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Over just six years, from 1954 to 1960, Alfred Hitchcock made four movies -- Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960) -- that are routinely mentioned among the very best movies ever made. It's maybe an unparalleled run in the history of cinema.

And that's just those four movies. Hitchcock's filmography is full of classics: Notorious (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951), The 39 Steps (1935), The Wrong Man (1956), The Birds (1963). The list goes on.

HARU_Q / flickr creative commons

There's a theory that ours isn't the only universe. That there are, actually, infinitely many universes.

That there are, then, infinitely many yous.

That there are infinitely many different yous reading infinitely many different versions of this show synopsis. That there are infinitely many universes that don't even bother to include you. Or this show synopsis. Or even reading.

Carol Rosegg

Thornton Wilder's Our Town debuted more than 80 years ago. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and, over the decades since, it has continuously been one of the most produced of American plays.

It is known for its spare set -- just some chairs and tables, perhaps some ladders -- and lack of props and sometimes even costumes. It's known for its metatheatricality and its Stage Manager character, who addresses the audience directly and rarely participates in the action of the play, as much as there really is any.

It is known as old-fashioned, sentimental, nostalgic and, simultaneously, obviously and intentionally not old-fashioned, sentimental, and nostalgic.

This hour, a look at perhaps the quintessential American play: Our Town.

We had trouble mustering enthusiasm to wrap up our final episode of this second season of Pardon Me. Last week's roller coaster of a trial culminated in 43 senators choosing to acquit on a weak and deceptive defense -- despite a factual and painstaking accounting of how bad the breach was, how bad it might have been, and how Donald Trump incited it.

MARCO VERCH / flickr creative commons

We live in an "Everything Should Take Twenty Minutes" world. Movies are too long. SundanceTV has a show that airs in 10-minute episodes. Tierra Whack has a 15-minute album made of fifteen 60-second songs. Todd Rundgren's memoir has 183 one-page, three-paragraph chapters.

So today, we turn our hour over to five short, little shows about short, little things.

Marvel Studios

WandaVision is a Disney+ miniseries that's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that's set, like, inside the history of television? It follows Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision as they try to conceal their superhero powers and blend into a generic sitcom neighborhood. Episodes so far have taken on the look and feel of American sitcoms from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Vevo

Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license" is in its second week as the No. 1 song in the country, having debuted there last week. It is the first debut single by any artist to hit the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 in history.

And: Pretend It's a City is Martin Scorsese's seven-part Netflix documentary series about Fran Liebowitz that's actually also kind of about New York City.

And finally: How To with John Wilson is John Wilson's six-part HBO documentary series of advice and tutorials that's actually also kind of about New York City.

TV: Macrovector at Freepik.com / Illustration: Chion Wolf


With the world the way it is, it’s no wonder we spend so much of our time watching television and movies. From sci-fi flicks like Star Trek, to unscripted reality shows like Queer Eye, to comedy dramas like Schitt’s Creek, we are basking in the very best distractions.

Netflix, Inc.

Tom Cruise's seventh Mission: Impossible installment has been one of the few huge Hollywood productions trying to to figure out how to film during the pandemic. Cruise has been in the news lately for blowing up at his crew for breaking COVID protocols, and now he's back in the news for… buying COVID enforcement robots?

And: Could front porches be just the right "magical intermediate zone" to keep communities connecting during a time of social distancing?

And finally: Nicolas Cage is hosting a documentary series on Netflix called History of Swear Words. Normally I'd try to give you a little more context here, but I feel like that first sentence pretty much covers it.

Sheri Terris, Flickr Creative Commons


I love Reddit. This mostly-anonymous giant internet bulletin board has a plethora of communities called subreddits, which bring all sorts of interests together.

Netflix, Inc.

Last weekend, a little girl asked her father for help opening a can of beans. Rather than help her, Bean Dad left his daughter to figure it out for herself. For six hours (supposedly). And tweeted about it. It was peak internet.

Also: This will come as a shock (it probably won't), but Kim Kardashian is rumored to be divorcing Kanye West. Or she's rumored to be about to be divorcing Kanye West. Or she's rumored to be considering divorcing Kanye West. Or something.

