuilding it.

The new HGTV show, No Demo Reno, is out to prove otherwise. Hosted by Jennifer Todryk (whose is known for her trademark red hair half down and half up in a bun), renovates her client’s homes without the hassle and stress that comes with demolition.

I find the premise of fixing up one’s home without completely destroying it first is interesting. But the truth is that after a couple of episodes I was bored. As much as I enjoy this type of show, it is a little too formulaic for me.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

No Demo Reno airs on Thursday Night at 8PM on HGTV.

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I Was Wrong About The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Warning: this post contains spoilers about the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the episode.

First impressions are just that, especially when it comes to movie or television reviews. Sometimes it takes repeated viewing for a movie or watching multiple episodes of a television show to change the reviewers mind.

In my original review of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I was underwhelmed. After watching the season finale last night, I have to admit that I was wrong.

I do have to admit that the narrative is a bit messy, but when it came together, it came together beautifully. What started out as an odd couple/buddy comedy/standard MCU fare turned into a partial treatise on the state of the world. Though Sam is known as The Falcon, he is not above dealing everyday racism.

My favorite character is Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). In my limited experience of this genre, most villains have one goal: to take over the world. They’re pretty cut and dry without room for subtlety. Depending on one’s point of view, Karli and her people are either terrorists or freedom fighters. This murky line has been drawn time and again throughout human history, forcing us to take sides, and determine who is good and who is bad. It is a generality that at best has created enmity and at worst, has led to murder and destruction.

I also appreciate that the character was changed to a woman (and a redhead, for obvious reasons ;)). There are still too many female characters that are boxed in by “traditional roles” and not given the room to be anything else.

It is the type of series that grows on you, which at the end of the day, is never a bad thing.

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Filed under DisneyPlus, Feminism, Television

Great Performances: Romeo & Juliet Review

Romeo and Juliet is one of those plays that we all know. The convergence of young love, hate, and violence come together in a potent mix that has been irresistible to audiences for centuries.

Last night, Great Performances aired a new adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Starring Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley as our iconic lovers, the play is set on a sparsely decorated theater stage.

This production is fantastic. Emphasizing the narrative and the emotions of the characters, it is one of the best re-creations I have seen in a long time. It also, in my mind, proves that one does need to clothe the actors in Elizabethan era costumes or film somewhere in Europe that looks like 16th century Italy to be true to the text.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Romeo & Juliet can be watched on the Great Performances website.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Television, TV Review, William Shakespeare

Flashback Friday: Frost/Nixon (2008)

In a democracy, an interview between a reporter and a political figure is a normal event.

The 2008 film, Frost/Nixon, written by Peter Morgan (The Crown), is based on the play of the same name. In 1977, the late American President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) sat down to a televised interview with British television host David Frost (Michael Sheen). It has been three years since the Watergate scandal and his ouster from the highest political office in the land. Over that period, he has not spoken publicly about his misconduct and its aftermath.

Up until that point, Frost’s reputation is not exactly that of a journalistic heavy hitter. Nixon hopes to use that reputation to revive his public perception and earn a hefty check in the process. For his part, Frost has to overcome the doubts that his team has in his ability to succeed. What neither knows is the game that the other will play and how challenging it will be.

This movie is fantastic. The acting is top notch and the story immediately pulls the audience in. Langella almost disappears into the character of Nixon. Though the makeup and prothesis helps, it is the actor who does the heavy lifting. For his part, Sheen as Frost, has the more difficult job. He has to prove that his character has the chops to take on one of the most infamous men in American history.

If there is one takeaway from this movie, it is that politics never changes. Though the narrative takes place nearly fifty years ago, it is a relevant today as it was then.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Frost/Nixon is available for streaming on Peacock.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, History, Movie Review, Movies, Politics, Television

The Nanny Character Review: Niles

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Nanny. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In the old days, the household staff in the homes of the wealthy were background players. They were expected to do their jobs quietly and efficiently, while remaining away from the spotlight. On The Nanny, Niles (Danny Davis) is the opposite of the traditional servant. Snarky, outspoken, a snoop, and a smartass, he is not above making a comment that others in his position would keep to themselves.

Having worked for Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy) as his butler for decades, Niles feels protective of the family he serves. His best friend is Fran Fine (Fran Drescher), who works for Mr. Sheffield as his children’s nanny. He also takes pleasure is mocking C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), Mr. Sheffield’s business partner whose many attempts to romance Maxwell have backfired.

Towards the end of the series, Niles comes to realize that the insults he has been flinging at C.C. are really flirting. When the insults turn into a kiss, it is a realization that is both hilarious and completely out of left field. When it comes to his boss and Fran, he has been rooting for them for years while undermining C.C. in claiming Maxwell for herself. Niles is also known for having a snack handy when Fran’s mother, Sylvia, (Renee Taylor) comes to visit.

To sum it up: We’ve all seen the compliant and complementary butler whose vocabulary ends with “yes sir” or “no ma’am”. While these characters are fine to watch, they’re boring. Niles shakes up the servant character, showing that there can be much more than the stock perception that many of us have of this role.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, New York City, Television