Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: TV news shows (41-50 of 116)

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

Anderson Cooper's 'Anderson' premiere: 'Real,' 'raw,' and 'ready.' Really? A review.

Anderson Cooper began his syndicated daytime talk show Anderson on Monday, and it is, of course, unfair to evaluate a new talk show on the basis of its opening edition. But TV critics, like any other TV viewers, make immediate snap judgments that then change over time, so here are a few that occurred to me watching the new Anderson: READ FULL STORY

President Obama, the American Jobs Act, and the media: Who was listening? Who was buying it?

President Obama preempted … Jeopardy!? Seinfeld syndicated reruns? … to deliver his “American Jobs Act” speech, careful to avoid both Big Brother and the Packers-versus-Saints game. The president offered a combination of oratory and policy proposals that were driven home by one oft-repeated phrase: “You should pass this jobs plan right away.” READ FULL STORY

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

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

Al Sharpton's new MSNBC show 'PoliticsNation' isn't worth watching. Yet.

The Rev. Al Sharpton premiered PoliticsNation on MSNBC Monday evening with an hour of booming bombast and near-obliviousness, as he steam-rolled over his guests, interrupting them to ask long, halting questions. At one point he acted as though he was having an argument with his teleprompter and said with exasperation to a guest, “Well, let me just ask you my way: Is the Tea Party going to destroy the Republican Party?” Please, Al, can’t every question be asked your way? READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey II' and the problem(s) with PBS

“A gift from God,” is the way Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton described Downton Abbey, whose sequel will premiere Jan. 8 (ten hours of English country house huggermugger spread over seven weeks). Eaton was addressing TV critics at the Summer TV Press Tour in Los Angeles on Sunday, bubbling with delight that The Series Formerly Known As Masterpiece Theatre had seen a 43% ratings increase in the past year thanks to Downton, Sherlock (three more of those coming up in May 2012), and the updated Upstairs Downstairs (six more episodes will air in 2013). READ FULL STORY

How the deficit reduction negotiations are like 'Big Brother' (hint: think of Michele Bachmann as Jordan)

President Obama is meeting with House Speaker (a.k.a., Head Of Household) John Boehner tonight, at roughly the same time a new episode of Big Brother airs on CBS, to try and negotiate a deal about some revised form of a deficit reduction package and raising the debt ceiling. The details of how this mismatched couple will resolve this are roughly as complicated as trying to figure out the new Big Brother rules about playing in teams of two, not as individuals, and which team to nominate for eviction.  READ FULL STORY

TV news goes bonkers over Casey Anthony verdict: 'I am so angry!' 'The devil is dancing tonight!'

Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera got into a shouting match, and Nancy Grace presided over a lynch mob of lawyers eager to top each other in venting their rage over the Casey Anthony trial verdict on Monday night. The networks tried to act as though they were above it all, while every one of them featured the verdict prominently.  Scott Pelley led off the CBS Evening News by saying the case “became a sensation on cable television,” but that was just spin, in order for Pelley’s broadcast to exploit the Anthony case for its own purposes. Later, CBS preempted the legal fiction The Good Wife to present a legal reality: a “special edition” of 48 Hours Mystery about Casey Anthony. READ FULL STORY

ABC News thinks you're too dumb to know what 'perspicacious' means

ABC News added a graphic to yesterday’s current-events show This Week when host Christiane Amanpour used the word “perspicacious” to describe Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom. Check out  READ FULL STORY

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