Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:01:44 -0500 en-gb Norman gets closer to psycho in 'Bates Motel' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40686-norman-gets-closer-to-psycho-in-bates-motel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40686-norman-gets-closer-to-psycho-in-bates-motel

bates motel


The final, darker-than-ever season of A&E’s “Bates Motel” (10 tonight) is literally darker than ever. It’s like with Norma (Vera Farmiga, still a series regular) dead, Norman (Freddie Highmore) has failed to replace the lightbulbs as they burn out in the Bates mansion. (He’s also not keen on doing the dishes.)

Read more after the jump. ...

Season five picks up two years after Norma’s death with some characters scattered to the winds in new places and new configurations that take a bit of getting used to.

“Bates Motel” has always been a series that’s 50 percent excellent/50 percent filler. The Norma-Norman plots made up the best parts of the series and then there was everything else. In this final season, the show seems better focused because now all the plots feature Norman at the center. Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) seeks revenge on Norman for Norma’s death. Norman’s half-brother Dylan (Max Theriot), now married, is intent on avoiding Norman. And a new woman in town makes the mistake of taking an interest in Norman, who gets tangled up in her faltering marriage.

But the creepiest, best moments are still those focused on Norman and the now-deceased Norma as Norman moves ever closer to the Norman Bates of “Psycho” fame.


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:01 -0500
TV Q&A: 'The Amazing Race,' 'Outlander' and sick TV news anchors http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40696-tv-q-a-the-amazing-race-outlander-and-sick-tv-news-anchors http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40696-tv-q-a-the-amazing-race-outlander-and-sick-tv-news-anchors

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “The Amazing Race,” “Outlander” and sick TV news anchors. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: One of my favorite TV shows was "The Mole" with Anderson Cooper as host. It disappeared after two seasons I think, with a pathetic "Celebrity Mole" the final episode. Any chance it'll ever return? I know Cooper won't be back but it'd be great to see its return.
-- Dan, Oakland

Rob: In this era of reboots, anything is possible, so I wouldn’t count “The Mole” out. But I also haven’t heard anything about a network redeveloping it.


Q: What happened to “The Amazing Race” on CBS?  The last season was a year ago and it was supposed to begin again in Fall 2016.

-- John, Crafton

Rob: CBS ordered one new edition of “Amazing Race” last May but never announced a fall premiere date. The new season is set to kick off at 8 p.m. April 21.

Because this is the first season the show has not aired two editions, it has led to some speculation that this could be the last run for “Race.” We’ll see.


Q: It's been years since I've enjoyed the shows on BBC America, most likely over 10 years or more. Shows like “Ground Force,” “Monarch of the Glen” and “Cash in the Attic” to name a few.

Is there any way to find networks or archived shows on BBC America that still have these shows available? Or is my only recourse to try to buy them somewhere. Any advice?

-- Joni, Bridgeville

Rob: “Ground Force” is available on DVD but fan.tv doesn’t list any online sources for episodes.

Episodes of “Monarch of the Glen” are on DVD and on Netflix. I couldn’t find “Cash in the Attic” episodes anywhere through fan.tv or Amazon. You can always search YouTube and see if someone posted them there.


Q: Has the Starz series “Outlander” been renewed and if so when will it air?

-- Pat, Crafton Heights

Rob: “Outlander” will be back this year on Starz and this week the network said the show will return sometime in September.

Q: What is with the annoying trend, used not only by news providers, but it seems, every talk show etc., when showing video clips, of using the 'center' of the screen (smaller) to show the action, with 'blurred' side panels? Annoying not only in the fact it's a smaller screen, but the blurry side panels show action as well, so trying to focus on the center action, the movement, albeit blurry in the side panels, is distracting.

Are they trying to say, without doing so this was caught by a cell phone, or are they trying to cater to the 'phone-in-hand-constant-streamers'? It's bad enough you buy a wide-screen TV and have to suffer viewing on only two-thirds of it most of the time, as if the world is viewed in only “letterbox” but now this? What's the deal? Why do the suits think this is so cool?

-- Joe, Jefferson Co.

Rob: I think Joe is asking about the use of cell phone footage

When using cell phone video that was shot vertically, stations have no choice but to air vertical footage and I assume they think the blurred side panels are more visually appealing than black bars would be.


