Midseason TV Follies

Did you watch CBS’s Doubt?  No?  Me neither.  I saw the promos and got excited when I saw Dule Hill and Laverne Cox as cast members.  But then I saw Katherine Heigl as the star and I said…nah.  I can’t stand her and will never forget her shennanigans when she was on Grey’s Anatomy.  Good thing CBS pulled it after only 2 episodes due to poor ratings.  Heigl can go right back to hawking kitty litter.

Have you been watching “Superior Donuts” airing on CBS Monday nights?  It stars comedian Jermaine Fowler as Franco, an enterprising young man who talks his way into a job working at a old fashioned neighborhood donut shop.  Judd Hirsch co-stars as Arthur,  a widower who owns the shop but has lost customers.  The premise centers around gentrification as Arthur needs to update his donut shop and Franco helps him to embrace change and attract new customers.  The dialog crackles and the chemistry between Fowler and Hirsch is fantastic. Fowler’s charisma energizes every scene he’s in. It was just renewed for next season. I love the show.

I keep seeing promos for ABC’s Imaginary Mary starring Jenna Elfman and the voice of Rachel Dratch and I wonder…is having an imaginary friend a thing?   For a grown woman?   Where are her human friends?  Is dating a divorced guy with kids a catalyst for mental issues?  I’m willing to suspend reality for 30 minutes and give this show a try.  It’s from the people who gave us  ” The Goldbergs“.   People watched Alf, I loved Salem the talking cat on Sabrina the Teenage Witch .  I suppose I could make room for Mary, The Imaginary Friend.  Then I watched the sneak preview.  It was time I’ll never get back.

Can I confess how much I love Constance Wu on ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat?  The show is supposed to focus on 12 year old Eddie Huang and his family trying to fit in after moving to the suburbs of Orlando, Florida.  I couldn’t care less about the kid.  Wu’s facial expressions and the way she delivers her lines crack me up.

How do you feel about a female Shaft?  That’s how director and executive producer John Singleton describes his new drama,  Rebel on BET.  I watched the 2 hour premiere and although Rebel is a black private detective, she isn’t a sex machine to all the dudes.  She is strong, fierce and takes no mess.   I didn’t think I would like it because frankly, I’m sick of cop shows with stories ripped from the headlines.  (side-eying Fox’s Shots Fired)  Danielle Mone Truitt stars and her energy commands the screen.  Giancarlo Esposito co stars as Rebel’s police captain and Mykelti Williamson had me cracking up as her Dad.   The storytelling is well executed.  I especially like the friendship between Rebel and Cheena played convincingly by Angela Ko.  BET will air the pilot several times so if you have 2 hours to veg on the couch, watch Rebel.

I like Sherri Shepard as an actress so I sat down to watch NBC’s new comedy, Trial and Error. Or rather I tried to.  I kept getting distracted.  This happened when the show premiered a few weeks ago and I decided to watch because John Lithgow is funny right?   I couldn’t get through the first 15 minutes.  Determined, I sat and watched 3 episodes back to back.  The only scene I liked was Marla Gibbs’ cameo as the neighbor who gives them all the stink face.  I feel the same way.  There is no funny in watching this bunch of eccentrics try to solve a murder case.   I tried to watch it and it was an error on my part. Maybe I missed something.  I’m glad Sherri got a job though.


Why is Tyra Banks hosting America’s Got Talent?

I thought a TV variety show host is supposed to be someone engaging but able to fade into the background when necessary.  When has Tyra Banks ever been able to fade into the background?  Surely there are better options.  May I suggest the following….

Joey Fatone.  Yep.  From N’Sync.  This poor guy has been reduced to doing Progressive Insurance Commercials.  Fatone doesn’t deserve that.  I mean, he was great as the host of NBC’s The Singing Bee.  I think he even hosted a beauty pagent or two. Plus he knows something about being an entertainer.  He would have been great.

