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Remembering Davy Jones

Davy Jones, heartthrob lead singer of The Monkees, died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 66, and we remember him via two up-close encounters from the 1970s and last year.

Plus, the Tuesday D-FW Nielsen ratings are in. And there's also a new "Ask Uncle Barky."
Ed Bark

NBC's Awake hopes to somehow rouse former home of ER, L.A. Law

Once upon a time, NBC had solid gold mainstays on Thursdays at 9 p.m. (central). In this season, forget about it. Premiering this week, Awake is the Peacock's third new drama series in that slot. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Dancing with the Stars announces a "Who's that?" field

Joe Piscopo must be feeling really bummed. He's apparently still not considered a big enough star for Dancing with the Stars, which announced its most underwhelming cast ever Tuesday morning. Details are on the Network News & Reviews page.

Plus, see how the long-delayed and elongated Dayton 500 fared in Monday's D-FW Nielsen ratings.
Ed Bark

Up and down national Nielsen ratings for Sunday night's Oscars

Unclebarky.com cuts through the chaff of a highly subjective ABC publicity release to bring you the straight scoop on the ratings plusses and minuses for Sunday's Oscars. Get the full-picture national numbers on our Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Oscars and Crystal -- ratings and review

National ratings aren't yet final for Sunday night's Oscars, but we've got the D-FW numbers right here. Plus, how did the show do with Billy Crystal back as its headmaster? Our take and a link to last night's live tweets are on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Crystal and the Oscars -- vs. the Grammys

Only once before have the Grammys drawn a bigger audience than the Oscars in the same calendar year. But it could happen again this month, even with Billy Crystal back for his ninth time as host. We examine the possibilities -- and Oscar's built-in disadvantage -- on the Network News & Reviews page.

Wednesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in.
Ed Bark

Conan re-upped; Simon spills a bean or two

TBS is giving some long-term job security to Conan O'Brien. And in a teleconference with TV writers Wednesday, Simon
Cowell throws out a few tasty sprinkles of news. Details are on the TV Bulletin Board page.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 21st's late night D-FW newscasts

We wrap up our seven-night sojourn -- and boy, is my head tired -- with a look at highs and lows on Tuesday's late-night D-FW newscasts. It's all weather-free, though, and available on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 20th's late night D-FW newscasts

The social media bug keeps biting D-FW's late night newscasts. Not all bad, not all good, and perhaps most of it better than sending WFAA8 anchor John McCaa outdoors for the sole purpose of introducing a story on drug battles along the Texas border. Our latest compendium is on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page. And don't worry, I've only got a few more of these left in me. At least for this month.

Also, the Friday-Monday D-FW Nielsen ratings are in. As is Jeremy Lin.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 17th's late night D-FW newscasts


The stars of S.H.I.E.L.D. at summer TV “press tour.” Photo: Ed Bark

Premiering: Tuesday, Sept. 24th at 7 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge
Produced by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Fearing piracy and/or acting stupidly, ABC is being super-protective of its otherwise heavily promoted super hero series.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only new fall show unavailable for review either via a DVD sent in the mail or on a network’s password-protected media site. Although there likely are some exceptions being made for “major media outlets.”

The premiere episode was screened, however, during ABC’s early August day at the summer Television Critics Association “press tour.” So I’ve seen it, but didn’t take notes because it was assumed that S.H.I.E.L.D. would then be made available for another look. A majority of TV writers re-screen new shows as close to their air dates as possible while also taking detailed notes. That way memories are fresh and details are documented. But in this case we’ll have to wing it.

Memory serves that S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division) is a talkie presented in living color. It’s handsomely produced, sprinkled with some impressive special effects and has an ample amount of light, quippy banter because that’s a set-in-stone trademark of executive producer Joss Whedon (Buddy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog). He also directed The Avengers feature film from which S.H.I.E.L.D. is drawn.

Those who saw The Avengers will recall that Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) emphatically died near the end of it. But nobody really dies anymore on television or in the movies. And certainly not in a comic book series in which the right vortex at the right time, coupled with a dose of uranium geranium oxide and a little bit of luck and pluck can cause just about anything to happen.

So in other words, Gregg is back as the team leader after a rather cursory explanation of how that’s possible.

Whedon is no mere TV producer anymore, and he’s already signed to direct The Avengers: Age of Ultron. So S.H.I.E.L.D. ostensibly will be left mostly in the capable hands of his disciples, who are more than up to the challenge. That’s what they all say. And Whedon said it this way during ABC’s press tour interview session: “I got the best writers I know to do this and actors who can do pretty much anything so that I could do less. That’s always the way to run a show.”