Q: From personal experience, I know how hard it is to cope with cases of laryngitis especially when you work in a public setting where your voice is very important. I've noticed this frequently over the years. Why do on-air personalities insist on working when they have laryngitis? I've seen times of laryngitis that get so bad where they attempt the early evening newscasts but are not on the later ones. It's very distracting and I do not understand why they insist on being on-air. They could still work behind the scenes until their voice is better and healed. It's happened both on the national and local levels. 

Unfortunately, I'm unable to give any recent local examples. Past examples through the years would be Channel 11’s David Johnson, Channel 2’s Ken Rice and Jeff Verzsyla - separate times. The one national example was late last year and NBC's Lester Holt.

-- Jim, Brookville

Rob: I’m not sure if it’s that the anchors insist on going on or if there just aren’t the backups available and if it’s a sweeps month, the station probably doesn’t want to use a fill-in anchor unless they absolutely have to. I put Jim’s question to the three local news directors and KDKA-TV’s Anne Linaberger responded.

“It’s a decision that we make collaboratively,” Ms. Linaberger said. “We wouldn’t want an anchor’s voice quality to be a distraction to viewers.”


Q: Has KDKA officially made Heather Abraham the morning anchor with Rick Dayton? I don't recall seeing a formal announcement, but at the same time they seem to have stopped "trying out" different people in that slot. 

-- Heidi, Pittsburgh 

Rob: It appears she is, but Heidi is right that KDKA did not make a formal announcement about this, at least not externally, which is a little unusual for the station.

Heather will be temporarily leaving us in a few weeks for the birth of her second child,” said KDKA-TV general manager Chris Pike. “When she returns from maternity leave she will continue to anchor the morning newscasts.”

I asked if that makes Abraham the replacement for Jennifer Antkowiak. 

“She is a morning anchor, yes,” he replied.



I'll go further adding to Daphne's comment and question about KDKA and smartphones, which I totally agree with. I know that the news desks have computers built-in so the on-air anchors can access breaking news, last minute changes, etc. Tonight, Saturday evening, both Paul Martino and Rich Walsh had smartphones in front of them and I've noticed smartphones other broadcast places. What function are having these smartphones at their fingertips serving during an actual broadcast? If they're necessary, couldn't the smartphones be behind the desk outside of camera view? Also, I've noticed the on-air personalities posting live videos on Facebook outside of the actual newscast. TV news is constantly evolving and you never know what you'll see or hear next. Just observations.

-- Jim, Brookville






rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:08:01 -0500
Tuned In podcast: 'Superior Donuts,' 'Emerald City' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40695-tuned-in-podcast-superior-donuts-emerald-city http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40695-tuned-in-podcast-superior-donuts-emerald-city

tuned in podcast logo 

Post-Gazette online features editor Sharon Eberson joins me to discuss "Superior Donuts" and "Emerald City."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site  or below:



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 16 Feb 2017 09:10:01 -0500
More amazing footage of nature in 'Planet Earth II,' a lover letter to the planet http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40685-more-amazing-footage-of-nature-in-planet-earth-ii-a-lover-letter-to-the-planet http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40685-more-amazing-footage-of-nature-in-planet-earth-ii-a-lover-letter-to-the-planet

planet earth II


PASADENA, Calif. -- It’s been almost a decade since the original “Planet Earth” and for the sequel, “Planet Earth II” (9 p.m. Saturday, BBC America), executive producer Mike Gunton said changes in filmmaking technology made an impact when it came time to make “Planet Earth II.”

Read more after the jump. ...

Drones were important,” he said at the January Television Critics Association winter press tour. “One of the differentiators between the original "Planet Earth" series and this series is the technology. The first series had that sense of almost a godlike perspective in observing. Looking down upon the planet from a helicopter perspective is a very strong one using gyro‑stabilized camera mounts. What we did with this series is we took that technology and miniaturized it and effectively put it in the hands of the cameramen so they could take the camera off the tripod.

“That's allowed us to rather than observe actually experience the lives of the animals,” he continued. “So we are with them. And I think the racer snake/iguana sequence .. that sense of being with the animals as that action is happening, is only possible through this micro-technology. In fact, that same kind of camera is also what you then put on a drone, and what the drone does is gives you that next, sort of, middle ground. So when you saw that indri [lemur] leaping through the forest there, you can actually now fly a drone alongside. So you can get that sense of what is it like to be indri leaping through the forest.” 
The “Planet Earth II” premiere episode will air simultaneously on BBC America, AMC and Sundance TV.