Cedric The Entertainer.  What more is needed?  Entertainer is in his name!  Besides, he needs something to wash off the stench of that last season of  TV Land’s “The Soul Man”  (yecch!)  Cedric currently has a deal with CBS to co-create a half hour comedy with former Seinfeld writer Spike Feresten but I bet he could have fit this into his schedule.  Remember when he hosted “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” after Meredith Viera stepped down?   Wait…maybe I need to re-think this.

Loni Love.  She has the perfect warm, funny down to earth personality.  Loni regularly shines on daytime’s”The Real” but that show is not for me.  I selfishly would like to see her host AGT so I can enjoy her wit and charm without all that inane talk show banter.

Since we’re discussing NBC shows, I am SO GLAD “The Celebrity Apprentice”  and all incarnations of that show is off the air.  It was interesting for two, maybe three seasons when regular people were the contestants.  The most I EVER took away from that show was Omarosa showing herself to be an opportunistic, backstabbing viper.   In the FIRST SEASON!  I’m still side-eyeing NBC for continuing to allow this crap fest on the air.

Shout out to Ron Cephas Jones of NBC’s “This is Us”.  His performance as William Hill was so breathtaking and believable.  The relationship between him and Sterling K. Brown as his son Randall was the only reason why I decided to watch this show.  He needs an Emmy.

Cedric Yarborough is doing great work on ABC’s “Speechless”.  You might remember him from “Reno 911” or know that he voiced the bougie character “Tom DuBois” on Aaron McGruder‘s “The Boondocks“.  On Speechless, he plays Kenneth Clement who is the aide to a young man with Cerebal Palsy.   His performances with actor Micah Fowler (who has Cerebal Palsy in real life) are heartwarming, funny and strong.  You can see the trust these actors share and it enhances the storytelling.  I still can’t stand Minnie Driver though.

Lastly, kudos to the creative team at Wieden & Kennedy for those hilarious Turbo Tax commercials featuring Humpty Dumpty of the nursery rhyme.  The first spot shows poor Humpty falling off the wall while doing his taxes, the second features him in the hospital  having a WTF moment, watching the doctors and nurses do the “Humpty Dance” as he contemplates suing.  The third commercial shows the horses and kingsmen visiting Humpty at the hospital while he calls Turbo Tax about tax deductions on hospital bills. I fall out laughing every time I see these spots.    I hope you do too.




I don’t care, wait…do I care the new Bachelorette is black?

Look, I loathe ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  I have never watched one episode.  The promos were very effective at driving me away.  If I saw one more silly girl weeping over some dude who really could give less than a crap about anything other than his 15 minutes of fame and the paycheck he will receive, I’d have to…well watch something else.

But then, I found out the next Bachelorette is going to be a black lady.  So now I’m torn.  Do I watch this to see exactly what sort of men she gets to choose from?  Do I want to see how she’s going to put them through their paces?  Apparently, she was on this season’s The Bachelor and according to ABC’s press release, “she captivated Bachelor Nation with her beauty, smile and wit”.  (come on, you know the whole thing is scripted….right?)

I really hate reality shows like this but I might have to sit through one or two episodes of The Bachelorette. *shuddering*  I just don’t know about this….

Meanwhile, over on TVOne, Tony Rock (yep, Chris Rock’s younger brother) hosts “The Game of Dating“where teams of people watch real dates from a hidden camera and try to figure out what they will do next for cash. It premiered January 31st.   How bad could this be?  a) Maybe it won’t be bad and turn out to be funny, (b) it will be so bad, THAT it’s funny or (c) none of the above.  The answer is (c) none of the above.  I just don’t see where the entertainment is.  This show reminds me of Bravo’sThe People’s Couch” where people sit on their living room couch, watch tv and react. (I should’ve been on that show)

Speaking of so bad it’s funny, have you seen “Vivica’s Black Magic” male stripper show on Lifetime?  I knew this was gonna be badly funny when cast member “White Chocolate” auditioned.  While I loved his personality, the minute he started dancing, his moves showcased his out of shape no six pack having torso.  If you are trying to lure investors to help you put a Vegas show together, you do not use someone whose body needs at least three months of intense exercise. The hilarity continued when Vivica hired Darren Henson (from Darrin’s Dance Grooves of the 90’s) to choreograph the show.  This created “drama” because one guy thought his moves were dated, and decided to take over the choreography.  That drama was so manufactured, I thought I saw “made in China” at the bottom of the screen.  I couldn’t continue watching this show.  Vivica Fox‘s personality annoys me and the show itself is a cheap, poorly written, fake drama filled waste of my time.

