by Julian Spivey
I was flipping through the programming guide on my television on Sunday afternoon to see if there were any upcoming shows I needed to record on my DVR and noticed something that wasn’t remotely surprising, but still a bit infuriating.
Three of the four major networks are broadcasting the Joe Biden inauguration special Celebrating America, which will be hosted by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and featuring performances from Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi and more. Those networks are ABC, CBS and NBC. This means, you guessed it, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox will not be airing the special. Neither will Murdoch’s Fox News channel, despite the fact that other cable news channels like CNN, CNBC and MSNBC will be airing. Along with PBS affiliates and numerous streaming places like Amazon Prime Video and YouTube there will be plenty of opportunities for Americans to watch the special that seeks to “highlight the strength of our democracy, the perseverance of our people and our ability to come together during trying times and emerge stronger than ever before,” according to bideninaugural.org.
The reason why it’s infuriating to me that Fox would opt to continue with its regular Wednesday night programming of “The Masked Dancer” and “Name That Tune,” instead of sticking with the other major networks and airing the inauguration special is that it’s news department has been going on and on the last few weeks, but especially since the insurrection of the Capitol Building two weeks prior to the date of the Biden inauguration, about how the country desperately needs unity and many of the talking heads on Fox News like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are blaming liberals about trying to do what they can to keep the country from uniting - like the outgoing administration ever gave a damn about unity in this country.
It’s just more hypocritical bullshit from the folks at Fox, which goes all the way to the top with Murdoch. I truly don’t expect Fox News to air the “Celebrating America” special, but the fact that those in power won’t even bother putting it on the main network is curious. So many at the network are clamoring for unity, but the place they work for can’t even bother to unite with its fellow networks to celebrate America for the night.
Hey, maybe it’s just a shrewd business move? With ABC, CBS and NBC all showing the same thing on Wednesday night there’s a decent chance the Nielsen ratings for ‘Masked Dancer’ and “Name That Tune” could be higher than ever. Greed is good. Isn’t that the Fox slogan … or was that just Michael Douglas in “Wall Street”?
What’s even more damning is Fox doesn’t even seem to plan to show the actual swearing in ceremony earlier in the day, because apparently “The Rachel Ray Show,” “The Wendy Williams Show” and other regular programming. Why watch history when you can watch Steve Wilkos host an episode of his show titled, “Molestation: I Can’t Live With This Accusation,” about a mother who suspects her husband has been sexually assaulting her three-year-old. Stay classy, Fox!
Of course, Fox News will be covering the actual swearing in, because it’s the least it can do as a network with ‘News’ in the title, but don’t fear I’m sure the broadcasters will have plenty of talk during it about how the country will go down the drain soon, as if it hasn’t been circling the toilet bowl over the last four years or so.
Is this a huge deal? Not really. I’ve probably given too much thought and words to it, but I’ll never forget something comedian Jon Stewart said on his final episode of “The Daily Show” in 2015: “The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So, if you smell something, say something.” As far as bullshit goes, this might be calfshit, but I’m calling it out, nevertheless.
by Julian Spivey
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is my favorite late night show at the moment and has been for a few years now. I think Stephen Colbert and his staff have done the best job of making the audience laugh, while also being passionate and thought-provoking about the state of our country during the President Donald Trump administration, while also being he best interviewer currently on late night TV.
Wednesday (January 6) was one of the darkest days in the history of our country and that’s a phrase that I think we’ve heard a lot in less than a calendar year. I knew there was a lot of political unrest in this country. I knew there was a lot of stupidity among a certain group of citizens of this country. I knew that white privilege was a problem in this country. But I don’t think I ever for one second thought all of these things were to the level of seeing a group of Trump loving terrorists storm the U.S. Capitol Building, while the government was inside certifying the Electoral College votes, getting past the D.C. police guarding the building incredibly easy like the police felt they were no threat at all and go so far as ransacking the building and holding it by siege for a short amount of time.
