Eric Deggans

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

As the pilot episode for ABC's counter terrorism drama Quantico begins, one of the biggest stars in Bollywood is lying in the ruins of a bomb blast.

It's Priyanka Chopra, and she's playing Alex Parrish, an FBI trainee falsely accused of setting off the explosion. She's also making history as the first South Asian woman to play the lead in a network TV drama.

"The bomber knew exactly what they were doing," Chopra says as Parrish in a later episode. "They framed the brown girl."

As I watched each episode of the second season of Amazon's Transparent, the same question kept popping into my mind: Are the Pfeffermans the most dysfunctional family now on television?

The first episode of the new season begins with an awkward wedding photo. The family has gathered for eldest daughter Sarah's marriage to her lesbian partner. But the show's lead character, Jeffrey Tambor's transgender academic Maura Pfefferman, has a problem: Her homophobic sister is in the audience.

They won't actually get to host Saturday Night Live, but four GOP candidates have completed agreements with NBC allowing them to broadcast campaign messages on affiliate stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend.

These deals resulted from "equal time" requests made after leading GOP candidate Donald Trump guest-hosted Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This next story comes with a huge spoiler alert for fans of "Scandal." I repeat - spoiler alert. Got it, "Scandal" watchers? You've been warned.

SPOILER ALERT: Be warned that this post discusses details from Thursday's winter finale of ABC's drama Scandal.

ABC's buzzed-about drama Scandal dropped a bombshell episode Thursday, seeming to show lead character Olivia Pope secretly ending a pregnancy she may have had with her lover, President Fitzgerald Grant.

Earlier in the episode another character, former First Lady Mellie Grant – now divorced and the junior Senator from Virginia – filibustered a spending bill which might have helped Congress curb funding to Planned Parenthood.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In a year when more than 400 series will air on various television-like platforms, why should anyone still care about Sunday night's Emmy Awards?

The short answer: It's still the biggest honor in TV, handed out by the very people who make all the stuff we're watching on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and big-screen monitors.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more than a decade, CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler seemed like the last woman standing in network TV, maintaining control of the most-watched broadcast network's drama, comedy and late-night offerings while executives at rival outlets rose and fell.

Music icon Prince is worried about the future of the music business for artists, and his top priority can be summed up in one word: Freedom.

"Record contracts are just like — I'm gonna say the word – slavery," Prince told a group of 10 journalists Saturday night, during a meet and greet at his Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis. "I would tell any young artist ... don't sign."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Jon Stewart bid farewell to "The Daily Show" last night in a program that seemed to feature everybody who'd ever appeared on the show during his tenure. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans was watching.

For The Daily Show fans, this may be the final, bruising indignity.

As the curtain falls tonight on the very first Republican presidential debate — featuring joke-magnet Donald Trump as the election season begins in earnest – satirist supreme Jon Stewart will already be saying goodbye.

For connoisseurs of wonderfully bad television, there is a fine line between stuff that's so bad it's great fun to watch and stuff that's just bad.

And Syfy's latest Sharknado movie — the third one based on tornadoes filled with killer sharks terrorizing America, if you can believe it — has finally, unfortunately, fallen into that last category.

If there is one complaint which has dogged the Emmy awards year after year, it is the repetition of beloved series and performers, time and again, as nominees and winners.

But all that bad buzz went out the window when nominations for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Thursday, revealing a roster of nominees with more new faces and new shows than the contest has featured in quite a long while.

How do you write jokes for a TV comedy about race and culture when there are riots over how police treat black suspects, and a gunman just shot down nine people in a black church?

If you're Robin Thede, head writer for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, you think carefully about where you focus the joke.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

(Be warned: This story has lots of spoiler-ish details about True Detectives' first few new episodes)

As I watched the first three episodes from HBO's new season of True Detective, one thought kept nagging: Why isn't this more, well, surprising?

Consider this scene, featuring Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, a police officer whose wife has been beaten and raped. Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon, a crime boss who slips Farrell's character a picture of the possible culprit.

NBC has worked out a deal to keep tarnished news anchor Brian Williams at the company, sending him to MSNBC to serve as anchor of breaking news and special reports.

But this brings a new question: How, exactly, can NBC get viewers to trust him again?

Amazon's new romantic comedy Catastrophe begins with a whirlwind tryst that could have been ripped from the latest contemporary romance novel.

Rob is a handsome, witty American advertising executive in London on business. After a chance meeting in a bar, he has an amazing week of romance and sex with a sharp, beautiful Irish schoolteacher named Sharon.

The third season of Orange Is the New Black begins with middle-class slacker-turned-prison inmate Piper Chapman in a pretty dark place.

How can we tell? She's having a casual conversation about suicide with the prison's electrician. And when she suggests using pills instead of car exhaust in a garage, the electrician dismisses her for choosing a way out that's way too expensive.

"I didn't realize that my hypothetical suicide had a budget," Piper says, sarcastically. A moment later, she realizes, "this is not a healthy discussion."

This is dangerous ground for a critic who has seen every episode of HBO's sword and dragon-fueled fantasy drama Game of Thrones but hasn't read one page of the books by George R.R. Martin which inspired the series.

But as the show winds up its fifth season Sunday, I'm beginning to wonder if some of the folks complaining about the extreme violence and controversial sexual content in recent scenes aren't missing the point a bit.

The moment comes a minute or so into the trailer for Dr. Ken, Ken Jeong's new fall comedy for ABC.

He's playing a Korean-American doctor with no bedside manners and a wacky family; not a bad setup for a sitcom that will straddle the work/family setting. Dave Foley, the ex-Newsradio star who plays Jeong's boss, chides his employee for insulting a patient, demanding he apologize.

"And if I don't?" Jeong replies.

No one can ask a tough question quite like Bob Schieffer.

For example, when he asked then-presidential candidate John Edwards: "It appears that the White House strategy will be to picture you as a pretty boy....A lightweight...Does that bother you?"

Cue nervous laughter from a candidate who became known for paying $400 to get a haircut.

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

Pages