I’m looking forward to Jennifer Lopez‘s “World of Dance” reality show which is said to premiere this spring.  It will showcase elite dancers of varied age groups competing in a wide range of dance styles including ballet, hip hop, tap and more. Professional dancer Derek Hough from “Dancing with the Stars and R&B singer/dancer Neyo are signed on to the show as judges.

I’m also looking forward to the new season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent.  Why you ask?  It’s my favorite summer feel good show and because Nick Cannon is out as host.  He quit the show over NBC having issues with his “stand-up comedy” special.  Nick Cannon is not a comedian, nor is he funny. This was his third special.   How did he get one?  I guess Showtime is the place for mediocre comedy (see Gary Owen).   The only time I enjoy Cannon is when Kevin Hart roasts him on “The Real Husbands of Hollywood“.  Joey Fatone (Yep, from N’Sync) would be a great replacement.  Lets see what happens.





BET ain’t playin wit y’all….

If you missed “The New Edition Story”  on BET you missed an outstanding television biopic.   Let me say it again…it was outstanding.  From the casting, the performances and stellar acting from everyone involved, you can’t tell me this docu-drama isn’t Emmy worthy.  Hats off to the writers.  This biopic would be nothing without excellent writing and they really did their job.

For years, people have talked crap about BET programming and a lot of it was deserved.  But over the years, BET has been steadily improving its slate of shows.  For example, I loved “Rip The Runway” because it showcased black designers and models of all shapes.  How about “Black Girls Rock“; which is a celebration of black women in movies, TV, the arts and community. Heck, if it weren’t for BET, I wouldn’t have experienced the dynamic duo of Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross doing a wonderful job hosting that show.   Kevin Hart’s comedy/parody “The Real Husbands of Hollywood” is completely silly, hilarious and is killing it in the ratings.  When it’s time for award shows BET is out there on the “Black Carpet”  asking celebs that I want to see, “who are you wearing?”  Though they don’t have a nightly news show anymore, Marc Lamont Hill provides timely information and anchors special news programming on hot button topics and subjects that interest the black community.

Being Mary Jane” to me, is BET’s crown jewel.  Starring Gabrielle Union, this show is a drama that gives viewers a glimpse into the life of fictional TV anchor, Mary Jane Paul.  We see her family, friends, professional life and love interests. I love this show so much. Creators Mara Brock Aklil and Salim Akil have painted a vivid picture of Mary Jane Paul’s world.  It’s so nice to see a drama that reflects black women in a contemporary way.

Even when shows don’t make it past one season, you gotta give BET credit for putting them out there.  I enjoyed watching “Second Generation Wayans” and “Zoe Ever After” starring singer/actress Brandy Norwood. When “The Game” moved over from the WB network,  I didn’t like the change from comedy to a dramedy but it generated historic ratings and revenue for the network.

Now that we’ve seen what BET did with the New Edition biopic, take a look at “The Quad” starring Anika Noni Rose and a very strong cast including Jazz Raycole who I remember was the original oldest daughter on Damon Wayans‘ show, “My Wife and Kids”.   Lawrence Fishburne stars in “Madiba” which was very good, and I cannot wait to see John Singleton’sRebel” which premieres Tuesday, March 28th.  The promos I saw throughout the three nights of the New Edition Story had me pumping my fist in the air.  I haven’t been this excited about a cop show since “Get Christie Love” in the 70’s.

