We’re never too old to mess up | Culture & Leisure
It’s kind of fun when programmers throw demographics to the wind. The pressure to cater to (rather) young audiences dominates most entertainment. But the CW’s insistence on attracting 20-something eyeballs hasn’t saved her from an uncertain future.
On occasion, Netflix has incorporated the desired demo into its programming.
You don’t have to have grown up in the 1980s to enjoy “Stranger Things,” but pretty much everything about the show is aimed at that generation. That the show’s use of Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” propelled it to the current pop charts is a testament to Netflix’s marketing power.
This phenomenon is history repeating itself and more. It’s no secret that “Stranger Things” is heavily influenced by Steven Spielberg films and Stephen King thrillers. The popularity of the 1986 film “Stand by Me” (based on a story by King) brought its title song (by Ben E. King) back into the Top 10. It had been number 1 in 1961.
While “Stranger Things” vigorously targets 40-plus, some shows are just old with a capital O. Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, with supporting roles for Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. It’s rude to talk about age, but suffice it to say that Waterston, who turns 82 in November, is the “baby” of the group.
Hulu’s silly comedy “Only Murders in the Building” returns for a second season. This over-the-top send-off of true-crime podcast culture features Steve Martin (76) and Martin Short (72) in a 21st-century riff on the Manhattan murder mysteries series “The Thin Man.”
It’s hard to say whether Selena Gomez (29) is there to lower the median age or represent the likely audience for murder podcasts.
As in everything they do, both separately and together, Martin and Short are decidedly “on”, playing flippant variations on vain showbiz types. It might get boring for some, “Murder” turned out to be catnip for other artists. British model Cara Delevingne joins the always lovely Amy Ryan in the cast. Amy Schumer appears, playing herself as a tenant, just like Sting did last season. Comedy cameos include Tina Fey, Michael Rappaport, Nathan Lane, Jimmy Fallon, Jane Lynch and Shirley MacLaine.
Streaming series are not under pressure from audiences. A caustic critic recently dismissed Apple’s Maya Rudolph series “Loot” as a mediocre NBC sitcom that will never be canceled (unlike the recently dropped “Kenan” and “Mr. Mayor”).
“Only Murders” seems like a series that could go on forever. Or as long as Hulu exists and other actors and comedians want to play along.
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
– The 1973 song “Stuck in the Middle With You” never sounded the same after the debut of “Reservoir Dogs” in 1992 (6:20 p.m., Cinemax).
– Drug mules on “FBI” (7 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
– Worlds collide in the season finale of “Superman & Lois” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG). While not one of the legion of canceled CW series, the show’s third season has yet to be scheduled.
— Danube cruises can be murder on “FBI: International” (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
— The docuseries “Endangered” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-MA) examines the threats to journalists here and abroad.
— Murder and Fraud on “FBI: Most Wanted” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
Directed by John Sayles, the 1988 baseball drama “Eight Men Out” (8:30 p.m., Cinemax) recalls the 1919 World Series scandal, when members of the Chicago White Sox took bribes to stage matches. An impressive cast includes DB Sweeney, who portrays Shoeless Joe Jackson, a character who would also appear (played by the late Ray Liotta) in the 1989 baseball fantasy “Field of Dreams.” These movies, the 1994 PBS documentary Ken Burns “Baseball,” and the 1992 opening of Baltimore’s deliberately “old-fashioned” Camden Yards tended to revere the national pastime as historic Americana. For better or worse, baseball was portrayed as a holdover from an idealized past just when the country’s “Dream Team” was playing basketball.
“America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) … “Crime Scene Kitchen” (7 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … “I Can See Your Voice” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) … Claire’s news isn’t good on “Tom Swift” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) … “Dancing With Myself” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jimmie Allen are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (10:35 p.m., CBS) … Jimmy Fallon hosts Steve Carell, Maya Hawke and GIVEON on “The Tonight Show” (10:00 p.m.) 34 h, NBC) … Wanda Sykes, Kesha and Patrick Radden Keefe visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:37 p.m., NBC).
