Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: In the News (71-80 of 518)

The Tea Party/CNN debate: Ganging up on Rick Perry, as Kurt Cobain makes a cameo

The Tea Party Republican debate turned into a brawl pretty fast on Monday night. Well aware of the momentum that Gov. Rick Perry has as the most media-analyzed Republican of the moment, candidates including Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann went after him on issues ranging from Social Security to the HPV vaccine.

Airing on CNN, the debate displayed more fierce competition than its time-period competitor, the season finale of Bachelor Pad on ABC and the Miss Universe pageant on NBC. That comparison is apt: These GOP contestants, so fiercely fixed on appealing to the Tea Party members in the audience who asked them questions, behaved like well-groomed models striving for just the right words, just the right glances and smiles, that would win over their viewers.

Perry pledged to “make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can.” He was heckled by Mitt Romney about his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” Romney adding that this “scares” the American people. Jon Huntsman went pop-culture on the panel by asserting that “Gov. Romney called [Social Security] a fraud in his book No Apology — I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not — and then you’ve got Gov. Perry calling it a Ponzi scheme… we’re frightening the American people.” Americans including, one presumes, Courtney Love, if she happened to be watching Huntsman misquote the song title “All Apologies.”

Newt Gingrich scored a crowd-pleaser with a verbal bank-shot that managed to ding three targets: “I’m not particularly worried about Gov. Perry or Gov. Perry scaring the American people,” Gingrich said, “when President Obama scares them every day.” Oh, psych! Oh, was there a point he was making there? Oh, right: The President’s new jobs bill is terrible, don’tcha know…

The other subject that set the TV aflame was the HPV vaccine, administered to many school-children to prevent cervical cancer; HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. In Texas, Perry had been in favor of requiring the vaccine to be administered to girls in the sixth grade and up. He is certainly not the only governor to support this, but his opponents this night lit into him as though he was in favor of shooting up puppies with heroin.

Saying “cervical cancer is a terrible way to die,” Perry said he’d erred on the side of trying to prevent such deaths. Bachmann interpreted this as Perry doing a flip-flop, and said, “Little girls don’t get a mulligan; they don’t get a do-over.” While Rick Santorum said the program Perry once favored was “bad policy,” Bachmann went further, digging deeper into melodramatic, tangled syntax, asserting that she was “offended for all the little girls … who didn’t have a choice.” She said the vaccine “violates liberty… [with] 12 year-olds forced to have an injection into their body [sic].”

Even though it was moderated by Wolf “My Voice Is Making You Sleepy, Sleepy” Blitzer, the Tea Party debate made for some of the liveliest TV in this political season. And as I write, every media outlet with a working knowledge of Google is undoubtedly going haywire fact-checking all the dramatic economic, medical, and musical references that were made this night.

Twitter: @kentucker

Rick Perry applauded for executing Texas prisoners, and other TV moments of the Republican debate

Rick Perry secured his place as a central TV personality in the next presidential election by using what he himself called “provocative language,” terming Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and “a monstrous lie,” calling President Obama an “abject liar” regarding border security, and drawing enthusiastic applause when it was pointed out that the state he governs has executed over 200 people under his watch. Hot dang, Perry was a pistol; he may single-handedly revive the Western as a viable TV genre in 2011-12. READ FULL STORY

The grotesque 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' season premiere: Suicide and a very awkward dinner

The last thing one expects from any of the Real Housewives series is sincerity. Thus the four-minute mourning segment tacked onto the start of the second-season premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to address the recent suicide of Russell Armstrong was as hopeless an attempt at good taste as suggesting to Taylor, Camille, Kyle, Kim, and Lisa that they might want to go easier on the surgical enhancement and the ostentatious jewelry. READ FULL STORY

9/11 anniversary programming: Is there too much of it? Can you believe people are actually asking this?

The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is an occasion being marked in a wide variety of ways by the TV industry. Between now and the 11th, the three major broadcast networks will devote hours of memorial coverage featuring their morning- and evening-news anchors. There’s a fictional drama starring Melissa Leo, The Space Between, about a young boy (Anthony Keyvan) whose father worked in the World Trade Center, that the USA network will air. And there are literally more than a score of documentaries that will be shown on channels ranging from Fox News and MSNBC to Nickelodeon and the Smithsonian Channel.

The scheduling of these shows and many others have already given rise to a backlash: It’s too much, some say. It trivializes the horrific event. It’s cynical business. READ FULL STORY

The MTV Video Music Awards was a conservative show, not a bad thing: A review

The annual MTV Video Music Awards For Videos MTV Doesn’t Play was hyped in advance for its host-free format and its Kanye-Jay-Z duet, but it turned out that the most consistent quality of the broadcast was its aesthetically conservative mien. The performances by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Adele, Bruno Mars, and Jesse J emphasized full-throated pop music sung without bombastic, American Idol-style excessiveness. The Foo Fighters’ acceptance of their award by exhorting the viewers to “never lose faith in real rock & roll music” amounted, in this context, to the night’s most aggressive statement, while the band’s dedication of its prize to the most music-minded of MTV executives, former CEO Judy McGrath, showed an admirable display of informed gratitude for one reason why MTV initially existed.  READ FULL STORY

ABC's new fall TV identity: Home of empowered women and weak little sad men

Networks like to build identities for themselves — it helps signal to viewers what kind of programming they’re going to get. Thus, Lifetime was created to serve as a place for women’s programming (well, for weepy TV-movies about female humans under duress, at least) and FX has a pretty manly image (Justified, Sons of Anarchy). Broadcast networks, because they want to reach a broad mass of people, don’t brand themselves as firmly. But new-ish ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee has set out a passel of new shows that are consciously going for a theme that’s a bit daring. Boiled down, it amounts to: Women smart and strong, men dumb and weak. READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones,' 'Friday Night Lights,' 'Sherlock,' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' among big winners of Television Critics Association Awards

Jon Hamm was named best actor in a drama and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and Parks and Recreation‘s Nick Offerman tied for best actor in a comedy in the annual Television Critics Association awards ceremony held on Saturday night.

The full list is: READ FULL STORY

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' review: Did Larry David, 'social assassin,' solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Last night’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm found Larry David in moods that are least like him (at least on TV): cheerful and open-minded. Enthused about the chicken served at the Palestinian-owned Al Abbas Chicken restaurant, Larry is busy converting his mostly-Jewish chums to the establishment. One joke among these jokesters is that the restaurant would be an ideal place to conduct an affair, since so few Jews patronize the place. READ FULL STORY

'Breaking Bad' season premiere review: Fear the box cutter

“Get back to work.” So spake Gus, giving the order to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White and Aaron Paul’s Jesse, in the season premiere of Breaking Bad. Getting back to work — resigning oneself to a life of both rigorous tedium and unnerving danger — is as good a way as any to think of the theme developing this season. The shoot-‘em-up action thriller has always resided around the edges of Breaking Bad, with a few notable exceptions (the shoot-out in the parking lot in the “One Minute” episode; Mike’s masterly clean-up of some Mexican cartel thugs in last season’s climactic “Full Measure”) rarely at its center. READ FULL STORY

What I got wrong, and right, in my Emmy predictions

Never have I been so glad to be wrong… in just a couple of Emmy categories. I’m certainly not going to whine about not predicting such superb surprise nominations as Louie CK, Timothy Olyphant, and Walton Goggins.

Yes, I’m doing my due diligence in following up on my Emmy predictions post yesterday; I owe it to you to own up to my miscalculations… and crow about my perspicacity! READ FULL STORY

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