What to Watch: TV chat with Hank Stuever

Mar 24, 2016

Post TV critic Hank Stuever talked about what's bad, good and so bad it's good on TV.

Here's what Hank would watch if he wasn't paid to watch TV: "Game of Thrones," "The Americans," "The Amazing Race" and "The Walking Dead." Lately he's been digging "Billions," "Shameless," "Outsiders" and "American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson."

Happy (Holy) Thursday, gang. Two things to share and then we're off to the chattin':

REVIEW of "The Catch," the new show from ShondaLand that premieres tonight. I wasn't terribly impressed. But I did finally learn how to spell "Mireille" without looking it up, so that's good news.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK revisiting "The Walking Dead" as it winds up Season 6. Are you still watching? Some 12 million people still watch it live -- as in, while it airs, which is really saying something for the 18-34 demographic. But many have peeled off out of exhaustion. I think I may be at that point now. Read it and see what you think.

Also, did anyone happen to watch Tyler Perry's "The Passion" on Fox Sunday night? Bethonie Butler has a piece about it here. What did you think?

Now let's do you...


Hank, I do love Thursday chats with you. Full stop. But I also used to love being able to dissect or rant or rave the day after a show on the forum Television Without Pity. There was always someone with insider trivia or an explanation from someone who knew an area. It was great for shows from Lost (where there was background on everything from character names to myths reflected) to Dancing with the Stars (is that person as good/bad as we amateurs think?) to The Americans (yes, even Phillip's voice and posture changes with each disguise). But that site is gone now and I've not found a replacement that isn't sparse or a PR tool for a network. Are you aware of any good ones? Other chatters?

There probably is, so I'm going to through it out to the chatters who might have some suggestions you haven't heard of yet.

It seems to me that the recap format has faded a bit from its glory several years ago, but I know many sites still do lots of them. I don't read any regularly, although I will say it's helpful to stumble across an archive of them when trying to recollect the particulars of a show that aired several seasons ago.

I happen to like Fox's Rosewood which has the right sexual tension between the two main characters, Rosie and Villa, and Rosie's stunning family including the lesbian sister and her fiancée. Has it been renewed yet?

It has not been officially renewed yet, but it's one of Fox's better rated shows this season and the network seems to like it. I'd say its chances for renewal are better than most.

There's one thing I never did during the entire run of Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul: and that is to shout "GIVE ME A BREAK." There's just no way that I can buy that Kim Wexler would do that ("Got a live one, Jimmy"). This season is going down, never mind the deck chairs.

I haven't had time yet to watch this week's episode, but I'll be braced for it based on your take.

I never watched "The White Shadow". Did you watch it?

Question spurred, no doubt, by the death yesterday of the show's star, Ken Howard.

The answer is yes, I watched it a little. However, its run (1978-1981) almost exactly coincides with my (not always happy) years in parochial-school basketball from 5th grade to 8th grade, so by the time I got home from practice, I was not exactly dying to watch a TV show with more basketball practice in it. I was probably watching "B.J. and the Bear" or some other high-quality stuff.

Looking at "The White Shadow" now I'm wondering why, in all this remake fever, someone hasn't considered a reboot -- a "White Shadow" for the #BlackLivesMatter era, perhaps?

Hi Hank -- After this week's installment, I propose a new Emmy category: best performance by a jury in a leading role. Another great episode. Can't believe there's only two to go...

Yes, another fantastic episode. We're nearing the end, too -- I'm curious to see how much of the verdict aftermath the show will get into, how they'll dramatize so many voices and so many reactions. So far they haven't missed a beat.

In 1995, I don't think I gave a second thought to the fact that the jury had been sequestered (and with such hard rules) for all those months. But since I moved to Washington in 1999, I have been on superior and federal court juries (or voire-dire) more times than I can count, including eight weeks of grand jury duty. Although never sequestered. Watching this now, I'm surprised they didn't all lose their minds.

He & Blythe Danner made an ideal on-screen couple in 1776 and also in the tv version of Adam's Rib.

Many of the originators of Television Without Pity have transitioned over to Previously TV. It's not as good as active as the original, but it's the closest thing I've found. TWoP was awesome. (Shakes fist at Bravo for shutting it down)

Yeah, that was one I was going to suggest but I haven't read it enough to know if it would meet OP's needs...

Please tell me why I should watch the People vs. OJ. when I know the ending. Likewise, I just don't understand the praise for movies like Spotlight and Apollo 13. TV shows and movies need tension in not knowing the ending. At least Titanic was a movie about a love story on a boat sinking, not a movie about a boat sinking.

