Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Fri, 28 Oct 2016 06:09:06 -0400 en-gb TV Q&A: 'The People's Court,' TV news promos and weathercasters http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40507-tv-q-a-the-people-s-court-tv-news-promos-and-weathercasters http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40507-tv-q-a-the-people-s-court-tv-news-promos-and-weathercasters


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 People’s Court,” TV news promos in newscasts and weathercasters. As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: On this season of “The People's Court,” they replaced Curt (the guy doing the exit interviews) with Doug Llewelyn, who apparently had that same job 20 years ago. Why? We liked Curt better.


Rob: My guess is the show was hoping for some media attention for bringing back its original interviewer. Llewelyn was on “People’s Court” from its inception in 1981 until 1993 alongside original Judge Joseph Wapner. Curt Chaplin took over the job when the show was rebooted in 1997. 


Q: Ask the local news producers why they air a dozen 30- to 60-second ads for the news during the news all the time? That is [expletive] bizarre.


Rob: I put the question to the news directors at KDKA-TV, WPXI and WTAE. Only WTAE’s Jim Parsons responded by my deadline, saying he asked WTAE creative services director Tracy Acord Oliver to weigh in. She explained, “If you watch local news, you like news, therefore we promote vertically to the next upcoming newscast. Nielsen research also shows viewers will watch other stations’ newscasts. In order to reach competing station viewers, news promos are placed within our own newscasts.”


Q: Why are Jeff Verszyla and Jon Burnett using the word (quite frequently) "albeit"?  Lately even WPXI is using that word. Why don't they just say “even though” or “although”?
Another thing I have noticed is that each local channel announces the meteorologists’  titles when they do the weather? They don't mention anyone else's title.  I just don't understand why the weather is the MOST IMPORTANT part of the news. Just needed to vent.


Rob: Weather is most important because viewers have deemed it most important by watching more often when weather is inclement. TV stations give viewers what viewers want (although viewers might be better served if stations give them more of the information they actually need).

KDKA’s Verszyla responded to Elaine: “The weather segments on the news are never scripted and always done ad-lib, therefore, there is no edict to use certain words more often. My guess is given the nature of any presentation some words just fit the flow of the conversation better than others…and some people are more comfortable using certain words or terms over others”

As far as the question about titles, no one else on the news – with the exception, maybe, of Dr. Maria Simbra on KDKA-TV, has a title. There are assorted organizations for weathercasters that make them sound more knowledgeable, so stations use that for promotional purposes.

“We have always announced the credentials/title of our weather staff since there is a difference between someone who has been educated in meteorology and those that have not,” Verszyla said. “And based on research, weather has always been noted as one of the most watched segments of any newscast.”


Q: Can you please explain the rationale of networks running a news or weather crawl across the bottom of the screen when a news program is in progress. What do they want you to do? Concentrate on what the person on the screen is saying or pay attention to what's being run on the bottom? Can't they include what's running across the bottom of the screen in the regular newscast? I, for one, can only concentrate on one thing at a time, then on top of that they run an advertisement on top of the crawl. So distracting and annoying.


Rob: The reality today is most people multitask while watching TV. Some are on their laptops, others on tablets and phones. It is rare for the viewers who advertisers covet, news viewers ages 25-54, to just sit down and watch TV news.

That’s why networks and local channels put a crawl on screen. It’s seen as another way to keep a viewer drawn to the TV than just watching the talking head anchor or reporter.





rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:00:01 -0400
Tuned In podcast: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Rocky Horror Picture Show,' 'Hamilton's America' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40505-tuned-in-podcast-the-walking-dead-rocky-horror-picture-show-hamilton-s-america http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40505-tuned-in-podcast-the-walking-dead-rocky-horror-picture-show-hamilton-s-america

tuned in podcast logo 

Post-Gazette online features editor Sharon Eberson and media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss "The Walking Dead," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again" and "Hamilton's America."

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, 27 Oct 2016 08:40:01 -0400
'Indoors' not so great on CBS http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40434-indoors-not-do-great-on-cbs http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40434-indoors-not-do-great-on-cbs

great indoors

How’s this for damning with faint praise: “The Great Indoors” (8:30 p.m. Thursday, KDKA-TV) is CBS’s best new comedy, but that’s not saying much considering the ultra-low bar competition.

Read more after the jump. ...

Joel McHale (“Community”) stars as a Gen X outdoors adventurer/writer who is brought back into his magazine’s office to run the whole media enterprise, immediately clashing with his millennial underlings. There are jokes about how out-of-it the Gen Xer is and how coddled the millennials are, none of which are particularly original or funny.

British comic actor Stephen Fry is the best part of “The Great Indoors,” playing the company’s top honcho but his presence alone isn’t enough to salvage this stale series.