And finally: Bridgerton is a period drama series on Netflix produced by Shonda Rhimes. It's set in Regency London during "the social season," and you're either super interested in a show with that premise or you aren't.

Marc Tavernier / flickr creative commons

2020 was ... not great.

But, from a pop culture point of view, it wasn't so bad either. I mean, we got the Hamilton movie, The Queen's Gambit, the final season of Schitt's Creek, David Byrne's American Utopia, the Borat sequel, "WAP," I May Destroy You, Tiger King, two new Taylor Swift albums, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom...

The list goes on.

This hour, The Nose looks back at the year in pop culture that was 2020.

A screen showing icons of multiple different television streaming services
Harrison Weber / Flickr

2020 is finally almost over, and it’s time for a break. But if your holiday plans are looking different than normal, we’ve got you!  This hour, we talk with NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans, who gives us his recommendations on what to binge watch over the holidays.

We also check in with Vox book critic Constance Grady about her recommendations from the best books of 2020.

And later: are you among the 67% of Americans who play videogames? We talk with Washington Post videogame reporter Gene Park about his favorite games of the year. If you’re not a gamer yet never fear—we talk about how to get started exploring the world of gaming.

We Like To Watch

Dec 18, 2020
Robert Couse-Baker / flickr creative commons

For decades, we didn't take television seriously. We saw it as ephemeral, as "chewing gum for the eyes," as, literally, furniture.

And then, around the turn of the century, things started to change. There was The Sopranos. The Wire. And, at the same time, shows like Big Brother and The Amazing Race. For Emily Nussbaum, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that forever changed her take on television.

This hour: A serious appraisal of television with The New Yorker's television critic.

HBO

Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all of its movies for all of 2021 will be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they debut in cinemas. The movie theater chains see this as "doomsday for the theatrical experience."

And: Three strange, metal monoliths having been discovered in recent weeks, one each in Utah, Romania, and California. The ones in Utah and Romania have since disappeared, and the one in Utah had stood undiscovered for at least four years before it was found.

Finally: The Undoing is a six-part HBO miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Its finale aired Sunday.

Netflix, Inc.

Last week, President Obama twittered a list of "memorable songs" from his administration. The list was, let's just say, not necessarily well received.

Vaguely relatedly: Incoming secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken… has his own "wonk rock" tunes up on Spotify?

And: The Liberator is a sort of animated, four-part Netflix miniseries that tells the story of the 157th Infantry in World War II.

Trevor / flickr creative commons

As we were preparing for our show on underdogs, I kept saying that we shouldn’t overlook the fact that, often, to be an underdog in the first place, you have to be relatively bad at the thing you’re an underdog about.

The more we talked about it, the more I found myself making the case that losers and losing are fascinating.

And they are. There’s a whole podcast about political candidates who lost. We romanticize losers in movies and TV and songs and stories.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Jeopardy! has been part of the fabric of American TV, in a couple different forms and across a couple different breaks, since 1964. It is the longest-running nationally-televised game show in U.S. television history.

At the 2015 Emmys, John Oliver quipped, "The sun could burn out, humanity could flee to another galaxy, time as we know it could cease to exist, but Alex Trebek will still be there scolding librarians from Ames, Iowa, to answer in the form of a question."

Apple

The world has an Alex Trebek-shaped hole in it. Which raises a question: Who should fill said hole?

Billie Eilish has a new single out this week, which got The Nose thinking about her now-in-limbo James Bond theme song, which got The Nose thinking about James Bond theme songs in general.

And: Ted Lasso is a half-hour comedy series on AppleTV+. It stars Jason Sudeikis as the title character, and it's based on a character Sudeikis developed in 2013 for a series of promos for NBC Sports's Premier League coverage, of all things.

Image credit - TV: Macrovector at Freepik.com / Illustration: Chion Wolf

 

Join us as we go behind the scenes to meet people who make the shows you love really, really great. You’ll hear about the power and beauty of natural hair from the hair stylist for actress Issa Rae of HBO’s Insecure, and you’ll find out how the food illustrations are done for the Great British Bake Off. Plus, an intimacy coordinator talks about the ins and outs of filming sex scenes.

