Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Religion (1-7 of 7)

'All-American Muslim' premiere review: A show that insists, 'Muslims, they're just like us!'

Where cable’s TLC is usually the Learning Channel that teaches us ordinary people, when placed in front of TV cameras for long periods of time, can become extremely freakish (Jon and Kate Plus 8; Toddlers and Tiaras), its new series, All-American Muslim, is determined to assure its audience that Muslims are ordinary, non-extremist Americans. That such a need even exists suggests a problem that the show is disinclined to address. READ FULL STORY

Glenn Beck equates the President's religion to Marxism, as TV talking-heads dither about why Beck is so popular

The weekend news coverage of Glenn Beck’s Washington, D.C., rally had most on-air reporters either avoiding the topic (Fox News, which employs Beck, did very little on Saturday, as the event unfolded) or subsequently yakking nervously about why Beck is so darn popular. On Sunday morning, CNN’s Reliable Sources took the latter tack, as host Howard Kurtz’s guest panel squandered air time trying to sound knowing while articulating nothing insightful about Beck’s new-ish message, which calls for a renewed faith-based emphasis in matters both social and political.

The only interview Beck granted on Sunday was to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. There, between READ FULL STORY

Christopher Hitchens and Anderson Cooper talk about cancer, God, and suicide

Last night on CNN, Anderson Cooper conducted a terrific interview with Christopher Hitchens, who was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer while promoting his excellent new autobiography Hitch-22.

Hitchens is famous for, among other things, being a blunt-talking atheist and a ferocious dismantler of cant language. While it makes one’s heart ache to see Hitchens without his thick thatch of hair, he’s quietly funny in his lucid explanations of why he’ll try to avoid any death-bed conversions and READ FULL STORY

Craig Ferguson's Peabody Award-winning Desmond Tutu interview airs again tonight

The 2009 interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu that won Craig Ferguson a Peabody Award will air again tonight, with a new introduction by the host. The Peabody Awards will be handed out today.

Tonight, in honor of that award, Craig will be his usual self-deprecating Robot-Skeleton-leader self, and among his remarks in his freshly-taped intro:

“We thought maybe if you wanted we could show you Desmond Tutu’s visit to the show again, something like an encore performance.  But of course this wouldn’t be a repeat. No, no, no, no.  A repeat is something you show when it didn’t win the Peabody Award. When you win the Peabody Award it is ‘an encore performance.’ I was humbled and delighted to be in the presence of such a great man.”

As I wrote at the time, Archbishop Tutu is not exactly a mainstay of late-night entertainment. Ferguson’s conversation with the clergyman, is by turns serious, funny, and sometimes both simultaneously (“When you don’t forgive, frequently you feel it in your tum-tum,” said the Archbishop, patting his own tummy) as they talk about race, God, good and evil. And nagging wives. All without reading from cue cards or notes. “I think you’re crazy!” Tutu chuckles at one point. Craig also tells an excellent chess joke involving bishops.

Ferguson interviews Bishop Tutu without being intimidated or fawning, and in so doing, demonstrates the range of tones and subject matter that can be addressed on late-night TV. It’s worth a second look.

Jon Stewart defends 'South Park' colleagues by telling extremists to go you-know-what themselves

Last night, Jon Stewart used The Daily Show to come to the defense of “our good friends and colleagues Matt and Trey” and the “veiled death threats” that Matt Stone and Trey Parker received in the wake of the past two weeks’ episodes about, in part, the prophet Muhammad.

Stewart bowed a bit to his employers, Comedy Central, for READ FULL STORY

'South Park' recap: Episode '201' is 'CENSORED,' also reveals Cartman's father

Last night, South Park paid off on both of last week’s cliffhangers — the true identity of Cartman’s father, and a power-struggle over the Muslim prophet Muhammad, who will hereafter be referred to in the manner he was throughout last night’s episode: as READ FULL STORY

Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens 'gloat' about Catholic Church child-abuse scandals

On Real Time with Bill Maher last night, the host and guest Christopher Hitchens discussed the current new reports, and institutional cover-ups, of child molestation by Catholic priests. Hitchens and Maher, both committed atheists, cheerfully admitted they were there to “gloat” about the scandal, while casting the crimes in the most stark language. “Let’s not call it ‘child abuse,’” said Hitchens. “It’s the rape and torture of children.”

“This is the one crime one cannot think about without vomiting,” said Hitchens.

It was pretty invigorating to see and hear something like this discussed on TV, where the iron-clad rule is that there are two sides to every story, and the opposite side must be given air-time. As Maher noted, there’s no one who’s going to come forward and make the “pro-child abuse” case.

Of course, Hitchens is the man who wrote an entire book condemning Mother Teresa. Between his ferocious anti-Catholicism and the way Maher’s smugness can get in the way of even his good observations, I’ll bet there were some viewers watching this who thought, yeah, well, they have a point, but do they have to condemn everything about the Church?

What do you think?

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