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A WNED mystery is solved; U.S. Open ratings sink like short putt

By Alan Pergament

Inquiring minds want to know: What happened locally to "The Escape Artist," the "Masterpiece Mystery!" series starring David Tennant of "Dr. Who" fame as a London lawyer?

It made its debut Sunday on PBS stations across the country.

I can clear up the mystery about the series that co-stars Tony winner Sophie Okonedo ("A Raisin in the Sun") with the help of Ron Santora, the station manager of WNED-TV.

Santora explained Monday afternoon that the second week of the local PBS station's fund drive has delayed the WNED airing of the first part of "Escape" until July 27. The second and final part of the three-hour series airs a week later on Aug.3.

Why such a lengthy delay?

That's so WNED can carry the second season of the  "Endeavour" at the same time as PBS stations across the country. Shaun Evans stars as Rookie Detective Endeavour Morse in the series.

Continue reading "A WNED mystery is solved; U.S. Open ratings sink like short putt" »

"Big Bang," "NCIS: Los Angeles" moving this fall

By Alan Pergament

The big news for local viewers coming out of this morning's CBS schedule announcement is "The Big Bang Theory" is moving to 8 p.m. Mondays at the start of the new season in September when the network carries Thursday Night Football.

"Big Bang," which has been airing on Thursdays in recent seasons, and "NCIS" have been by far the most popular prime time programs in Western New York for several seasons.

"Bang" will return to 8 p.m. Thursdays on Oct. 30, a week after CBS' portion of the Thursday Night schedule ends. Then "Two Broke Girls" takes over the 8 p.m. Monday slot. The brief Monday run of "Bang" should provide a boost to "Mom," which is produced by former WNYer Nick Bakay. "Mom" is airing at 8:30 p.m. Monday in the fall after "Bang."  

"Bang'" isn't the only popular series here on the move early this fall.

Continue reading ""Big Bang," "NCIS: Los Angeles" moving this fall " »

"Scandal," "Blacklist" headed for TV showdown in 2015

By Alan Pergament

Olivia Pope or Raymond "Red" Reddington?

That will be your choice in February of 2015 when ABC's "Scandal" with Kerry Washington as Pope and James Spader as Reddington in NBC's "The Blacklist" are scheduled to compete head-to-head at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Two days after NBC announced that it would be moving "The Blacklist" to 9 p.m. Thursdays in February, ABC announced that it is moving "Scandal" to the same time period this fall to give a new series produced by Shonda Rhimes, "How to Get Away with Murder," the 10 p.m. slot that "Scandal" has occupied. "Murder" stars Academy Award nominee Viola Davis as a law professor in a series that features another strong female character, who from clips shown to advertisers, appears to be as confident as Olivia Pope.

There aren't many very popular TV dramas these days, so it's a shame that apparently two will be competing against each other unless one of the networks blinks.

However, the moves take into account the new reality of TV these days -- that about half of the prime time viewership of series is watched by people who watch later via On Demand, DVR or some other secondary device.

In other words, whichever show loses the head-to-head battle is bound to get a high secondary viewership anyway.

That reasoning also might be behind ABC's decision to move the still very popular Rhimes series, "Grey's Anatomy," to 8 p.m. Thursday to lead into "Scandal." It can be difficult to get big audiences for 8 p.m. series, which actually play at 7 p.m. in certain areas of the country.

ABC probably believes any "Anatomy" viewing losses will be made up on secondary viewing.

ABC isn't only moving "Scandal" next season. It also is moving this year's comedy success, "The Goldbergs," to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, where it is sandwiched between the popular "The Middle" at 8 p.m. and "Modern Family" at 9 p.m.

And this year's rookie drama success, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," is moving to 9 p.m. Tuesday, the night where ABC is premiering three of its six new fall shows.

The network is opening Tuesday night with two new comedies aimed at young adults, "Selfie," and "Manhattan Love Story." From the brief clips shown to advertisers, "Selfie," a modern-take on "My Fair Lady," looks to be the more promising one. At 10 p.m., ABC is premiering a new drama, "Forever," about a medical examiner who can't die starring Ioan Gruffudd of the "Fantastic Four." Alana DeLa Garza of "Law & Order") co-stars as a detective trying to help the medical examiner learn why he can't die.

