News of the Week: New TV vs. Old, Yanny vs. Laurel, and Tigers vs. Teenagers

Everything Old Is New Again

If you read about the new TV shows this week, or you just awoke from a coma, you might be a little bit confused. Magnum, P.I. and Murphy Brown are on the schedule, joining Roseanne, MacGyver, and Will and Grace What year is it again?

This was the week for the annual network “upfronts,” that time of year when the TV networks trot out the stars of their new and returning shows for advertisers and tell us which of our favorite shows have been canceled. I won’t go into detail for each network; you can go elsewhere and read summaries and see trailers for the new stuff for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, The CW, and all the other networks at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. I would like to talk about a few things that stood out.

Last Man Standing is coming back! It’s a solid, funny show, and it was really great to see Fox pick it up after ABC canceled it after six seasons. As I mentioned above, Magnum P.I. and Murphy Brown are both coming back to CBS. Murphy Brown will have the same cast as Murphy hosts a morning news show and goes up against her grown son Avery, who hosts a morning show on a conservative news channel (I wonder where they got that idea …). Magnum will have a whole new cast, with Jay Hernandez as the title character and Perdita Weeks as a female (!) Higgins. It’s still set in Hawaii though, and there will be a couple of Dobermans.

Is it weird that the thing that bothers me most about this new version — besides the fact they shouldn’t have done it in the first place — is that there’s no comma in the title? Believe it or not, they did that on purpose because commas aren’t search engine friendly. No, I’m serious.

If you liked Lost, you might like Manifest, NBC’s new show about a plane that vanishes and then reappears and lands like nothing happened; five years have gone by to the rest of the world, but not to the passengers. Alec Baldwin is going to have a weekly talk show on ABC; CBS has a show titled God Friended Me about a man whose life is turned upside down when he gets friended by God on Facebook (yes); Epix (a network you might not know exists) has a prequel to Batman titled Pennyworth, focusing on Alfred the butler; and ABC has a new romantic spy show that I swear is titled Whiskey Cavalier.

(Please note that 75 percent of these new shows will be gone by the fall of 2019.)

Sorry if you were a fan of Designated Survivor, Kevin Can Wait, or Lucifer, as they’ve all been canceled, along with a bunch of other shows, though Netflix might pick up Designated Survivor. NBC picked up the canceled Brooklyn Nine-Nine from Fox.

No word yet from NBC regarding Timeless. Singer Kelly Clarkson and SNL’s Leslie Jones are leading the charge for it to be renewed.

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Oh no, there’s another “The Dress.”

If you don’t remember the controversy that engulfed the web a few years ago, a picture of a dress had people taking sides. Some people saw the dress as being black and blue, and others saw it as being gold and white. I know it seems impossible that there could be that much of a difference of opinion (after all, black and blue look nothing like white and gold), but it almost caused another civil war. For the record, the dress was indeed black and blue, which is exactly how normal people (like me) saw it.

Now we have an audio version of that controversy. Listen to this clip. Is the voice saying “Yanny,” or is the voice saying “Laurel”?

Here’s the weird thing about this: I listened to it and clearly heard “Yanny.” It wasn’t even close. I was all set to be smug about it and write here that it was “Yanny” and that anyone who heard differently should have a hearing exam. But then I listened to it later, and it changed to “Laurel”! It’s now clearly Laurel for me. I have no idea how or why it changed (I listened to the same clip on the same computer). Unless it has something to do with the pitch or frequency, and my ears got used to it? I’m not even sure if that makes scientific sense, which probably explains why I don’t teach at MIT.

Let me know in the comments below what you hear. And listen to it twice, a few hours apart, and see if it changes.

Tiger at the Prom


I don’t remember anything weird happening at my senior prom, unless you count seeing all of my 18-year-old friends wearing tuxes and lavish dresses when I usually saw them in jeans and casual shirts. Maybe prom has changed in the last 35 years, because now they include wildlife.

