News of the Week: Fall TV, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts Turns 70, and Behold the Power of Cheese

In the news for the week ending October 2, 2020, are weird TV schedules, harmless time travel, needlessly complex machines, dessert cheese, and more.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy
Mercury Green / Shutterstock

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2020 (Tele)Vision

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.

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

Headline of the Week

“All Shook Up! Face of Elvis Appears in Giant Wave as 65 mph Winds Hammer East Coast”

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)

You know Charles Schulz’s classic comic strip, but did you know that he did other cartoons for the Post before Peanuts began?

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)

Cheese ad

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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  1. I’m happy for you Bob on your fall weather. Admittedly a little jealous. More 100+ heat today and new fires of course to the existing ones. Very discouraging. Thank you by the way for the great link of Helen Reddy at her signature song best. Also, ‘Angie Baby’ is one of the most wonderful pop songs ever. So uniquely different, so classically Helen.

    I thought the VP debate was Tuesday, but the 7th is Wednesday; my goof. All the days just kind of run together in this year. Where was my 2020 Norman Rockwell Post calendar?! It should be an interesting debate, and likely a lot quieter.

  2. You absolutely put a lot of hard work into ALL those paragraphs on TV—and the links. Links that weren’t very helpful (not your fault) other than finding out ‘The Amazing Race’ is returning on Wednesday nights. That’s one of those shows that used to be on for years right after ’60 Minutes’ on Sunday nights, then it would be off & on, like that old David Spade show ‘Rules of Engagement’ or Courtney Cox’s ‘Cougar Town’.

    Just SO good to know the long dead SNL is coming back again. Of course, it’ll STILL be around in 2121 too, just like maggots, horse flies, and well, you know. Things that have stood the test of time, only in the bad sense.

    D.C. is out of a lot more than phone numbers. Our government is the ‘SNL’ of world governments, Bob!

    Sorry to hear about both Mac Davis and Helen Reddy passing away this week. Truly both musical icons of the ’70s. I took some classes in 2000-2001 at the Hypnosis Motivation Center in Tarzana and one of my classmates was Helen, re-inventing herself as a hypnotherapist. I enjoyed speaking with her at breaks. Very lovely, gracious lady. I told her I felt “I am Woman” was an empowering song to anyone who needed empowerment, in addition to just being an incredible song otherwise. She loved hearing that, and totally agreed. A class act and wonderful woman.

    You’ve got to stop talking about cheese, unless it’s cream cheese or cheese cake. I’ve been working hard with exercise in this pandemic to keep that Bob jr. stomach and chest. I refuse to get fat. I know a lady that worked for a man last year who used to bring in “little kid” CHEESE pizzas all the time to the office. When a male employee brought in a healthy, delicious veggie pizza, he was mocked. ANYWAY, I hope The Cheesecake Factory restaurant doesn’t go out of business permanently in all this. It’s a very real possibility.

    By the way, no mention of the weather in your neck of the woods. 107 out here the past few days, while beautiful central and northern California continue to burn unabated. This poor state; God help us all. The wonderful wine country, gone. I feel so badly for the people who’ve innocently lost so much.

    Glad I’m keeping my electric bill currently current so I can use that extra current. Let’s all remember to watch the VP debate Tuesday night and collectively pray for our beloved nation like never before. Amen.


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