This post original appeared in the Sunday Magazine print edition of the Post-Gazette.


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 14 Feb 2017 09:56:01 -0500
AMC's 'Humans' reboots for season two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40684-amc-s-humans-reboots-for-season-two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40684-amc-s-humans-reboots-for-season-two

Humans2 190416 CH-0786-RT


PASADENA, Calif. -- AMC’s artificial intelligence drama “Humans” (10 tonight) reboots for its second season, introducing new characters, including Ed Hooley, played by Sam Palladio (AKA Gunnar on “Nashville”).

Read more after the jump. ...

“He's a human, first and foremost, who's never really dealt with Synths in his life until he comes across the wonderful Anita,” played by season one stand-out Gemma Chan, Palladio said at a January press conference for the show. “He's a young guy, just sort of struggling to make ends meet. He's a bit of an everyman. He's a kind of reflection of a young struggling chap trying to keep work afloat, trying to keep emotional connections to his ailing mother. And he's got a lot on his shoulders and so develops ‑‑ well, actually really needs help and needs Anita.  And that relationship develops in a very interesting way once we start to reveal that things aren't quite what they seem.”

So how did Palladio juggle “Humans” with his duties on “Nashville,” now airing on CMT?

“Luckily, it fell in this beautiful gap in between Season 4 of filming "Nashville" and CMT picking us up for Season 5,” he explained. “And I'd been a really big fan of the first season, so was thrilled to be able to audition and be offered a part. And it meant I could pop home and ‑‑ you know, the UK produces some incredible work, and a lot of that comes from the people that I'm sitting next to. So it was a real pleasure to be part of it, and I felt lucky to be able to do both.”


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 13 Feb 2017 09:41:01 -0500
TV Q&A: 'Bones,' 'The Odd Couple' and a KDKA-TV weathercaster http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40682-tv-q-a-bones-the-odd-couple-and-a-kdka-tv-weathercaster http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40682-tv-q-a-bones-the-odd-couple-and-a-kdka-tv-weathercaster

Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by sending an email to rowen@post-gazette.com (include your first name and location) or submitting online at http://old.post-gazette.com/tv/questions/qaform.asp.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Bones,” “The Odd Couple” and a KDKA-TV weathercaster. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I am a fan of “The Odd Couple” on CBS. I think the cast is terrific. However, they aired the "season finale" on Jan. 31, which I take as a bad sign. Is this show doomed?

Rob: Probably. But CBS has held onto shows in similar circumstances – not great ratings but not completely terrible either -- in the past. We’ll know for sure in May, but the odds of the show returning seem low.


Q:  I have been a “Bones” fan for several years. Over the years I have noticed a lot of references to the Steelers. What is the connection? Is there a writer who is a Pittsburgh native?


Rob: Possibly but I think the most likely reason for those references is that star David Boreanaz was once a ball boy for the Steelers, something we wrote about in 2007.


Q: It'sWednesdaynight and I'm missing “Designated Survivor.” When is it due to return?


Rob: ABC plans to bring the show back on March 8.


Q: Like many basketball fans, I was excited to watch the Cavs vs. Wizards game on TNT Monday night. But when I turned on TNT (551 on FIOS), it was the HLN Network airing a special on OJ Simpson. I did a quick search on Twitter, and it seemed other people were experiencing the same issue. It didn't help that it ended being an epic OT thriller. Any idea what happened? Was it just locally?


Rob: I don’t cover sports on TV so this is a bit out of my area of expertise, but here’s what I was able to learn, which, unfortunately, doesn’t entirely answer Joe’s question.

Last year the NBA expanded the definition of “local” from 75 miles from a team’s home to 150 miles, which puts Pittsburgh in range for when a regional cable network airs a Cleveland game that’s also carried nationally on TNT. In addition, when a network like TNT maxes out on the number of allowable team appearances, this leads to a black out in the local area. (The Cavs game was a last-minute addition to the TNT national schedule.) Of course, this makes little sense because the local network, Fox Sports Ohio, is not available on Pittsburgh-area cable systems

My original supposition, after talking to representatives for Verizon, Turner Sports and the NBA, was that there’s some sliver of a Pittsburgh-area cable/satellite system that extends into territory where Fox Sports Ohio is available and that’s why the game was blacked out on TNT for a portion of the entire Pittsburgh market.