Please tell me why I should order a steak when I've had one before and I know how it tastes.

Please tell me why I should go to Paris when I've seen pictures of it and I know what it looks like.

That's what you sound like.

You may have no influence over this, but I'm puzzled why Marc Silver's TV reviews (most recently of "Little Big Shots" & "60 Days In") show up on washingtonpost.com's Local page and not on the TV page. Even the main Entertainment page would be OK, but Local just seems like a very strange place to put them.

The short answer is that Marc Silver works for Express, the free commuter tabloid published by The Washington Post. I don't know why, but it seems all of Express's arts-related content is winding up on the Post's Local site. We're two different publications and not working together (I had to go look it up -- I wasn't aware Express even had a person reviewing TV. It's a big company.)

because even net execs aren't dumb enough to remake a show that was almost entirely about a middle aged white man an his struggles with young black men as the props. Advanced for its time (and it was) isn't the same as a good idea now.

I get that, but it could be different now ... completely told another way, maybe from the kids' point of view this time.

The thing that's struck me about The Catch is that I know very, very little about the plot and the general idea of the show based upon the TV commercials. I heard a radio commercial this morning that gave me more of an idea than a month's worth of TV commercials have. Are they just banking on people seeing "Ooooh, sexy people -- and I recognize them! I think I'll watch!"?

That strategy sometimes works.

I've found some really good recaps as well as discussions on Vulture (http://www.vulture.com/tv/). Brian Moylan, in particular, writes some excellent snark if you're looking for that type of discussion.

Yes, that. And my sense is they do a lot of shows, though I'm sure how many.

First - let me say thanks for recommending the show - Caught up over the last year, and now I'm enjoying (??) it real-time. On the other side - good grief - that kid Lip... When's someone going to hit him upside the head and knock some sense into him. He needs to get to rehab and get a life ASAP.

Yes, if it works out for Lip, he could get the kind of job that could support (legitimately) the whole family. Which now includes Debby's baby.

This is an excellent series. I don't know how much is true but it really shows how manipulative lawyers are. You would think that things like staging O.J.'s home and playing with the"glove" while court is in recess would be unethical.

I have to Google something in any episode of this show that didn't turn out to be rooted in reported fact. It helps that the scripts are based on Jeffrey Toobin's book.

I did not expect to love this but I am absolutely hooked! I think you said what the next season is but I cannot remember. Do you know?

Yes, last week I repeated what's been going around about season 2 (according to the Hollywood Reporter and others), which is that it will focus on Hurricane Katrina.

To take People vs OJ... did you KNOW what the jury went through while sequestered? Did you KNOW the tension that Cochran had at home? Did you KNOW how the courtroom display involving the glove developed? Did you KNOW how they redecorated OJs house? Did you KNOW... never mind, you get the point.

Yeah, I'm not sure that chatter would get any of those points, but thanks for the eloquent attempt.

Hey if they can make a reboot of full house (it would be insulting to the word Dumb to call that show dumb), they can reboot ANYTHING.

Hi Hank, How are you and Margaret Sullivan, from the NYT, going to divvy up media reporting when she gets here?

I'm not a media reporter. I'm the TV critic. 95 percent of my work is about reviewing and commenting on television shows, the majority of it scripted television (dramas, comedies).

I liked Wayward Pines last year but I thought it wrapped up nicely into a good ending for a one season show. Now I hear that it has been renewed. Have you seen it yet? Give it a chance?

I have not seen it yet. It comes back in late May. Jason Patric is in it and so is Djimon Hounsou. That's all I've heard.

It may have wrapped up fine, but aren't there more books in the novel series from which to draw more storylines?

My personal hunch/wish is that Ian end up being mentored by Jimmy's dad (can't remember his name) and becomes a doctor. That kid has the most potential purely because he seems to have the best self-regulation/executive function skills - even with the bi-polar disorder.

Well, we could spend all day talking about what we hope for the Gallagher kids in terms of success, but that's really not "Shameless's" way of doing things. The show has a lot invested in their chronic failures and f--- -ups.

What are its chances for renewal? I really liked season 1, didn't think season 2 was as strong but season 3 has been better,

People who track ratings more closely than I do are saying that "Sleepy Hollow" may have reached the end and is a long-shot for renewal. They're not always right, but the numbers have been low.

Cookie Monster for Siri (Apple). I usually fast forward through commercials, but I love that one. That one and the spy, the clueless mom, and the squirrels in the attic!