S.H.I.E.L.D otherwise will run head-long into competition from CBS’ season premiere of NCIS and its own buzzy storyline. The show will be dealing with the departure of special agent Ziva David, played by Cote de Pablo since 2005. CBS says it wanted to keep her, but de Pablo decided to leave the hit series after rejecting a salary boost. She has yet to tell her side of the story, but her exit storyline virtually assures that NCIS will blast S.H.I.E.L.D in Tuesday’s total viewer Nielsen ratings and possibly even prevail among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds.

The ABC newcomer picks up after the Battle of New York, with Coulson’s recruits called on to track and subdue the nefarious Rising Tide, of which little is known. They’re also charged with investigating people who appear to have “extra-normal” powers. After all, one wouldn’t want a superhuman Hostess Twinkie eater to consume the entire world’s supply. Oh but we kid the dedicated agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Coulson’s right hand man, or so he thinks, is Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), a whiz in combat and espionage. Agent Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) expertise is martial arts and she also knows how to fly a plane. Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is a topflight engineer while Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) specializes in bio-chemistry. The obligatory crack computer hacker is named Skye (Chloe Bennet).

Tuesday’s opener isn’t always perfectly clear about what’s going on. But it’s spirited and crisply paced with a big-screen look and feel. The challenge will be to keep the momentum going while ensuring that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t deteriorate into an inferior-looking knockoff. All it sometimes takes, after all, is one dedicated Twitter troll or “fanzine” website to declare, “S.H.I.E.L.D. S.U.C.K.S.!!!” Then the snowball starts rolling.

Gregg’s resurrected Coulson so far is the much-needed glue, lending a familiar presence and sturdy countenance. His closing scene, in a bright red convertible that’s more than it seems, brings the first hour to a rousing end. Still, there’s that NCIS team with which to contend. They’re the real enemies of Coulson’s forces. And although lacking in any super-duper powers, they sure know how to draw and keep an audience.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

Look out. Here come Big Rich Texas & Jerseylicious

They deserve each other, but do their states? Big Rich Texas and Jerseylicious begin new seasons Sunday night on The Style Network. We pick up the pieces on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 16th's late night D-FW newscasts

Fox4 and Clarice Tinsley used one of her "Your Turn" segments to inquire whether a Fort Worth mechanic was really seeing Jesus in a space heater. We only report what see. The latest compendium takes its rightful place on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Also, our review of HBO's latest Ricky Gervais series, Life's Too Short, can be found right here. Thursday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 15th's late night D-FW newscasts

The TCU student drug-dealing scandal predictably and understandably dominated Wednesday's D-FW late nighters. But earlier that day, one of the four major TV news providers badly flunked its drug test. The latest compendium is on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Also, Fox4 Good Day contributor Krystle Gutierrez makes her departure official after biding time for a few months. And Wednesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in the house.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 14th's late night D-FW newscasts

A surprise live wedding proposal and far superior use of live in-studio interviews marked the Valentine's Day late nighters. Our latest collection of highs and lows is here.

Also, Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings serve to all but cancel ABC's new The River.
Ed Bark

Up-close and objective: Feb. 13th's late night D-FW newscasts

We're open for another limited run, with the late night newscasts on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11 again under the microscope during these ongoing February "sweeps."

On Monday night, WFAA8 took the play away from its rivals with good and really bad initiatives in enterprise reporting. Our compendium is on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page, where you also can find Monday's D-FW Nielsen ratings.
Ed Bark

Reptile dysfunction: WFAA8's shriekin' "snake" episode may rival NBC5's grand champion gecko incident

WFAA8's Good Morning Texas snaked, rattled and rolled recently, with contributor Paige McCoy Smith on the receiving end. Does her reaction rival that of former NBC5 anchor Michael Scott? We supply the video, you make the call on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Battleground launching as hulu.com's first scripted series

Hulu.com, owned by a consortium of networks, is trying to make its stamp with a rollout of new weekly series available only on the web. Battleground, its first scripted effort, charts a fictional U.S. Senate campaign, with Madison, Wisconsin its principal turf. Our review is on the revived Web Browser page.

Plus, Sunday night's Grammy Awards telecast had mega-audiences in both D-FW and nationally while WFAA8 struck out ratings-wise with Rangers pitcher Derek Holland's Friday night weathercast. Details are on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Ju-s-s-s-s-st a bit outside: WFAA8 pitches in with comedy weather

WFAA8, which positions itself as the holy temple of local TV news, put Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland in charge of Friday's 10 p.m. weather. The station that says it never does ratings "sweeps" stunts just so happens to be trailing in the February competition. Our take is on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

AMC turns a new page with Comic Book Men

Film director and comic book nut Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Clerks) has a fun new venture on AMC. And his unscripted Comic Book Men will get a prime Sunday night time slot following the return of The Walking Dead. Our review is here.