Then later Joe e-mailed again to say the game was not blacked out on FiOS systems in the North Hills. Others confirmed the game aired on Comcast in Pittsburgh.

So why was the game blacked out for Joe in Carnegie but not elsewhere? Verizon pointed the finger at Turner, saying the network decides where a game is to be blacked out. Turner Sports, which of course wants as many people as possible to see its programming (because: ratings!) maintains the NBA defines blackout territories by zip code. The NBA pointed the finger at Fox Sports Ohio. So I'm left to wonder, did someone input the wrong zip code?


Q: My wife and I have been enjoying watching all of the “Frasier” reruns.  Could you update us on what the characters, Frasier, Niles, their dad, Daphne, Roz, Bulldog Briscoe, etc. are all doing now?  Many thanks!

Rob: Here’s an update on the show’s cast:

Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Frasier Crane): He’ll next host an NBC anniversary special on Feb. 19.

Jane Leeves (Daphne Moon): Finished up “Hot in Cleveland” in 2015.

David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane): Will be seen in ABC’s “When We Rise” miniseries about gay civil rights airing the last week of this month.

Peri Gilpin (Roz): Has a recurring role on CBS’s “Scorpion.”

John Mahoney (Martin Crane): Last seen on the British drama “Foyle’s War” in 2015.

Dan Butler (Bulldog Briscoe): Will be seen in Spike TV’s “The Mist” this summer.


Q: WHERE is Jeff Verszyla? Doesn't he work as KDKA's weatherman anymore?

Q: I thought Dennis Bowman had retired, now I see him giving the weather on KDKA-TV. And I haven’t seen Jeff V. for weeks. What’s happening over there?


Rob: As we noted in last Friday's TV Q&A, Mr. Verzsyla is out on an extended medical leave.

Retired forecaster Dennis Bowman is filling in while Mr. Verzsyla is away.


Q: At the close of the Monday, Feb. 6 dinner-time news (i.e., a couple of minutes before 7 p.m.), the four members of the KDKA-TV newscast were photographed together at their desk as they said good night to their viewers.  In my opinion, it seemed unprofessional of Mr. Pompeani to have his head down the entire time, with both hands holding onto his smartphone or other tech device. 

Couldn't that have waited fewer than 30 seconds so he could have looked at the camera and smiled (or even looked bored or bemused)? Is there a light on the camera or a verbal warning to let newscasters know when they are live on camera? Just curious.


Rob: Yes, there is generally a red light on studio cameras to indicate when a camera has news anchors on TV. KDKA-TV Anne Linaberger did not respond when I asked if there are any guidelines for on-camera talent interacting with smartphones during a broadcast.



I have watched Channel 4 news for a long time now and what drives me crazy is the misspelling!  The crawl at the bottom of the screen may have correct spelling in one spot and incorrect in the other part or the stationary line of information is misspelled.   Does no one check the spelling at all!?


We eagerly awaited “Powerless” and then couldn’t get to the remote fast enough to get it off our TV. Not far behind is “Superior Donuts.”  And haven’t we had enough of rogue cops to have to endure “Training Day”?  “The Great Indoors” got thrown outdoors halfway through the pilot. Took us a while to work up a good dislike for “The Mick.” You mean someone actually gets paid to dream up this dreck?






rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 10 Feb 2017 23:59:01 -0500
Animal Planet introduces talk show 'Animal Nation' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40675-animal-planet-introduces-talk-show-animal-nation http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40675-animal-planet-introduces-talk-show-animal-nation

animal nation

PASADENA, Calif. --  Animal Planet introduces a weekly talk show, "Animal Nation" (10 tonight), that will feature viral videos starring animals and celebs talking animal adventures.

And it's all hosted by the seemingly ubiquitous Anthony Anderson ("black-ish").

Read more after the jump. ...

Anderson is a busy guy: He's got his ABC comedy series, hosting duties on ABC's "To Tell the Truth" and now this. It's all by design.