More and more, I have come to count on BET for proper tributes to black artists and persons of color.  When Prince died, not only did they play his videos non stop for 3 days,  The annual BET Awards featured the musical tribute we needed and Prince deserved.  I’m also excited they are airing the American Black Film Festival awards on Feb 22nd where they will honor legend Denzel Washington, Director F. Gary Gray,  Insecure’s Issa Rae, Empire’s  Terrance Howard and many of today’s creative forces.

In an interview aired on Pandora’s Questlove Supreme channel, Stephen Hill, BET’s  President of Programming divulged that BET has the entire Soul Train library and constantly  look for ways to use the footage they have.  Which is why their Valentine’s Day special featuring love songs from people who appeared on Soul Train over the years was fantastic.  Special shout out to whomever got the idea to ask Erykah Badu  to be the host of “The Soul Train Awards” two years in a row.  She’s great!

BET ain’t playin wit y’all.  Their original programming is good and I know there is more to come.  I’m here for it.





Shows I wish would’ve died in 2016 and who’s your TV Date for New Year’s Eve?

Since we have lost sooo many notable TV actors this year, I hereby submit my Top 10 List of Shows I wish would have died in 2016.

  1.  The Real Housewives of EVERYWHERE.  It’s just women portraying the absolute WORST of who they are.  It benefits no one.
  2. Love and Hip Hop.  I mean, what is the PURPOSE of this show?
  3. R&B and Hollywood Divas.  I do not want to see washed up singers and actresses fight and scratch each others eyes out for exposure.  Not all exposure is good exposure.
  4. Late Night with Seth Myers.  I cannot stand him.  The show is so bland and Myers is not funny to me at all.
  5. The Gary Owen Show.  I have tried and tried to like his comedy. Weak jokes and silly situations about his interracial family don’t make him funny.   I don’t know what the writers think they can do to make this show remotely interesting.
  6. Superstore.  Tell the truth… when you go to Walmart or Costco, do you think about what happens among the employees who work there?  No?  I thought so.
  7. The Bachelor/Bachelorette  ABC thinks the only people out here searching for a mate is White.  This should have been cancelled a long time ago.
  8. Bull.  The show should be called “Unrealistic Bullshit”.  Who can afford to hire some quack doctor to analyze a Jury?  Court is expensive and average people don’t have that kind of access.
  9. The Detour.  I liked Jason Jones when he was on The Daily Show but this sitcom needs to detour into a black hole.
  10. Once Upon a Time, Quantico, and Conviction on ABC.  Why you ask?  Because they air on Sunday night and I want Sunday Fun and Games night back!  Get Craig Robinson to replace Michael Strahan as host of The 100,000 Pyramid, reboot Password or Joker’s Wild (because ENOUGH of Steve Harvey and Family Feud!) and give me more of Alec Baldwin’s Match Game.

My New Year’s Eve date since I was old enough to stay up late was “Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin Eve“.  My sister and I watched every year.  It wasn’t my favorite show.  It never had enough diversity to satisfy my musical tastes.  For example, in 1976 “Disco Lady” by Johnnie Taylor was one of the hottest tunes on R&B radio along with “Boogie Fever” by the Silvers.  Yet, Dick Clark had KC and the Sunshine band (shake, shake, shake your booty), The Average White Band (Pick Up The Pieces) along with Neil Sedaka and Freddie Fender. I didn’t mind KC and the Sunshine band but my 13 year old self would have loved to see Johnnie Taylor belt out Disco Lady or The Sylvers doing Boogie Fever (especially my crush Foster) on a national stage.

These days, you can ring in the New Year with Carson Daly on NBC, who has decent musical knowledge and diverse artists performing.   Pitbull on Fox  has been giving us a tropical vibe in Miami, while for the last 5 years, BET has been giving us “106 and Party” which I don’t think is for anyone over the age of 30.  I propose we add one more special for  grown folks.  Can we get an annual R&B New Year’s special featuring folks who can SANG?  People who SANG make you feel what they are singing.  So,can we get a special with Babyface, Fantasia, Eric Benet, maybe a performance by the Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Idol runner up LaPortia Renae (whose new single Good Woman is FIYAH!) or violinist Damien Escobar?  I know ratings play a big part, so add Tracee Ellis Ross or Questlove as the host.  Getting sponsors shouldn’t be a problem.  Wouldn’t you watch that?

