Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends this week, but not the ones you think. Let's set the time machine to 1984, but first we'll make a stop in 1994 along the way.
We've been hearing about the Friends reunion forever, and this Thursday on HBO Max the big six have will finally be together again, joined by a plethora of celebs and old pals. I can understand guest stars Tom Selleck, Reese Witherspoon and Elliott Gould stopping by. But Justin Bieber? Lady Gaga? BTS? WTF?
I thought the point of any cast reuniting was to either build upon what made the show so popular or have those involved reminisce about the good old days. Were the members of BTS even born when Friends was must-see TV?
Full disclosure: I was never a fan. Six young beautiful people hanging out in a nice NYC loft and coffee shop in the 90's didn’t hold my interest. I felt it was the right combination of good young actors in the best location you could find on television – NBC Thursday nights. I couldn't identify with these hip single people on any level.
So many people tell me how I'm supposed to like Friends and recognize that it was one of the best comedies of all time. That's like someone telling you a restaurant has really good food because it's packed every night, but the food doesn't appeal to you or just doesn't taste very good. I’ll be tuning because of the spectacle this reunion has become, but honestly I'm not all that interested.
Let's go back a decade earlier to when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner were busy romancing the stone. These two back together again on screen? Now we're talking. My wife and I were big fans of the first two seasons of The Kominsky Method which returns for its third and final season this Friday.
Alan Arkin, who shined as Norman Newlander, announced he was not coming back this time around. The trailer indicates that Norman is no longer with us, and Sandy Kominsky has to deal with the loss of his best friend and his own mortality.
Norman will not be easy to replace, but casting Kathleen Turner as Sandy's ex-wife Roz is a brilliant move. That 80's chemistry is still evident between these co-stars who make perfect sense as a formerly married couple. She comes to L.A. to spend time with their daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker) and her older, pony-tailed boyfriend Martin (Paul Reiser), and admirably fills the void Norman has left behind.
The Kominsky Method is about aging not so gracefully and coming to grips with mortality without losing your sense of humor. Getting old sucks, and this Chuck Lorre comedy expresses the sentiment in a brutally honest way that you can't help but laugh at. Michael Douglas, looking more and more like his late father, puts it out there for all of us to see.
My wife and I are on the tail end of the 25-54 demo. We will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this summer. We are starting to lose family members and friends near and dear to us. It's refreshing to watch a program that addresses these issues head on with a sly sense of humor. We aren't there yet, but it's nice to have a roadmap for what's ahead.
Enjoy Ross and Rachel. I'll be laughing with Joan Wilder (the novelist) and Jack Colton.
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
High On The Hog (NETFLIX) – How African-American cuisine transformed America. Dig in Wednesday.
Press Your Luck/$100,000 Pyramid (ABC) – Things that attract Whammys return Wednesday.
Crime Scene Kitchen (FOX) – Joel McHale hosts a cooking competition. Wednesday reservations.
Ragnarok (NETFLIX) – Magne calls upon the power of Thor in Season 2. Premieres Thursday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Iron Mike, nail bombs and Israeli school problems…
Mike Tyson: The Knockout (ABC)
Tuesday May 25th 8pm
Mike Tyson has lived one heck of a life. There was the unforgettable climb to heavyweight champ, Buster Douglas, reclaiming the title, Robin Givens, prison time for rape, a comeback and so much more.
This four-hour documentary airing on back-to-back Tuesdays feels like it should be on ESPN. This week's first part chronicles Mike's rough childhood, his ascent to being the baddest man on the planet, and culminates with the Buster Douglas upset. Part two next week deals with the rape, Don King, and the latter part of Tyson's life.
I hosted a panel with Mike Tyson at San Diego Comic Con some years ago. Mike had a great sense of humor and was a pleasure to hang out with amongst fellow geeks. There was one moment though when things got serious and he had "that look" in his eye. It's a look you never forget.
Nail Bomber: Manhunt (NETFLIX)
Wednesday May 26th
A series of nail bomb attacks were carried out in London in the late 1990's. Over 100 people were injured and three were killed in targeted communities. Tracking down this killer was no small feat.
This latest episode in Netflix's Manhunt series is par for the course, telling the story of how the far-right terrorist was eventually apprehended and featuring interviews with many people affected by his attacks.
Thursday, May 27th
There's some excellent TV coming out of Israel these days. This eight-part series follows an investigation into the killing of four high school students conducted by anonymous masked figures.
Blackspace is the app that the students used to communicate with one another that parents and faculty could not see. Teen bullying and social dynamics are on full display as Israelis recognize something they've only seen on American TV is happening in their very own backyard.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.