“Okay, that was weird. The least anticipated story of the week was the scandal involving Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) and “When Calls the Heart” star Lori Loughlin (7 p.m. Sunday, Hallmark, TV-G), in a bribery plot / cheating to get their respective daughters into elite universities.
This is obviously an ongoing case, and all parties must have their say, or one day, in court. But the motivation at the center of this story is worth discussing. It implies an overwhelming need to do anything to get children into elite schools. As if something “less” was unthinkable.
Television plays a significant role in this insecurity. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to describe an ABC legal drama where every character hails from the most exclusive Ivy and spends most of the pilot bragging about it.
There was a time, not too long ago, when John Grisham wrote best-selling books about barely accredited young lawyers from anonymous institutions who took on impossible cases against huge corporations and ultimately won. And I got the girl, to boot.
Thus, the neurotic obsession of our present age with elitism and inequality is hardly entrenched.
If anything stands out from this sordid affair, it’s an appreciation that shoddy efforts at snobbery are still essentially pathetic. Or on classic TV, comedy. Watching “Gilligan’s Island,” we identified with Mary Ann and the Skipper, and felt sorry for the millionaire and his wife.
— CNN debuts the four-hour documentary “Tricky Dick” (8 p.m., Sunday), chronicling the life and times of Richard Nixon’s public career, which spanned decades from the dawn of the Cold War to the Clinton years.
— An anxious new mother joins a solidarity and support group, only to find he has darker plans on his agenda in shock 2019 “Mommy Group Murder” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
– The Thunder and Warriors meet in NBA action (7:30 p.m., ABC).
— A former kidnapper returns to form on “Ransom” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
— Program on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): embassy employees in China and Cuba complain of mysterious ailments; AOL founder Steve Case and his plans to invest in the future of neglected small towns in America; a visit to Monaco.
— The duels begin on “World of Dance” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
— Auditions continue on “American Idol” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
– Lex Luthor is free on “Supergirl” (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
— Mr. Wednesday prepares for battle on “American Gods” (7 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
— After discovering her royal lineage, an adopted 10-year-old girl becomes a little bully in the 2019 clash “Mommy’s Little Princess” (7 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).
— A secret room harbors dangers on “Charmed” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
— Hidden secrets revealed in “The Walking Dead” (8 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).
— A new trial continues on “The Case Against Adnan Syed” (8 p.m., HBO, TV-14).
– Ax is determined to destroy Taylor in the fourth-season premiere of “Billions” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
– Ulysses pursues a conspiracy theory on “Now Apocalypse” (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
— “Unsung” (8 p.m., TVONE) portrays the Jets.
— Peaceful openings on “Madame la secretary” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
— The tension mounts on “Good Girls” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
— Mo’s past is revealed on “Black Monday” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).
— St. Patrick’s Day inspires many traditions. Syfy offers a marathon of “Leprechaun” movies, from “Leprechaun 5: In the Hood” (Saturday 4 p.m., TV-14) to “Leprechaun 2” (8 p.m.). TCM takes the traditional approach, ladling the Technicolor blarney from director John Ford’s 1952 romance “The Quiet Man” (7 p.m. Sunday, TV-PG).
“Dateline” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG)… “NBA Countdown” (7 p.m., ABC)… The kids are fine on “MasterChef” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG)…” 48 Hours” (9 p.m., CBS) … A vintage portion of “Saturday Night Live” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).
A visit from an old friend inspires Miles in “God Friended Me” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG)… Homer can’t leave Bart’s virtual kingdom in “The Simpsons” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14 ) … Empathy for all things on “Bob’s Burgers” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
A walk down the aisle on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14)… On two episodes of “Family Guy” (Fox, TV-14), Meg’s Winter Olympics ( 8 p.m.), the fights on a dowager (8:30 p.m., r)… Aches on “Shark Tank” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).