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.
It's finally here. All the rhetoric, the ads, the debates, the nastiness… it all comes down to Tuesday — Election Day. Please get out there and vote. If you don't exercise your right to vote, you forfeit the right to complain about things for the next four years.
I'll put my soapbox away; this column is about TV. I've always been fascinated by Presidential election coverage. We'll all be tuned in Tuesday night to see if the White House gets a new occupant or the first family remains for four more years.
When I was growing up, there was one way to find out what happened on Election night. Turn on the TV, and ABC, CBS or NBC would gradually give voting updates, but the real results came out in the newspaper the next morning. In other words, it was nothing like the way things are these days.
Today there are a plethora of outlets you can get your election results from. Social media provides minute by minute analysis and speculation, but there's also plenty of misinformation to be had. Since Bush vs. Gore, TV networks have been more hesitant to call a state prematurely. I still don't understand how with 2% of the results in it can be determined who is going to win.
We live in an era of selecting the channel of your choice for whatever spin you're looking for. Forget the results, just count the number of talking heads analyzing polls and predicting the outcome. As 2016 showed, many of them have as much expertise at predicting the next Commander in Chief as you or I do.
As I watch these broadcasts, I'm all about the maps. My mind is blown by how detailed results can be drilling down to individual districts or counties. An obscure county in Wisconsin or Florida becomes the epicenter of voter curiosity. I'd love to have one of those touch screens in my living room.
Things ratchet up another notch when the polls close on the hour to get the latest updates. You can see the glee in your favorite network anchor's face when the clock strikes :00 and new state tallies are to be released. It's a welcome relief from all the blustering and speculation.
Television was built for events like this. Nationwide coverage, instant results (hopefully), real-time reaction and plenty of drama. This is better than a sporting event and also a lot more meaningful. We all know the start time, but no one knows when it's going to end.
It all comes down to the final score, and you can bet those absentee ballots will be counted after the fact. I'm skeptical there will be a clear winner on Election Night, but watching the networks figure out how to best fill time between those hourly updates is must-see TV.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Save Me Too (PEACOCK)
Tuesday, November 3rd (2nd season premiere)
Another British series travels across the pond and lands at a streamer - this time it's Peacock. Lennie James, who wields a mean stick in the world of The Walking Dead, stars in this London thriller.
He plays Nelly Rowe whose world gets rocked when accused of abducting the daughter he barely knew. A year and a half later, his daughter is still missing and Nelly tries to find her and clear his name.
This second chapter in the Save Me series gets deeper and darker than the first six episodes. The trademark intensity of James is on full display as suspects and secrets pop up on his arduous journey.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony (HBO)
Saturday, November 7th 8:00 PM ET
Full disclosure: I am an actual voter for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That privilege was bestowed upon me when I was co-hosting For What It's Worth on VH1 Classic, a show all about music memorabilia. I cast my ballot every year based on whatever acts are nominated.
Like Joan Jett, I love rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really has become the Music Hall of Fame over the years. Inductees reflect the change in whatever is considered to be rock and roll these days.
Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex are this year's performer inductees. Jon Landau and Irving Azoff will receive the Ahmet Ertegun award. I voted for some of them.
After seeing past ceremonies live in person, I'm curious how they're going to pull this off remotely. Keep the speeches short and provide more musical performances. Let’s hope HBO rises to the challenge.
Moonbase 8 (SHOWTIME)
Sunday, November 8th 11:00 PM ET (Series Premiere)
It's another comedy in outer space, but this one stars Tim Heidecker, Fred Armisen and John C. Reilly - three of comedy's finest "that guys."
The six-episode half hour series focuses on this threesome's attempt to qualify for their first lunar mission. The action takes place at NASA's Moon Base simulator in the desert, and the plot is more grounded than expected.
This trio proves that a comedy in outer space can actually be funny. And an offbeat comedy that takes me away from our current circumstances is exactly what we need this week on television.
If there's quality TV that I'm missing, please let me know.
Wear a mask. Stay healthy and safe. And vote.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.