A second episode proves to be no improvement on the lackluster pilot.

A version of this post originally appeared in Sunday's print edition of the Post-Gazette.


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:26:01 -0400
'Life in Pieces' lives on CBS http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40483-life-in-pieces-lives-on-cbs http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40483-life-in-pieces-lives-on-cbs

108705 1027b

I wasn't wild about CBS's "Life in Pieces" (9:30 p.m. Thursday, KDKA-TV) when it premiered last fall on CBS. It seemed like a stale "Modern Family" wannabe.

But compared to this year's awful new CBS comedies, "Life in Pieces" is a gem as its second-season premiere proves.

Read more after the jump. ...

The best, most outrageous part of this week's episode is a guest spot by husband-and-wife comedy actors Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally (pictured above) as the unusual "parents" of Clementine (Hunter King), the new wife of young Tyler (Niall Cunningham).

To say more about these oddball characters would give away the episode's best jokes but their scenes in the first "piece" of the episode is a hoot.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:44:00 -0400
'The Secret History of Twin Peaks' book released http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40496-the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks-book-released http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40496-the-secret-history-of-twin-peaks-book-released

secret history twin peaks

Last week "The Secret History of Twin Peaks" ($29.99, Flatiron Books) by series co-creator Mark Frost was released and while the book mostly focuses on the ancient secret history of that fictional Washington town, it does let fly with a few resolutions to plots in the 1991 series finale.

Read more (spoilers included) after the jump. ...

Anyone seeking major revelations -- what happened to Cooper after he was posessed by BOB? -- will certainly be disappointed but the book does serve as an introduction to a possible new character in the upcoming new season on Showtime, Special Agent Tamara Preston (Actress Annie Wersching narrates the audio version of "Secret History" so presumably she's playing that part on the TV show), who analyzed a dossier -- "The Secret History of Twin Peaks" -- found in a vault while on assignment.

The book reveals the fates of several characters -- Audrey Horne survived the series finale bank explosion, Peter Martell and Andrew Packard did not -- and gives new backstories for others, inclucing the Log Lady, Major Garland Briggs and Josie Packard.

In addition, readers learn the fate of Hank Jennings.

Perhaps something in the new miniseries will also hearken back to the book's most ancient history (Lewis and Clark in Twin Peaks!?!) but I couldn't bring myself to plow through those sections.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:18:01 -0400
TV Q&A: 'NCIS: New Orleans,' 'Mom' and 'Zoo' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40498-tv-q-a-ncis-new-orleans-mom-and-zoo http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40498-tv-q-a-ncis-new-orleans-mom-and-zoo

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 “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Mom” and “Zoo.” As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

-- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: On the TV series Zoo, why did they kill off Chloe (Nora Arnezeder)?


Rob: According to “Zoo” executive producer Josh Appelbaum, it was a story choice.

In a show about a violent animal uprising, it felt necessary to show the human loss of life personally affects our team,” he explained via email. “And because Chloe was the 'leader' of the team and she and Jackson had romantic feelings for one another, her loss would create the biggest vacuum on our show... which, we thought, would provide the most drama moving forward!”


Q: I wanted to write to see if you could tell me why the gal that played Mary Brody on “NCIS: Orleans” left the show or is she off on a temporary basics?

I loved the show very much and felt the chemistry of the actors all worked so well. I am so disappointed she was not on the show and I don't care for the gal who is with the FBI. The chemistry is not there for me, so I am don't care to watch it if she is not on.

-- Loretta Hufnagel via email

Rob: According to published reports, actress Zoe McLellan was let go for creative reasons.

According to TVLine, “The reason for McLellan’s exit was a creative decision, seeing as her character had been compromised in the Season 2 finale, due to her association with a Homeland Security agent who turned out to be a misguided zealot.” 


Q: Why is the season premiere of "Mom" delayed until the end of October? All the other premieres have already happened and from what I read, "Mom" won't be back until the end of October. Is it because Allison Janney was filming a movie in the off-season?


Rob: Nope, it’s because CBS got the rights to air Thursday night NFL games again this fall, which delayed the launch of CBS’s Thursday comedy block until next week when “Mom” will be back along with “Life in Pieces” and newcomer “The Great Indoors.”





rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:46:01 -0400
Tuned In podcast: 'Goliath,' 'Black Mirror' and 'Saturday Night Live' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40495-tuned-in-podcast-goliath-black-mirror-and-saturday-night-live http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40495-tuned-in-podcast-goliath-black-mirror-and-saturday-night-live

tuned in podcast logo 

Post-Gazette media writer Maria Sciullo joins me to discuss Amazon's "Goliath," Netflix's "Black Mirror" and NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

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, 20 Oct 2016 10:03:01 -0400
BBC America debuts weird, intriguing 'Dirk Gently' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40487-bbc-america-debuts-weird-intriguing-dirk-gently http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40487-bbc-america-debuts-weird-intriguing-dirk-gently


BBC America's latest series, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" (9 p.m. Saturday), comes off as an odd but fun distraction.

