The pandemic has disrupted so many things in our lives: work, school, money, what we eat, professional sports, time, space, dreams, and even what we have to wear when we leave the house. Something else is radically different too: the new TV season.
Many of the shows that were supposed to debut last month and this month — both returning shows and brand new ones — have been postponed because the shows had to stop production when the pandemic hit earlier this year. Some networks are repurposing some of the shows they already have on their streaming services. For example, Star Trek: Discovery is airing on CBS, which will give fans who don’t have CBS All Access a chance to see it.
Some shows have worked around the quarantine and social distancing rules. Talk shows are back, with some hosts still working from home and some actually making it into the studio (though without an audience). Soaps are back, with proper safety precautions. I was watching The Young and the Restless the other day — purely for column research purposes — and all the characters have to stay six feet away from each other. This means that love scenes are out for the time being, though they can smile and flirt with each other from a proper distance. It is a bit surreal, though, because once you notice that characters are always far away from each other it becomes impossible not to notice.
Game shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! have returned with safety measures in place. Last week, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek remarked that he actually likes how the three contestants are more spaced out. Over at Wheel, Pat Sajak has already made several jokes about the new white handheld covers the contestants have to use while spinning the wheel. I’d like to add that in one way the show is better: Pat doesn’t have to walk over and stand between the contestants after each round. That was always awkward.
It’s the sitcoms and dramas that are affected most. Animated shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy started their new seasons this week, because cartoon characters don’t have to stay six feet away from each other (though if one of those shows did an episode with social distancing it might be kind of funny).
But because we live in a world of broadcast TV, cable, and streaming, there are 900 channels and 30,000 shows to choose from. There’s bound to be new prime time shows too. Trust me, we will not be starving for “content.” You might have to wait a while for your favorite show to come back, but there’s plenty to watch. The Wrap has a schedule of when all the shows premiere that you might want to bookmark as they’re constantly updating it. Entertainment Weekly also has a guide that looks a little more in-depth. This might be a good time to watch something you never considered watching before.
The new season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live starts tomorrow with Chris Rock as host, and yes, it will be “live from New York.” And Monday we’ll see the series premiere of Gloop World on Quibi. I don’t understand that sentence either.
D.C. Is Out of Phone Numbers
I remember when our area code of 617 was changed to 508 here in Massachusetts, back in the ’80s. I actually got a little sad, as if a part of my childhood had gone away forever. So I can imagine how the people of Washington, D.C., feel as the famous 202 area code — one of the original area codes used in the U.S. — will no longer be used for new phone numbers. Those people will get 771. If you already have a 202 number, nothing will change, except now you’ll have to dial more numbers when calling a local number.
You can tell how old I am because I just used the word dial.
Wanna Get Away?
For those who want to escape 2020, I have good news: time travel is possible!
That’s the finding of researchers at the University of Queensland, who say that going back or forward in time can actually be accomplished without the many paradoxes we see in various movies and TV shows.
I know the researchers say that you can’t change the past, but if I had a time machine, I’d at least try to stop social media from being invented.
The Rube Goldberg Contest Winners
Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for his drawings showing overly complicated devices that do simple things. CBS Sunday Morning looks at an annual contest that brings his devices into the real world.
For the record, I hated that Mouse Trap game because I could never get mine to work.
Headline of the Week
RIP Helen Reddy, Mac Davis, Harold Evans, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, Roy Head, Lillian Brown, and Betty Bushman
Helen Reddy was a Grammy-winning singer who had many hit songs, including “I Am Woman,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Delta Dawn,” “Angie Baby,” “You and Me Against the World,” “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,” and “Leave Me Alone.” She died Tuesday at the age of 78.
Mac Davis was also a big singer in the ’70s, with songs like “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me” and “I Believe in Music.” He also wrote songs that Elvis Presley sang (“A Little Less Conversation” and “In the Ghetto”), acted in movies and on the stage, and hosted his own variety show on NBC. He died Tuesday at the age of 78.
Harold Evans was a veteran journalist who served as editor for various publications, from Britain’s Sunday Times and Times of London to America’s Condé Nast Traveler. He was also an executive at many magazines (including The Atlantic and U.S. News and World Report), was the head of Random House, taught, and wrote several books. He died last week at the age of 92.
W.S. “Fluke” Holland played drums on such classic Johnny Cash songs as “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” He also played on Carl Perkins’s “Blue Suede Shoes” and the famous Million Dollar Quartet sessions at Sun Studios that featured Cash, Perkins, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He died last week at the age of 85.
Roy Head had a hit in 1965 with “Treat Her Right.” He died last week at the age of 79.
Lillian Brown did the makeup for nine U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower to Clinton. She died earlier this month at the age of 106.
Betty Bushman was the first woman to call a major league baseball game, hired by Kansas City A’s owner Charlie Finley in 1964. She died earlier this month at the age of 89.
This Week in History
Peanuts Debuts (October 2, 1950)
Thurgood Marshall Sworn In (October 2, 1967)
Marshall was the Supreme Court’s first Black justice. He served until 1991.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Miss Wisconsin Cheese (September 29, 1956)
This ad confused me at first. I thought, why would I miss Wisconsin cheese? And then I thought, maybe Miss Wisconsin Cheese is a beauty pageant title? And then … oh, it’s a brand name.
The Power of Cheese
The other day I was thinking of a funny cheese commercial from the ’90s. (I spend a lot of time thinking about old commercials.) It was one of a series of commercials with the “Ahh, the Power of Cheese” tagline. For some reason, they also used “Behold the Power of Cheese.” I think “Behold” came first. Why it was changed I don’t know. Maybe “Ahh” tested better in cheese-related focus groups.
They don’t use either slogan anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a general commercial for cheese, other than ads for specific brands, of course. October is National Dessert Month, so how about some dessert recipes that feature cheese (and aren’t cheesecake)?
Baking Sense has this Dessert Macaroni and Cheese that combines elbow macaroni, blueberries, and cream cheese, while Saveur has a Ricotta and Coffee Mousse. How about these Goat Cheese Puddings or Apple Pie Sundaes with Cheddar Crust Shards from Food & Wine? If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can try this Baked Savory Custard with Cheese from The New York Times, which uses Gruyére, Comté, or Emmenthal.
By the way, don’t confuse this day with National Desert Month. That’s a completely different thing and not as tasty.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
World Teachers’ Day (October 5)
If there’s ever been a year to celebrate this day, it’s this year.
Vice Presidential Debate (October 7)
Like the presidential debate from earlier this week, this will air on all the usual channels, starting at 9 p.m. EDT. This is the only VP debate this election year.
Featured image: Mercury Green / Shutterstock
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