Plus, Macie Jepson and WFAA8 have settled her discrimination suit against the Dallas-based station. We give you a few more details and a history of recent discrimination suits on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Also, in case you missed it, Daybreak co-anchor Ron Corning shared a frame with two brassiere-wearing mannequins during Thursday's edition on WFAA8. And Thursday's D-FW Nielsen ratings also are in.
Ed Bark

House being discharged after 8 seasons on Fox; Current TV let's its inmates run the show

The inevitable and the expected came to pass early Wednesday evening when Fox and the producers of House announced that this will be the landmark medical drama's last season. Our story is on the Network News & Reviews page.

Plus, we look at Current's sorry state of affairs, with star player Keith Olbermann and the almost equally cocksure Cenk Uygur leading the Al Gore cable network on a search for truth, justice and quite possibly self-destruction.
Ed Bark

Incoming: Teresa Woodard joining WFAA8 reporting staff while David Watkins already is with NBC5 sports

The wheels of change lately have been turning/churning at D-FW's major TV news providers. Teresa Woodard, a native Dallasite, is WFAA8's latest edition. while Plano West High grad David Watkins has headed to NBC5.

Plus, ABC's new drama series, The River, already has that sinking feeling in D-FW and nationally after Tuesday's two-hour premiere. Details are in the latest "Local Nielsen ratings snapshot."
Ed Bark

WFAA8 names former KHOU reporter Carolyn Mungo as news director

Carolyn Mungo, previously a star reporter for Belo-owned KHOU-TV in Houston, will be the new news director for Belo-owned WFAA8 in Dallas. An email to that effect was sent out to Belo higher-ups while unclebarky.com filed a report to that effect. In between time, Mungo was assistant news director at Fox-owned KRIV-TV in Houston. But wait, there's more to this story. Get all the details on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

NBC singing in the reign after ruling with musical Monday night

Struggling NBC at last can breathe easy -- at least for one workday. Its Monday night lineup of The Voice and Smash won big in the D-FW ratings and also triumphed nationally. The local results are on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

We were the champions: Nat'l Nielsen ratings say that Super Bowl XLVI nipped Cowboys Stadium edition

Final national Nielsen ratings gave Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI a paper-thin edge over last year's big game from Cowboys Stadium. Which makes the Giants' 21-17 win over the Patriots the new most-watched show in TV history. Details are on our Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

D-FW Super Bowl ratings expectedly fall short of Jerry's Palace edition; guerilla Cougar Town producer strikes again

Local Nielsens for Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI weren't quite up to those for last year's ice sculpture edition in North Texas. Still, almost 2.5 million viewers ain't too shabby. Details are on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Plus, Cougar Town producer Bill Lawrence, the guy who used to make Scrubs, tries another stealth promo campaign. I like his methods of attack. See what he's up to on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Super Bowl XLVI: Eastwood keeps it real while Madonna prima donnas

Super Bowl XLVI provided another thrillingly close outcome and a lot of attendant side shows. Our words, frame grabs and videos are on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

The River's flow chart looks a lot like Lost's

ABC's latest otherworldly serial drama, The River, is supposed to make your skin crawl more than Lost did. But otherwise aren't they pretty much one and the same? Our review is here.

Plus, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings "snapshot" takes a close look at opening night of the February "sweeps" ratings period.
Ed Bark

NBC's Smash tries nights on Broadway as viewer lure

Farrah Fawcett, the Corpus Christi-born golden girl whose iconic poster and showy Charlie's Angels role made her a mega-star, died Thursday at age 62 after a prolonged and highly publicized battle with cancer.

Fawcett's own movie about her travails, Farrah's Story, was shown just last month on NBC. ABC already has scheduled a Barbara Walters special, Farrah Fawcett: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Legacy, for tonight at 9 p.m. (central). Earlier Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America, Walters had said, "I'm not sure if she's going to make it through the day. She's had her last rites."

NBC is countering with a two-hour combined Dateline special (8 p.m.) tied to the deaths of Fawcett, and late Thursday afternoon, Michael Jackson. And the network will re-broadcast Farrah's Story on Friday, June 26th at 8 p.m.