Netflix, Inc.

Since nothing has really been going on lately, we figured we'd do an hour about the week in pop culture, as usual.

The Nose is sad to see Sean Connery go. But it's glad to see John Mulaney on SNL again.

And: The Queen's Gambit is Netflix's new limited series adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel of the same name.

ESPN

Broadcast sports giant ESPN is telling employees that pandemic-related layoffs are coming. In a company memo sent to NPR, Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and sports content, revealed that 300 people would lose their jobs. He also said 200 open positions will be eliminated.

Shudder

It's our annual Halloween special! For this year, the script kind of wrote itself. We look at the way our current, actual horror is likely to affect our future fictional horror through the lens of the genre's past distinct historical eras.

Plus: A new study that seems to say that horror fans were better prepared for the pandemic than the wimpy rest of us were.

And: Every year on this show, for no particular reason, we look specifically at some classic horror movie that's celebrating its 40th anniversary. Two years ago, it was Halloween. Last year, it was Alien. This year, it's Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

HBO

It has come to The Nose's attention that you can rent an entire movie theater out for just $99 and have yourself a slightly less pandemic-panicky moviegoing experience. Which got us thinking about, just, going to the movies. Remember going to the movies?

And then: "Which of the Hollywood Chrises is the worst Hollywood Chris?" is a question the internet has been grappling with recently. As with all things internet, there's now a bit of a controversy.

And: David Byrne's American Utopia is Spike Lee's HBO movie version of Byrne's American Utopia Broadway show, which is a theater version of Byrne's American Utopia tour, which Byrne did in support of his album, American Utopia.

HBO Max

Bill Burr hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend, and his monologue -- which included bits about wearing masks, cancel culture, white women in the "woke" movement, Pride Month, and more -- has drawn some criticism. It has The Nose thinking about "How President Trump Ruined Political Comedy."

And: The West Wing ran for seven seasons and 156 episodes and ended more than 14 years ago. A new reunion special debuted yesterday, and it's got The Nose wondering how the classic show -- with its Capraesque, idealized vision of American politics -- plays against our present reality.

FX Productions, LLC

Undoubtedly, the thing that will most be remembered from Wednesday night's vice presidential debate is the fly that landed on Mike Pence's hair... and then stay there for more than two minutes. The Nose isn't sure what to make of that, exactly, but things are definitely being made of it.

And: Fargo is an anthology that premiered on FX in 2014. It's inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 film. The fourth season, which is airing now, stars Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, and Jason Schwartzman, and it's set in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1950.

We Like To Watch

Oct 7, 2020
Jana Vanden Eynde / flickr creative commons

For decades, we didn't take television seriously. We saw it as ephemeral, as "chewing gum for the eyes," as, literally, furniture.

And then, around the turn of the century, things started to change. There was The Sopranos. The Wire. And, at the same time, shows like Big Brother and The Amazing Race. For Emily Nussbaum, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that forever changed her take on television.

This hour: A serious appraisal of television with The New Yorker's television critic.

Showtime

The Nose had planned to discuss The Danish Girl star Eddie Redmayne standing up for J.K. Rowling and Rolling Stone updating their "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.

But then some news broke overnight.

Perhaps fittingly, though, The Nose watched Showtime's new miniseries, The Comey Rule, this week.

Pop TV

The Nose has been contemplating covering the controversy around the The Ellen DeGeneres Show literally for months now. The show returned with a new season of new episodes this week, and Ellen addressed allegations of a toxic work environment in her monologue.

And: The CBC series Schitt's Creek has been endorsed on any number of Noses over the years, but we've never actually covered it. But then, after it won literally ever Emmy in the comedy category on Sunday (a feat no show has ever before achieved), we decided that this week had to be the week.

Gage Skidmore / flickr creative commons

Bill Murray has starred in some of our favorite movies of the last few decades: Caddyshack, Stripes, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Scrooged, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day, Ed Wood, Space Jam, Lost in Translation, all the Wes Anderson films, and so many more.

He doesn't like managers or agents, and, rumor has it, he once agreed to play Garfield because he thought it was a Coen brothers film. (It wasn't.)

And now, Bill Murray is 70 (!) years old.

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