"It's been a concentrated thought since I started my career," Anderson said at a January press conferece for the series. "It's always been about diversity and not being pigeonholed into any one category as ‑‑ you know, just as an actor. I've always wanted to be an actor, producer, a creator. And I've done all those things, and I will continue to do them."

Anderson's mother will be a part of the series, which he fit in among his other TV jobs.

"My very first ['black-ish'] hiatus, I shot all 10 episodes of 'Animal Nation,' in 10 days," Anderson said. "My second hiatus was our Thanksgiving break.  I shot 13 episodes of 'To Tell The Truth' in seven days. And that's how we work it out. We work it based on my hiatus schedule with 'black‑ish.' And ABC and everyone associated with my show has been very accommodating, to allow me to go out and do these other ventures that I told them I was involved with before I signed on."


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 09 Feb 2017 10:18:01 -0500
Tuned In podcast: 'Super Bowl 51' commercials, 'Powerless,' 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40679-tuned-in-podcast-super-bowl-51-commercials-powerless-crazy-ex-girlfriend http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40679-tuned-in-podcast-super-bowl-51-commercials-powerless-crazy-ex-girlfriend


tuned in podcast logo 

Post-Gazette online features editor Sharon Eberson and media writer Maria Sciullo join me to discuss "Super Bowl 51" commercials, "Powerless" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."

Find the podcast link after the jump. ...

Access the Tuned In podcast on the PG Soundcloud site  or below:



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:22:00 -0500
PBS explores air travel with 'City in the Sky' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40674-pbs-explores-air-travel-with-city-in-the-sky http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40674-pbs-explores-air-travel-with-city-in-the-sky

city in the sky

PBS explores modern air travel in the three-part BBC co-production "City in the Sky" (10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, WQED-TV), a rah-rah look at the travel industry.

Viewers seeking a series with critical distance may be disappointed.

Read more after the jump. ...

There are some interesting interviews in the fast-moving "City in the Sky," particularly when the show explores design in modern airports and airplanes.

But the show tilts heavily toward the European Airbus (more Airbus planes are shown throughout) at the expense of America's Boeing, which is featured most heavily in episode two.

And while the notion of systems that make modern air travel possible is interesting, "City in the Sky" ignores early issues with the Boeing Dreamliner and the A380 that makes the program feel incomplete. Sure, both jets are marvels of engineering and design but it would have been nice to learn more about the growing pains and how those were resolved.

If the goal of "City in the Sky" is to make travelers feel confident in air travel, it might be useful to know how problems were resolved rather than just ignoring that problems existed. 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 07 Feb 2017 09:45:01 -0500
Best/worst of 'Super Bowl 51' TV commercials http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40673-super-bowl-li-tv-commercials http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40673-super-bowl-li-tv-commercials


It was surprising how explicit some ads were in trolling President Trump during "Super Bowl 51."

In addition to the explicit Airbnb "We Accept" spot, Budweiser immigration story ad and the 84 Lumber ad with Mexican immigrants, there was a spot for It's a 10 hair care that mocked Mr. Trump's hair.

Knowing that Trump is a Patriots fan and seeing how the Pats performed so poorly in the first half, it was easy to read everything about the game, from the stars of "Hamilton" singing to Lady Gaga performing gay anthem "Born This Way" (following "God Bless America") in an otherwise apolitical halftime show, as a Trump rebuke with a lonely American Petroleum Institute ad for oil in his corner.

Of course, then the Patriots won in the first-ever Super Bowl overtime, so Trump ultimately came out on top (echoes of the election?).

Read more after the jump. ...

As for the ads themselves and not their subtext, these stood out as my favorites:

 -- The Ford spot with people stuck in funny, odd and relatable circumstances.

-- Avacados from Mexico "subliminal advertising" spot.

-- Honda ad with celebrity yearbook photos coming to life.

-- The Terry Bradshaw-Jeffrey Tambor Tide spot.

-- Audi soap box derby ad.

-- I didn't love it but was surprised not to hate the T-Mobile ad starring Justin Bieber.

Overall, the ads seemed somewhat fresher than they did a year ago or maybe that's just because I did a better job avoiding them in news coverage prior to game day.

And my least favorite:

-- A kangaroo-starring ad for Yellow Tail wine. 

-- Mr. Clean commercial.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 06 Feb 2017 09:24:00 -0500