Happy 2017 everybody!


Holiday episodes, specials and…why does Mariah Carey have a reality show?

I recently read a GQ article about my dearly departed huzzbund Prince where it was reported that Prince was going to do a reality show about Paisley Park but he wasn’t going to be in it.  I am so glad it’s never gonna happen.  Which is exactly how I feel about Mariah Carey and her reality show currently airing on the E Network.  Why would I want to watch the antics of an over 40 mother of two who insists on wearing clothes that remind you of a burlesque dancer?  Why lawd why?  I suppose if the late Joan Rivers could have a reality show about her life and her daughter, Mariah Carey can shoot her best shot in the reality cesspool.

“VHI’s Diva’s Holiday Special Unsilent night” aired on December 5th at 9pm.  I caught the re-broadcast on Sunday morning.  I loved the opening skit with Diva’s Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan and Vanessa Williams schooled newcomer Teyana Taylor on some rules for being a Diva.  Of course Patti performed (no Patti pies though and didn’t she seem mean yellin at that lady in the Walmart commercial?  I mean, Patti came to HER house holding a pie.  What did she expect? )  Sorry, I digress.  The Diva’s special was fantastic.  Even better?…we got a sneak peek of the upcoming Star Jones drama series “Daytime Diva’s”  about the backstage goings on at a daytime talk show.  Based on the book “Satan Sisters”, it stars one of my personal sheros, Vanessa Williams and Tichina Arnold.  I will definitely watch.

I finally caught an an episode of “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party !  Their“Deck The Balls” Christmas episode was the zaniest.  They started out making egg nog.  I paid more attention to Snoop and his double entendre antics than I did to Martha’s recipe. Snoop fried some catfish and clearly knows what he’s doing. He said his mom taught him how to cook and that he’s teaching his kids how to cook too.   I’m not watching this show for cooking tips!   I got the Food Network and The Cooking Channel for that.  What I love about this show is it’s hosts have two very different personalities, clearly vibing and sharing conversation and food.  Very similar to another show I love on the MSG network  “Four Courses with JB Smoove”.

I got sucked into watching ABC’s “Great American Baking show” while channel surfing one night.   It was cake week and 8 amateur bakers faced off making bundt cake.   Judges Mary and Johnny asked them to make a winter bundt cake which meant it should have holiday flavors like peppermint and swirls and such in it.  They had me at cake.

Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock will host “Rock The Troops” December 13th on Spike TV.  The star studded line up includes Kevin Hart and FloRida and focuses on meaningful tributes to our military veterans.  If the surprise  I saw on the Tonight Show recently is an example of what we will see, I suggest you have a box of tissues nearby.

BET ‘s “A Very Soul Train Christmas Gospel Edition”  aired Sunday morning at 10am EST.  It featured memorable Soul Train performances over the years from Babyface, Yolanda Adams, Take 6, Chaka Khan, Kirk Franklin and more.  Hosted by Bill Bellamy and LeToya Luckett.

Aspire TV aired a beautiful traditional Christmas Special with The Morehouse/Spellman Christmas Carol Concert.  The glee club from both HBCU’s sang beautiful renditions of traditional Christmas hymns.  It took me back to Sunday mornings with my Gran Gran before church.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Cedric The Entertainer had an annual Christmas Variety Show?  Years ago, Cedric had a variety show on Fox that was hilarious, highly rated and of course, short lived.  I would LOVE to see him revive that show in a holiday format.  He could do skits with other stars and musical guests, much like Carol Burnett did back in the 70’s.  How about it BET?  TV ONE?  Aspire?  OWN?

Merry Christmas everyone!






Nightcap, Amy Schumer and two new late night talk shows….

