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.
Disclaimer: I am a proud voter for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As tempting as it might be to critique the musical acts, this is a TV column, and my comments refer to the broadcast of the event.
Another disclaimer: I love music almost as much as I love TV.
This Saturday night at 8:00 PM ET, the 37th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Ceremony will air on HBO. This yearly celebration of the best in music will feature all-star jams, lengthy speeches, and performances from acts well past their prime who are deservedly honored.
The annual challenge the Rock Hall faces is how to translate this live, lengthy musical celebration into a quality television show. Things seem relatively straightforward on the face of it. Top musical talent, an excited audience, and lifetime achievement awards to be presented. Home run.
Watching this ceremony live in person is remarkable. Musical heroes are everywhere. The vibe feels great. Even if you're not a fan of the act, you have to respect what they've accomplished. Everyone in the band gets to make a speech, and some are better off just playing their instruments. Sometimes, though, it's someone more obscure that comes out with the hidden spoken gem. There are always surprises and the long ceremony culminates in an all-star jam.
But how do you translate this musical extravaganza into a tight TV special? The magic is in the edit. The rock and roll instinct would be to just air the ceremony live, warts and all. The problem with that is the long pauses and speeches that bore won't keep anyone stuck on the channel. The decision to air a taped event is a wise one, but who wants their rock show edited down?
The producers have traditionally done a nice job leaving in the good stuff. Any headline, like John Mellencamp's speech, Dolly Parton going electric or the Eurythmics reunion will certainly be in there. That's the easy part. Fine tuning the rest of the somewhat bloated show is where they earn their keep.
Let's hope they take a page out of the Grammy success story and focus on the performances this year. Speeches are moving, but this is music after all. Let's listen, groove and dance to what's on the screen. And open your mind to all types of music. You'll never see Judas Priest, Dolly Parton, Duran Duran, and Pat Benatar on the same bill again.
Here's what else is worth watching on TV this week:
Fleishman Is In Trouble (Hulu)
Thursday, November 17
Does Jesse Eisenberg find these roles, or do they find him? He plays a recently divorced New York doctor who starts dating again when his ex-wife (Claire Danes) disappears. Now the good doctor has to take care of his two kids at the moment he starts to feel single again. Primetimer's Mark Blankenship reviewed the FX-produced eight-episode book adaptation and calls it "a glorious ode to middle age." Watch trailer.
Dead To Me Season 3 (Netflix)
Thursday, November 17
The second season of this comedy was not great, but the chemistry of Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini is irresistible. The show is well past the first season death that brought their characters together, as the friendship between these ladies flourishes regardless of where the plot takes them in its last hurrah. Watch trailer.
Thursday, November 17
A steamship heads from London to New York at the turn of the 20th century from the German creators of the time-jumping Dark. (Not to be confused with Paramount+'s Yellowstone prequel, 1883.) Watch trailer.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
The Santa Clauses (Disney+) - The holiday band is back together with Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell and David Krumholtz bringing good cheer to this new miniseries. Wednesday.
Pickled (CBS) - Stephen Colbert hosts a celebrity pickleball tournament - laugh now, but this sport is slowly taking over the world. Thursday at 9:00 ET.
Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium (Disney+) - See if Elton dons the Donald Duck costume in his final performance from sunny L.A. Sunday.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: The Newsroom (HBO Max) - Aaron Sorkin might not be your political cup of tea, but the man knows how to write compelling dramatic television. This three season drama highlights the tension of a cable network newsroom and the daily backbreaking pressure of the job. Jeff Daniels puts on a clinic in the lead role.
Warrior (HBO Max)
Oz (HBO Max)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
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Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.