Luckily, I was at my day job for most of the day or I would’ve been in front of my television and scrolling my Twitter timeline every second of the day and pulling my hair out over seeing how easy it was for a group of crazy people to overrun the most important building in the country on this given day.
When I heard Colbert’s show was going to do a last-second live show, instead of the regularly taped hours before show they normally do and were scheduled to do it immediately became “must-see TV” for me. Colbert has done live shows before during important political moments like after political debates and the like, but he’s never done one last-second on the fly like this.
It was interesting. I don’t remember laughing much during his monologue, but the day wasn’t exactly a day to laugh and I think he realized that and wasn’t in a mood to even attempt to be all that humorous. I think Colbert is one of the funniest guys alive and is particularly good at impromptu jokes or moments, but the night of an attempted coup on our government with the blessing of the sitting President not wanting to leave in two weeks isn’t exactly the time for a yuck fest. But what sets Colbert apart from some of the other late night guys (even with Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel being adept at political humor) is that he can make his show completely enthralling without trying to be that funny.
At the time I’m writing this I’m only about 90 minutes past Colbert’s monologue and can’t remember much of it, but it’s been a long day for everyone in this country. What stood out the most was his interviews with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger from Illinois.
Two paragraphs up some readers might possibly have rolled their eyes at my use of the word “coup,” but it’s a word that came up multiple times during the interviews with both Klobuchar and Kinzinger (and it’s a particularly important word coming from the Republican in my opinion).
Kinzinger, the second guest on the night’s episode, said: “I characterize this as a coup attempt. That’s exactly what we’d call it in Belarus or any other country.”
Toward the end of her interview, after Colbert had used the word “coup” first, Klobuchar said: “It was a coup this President tried to incite, but I tell you what, he failed.”
Colbert asked both of his guests if the President of the United States should be impeached again or if the 25th Amendment should be used to remove him from office in his last two weeks. Both seemed to agree that at least impeachment should be on the table, even though the process would have to be started immediately.
The most impressive part of the episode for me was how passionate Colbert got when asking Klobuchar if some of the Republican politicians that essentially incited the mob on Wednesday to storm and take the Capitol Building through their rhetoric and claims of a stolen election should be punished. It was one of the most passionate moments I’d ever seen from Colbert, especially when interviewing a guest, and truly something many of us in this country have on our minds right now after seeing how easy it was for these politicians to work their supporters and followers into a tizzy over lies.
Once again on Wednesday night I was impressed with Colbert as a host and a human. He said what a lot of us in this country were thinking after such a disgraceful day in America, asked his politician guests tough and hard questions and just all-around showed the type of emotions so many of us are feeling. It was far from the funniest episode of his run on ‘Late Show,’ but certainly one of his most important.
by Julian Spivey
Ever since Chris Chibnall took over the reins as showrunner of “Doctor Who” in 2018 the show has gone through some growing pains that find episodes varying from disappointing to good, with seemingly the days of great “Doctor Who” stories in the past.
But I’m honestly not as harsh on Chibnall’s era as many “Doctor Who” fans seem to be by reading comments online. I think part of the reasoning behind this is I felt the last couple to few seasons of Steven Moffatt’s run as showrunner on the series were much of the same “good to disappointing, without many classic episodes.” Maybe it’s time to realize the revived era of “Doctor Who” is 12 series old and there’s not a whole lot left to be done? Or maybe there will be an infusion of interesting stories or talent somewhere down the line to rekindle the fire? Either way, I’m probably on the “Doctor Who” train for the long-run, unless it completely derails and there are no longer any good episodes.
The Christmas Special was a thing of the previous showrunners of the series and many of those were spectacular episodes but wanting to do something of his own Chibnall has traded in Christmas Specials for New Year’s Day specials and it doesn’t really matter much being a week later and not having to focus, even in the slightest, on including a holiday aspect to the episodes. It’s a new tradition and I don’t mind it; the only problem is there hasn’t really been a classic yet. In fact, I have almost no recollection of the episodes that preceded this year’s “Revolution of the Daleks,” and wonder if I’ll remember this year’s episode on New Year’s Day 2022.