A high school in Miami made the controversial decision to have a caged tiger at their jungle-themed prom. The event was held at the Miami International Airport, and the tiger wasn’t alone. There was also a fox, a lemur, and a couple of macaws.

A sister of one of the school’s students posted her displeasure on Facebook. The principal has since apologized (to the parents and students — no word on whether he apologized to the animals).

Goodbye Jerks?


I’m not sure how they can possibly do this, but Twitter is going to crack down on jerks. Through very scientific and precise (cough, cough) behavioral signals, filtering, and algorithms, the social media site is going to try to weed out the negative tweets so they don’t show up as much on your timeline. Oh, I’m sure this won’t be a controversial move at all.

If you’ve ever been on Twitter, you’ve seen that not only are there a lot of jerks, jerkiness seems to be sort of a prerequisite for the site. Using Twitter is like the age-old question about drinking too much: Does it change you into a worse person or does it just make the real you come out?

Read This

PBS has a fun show starting on May 22 called The Great American Read. Host Meredith Vieira will take us through the history of the 100 best-loved books chosen by the public. They’ve set up a web site where you can find out information about each book and take a quiz on how many of the books you’ve read. It should be noted that the list shouldn’t be called 100 “books” because they’re all novels. There’s no nonfiction listed. Maybe that can be the sequel.

It should also be noted that The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades of Grey shouldn’t be on the list.

RIP Tom Wolfe, Margot Kidder, Art Shay, Robert N. Hall, Larry Parry, and Kristin Harmon

Tom Wolfe’s classic novels and essay collections include The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He came up with the terms radical chic and the me decade and had an enormous influence on a generation of writers. He died this week at the age of 88.

Before he wrote those classic works, he wrote for the Post. In the June 19, 1965, issue, he wrote an essay against the trend of sinning titled “Down with Sin!

Margot Kidder was probably best known for her role as reporter Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the Superman films. She also appeared in The Amityville Horror, Black Christmas, and Sisters, as well as TV shows like Nichols and Boston Common. She died Sunday at the age of 69.

Art Shay was an acclaimed photographer famous for many iconic pictures of people like Muhammad Ali, President John F. Kennedy, Marlon Brando, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and Elizabeth Taylor. He died April 28 at the age of 96.

You know that laser bar code reader that almost every supermarket checkout uses? You have inventor Robert N. Hall to thank for that. He actually passed away two years ago at the age of 96, but for some reason, news of his death is only getting out nationally now.

Larry Parry was one of the last survivors of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He died last Saturday at the age of 97.

Kristin Harmon was an actress and the ex-wife of singer and actor Ricky Nelson. She appeared with him on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. She was the sister of NCIS star Mark Harmon and mother of actress Tracy Nelson. She died in April at the age of 72.

Quote of the Week

“Our bigly-ist hit of the year is Roseanne. Roseanne is the number-one show, as you’ve heard repeatedly, in total viewers and the demo. So everyone who says Hollywood is out of new ideas, we’re not. It’s just that one of our new ideas was to Google, ‘What were our old ideas?’”

—Jimmy Kimmel, hosting ABC’s upfront

This Week in History

Florence Nightingale Born (May 12, 1820)

We always think of Nightingale as a nurse, but she was also a social reformer and writer.

Here’s a gallery of Post covers featuring nurses. I don’t think nurses would light a patient’s cigarette these days.

Sinatra Dies, Seinfeld Ends (May 14, 1998)

I remember saying to someone 20 years ago that now the 20th century can officially end. Both Frank Sinatra and the TV show Seinfeld  went away on the same day. The less we think about that misguided Seinfeld finale the better, but this day would be a great one to honor Ol’ Blue Eyes by playing his music.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Sunday Morning (May 16, 1959)

Sunday Morning
May 16, 1959

There are actually a few Post covers that show men trying to hide so they don’t have to go to Sunday-morning church services. This one is from Norman Rockwell.

