Eric Deggans | KGOU
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Eric Deggans

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When the real world is as crazy as five Saturday Night Live skits, the bar raises to an absurd height for the quality of satire you need to make sense of it all.

Which explains, in part, why SNL's 46th season opener last night felt so flat and uninspired. After the kind of week President Trump had in real life – contracting the coronavirus and getting airlifted to a hospital days after making fun of opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask – there wasn't much Alec Baldwin could do to top that.

Does it even matter that it's fall? We're stuck inside much of the time, anyway, and new TV shows come at us all year round. Well, yes, there's reason to celebrate precisely because of how the pandemic disrupted things. Broadcasters couldn't develop new material, thanks to production being halted. So, viewers watched more streaming services. Even HBO, FX and Showtime were forced to push back some of their best material to ensure they could get through the long summer.

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The anthology TV series "Fargo" returns for a fourth season on FX on Sunday. Again this year, it has a whole new story and a whole new cast, including Chris Rock. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the comedian has arrived as a dramatic actor.

Like everything else, the ongoing pandemic and the nation's civil rights reckoning has completely upended this year's Emmy awards.

And it may be the best thing that has happened for the contest in quite a while.

Most years — held back by groupthink, star worship and Hollywood's unending popularity contests — the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences overlooks quite a lot in its nominees for TV's ultimate awards, the Emmys.

Which is why, years ago, I created my own TV honors, called the Deggys.

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Thanks to the ubiquity of super powered metahumans flying through the air to smash box office records and scoop up Emmy nominations, it is easy for non-geeks to roll their eyes when a new comic book hero-centered project emerges. Not again, you think. We've seen this all before.

But in the case of Amazon Prime Video's The Boys, you really haven't. At least, not how things evolve in the show's more expansive second season premiering Friday, Sept. 4.

The GOP lost the TV ratings race this week, as prime time viewership for the Republican National Convention was consistently below figures for the Democratic party's virtual convention last week, according to figures released by Nielsen.

Watch actor Sterling K. Brown, and one of the first things you may notice is his eyes.

In a scene from the last season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Brown plays Reggie, a hard-nosed manager who fires comic Midge Maisel from the opening spot of a major tour.

As Reggie explains his reasons in an emotional speech, tears well up in his eyes. His language is rough, but his eyes reveal something more: He's feeling guilty and defensive.

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Let's talk now about talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has built her show around being welcoming. Have a listen. This is from her acceptance speech for Favorite Daytime TV Host at the People's Choice Awards.

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Finally today, Beyonce's long-awaited visual album "Black Is King" dropped yesterday on the Disney Plus streaming service. It includes a song Beyonce released earlier as a music video called "Already."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALREADY")

In avoiding one racial controversy, Emmy voters created another one.

Voting for 2020 Primetime Emmy nominations got underway in early July, just as the nation was focused on the anti-racism reckoning begun by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The general public was seeking out films and TV shows centered on Black people and issues to learn more; TV critics like me wondered how that dynamic might affect the Emmys.

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For a guy who has spent more than 35 years handing out answers as host of the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek holds back a lot of them in his new memoir, ironically titled The Answer Is ...: Reflections on My Life.

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