Fawcett starred as glamorous gumshoe Jill Munroe for only the first season of Angels, which became an instant eye-catching hit on ABC after premiering in fall 1976. Her abrupt decision to leave, in pursuit of big-screen stardom, sparked lawsuits and an eventual settlement that required Fawcett to make occasional guest star appearances during the show's next three seasons.

When Angels soared to No. 5 in the prime-time ratings during its first season, "I figured it was our acting," Fawcett told TV Guide after leaving the show. "When we got to be No. 1 (actually its highest season-ending finish was No. 4), I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra."

Her feature film career never took wing, with flops such as Saturn 3, Sunburn and Somebody Killed Her Husband sending her back to the friendlier confines of television.

Ryan-Farrah all aglow and the actress behind bars in Burning Bed

Fawcett's coming-out party as a "serious" actress was in the 1981 NBC miniseries Murder In Texas, where she received favorable reviews as the ill-fated Joan Robinson. She went on to earn two Emmy nominations, as battered housewife Francine Hughes in NBC's 1984 movie The Burning Bed and as murderess Diane Downs in the 1989 ABC miniseries Small Sacrifices.

All three projects, each based on a true-life story, conceivably could have been made for the big screen. But Fawcett already had become a realist by then.

"I don't think those parts would have been offered to me," she said in a 1989 interview with this writer. "They would look for somebody like Meryl Streep, who has a record of carrying a film."

Fawcett had tried to escape her cheesecake image by deglamorizing herself in these roles. In The Burning Bed, for instance, she wore what was described as a $1 K Mart top.

By 1992, though, she had grown weary of playing victims or victimizers. So she took on the role of hard-talking defense attorney Jessie Lee Stubbs in ABC's Criminal Behavior movie.

"I was looking for something to do that was not based on a life-or-death true story, which we've been inundated with in the past couple of years," Fawcett said in a second interview with this writer.

"I find it difficult to break out of those kinds of roles, because unfortunately they usually are the best-written scripts. Right after I did Murder In Texas, I tried to get The Burning Bed made, and no one would do it for three years. You try so hard to get something done at a particular time, and it doesn't get done. And then the very thing you fought to get done is now the very thing you're fighting against doing.

"It's really a vicious cycle. The things they offer you are the things you've had success in. But why do it again? I'm slightly offended that we keep getting offered these victim or crazy women roles. We deserve the right to be in something that's entertaining."

Fawcett, who attended the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1960s but didn't graduate, had a long and often problem-plagued relationship with actor Ryan O'Neal, who was with her at the end. But her only marriage was to actor Lee Majors, with the couple divorcing in 1982.

Fawcett and O'Neal teamed as dueling sportscasters and former lovers in the 1991 CBS sitcom Good Sports, which was quickly canceled but received generally good reviews.

"It's the last, the very last TV series I'll do," she said a year later. "I need to be creatively stimulated and challenged, and for me to repeat the same character, it's not interesting for me. We were never able to do exactly what we wanted. We would get script changes at 3 o'clock in the morning. We were so off-balance, we didn't have time to say we didn't like it."

In later years, Fawcett mostly made news playing herself in attention-getting projects such as 1997's Playboy: Farrah Fawcett, All of Me and the 2005 TV Land reality series Chasing Farrah, which the network will be repeating in part on Saturday night.

Fawcett also made a decidedly discombobulated appearance in 1997 on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman, during which she offered a rambling discourse on escaping fans in Central Park.

Mostly, though, she'll be remembered as the blonde bombshell who put the "jiggle" in Charlie's Angels during times when the then Big Three broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- controlled 90 percent of the television viewing audience while cable was still being birthed.

"You break one image and then you're stuck with another," Fawcett said in our 1989 interview. "I've always had people feel very strongly about me -- one way or the other."

CBS11 bangs its drums loudly in preparation for February "sweeps" warfare

The annual four-week February "sweeps" ratings period starts on Thursday of this week. And CBS11 is acting as though it really wants to return to the 10 p.m. winner's circle after WFAA8 took November's golds. A new "Coming In February" promo, replete with drum beats, sets the stage for what's likely to be another down-to-the-wire battle between the two stations. Take a look on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page, and see if it sucks you in -- at least a bit.

Plus, we take an up-close look -- ratings-wise -- at last year's most popular scripted series on basic and premium cable networks. Some of the final tabulations may surprise you, as news anchors are wont to say. Plus, Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings are in as we begin another new month with this friendly reminder:

If you're shopping on Amazon anyway, give any of unclebarky.com's amazon ads a click before proceeding to make your buys. A small percentage of the purchase prices are sent back to D-FW's only completely independent local/national TV website.

As always, we greatly appreciate your readership and support.
Ed Bark