It’s National Gazpacho Aficionado Month

I’ve never had cold soup, and it’s not something I’ve ever been in a hurry to try. Cold soup to me just means “hot soup that you left on the table too long.” But the warmer weather is here, and if you’re the type of person who loves soup and you miss it during the summer months, maybe you can try a bowl of something of a cooler temperature. Here are four you might like, including Gazpacho Grande and a Cool Cucumber Soup.

Also, I’m pretty sure Gazpacho Aficionado was the name of a character in one of the James Bond movies.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Royal Wedding (May 19)

Hey, did you hear there’s a big wedding in England on Saturday? The media hasn’t been covering it that much, so you may not have heard.

To get you in the mood for all things British, CBS Sunday Morning shows you how to do a proper afternoon tea and lists some of the differences between British English and American English. And Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson shows us the many articles we’ve published about the royal family over the years.

News of the Week: Fall TV, the Fallacy of the Five-Second Rule, and 50 Years of Cool Whip

The New Shows (So Far)

The fall TV season officially launched this week, with new seasons of old shows and new shows debuting. CBS’s The Good Place has Kristen Bell dying and going to the afterlife (don’t worry, it’s a comedy), which happens to be a good place run by Ted Danson. Reviews are pretty good, and the first episode got good ratings. CBS also has Bull, which is about Dr. Phil’s early years as a jury consultant, and it was just as exciting as it sounds.

Fox has Lethal Weapon (a very average TV version of the movie), and ABC has the comedy Speechless and the drama Notorious. Designated Survivor, with Kiefer Sutherland as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development who suddenly becomes president when there’s a bombing (don’t worry, that’s the premise of the show, not a spoiler) started on ABC on Wednesday. It’s the best new show I’ve seen this season (so far, there’s plenty more to come) — a mix of The West Wing and a spy drama. Hopefully they can maintain the quality of the pilot.

Last night, Pitch premiered on Fox. It’s about the first female Major League Baseball pitcher. Tonight, Fox has The Exorcist, a TV version of the 1973 movie, which no one was asking for, and CBS has MacGyver, a new version of the late ’80s/early ’90s TV show, which no one … actually, this one could work out if they handle it correctly and capture the tone/fun of the original. So far, reviews are mixed. And if they don’t get Richard Dean Anderson to guest star, well, that’s just silly.

Kevin Can Wait also started this week, but since CBS insists on calling Kevin James “The King of Comedy” in ads, I refuse to watch it. Everyone knows Adam Sandler is the King of Comedy.

Don’t Trust the Five-Second Rule

There are several rules we should always try to live by. We should be kind to others, save our money, brush our teeth at least twice a day, and avoid watching reality shows where a woman tries to find a husband after dating a dozen men. Oh, and we should try to not eat food that has fallen on the floor.

You’ve heard of the Five-Second Rule, right? That’s the theory that it’s okay to eat food that has fallen to the floor as long as you pick it up within five seconds. Turns out it’s not true! I know, I’m shocked too!

I don’t understand why this was ever a thing anyway, as if there’s a real difference between 10 seconds or 5 seconds or 4 seconds. And wouldn’t this theory be confined to a clean kitchen floor? I mean, I’m sure even the hardiest of Five-Second-Rule defenders wouldn’t stick to the rule if the food fell in a playground sandbox or on the floor of a public restroom. But really, your default position should always be, “Food that falls on the floor is now garbage.” Or maybe, “Here Spot, I have a treat for you!”

RIP Edward Albee and Curtis Hanson

Edward Albee
Edward Albee
Vytas Vatalis, © SEPS

For some reason, my junior high school English teacher showed us the movie version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I don’t know if I appreciated it then, but I saw it years later and liked it a lot more (though it’s still a weird movie and makes me uncomfortable). Playwright Edward Albee was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the play version … but then the board decided to take back the award, actually deciding to not give an award that year (prompting jury members to resign). He did win three Pulitzers though, for A Delicate Balance, Seascape, and Three Tall Women. He also won several Tony Awards. Other plays Albee wrote include The Zoo Story; The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?; The Lady from Dubuque; The Man Who Had Three Arms; Me Myself and I; The Play about the Baby; and Peter and Jerry.