ABC's other new fall shows are two family comedies that illustrate its commitment to diversity. "Black-ish," which stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Laurence Fishburne, airs at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after "Modern Family." As described in Bill Carter's story about new Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore carried in Tuesday's Buffalo News, "Black-ish" is "about a successful African-American dad worried about his kids losing touch with their culture." Wilmore is the showrunner until he leaves to host "The Minority Report" next year when it replaces "The Colbert Report" after "The Daily Show." The other new comedy, "Cristela," stars Cristela Alonzo as a high-energy sixth-year law student and unpaid legal intern from a Mexican-American family. It airs at 8:30 p.m. Friday after Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing."

While Allen's series survived,the freshman comedy  "Trophy Wife" was among ABC's cancellations. "Resurrection," which has become a Sunday hit, joins "S.H.I.E.L.D" as a drama from the current season getting a second season.

From the clips shown to advertisers, ABC' has several interesting series that will arrive in midseason. Among them is a series from Buffalo-born screenwriter Christopher Markus and Steve McFeely, "Marvel's Agent Carter," that is set in 1946.



Life imitates art in Cooper's interview with Sterling

By Alan Pergament

While watching ousted Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling's failed attempt at damage control during his interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper carried Monday night, I couldn't help but think of how much life imitated art.

After Sterling said some reprehensible things about the personal life of NBA legend Magic Johnson and his commitment to the African-American community, I went on Twitter and tweeted: "Alicia Florrick should have prepared Donald Sterling better for the interview with Anderson."

The tweet was meant for fans of "The Good Wife."

On Sunday night's episode, Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, sat in horror as an old billionaire played by veteran actor Tom Skerritt, said some horrible things in a TV interview that were bound to cost him some goodwill with jurors about to be selected for a trial with millions at stake.

After the first time Skerritt's character went off script and compared his situation with that of Anne Frank, Florrick brought in a Holocaust survivor to set him straight about the offensiveness of the comment.

The billionaire eventually apologized in a second interview before he went off-script again and said something else offensive that required Florrick to go into damage control again.

The fictional billionaire's behavior was airing on TV on the same day that Cooper apparently interviewed the 80-year-old Sterling without any lawyers or public relations people around him in his first TV interview since the National Basketball Association banned him for life.

One imagines Sterling's lawyers, his public relations people and any friends he might still have after his recorded racist comments were made public a few weeks ago cringed in horror as Florrick did in "The Good Wife."

Continue reading "Life imitates art in Cooper's interview with Sterling " »

Second thoughts on Trump, "Blacklist" and "Mad Men" ties to NBC schedule

By Alan Pergament

Some second thoughts on Sunday's blog after NBC's announcement of its fall schedule:

Theoretically, Donald Trump could own the Buffalo Bills before "Celebrity Apprentice" appears on the network.

NBC announced that Trump's show is returning next TV season, but it hasn't been given a summer air date and isn't on the fall schedule. That means the show, which began filming in mid-March, is likely to be a midseason replacement in 2015 after NBC's Sunday Night Football season ends. And multiple reports suggest that we could know the new owner of the Bills by then.

Speaking of football, NBC appears to be trying to take advantage of CBS' new Thursday Night Football starting this September by scheduling two new comedies, "Bad Judge," and "A to Z," from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. That's where CBS had been running comedies this season.  

NBC certainly needs a comedy hit. The only returning comedy on its fall schedule is "About a Boy," which premiered this spring. "Parks and Recreation," its only other returning comedy, isn't on the schedule until midseason and it will be history after the final 13 episodes air.

Continue reading "Second thoughts on Trump, "Blacklist" and "Mad Men" ties to NBC schedule" »

"Parenthood" to return in NBC's new fall schedule

By Alan Pergament

In a way, it is fittting that NBC announced the renewal of the family drama "Parenthood" on Mother's Day.

It gave the series the same 10 p.m. Thursday time slot this fall, but didn't announce today how many episodes will be carried in the final season.

It has been widely reported that the final season will consist of about 13 episodes and that some members of the cast may not appear in more than nine of them in a cost-cutting measure designed to save the series from cancellation.

"Parenthood" joins "The Blacklist," "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D.", "Grimm," "Hannibal, "Law & Order: SVU," "About a Boy" and "Parks and Recreation" as the scripted series that will be returning next season.

Notably absent from the lineup are "Dracula" and "Revolution," which appear to have been canceled. 

Continue reading ""Parenthood" to return in NBC's new fall schedule" »

NBC still mum on "Parenthood" future as deadline approaches

By Alan Pergament

NBC has been announcing renewals of its series over the past few days as it prepares to unveil its fall programming plans next week in New York City.

