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 Emmy time. Cedric the Entertainer hosts the 73rd annual ceremony celebrating the best in television this coming Sunday, September 19th. Ideally a TV award show like this would be a fantastic program in its own right. It never is.
But this year I've decided to not write about how The Emmys regularly disappoint me. Last year's Schitt's Creek sweep won't allow it. The best in television deserve to be acknowledged, so here are my picks for this year's golden statues:
BEST COMEDY - Ted Lasso
LEAD ACTOR: COMEDY - Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
LEAD ACTRESS: COMEDY - Jean Smart, Hacks
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: COMEDY - Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso
SUPPORTING ACTOR: COMEDY - Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso
BEST DRAMA - The Crown
LEAD ACTOR: DRAMA - Billy Porter, Pose
LEAD ACTRESS: DRAMA - Emma Corwin, The Crown
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: DRAMA - Gillian Anderson, The Crown
SUPPORTING ACTOR: DRAMA - Michael K. Williams, Lovecraft Country
The Crown has never won an Emmy for Best Drama. That pretty much sums up what I think of Emmy credibility.
Jimmy Kimmel did a great job as an Emmy host, but I have a feeling he's much more excited about the four-part documentary he produced on the 1986 New York Mets. Once Upon A Time In Queens is the latest installment of ESPN's award winning 30 for 30 series, and there are few better characters in sports than the roster of this World Championship team from Flushing.
Not everyone loved the '86 Mets, but it's hard not to get caught up in their story. Mookie Wilson's grounder going through Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner's legs is the infamous moment from that championship year, but this doc does an excellent job illustrating how the "other team from New York" reached the pinnacle of the sport in spite of themselves.
Interviews with the players, coaches, super fans and broadcasters shed new light on what was going on in that clubhouse. Every professional athlete battles through personal struggles, but the Mets did it under the New York spotlight in the middle of a decade best known for its self-indulgence. The Big Apple was theirs, and they took every bite. Drugs, women, fights, fame… you name it, this team had it.
The 30 for 30 begins well before 1986 illustrating exactly how much of a joke the Mets were. Forget about the crosstown Yankees — the Mets were basement dwellers in spite of the love of their fans. Failed managers, the Tom Seaver trade, failed prospects and players… it's all there.
But then the different pieces start to come together under the guidance of general manager Frank Cashen — troubled superstars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, the banished Keith Hernandez, squeaky clean Gary Carter, and a laundry list of crazy personalities who wanted to win at any cost.
Naturally the championship run is covered in great detail, but so is the aftermath and failure of keeping this great ballclub together. Wild times catch up with much of the roster. So-called bad influences get dealt away for completely wrong reasons. 35 years later, the Mets are still in search of their next title in the shadow of the pinstriped team in the Bronx.
A good sports documentary can make you love a team that you can't stand. I was no Mets fan, but I enjoy a good story with flawed, vibrant characters. Once Upon A Time In Queens is a trip back to the mid-80's well worth taking.
THIS WEEK’S SPTINAFOBYMB!
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (PEACOCK) – Not a great sign when you need the author's name in the title of your new series - it's The DaVinci Code guy! Premieres Thursday.
The Premise (HULU) – B.J. Novak’s comedic anthology series tackles "the big questions" with an impressive cast. Premieres Thursday.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie (AMAZON) – Stage adaptation of the hit London musical about an aspiring drag queen. Drops Friday.
The God's Honest Truth (COMEDY CENTRAL) – Charlamagne the God gets a weekly late-night show produced by Stephen Colbert. Premieres Friday at 10pm.
Sex Education (NETFLIX) – Season three for the comedy that critics seem to adore. Drops Friday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
A solo guy, intense TV mornings and the greatest of all time…
Y: The Last Man (FX ON HULU)
Monday, September 13th
I'm not a comic book aficionado, but my friends who are told me about this Brian K. Vaughan saga long ago. The TV adaptation has been in the works for years, and the ten-episode series is finally here.
An apocalyptic event wipes out every guy on Earth leaving a planet filled exclusively with women… except for Yorick, the lone surviving male human. It's a grim world and there's a monkey involved, but the source material is so strong I've just got to tune in.
The Morning Show (APPLE TV+)
Friday, September 17th Season 2
The hype has been tamped down for the second season of this tentpole series. Season one was a rocky road with an A-list cast and memorable performances from Jennifer Aniston and Billy Crudup. Life behind the scenes of a network television morning show isn't all smiles and unwanted hugs.
The pandemic delayed the show’s return, but things pick up right where the first season left off. Season one was rewritten to incorporate the #MeToo movement, and season two had its pages torn up to address the effects of the pandemic. Alex and Bradley exposed the network workplace, and you know there's going to be hell to pay when honesty is your best policy. Watch trailer.
Muhammad Ali (PBS)
Sunday, September 19th 8pm
A Ken Burns sports miniseries? A legendary figure who transcends the world? This is the definition of must-see TV.
The greatest television documentarian profiles the greatest boxer in this four-part eight-hour series. Ali's story had been told many times, but the Ken Burns treatment is always something special. Inspiration and perspiration are all over the screen as the heavyweight champ transforms into a cultural icon who changes the course of history just by being himself.
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.
TOPICS: Once Upon a Time in Queens, 30 For 30, 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, The Morning Show, Y: The Last Man, Muhammad Ali