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Friday, May 2, 2014
The Address shows that there’s no point to public education if students don’t walk away with useful lessons for life.

Ken Burns’ The Address isn’t the greatest documentary ever made, but it’s an important one.


The film follows 50 boys from ages 11 to 17 as they struggle to memorize the Gettysburg Address for their peers at Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont. You’ve never heard of the boys, the school, or the small New England town in which they reside, but by the film’s end, you’ll be moved by their courage and perseverance.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
With rare exception CBS's Amazing Race has had a lock on the annual Emmy, but its wins are more about formula than quality.

The facts speak for themselves: in the ten years that an Emmy has been presented for a competitive reality series, CBS’s The Amazing Race has won eight times. (The only exception was in 2010 when the award went to Top Chef and this past year when it went to The Voice.


The way I see it, unless the producers of The Amazing Race decide to recuse themselves sometime soon (because their mantle is already full enough), I doubt, despite the two upsets, that any other reality show will be upending The Amazing Race‘s impressive domination of this category anytime in the near future.


Tagged as: the amazing race
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Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014
Unfortunately, some shows seem destined for cancellation right away, regardless of critical acclaim or the support of small, fanatical groups of fans.

The premature cancellation of great TV shows is, sadly, nothing new, as shows like My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, and Firefly can attest. Yet it continues to happen, season after season. Low ratings, high concepts, and plain old bad timing are just a few reasons why some shows never get a chance to grow past one season.


Unfortunately, some shows seem destined for cancellation right away, regardless of critical acclaim or the support of small, fanatical groups of fans. Below are seven shows that not only were cancelled too soon, but may have also been overlooked as excellent one-season wonders.


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Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014
Reality television has come for our children. And there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.

Now well over ten years old as a major television genre (I chart as its origin the debut of Survivor on CBS in 2000), the fact that “reality TV” is now concentrating more and more on kids should not come as any great surprise. 


We have already had a decade of adults humiliating and demeaning themselves on reality TV for any number of things—for jobs, for love, for “glory”, even for food (Survivor, Big Brother).  So, after all that, where else was there to go?


The recent debut of the Esquire Channel’s controversial Friday Night Tykes and Lifetime’s unfortunately enduring Dance Moms series are answering the question above.


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Thursday, Jan 30, 2014
When it comes to its programming, what put the cable channel on the map may soon also lead to its downfall.

There’s certainly no need to cry any tears for Bravo… yet. Right now the cable channel is riding high. The channel can currently count among its line-up at least one prestige program, Inside the Actor’s Studio, one classy Emmy-winning reality series, Top Chef, and a true pop culture phenomenon, thanks to its gaggle of catty Real Housewives.


How quickly things have changed. Not so long ago, Bravo was barely known and even then viewed only as a lower-rent A&E. Then, in the early 2000s, with the breakout success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (premiered 2003) and the now departed-for-Lifetime Project Runway (premiered 2004), the channel began to emerge. But it hit its greatest stride of course with the evolution and development of what can only be called the “reality soap opera”, a somewhat newly emerged genre best epitomized by the likes of the Real Housewives franchise.


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