"About a Boy," "Law & Order: SVU," "Chicago Fire,' Chicago P.D." the low-rated "Hannibal" and "Parks and Recreation" are among those getting another season.

But there has been no word about "Parenthood," which is one of my favorite series. And judging by my emails after I wrote about it a few weeks ago, it also is the favorite of many readers.

There are several online reports that NBC is asking the large cast of the series for salary cuts and that it also is only offering a final run of 13 episodes or less.

That isn't a surprise. I speculated a few weeks ago that "Parenthood" would get a shorter run if it wasn't canceled.

I suppose the good news is it hasn't been canceled yet, which suggests talks are continuing. There were reports late Saturday afternoon that progress has been made with the cast and the series is likely to be renewed for a shortened season.

NBC reportedly has canceled "Revolution," which like "Heroes" before it, was a huge hit before suddenly fading. It only aired for two seasons. It also has reportedly canceled "Community" a few days after series star Joel McHale performed at the White House Corrrespondents Dinner and cracked a joke about how few people were aware of his show. I say reportedly because networks generally just announce renewals, not cancellations. Reporters generally learn about cancellations from the companies that produce the series.

"Parenthood" fans shouldn't have to wait for long to see if the series gets a final goodbye. NBC announces its fall schedule on Monday. However, sometimes negotiations go into extra overtimes and series can get renewals even if they aren't announced in May.

A case in point is Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," which is coming back even though NBC didn't announce its renewal at its schedule meeting in 2013.    

"24" passes the test of summertime; "Louie" shows times have changed

By Alan Pergament

I suppose the key question concerning the return of Jack Bauer in the Fox series "24" is: Does it pass the test of time?

But it isn't the only question concerning "24: Live Another Day" starring Kiefer Sutherland as the incredibly powerful CIA operative who saved the world for eight seasons and 192 episodes before the series was canceled four years ago.

The two other key questions as the 12-episode season kicks off at 8 tonight on WUTV with back-to-back episodes are: Can you understand what is going on if you missed the first 192 episodes? Are you better off if you haven't seen it before?

First questions first.

I was a huge fan of "24" until the final few seasons, well after the innovations of the multiple screens, the ticking clock and having each episode supposedly representing an hour in real time had worn off.

By the time of its death, the patterns of "24" had been so well-established that it was easy to see where Jack was going and how he was going to get out of impossible predicaments and somehow survive injuries and torture scenes that were as impossible to beat as they were to look at.

And that remains the problem with "Live Another Day."

Continue reading ""24" passes the test of summertime; "Louie" shows times have changed" »

Demler, GM, defend latest ad-lib

By Alan Pergament

Regular readers of this blog know I've never been a fan of Channel 2 anchor Maryalice Demler's  constant need to respond to so many stories covered by reporters or anchors.

The latest example came at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast Wednesday.

You could hear her shout "what!" as sports anchor Adam Benigni read a story on the shoplifting citation that Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State received for failing to pay for $32 worth of seafood at a Florida grocery store.

After Benigni finished, Demler followed with an inappropriate ad-lib.

"Did he have a shopping cart or were crab legs stuffed in his hoodie?" asked Demler.

My initial reaction was what!!!!!

If it was an attempt at humor, it backfired. It also inappropriately assumed facts. Winston told police he realized after he got home that he forgot to pay for the food and then didn't do anything about it.

Winston is black. Of course, people of all races wear hoodies. But hoodie has been a racially charged word since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida two years ago. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was killed. It became a symbol of Zimmerman's suspicions about Martin and remains a symbol today.

Continue reading "Demler, GM, defend latest ad-lib" »

New wrinkles impact Bills TV schedule

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo Bills fans may have been a little confused by the 2014 TV schedule announced Wednesday night.

The Fox Sports Wisconsin report two weeks ago claiming that the Bills would play Green Bay on Monday Night Football proved to be as accurate as the predictions that Donald Trump really, really was going to run for governor.

The speculation that the Bills had a good shot at playing at Detroit on Thanksgiving turned out to be a fowl ball.

And the long-held idea that all Bills road games would be carried on CBS affiliate Channel 4, the AFC network, even ended up being wrong.

The Bills season opener at Chicago on Sept. 7 and an Oct. 5 game at Detroit both will be carried by Fox affiliate WUTV in something new this year called "crossover games."

CBS is carrying some games involving NFC teams on the road and Fox is carrying some games involving AFC games on the road.

Continue reading "New wrinkles impact Bills TV schedule " »

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |