The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.
Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.
There are a lot of good things to say about the near-perfect The Night Manager. But it’s best to cut to the core and say that the Susanne Bier-directed miniseries is simply great television. Now, co-production already played in the UK earlier this year where it was a ratings hit and cultural phenomenon. No doubts as to why. The six-part series airing in the U.S. on AMC starring Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman and Elizabeth Debicki is worthy of all of the accolades and adjectives with which one can praise a show – and this in an era of TV excellence. The actors are all consistently at their very best here, with Oscar winner Bier never better behind the camera. Watch Night Manager week by week or in one DVR’d binge, but don’t miss the excellence that is this adaptation of John le Carré’s 1993 novel — you will be the lesser for it if you do.
From the first frame, it's clear that Jackie Robinson is a genuine labor of love. The warmly crafted two-part, four-hour PBS documentary from filmmaker Ken Burns positively glows with its admiration for the man and his accomplishments. Unabashedly positive in its overall approach? Yes, and Burns is somewhat old-fashioned in that regard. He believes that admiration is a good and legitimate reason to compose a biography of someone. He's not going to apologize for that. That doesn't mean you ignore the flaws and frailties. But Burns, like historian David McCullough, maintains that biographies can celebrate worthy American lives, not merely tear them down.
NBC is clearly betting a show that’s merely pleasant can survive in a crowded TV universe. And who knows, with Crowded, NBC could be right. Certainly pleasant is in short supply these days. Admittedly, “undemanding” is not exactly a strong endorsement, and NBC is unlikely to build an ad campaign around the show freeing you from weekly commitment pressure. But it’s something. And here’s something else, and something better, Crowded has to offer: Patrick Warburton and Carrie Preston, two of TV's most skilled and appealing actors. Put them together, and you have the strongest inducement to make room for their sitcom. Two may not count as a crowd, but these two just may be enough for Crowded.