The thing is, though, I found “Revolution of the Daleks” to be a good episode. I enjoyed it while I was watching, even if it’s something I probably won’t remember in the long run. It’s one of those good, but not classic episodes, which would be completely fine if I felt there would be classic episodes down the pipeline.
As the Counting Crows sang, “Maybe this year will be better than the last,” and after the harshness of the entirety of the year 2020 hopefully it will be. As far as “Doctor Who” goes there’s reason to believe it could be better, as Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker’s iteration of The Doctor was better all-around in their second season together than the first. However, there’s also reason to believe there’s going to be more growing pains with a new era within an era beginning, as I’ll get to by the end of this review.
The first New Year’s Day special of Chibnall’s era “Resolution,” from 2019, saw The Doctor and her companions destroy a Reconnaissance Scout Dalek, which like I previous admitted I really had no remembrance of, but “Revolution of the Daleks” picks up shortly after that episode’s ending with the shell of the defeated Dalek being transported to a government facility and being hijacked and stolen in the process. The stolen shell winds up in the hands of American businessman Jack Robertson, guest star Chris Noth who we previously saw in series 11, who uses them to build security robots to help police in riot situations and such.
Noth makes for a terrific villain for the series, and we rarely see recurring human villains on “Doctor Who,” but his Robertson, an arrogant and rich American businessman with political aspirations (does that sound familiar to anyone?) seems like the kind of character that will stick around (and I hope does).
At the beginning of this episode The Doctor is in a prison on a distant asteroid, which includes Weeping Angels, and evil Ood and other great ‘Who’ baddies we don’t see often enough these days as prisoners and has apparently been there for 19 years before being rescued by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), truly the best throwback brought back into the current era that Chibnall has given us.
Back home on Earth, The Doctor’s companions Yaz (Mandip Gil), Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) haven’t heard from their beloved Time Lord in 10 months and fear they won’t ever see her again. Graham and Ryan have come to terms with this, while Yaz has been obsessed with finding The Doctor. When they see Robertson’s new pet project is a Dalek they go into investigative mode without The Doctor, before eventually being rejoined.
Robertson doesn’t truly know what he’s gotten his hands on and things go completely haywire when his top scientist clones the living particles, he found within the Dalek shell and creates a new, impure Dalek race. Long story short, The Doctor summons a group of death squad Daleks who don’t want any impure Daleks roaming the universe and they come and take care of the problem and then the death squad is outsmarted by The Doctor themselves.
OK, that was fun. It’s a good “Doctor Who” story with the series most relied upon villains and a nice new recurring baddie in Robertson.
But let’s get to the important part of the episode, tacked on to the end, that is also my biggest issue with the episode.
It was announced in November that Walsh and Cole would be leaving the series as The Doctor’s companions, so we knew it was coming, but it still seemed so incredibly rushed and the worst companion sendoff of the “Doctor Who” revival era since 2005, even if it’s terrific these two guys get to live happily ever after (unlike most companions when their tenure is over). I always liked Graham and Ryan, even if they won’t be quite remembered by me like a Rose or Amy Pond will be, and I particularly liked the relationship between the two. I will miss these characters. It also hurts the show that the two companions with the most character building are leaving and the one companion, Yaz, who two years into her run doesn’t feel like she’s been completely built up by the writing staff behind.
Maybe the departure of Graham and Ryan will give the staff a chance to build Yaz more, but then again, the show is adding another companion for series 13 later this year played by comedian John Bishop.
So, not only were these two companions written off rather abruptly, but we’re about to enter another series that feels like a new start, just when things were maybe starting to get comfortable. Certainly, more growing pains for this era of “Doctor Who” could be ahead.
Filming on series 13 of “Doctor Who” began in November, but things overseas were shut down once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it feels like things are stricter overseas than here in America, so there’s no clue when the series will premiere, but hopefully will be coming sometime in 2021.