Do y’all remember back in the 90’s when Keenan Ivory Wayans left Fox’s groundbreaking sketch comedy “In Living Color” over a contract dispute?  Fox decided to continue with the show and added a bunch of new faces to the cast which included future Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and the terribly unfunny Ali Wentworth?  Well she’s back with Nightcap on the POP Network.    I liked Ali Wentworth best when she was an Oprah correspondent or serving as a guest co-host on The View.  On Nightcap, Wentworth portrays  Staci, a talent booker for the fictional late night talk show “Nightcap with Jimmy”.  The focus is on how  Staci manages her staff, while dealing with booking celebrities for the show.    I saw the promo for the show while watching The Tonight Show and excitedly set my DVR.  I sat through 3 episodes and I was more annoyed than amused.   Begging Denis Leary not to cancel  last minute?  Yawn…(and I LOVE Denis Leary)  interview with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos who were looking for a surrogate to carry a child for them?  C’mon! you know they ain’t havin’ no mo’ kids!  That episode centered around Wentworth convincing her assistant to interview for the job and how annoying and difficult Ripa and Consuelos were as they interviewed her. Zzzzzzzz.  I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like this show and then I realized…It’s a poor imitation of one of my all-time favorite shows…30 Rock.   Check out Nightcap on the POP Network and see for yourself.

What does mainstream America see in Amy Schumer?  Lately, I’ve seen her commercials for Bud Light and Old Navy and I just don’t get it.  I watched a few sketches of hers on YouTube and I enjoyed “The Last “F–able day” and “My Dream Breakup”. But they weren’t gut busting hilarious. Chris Rock directed her last HBO special at the Apollo Theatre and said he thought she was hilarious.  I respect Chris Rock as a comedian but I can’t relate to Amy Schumer’s crude, crass and cringe inducing comedy.

One comedian I think is killing the game right now is fellow Chicagoan Deon Cole.  He’s absolutely hilarious as Charlie on ABC’s Blackish and as Officer DJ Tanner on TBS’s “Angie Tribeca“.  Cole was a part of the Emmy nominated writing staff for Conan O’Brien and recently released his first stand-up special Cole Blooded seminar.  I am looking forward to what he does next.

I also want to give special shout outs to Constance Wu and Randall Park of “ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat”.  Wu makes me laugh out loud with her portrayal of competitive mom Jessica Huang and Park as her husband Eddie, is the perfect straight man.  When I first watched the show last year, I was turned off by the writing and what I perceived as cultural tourism.  I gave it another chance this year because it comes on after American Housewife and I cannot stomach its competition, CBS’s Bull.

It’s time for CBS to cancel “Two Broke Girls”.  I LOVED the original premise.  A privileged daughter of a jailed Wall Street businessman with no where to go, gets taken in by a working class waitress who is trying to start a cupcake business.  The humor is sexualized and stereotypical especially between the characters Oleg and Sophie, and I loved the fact that SNL’s Garrett Morris is a part of the cast. Now it’s 5 years later and the focus has shifted from the girls struggling to start their business to the wacky dynamics of the people they work with at the diner.  Watching it is like eating the same chicken dinner with different side dishes for five years.  I’m fed up.

Finally, there are two new late night shows that are attempting to build on the legacy Arsenio Hall built.  TV One’s “Donnie After Dark” is a slick hour of former BET Video Soul Host Donnie Simpson interviewing celebrities and musical guests.  I don’t know if it’s a weekly or bi-weekly show, but it is a great showcase for R&B artists and actors of color you wouldn’t see on traditional late night TV.   When’s the last time you saw Tisha Campbell Martin, being interviewed with her husband Duane and Kenny Lattimore as the musical guest?    Deuces and Mero on Viceland are newcomers to late night TV and if you like non-traditional comedy featuring guys who remind you of your friends…this show is for you.  The show is basically two guys from the Bronx, talking pop culture, interviewing musicians, athletes and anybody else they find interesting.  They remind me of guys you see sitting around talking at the barbershop or in front of the local convenience store.  They are funny and fresh.    Definitely worth a look.

Next time…we talk holiday specials.