But to appreciate it, you better like weird shows that seem uninterested in providing answers. "Dirk Gently" doesn't just set up weirdness and then explain it; it just keeps getting stranger and stranger as it goes. 

Read more after the jump. ...

The story begins with Seattle hotel bellhop Todd Brotzman (Elijah Wood, "Wilfred") having a bad day that involves unpaid rent, a sick sister and opening a locked hotel room door at his workplace and finding a crime scene. Then he meets yellow-jacketed Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett), who cubs Todd his assistant, much to Todd's dismay, and things start getting weirder as Dirk tries to prove clues don't matter, connections do, hence his "holistic" detective agency.

By the end of the first episode, Todd is a suspect in multiple murders. And coincidences pile up like snow and seem to prove Dirk's theory that everything is connected.

This includes Todd's sister, a cute corgi, a winning lottery ticket, crazy dudes who emerge from a van, a woman held hostage and a dim military sharpshooter.

At times "Dirk Gently" feels like one long, never-ending tease but the show is so strange and consistently surprising and unpredictable it seems likely to find some sort of a cult audience.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:10:01 -0400
Fox does the time warp again with new 'Rocky Horror' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40485-fox-does-the-time-warp-again-with-new-rocky-horror http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40485-fox-does-the-time-warp-again-with-new-rocky-horror

RHPS-DAY24 scn33 SW-009625 hires1

It's not clear why anyone thought it would be a good idea to produce “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” (8 p.m. Thursday, Fox), a remake of the 1975 classic.

The original became a cult hit because it was terrible and mockable. If we're all watching this remake in our own homes without the benefit of an audience, then it's just a competent remake of a bad movie that came alive through fan intreraction that's missing from our living rooms. And it's still a pretty bad movie.

Read more after the jump. ...

The plot makes no sense and while the songs are the best part of "Rocky Horror" they do have a tendency to often sound the same.

It's hard to imagine this edition having the impact of any of the recent live musical performances (this one is not live).

Producers of this Fox remake use the fan interaction as a framing device. On the one hand, you can appreciate the desire to acknowledge what made the movie so long-lived but at the same time it comes with a feeling of, "This is what you'd be doing if you were cooler and went to a showing of the original instead of parked on your couch watching a remake."

Fox's new version doesn't really come to life until Laverne Cox comes on the scene as that "sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania" (discuss amongst yourselves: the identity politics of a trans actress playing the role made famous by Tim Curry in the film.)

The new cast is certainly game, expecially Cox, who has some terrific moves in her dance routines. And Adam Lambert crashes through a window on a motorcycle to perform a rollicking number.

But what plot there is goes sideways in the last half-hour, just as in the movie. At that point, I just wanted it to be over. 

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:13:01 -0400
'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' back for season two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40484-crazy-ex-girlfriend-back-for-season-two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/40484-crazy-ex-girlfriend-back-for-season-two

crazy s2 1

The CW's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" (9 p.m. Friday) returns for its second season defiantly as weird and off-kilter as ever.

The season premiere, in particular, almost defies newcomers to watch.

Where many shows would pander in an effort to woo more viewers, "Girlfriend" remains stubbornly weird, including in an avant garde musical number (pictured above and after the jump) that proudly proclaims it busted the show's budget.

Read more after the jump. ...

CEG201c 0347b

As much as I like "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," the first season did feel like it was often taking two steps forward, one step back with its plot and characters, particularly when it comes to Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) and her then-unrequited love for Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III).

That story seems to have settled a bit but the love triangle involving Greg (Santino Fontana) revs into high gear once again and though there's the prospect of some resolution by the end of episode three in the new seasons, viewers won't know until episode four if the show has the courage of its convictions to go through with that resolution.

On the plus side, Paula (CMU grad Donna Lynne Champlin) shows some resolve as she attempts to make her relationship with Rebecca healthier and there's evidence of growth in her character with her relationship with her husband.

Best of all, as always, are some of the musical numbers, especially ones for Paula and Greg in episodes that follow after the season premiere.

God bless The CW for keeping this little gem alive. Friday night ratings expectations are low and it seems like "Girlfriend" will live down to those low ratings numbers but bless the show for its daring streak of independence and non-conformity even if that ultimately dooms it to a short life.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 17 Oct 2016 10:20:01 -0400