You've gotta love Daniel Tiger

Daniel Tiger is one of those guys you like instantly. He's cute, he's 4, he's well-meaning and he's animated. Even better, he links back to the kindly days of the late Fred Rogers. Daniel's new show -- a "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" spin-off -- debuts Monday (Memorial Day) on PBS. Here's the story I sent to papers:


LOS ANGELES – Daniel Tiger is ready
for his spotlight now. He brings an imposing TV legacy.

Political conventions on TV -- once huge, now ... well, interesting

The storm has stirred up some complications with the Republican convention this week in Tampa. Monday's events -- including Ann Romney's speech -- have been postponed; they'll be compacted into the next three days. Here's the updated version of the convention story I sent to papers:


There was a time (really) when the big
television networks savored political conventions.

Islamic art: massive or intimate

OK, our expectations for Friday-night TV may be fairly low. Still, PBS keeps offering exceptions A prime example, July 6, an elegant look at Islamic art. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Spanning centuries and continents, the
phrase “Islamic art” brings immense range.

It goes from the supersized splendor of
the Taj Mahal to the delicate lettering of Mohamed Zakariya. And now
Zakariya is the starting point for a sweeping PBS special.

Old Inspector Morse: He's younger (and less cranky) now

"Masterpiece Mystery" starts its summer spurt this weekend on a strong note.

Sunday (July 1) brings "Endeavour," a terrific prequel to all those old "Inspector Morse" mysteries. Then are four straight "Inspector Lewis" films. The first (July 8) is excellent, the second is so-so, the third is quite good. I haven't seen the fourth yet.

For now, however, let's savor "Endeavour," and be glad that more early-Morse filmsare being made. Here's the story I sent to papers:

"Masterpiece" is back, amid high expectations

It's always good news when "Masterpiece" returns, with its richly crafted dramas. Now -- after another long pledge-drive pause -- three minisries will air on Sundays, starting with "Great Expectations" and Gillian Anderson's wondrfully offbeat performance. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Sprawling from the marshes of Kent to
the ballrooms of London, Charles Dickens'“Great Expectations” is
a key part of some British educations.

B-52's: the whimsical side of rock 'n' roll


In between "American Idol" blogs, let's pause to remember that rock music needn't always be pitch-perfect. Sometimes, it's just fun.

Here's a story I sent to papers about the B-52s, which have a 35th-anniversary concert that shows up on many stations during pledge drive. Cincinnati, for instance, airs it at 8 p.m. this Saturday, March 10; East Lansing, alas, hasn't yet scheduled it:



Facing crime, eye-to-eye

I have to admit I'm really not a fan of verite-style documentaries.

Those are the ones that simply have a camera follow around, hoping to capture something. They have their moments, but can't compare to the crisp power of the great documentaries of PBS' "American Masters," "Frontline" or "American Experience."

Black History Month remains big

Black History Month starts today, bringing a fresh cascade of shows. Here's the story and list I sent to papers:



Each February, two strong forces –
PBS and cable – propel Black History Month.

This year's shows range from the upbeat
and uptempo – a Cab Calloway profile (Feb. 27), a vibrant
production of the Tony-winning musical “Memphis” (Feb. 24) – to
the dead-serious.

Tony Bennett still thrives at 85

There are some veteran singers, I'm sure, whose voices are just a fraction of their prime.

Not Tony Bennett. When he sang to the Television Critics Association recently, everything -- his voice, his phrasing, his back-up quartet -- was precise. At 85, this guy remains a strong talent.

Many people can sample that on Friday, when Bennett has a "Duets" special on PBS' "Great Performances." Here's the story I sent to papers:




One-woman play lifts us up easy

In the vast wasteland of Friday-night television, PBS has inserted a rich variety of concerts. This week, there's "Let Me Down Easy," Ann Deavere's one-woman show about life and death and health care and more.  Here's the story I sent to papers:


As Anna Deavere Smith crafts her shows,
one fact stands out: People are VERY different.