Do you watch the Super Bowl? Ever done a "critique" of one? (I don't know if review is the right word)

Yes, I used to do one every year (here's my review from 2012, which might have been my last one) until they started releasing all the commercials ahead of time, reducing its usefulness to TV critics by about 50 percent. Then it really became about a half-time show. (Not including the heap of coverage from our Sports department.) Our pop music critic Chris Richards filed a great piece on Beyonce's performance this year.

No, they used all the original material in the books already.

Really? That was smart.

I have a sneaking suspicion I'm the only one watching this show, and enjoying Rory's turn as a time lord. Is there anyone watching this, or am I just counting down days to the end.

Trust your feelings.

Seems like something that might be good for a movie but annoying after a while for a TV show. The premise reminds me of Mr and Mrs Smith that movie with Angelina and Brad.

Is a second season planned? Or is the current conflict a one season arc. It seems to defy credibility if Ray Liotta is not either killed or arrested at the end of one season.

NBC said last month that they were renewing "Shades of Blue" for a second season. I saw the first eight episodes when I reviewed it -- favorably, I might add. The first three months of the year have brought many pleasant surprises (i.e., shows that turned out to be better than I expected) and "Shades of Blue" was one -- but I don't know how this season ends. Guess we'll all know soon.

They could also make it centered on a coach who manages one of those recruited high school teams that plays at a small private school - Lots of food for stories there.

Hmmm, good idea. Maybe Timothy Hutton could play the coach. Oh, wait, he just did.

I wasn't that interested in OJ's trial. To the contrary, my mom and I both resented it because it pre-empted our soaps. But I'm fascinated by this program and knowing what went on behind the scenes and more about the key players. I do wish an actor had been selected who looked and acted more like The Juice. That was too important of a role not to have been better cast.

This line cracks me up: "My mom and I both resented it because it pre-empted our soaps."

I feel ya! I was also not interested in all the brouhaha as it was occurring, because it just went on and on and on...

On The Flash Jessie was surprised to learn that Beyonce is a pop star here on Earth 1 because on Earth 2 she is Senator Knowles!

Haha! That's great.

But, oh, just the phrases "Earth 1" and "Earth 2" take me right back to the comic-book stores of my youth.

I LOVE this show, but am finding the Nina storyline a little tedious this season. Do you think it's going anywhere? Also, what happened with Kimmie? I expected that storyline to resume this season. Did I miss something?

Since I've seen more episodes than the rest of you, I am going to have to exercise my TV critic rights here and take the fifth.

If you pay attention - is there anything on order that looks interesting?

I am actually quite strict about this. I pay attention to what gets announced at the upfronts in May and read some of the synopses and in a very cases I watch a trailer for the new show, but by and large I do not pay much heed to buzz about pilots. Once I get a screener -- a full episode or more -- then I start bringing my critical eye to it. Until then, it's best to avoid them.

Okay - Okay - So, I missed that one. I can't watch everything. Isn't that what you're here for??

As this chat makes quite clear each week, I don't watch everything either. Nobody could!

I like that apple one where they talk about moving thru space and time. So serious. Then they say just kidding. To funny

Have you heard any remorse from CBS about they way they made a total mess out of the NCAA tournament brackets show? Surely they will not repeat that disaster (I hope).

It's the orange ball?

I fully agree -- this is the best commercial I've seen in a long, long time. The chosen song is great, the attention to detail is wonderful -- multiple kinds of cookies on the counter, photo with Elmo and Zoe, etc. -- and maybe it's just me, but I'm always a sucker for oven-glove puppets.

And I get a very warm feeling watching Apple and Disney collaborate on a peaceful exchange of untold millions of dollars in actual and potential revenue.

Please tell me that I'm not the only person who watches "The Americans" and wonders how Philip and Elizabeth actually manage to be spies, nominally run a travel agency, raise two kids, and run a home? Do they ever have to tell Gabriel that they can't accept a box of glanders toxin because they have to do the laundry that night or go to a PTA meeting? I had no idea that spying was such exhausting work!

It gets almost comical, I agree, but I still love it.

Because it's a measure of how good the filmmakers/actors/screenwriters are...if they can engage you to the extent you stop thinking about how it ends, then it's a great movie/TV show. I can remember holding my breath at times during All The President's Men thinking something bad was going to happen to the reporters...and I LIVED in DC and read the Post daily during Watergate!

Are you still watching? I find it slow at times, but the strong acting and increasing complex story lines have me still on board. I really don't know where it is headed.

I'm looking forward to the finale -- next week? Soon, as I recall.

Did you review it? I watch the 1st 2 episodes, seems pretty good, i was entertained, enough to keep watching. Thoughts?