In 1964, not long after Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? did and did not win the Pulitzer Prize, the Post’s John Skow wrote about the up-and-coming Albee, calling him “Broadway’s Hottest Playwright.”

Albee died last Friday at the age of 88.

Curtis Hanson was the director of such films as L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, 8 Mile, Bad Influence, and many others. He passed away on Monday at his home in Hollywood. He was 71.

By the way, if you’ve never seen L.A. Confidential, stream/rent/buy it ASAP. It’s that rare thing: a perfect film. It should have won the Best Picture Oscar for 1997, but it lost to Titanic.

What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?

Every couple of years, we hear about a new theory about what really happened to aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in 1937. This is one of those years.

The theory by the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) actually isn’t new, but it’s getting new attention. As the theory goes, her plane crashed near Gardner Island in the Western Pacific, but she and Noonan actually survived (though Noonan may have been severely injured). They even got out several distress calls that people around the country swear they heard. Earhart and Noonan may have spent some time on the island, but they eventually died, and the island might still hold their remains and maybe parts of the aircraft. It’s a fascinating theory, and TIGHAR wants to go back to the island to see what else they can find.

Do We Really Need Robot Shopping Carts?

No, but we might get them anyway.

Walmart is experimenting with robot shopping carts that drive themselves around the store while you shop. Because we all know how difficult it has been all these years to shop while also having to push a cart around.

This is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Soon, we won’t have to do anything. We’ll be driven to the supermarket in our driverless cars, robots will grab things off the shelf for us, and when we get home, robot butlers will feed us like babies. Not everything we saw on The Jetsons is worth doing.

Maybe instead of robotizing our shopping carts, scientists can use that money and technology to give us carts with wheels that don’t wobble.

Guy Enters 1957 Contest … and Wins!

Just a few weeks ago, I came across a contest in an old magazine. I thought about checking to see if the address for the contest was still valid and wondered what would happen if I actually entered a contest from decades ago. I didn’t actually do it, but maybe I should have.

Darwin Day, a 70-year-old who lives in Texas, was recently going through some old baseball cards in his house and came across one from 1957 that had a Bazooka bubble gum contest on the back. There was no deadline for the contest, so he decided to enter to see what would happen. Well, here’s what happened.

Note to self: enter more contests from the ’50s.

This Week in History: U.S. Air Force Founded (September 18, 1947)

Before becoming independent in 1947, the Air Force was actually part of the U.S. Army.

This Week in History: Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” Speech (September 23, 1952)

Richard Nixon was running for vice president when controversy arose regarding a fund that was established to help him with campaign costs. During the televised speech, Nixon said that he was going to keep one important gift that his campaign had received. Here’s the speech:

Happy 50th Birthday, Cool Whip

Speaking of Nixon, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Cool Whip (stay with me here). To celebrate, why not make a Watergate Salad? No one really knows how it got that name, though Delish cites one theory that it got the name because the Watergate plan was put together the way you put together a dessert salad. It’s a mixture of pistachio pudding, crushed pineapple, pecans, and mini-marshmallows, topped with Cool Whip. You can put on All The President’s Men and have that for dessert.

Just make sure you don’t drop it on the floor.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Library of Congress National Book Festival (September 24)

Stephen King will open the 16th annual festival at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Charles Osgood’s Last CBS Sunday Morning (September 25)

Osgood announced his retirement after 22 years as host of the show and 45 years at CBS. He will still make an appearance on the show now and then, and he’ll continue his radio show, The Osgood File. No replacement for CBS Sunday Morning has been announced yet, though Jane Pauley seems to be a good bet.

First Presidential Debate (September 26)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square off at Hofstra University at 9 p.m. in the first of three debates. NBC’s Lester Holt will moderate, and it’s on a hundred channels (not to mention Facebook and Twitter) so don’t even think about not watching it.