I did not write a full review, as I only made it through two episodes. Instead I took it out on "Flaked," (in which there's a mention of "Love.")

How do you anticipate the Sumner Redstone situation will be resolved? I gather his health is poor, but he's still trying to hang on. How will this all affect the Tiffany Network?

Are you up to speed on the recent elevation of Les?

Some of the TWOP folks left and started their own site: previously.tv. There are recaps and discussion forums. Not quite as much snark, but as good as you'll be able to find.

Someone else mentioned it already, but here's another recommendation -- thanks.

We resented that OJ's slo-mo freeway chase with Al Cowlings preempted an NBA finals game on ABC.

SPOILER ALERT: What's next for Shemar Moore, now that he's leaving his long-running role on "Criminal Minds"? I'd watch him in (almost) anything!

Speaking of Earth 2.

OP here. Sorry, no. Has he been "kicked upstairs"? (Unless you mean he died and went to heaven).

Seven minutes to go in this chat -- must I Google everything for you? http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/03/media/les-moonves-sumner-redstone-cbs/

The SF publisher Tor has a blog where there are recaps and rematches of SF TV shows. There's one on Walking Dead, and one on the 1960's Batman. http://www.tor.com/blog-archive

That's kind of smart of them -- I wonder if they pay their recappers?

That's why I didn't bother with Saving Private Ryan... we all know the Allies win, so what's the point?

The A.V. Club is usually pretty good with these, too.

Oh, yes, you're right.

It's not a forum, but I like the recaps and conversation on Vulture (which I found when former WaPo Celebritologist Jen Chaney started writing there). I am not sure how they do it, but it's one of the few places on the Internet where the comments ADD to the discussion.

The reviews on AV Club are hit or miss (some are really just recaps, some are extensive, deep dives into the show), but the commenters are fantastic. There's a bunch of really smart, well versed folks in there who pick up the littlest nuances of a show and provide commentary, links to other sites, etc. It's the first place I go to talk about a show.

I dunno, I totally bought that Kim, being in that position with HHM, would call Jimmy under those circumstances. I think we're being shown how hopeless she feels about her future there, and she was trying to find a place where she could feel some measure of enjoyment.

Robert Redford played Bob Woodward, Dustin Hoffman played Carl Bernstein. Who will play you in a film someday?

With my luck, Neil Patrick Harris -- after an insane carb-loading diet that winds up on the cover of all the supermarket tabloids.

Many many people post on the Internet Movie Database the day after the show or even during or immediately after the show. I do. For example Tuesday night on The Flash, a character made a comment "That's so Law & Order of you" while Jesse L. Martin was there. I waited for the commercial and was the second to post a remark about that!


I'm a fan of the Entertainment Weekly recaps, particularly by Dalton Ross. It's at tvrecaps.ew.com. There's a comment section for each recap for discussion, too.

PBS recently began rerunning POLDARK. I haven't been able to find the next episode on the schedule. When will that be?

That's a hard one for me to answer because

1. Do you mean '70s Poldark or current Poldark?

2. I don't know where you live -- every PBS station reruns shows on its own time frame and desire.

If you go to the website of your local PBS affiliate, they have searchable schedules there. For instance, WETA's schedule tells me there are no Poldark episodes (either version) scheduled for the next two weeks ...

the question prompted to do a quick search. I used follow the original "Heroes" on tvgasm.com, but drifted away from that site afterwards. Apparently, it's now been subsumed by or renamed to trashtalktv.com. I'll start digging there now that you've got me hooked on Shameless, the Americans, etc... etc.. Thanks for all you do !

Just read that article, really enjoyed it. It's close to how I'm feeling about the show. Just tired really. I can't really complain about any of it (well, I'm not a fan of the romance sidetracks) but I'm just not sure I can give anymore to it. I stopped reading the comic books at what I'm assuming will be the season ender in a few weeks. So I told myself I'd give it another season to see if not knowing what happens makes it be something more to look forward to.

Thanks and yes -- you're kind of in the opposite spot that I now find myself in, where I've read wayyy ahead. But yes oh yes, the fatigue. It's real.

Thanks for your tip last week about the article in The New Yorker about The Middle. I enjoyed reading it. I love that show, it brings a smile to my face. I also love The Americans for different reasons. I really enjoy your columns and these chats!!! Keep up the good work!

Thanks --

Let's end on a compliment, shall we? I'll be back here next week at noon, Thursday, March 31. (Wow -- March is over already.)

In This Chat
Hank Stuever
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post's TV critic since 2009, joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. Stuever was born and raised in Oklahoma and previously worked at newspapers in Albuquerque and Austin. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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