David Bianculli

Seven Worlds, One Planet, BBC America's new big-budget, big-scope documentary series, devotes one episode to each of Earth's continents — beginning with an episode devoted to Australia.

There are two main theories about how the commercial broadcast networks can continue to compete against the onslaught of such streaming video operations as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Disney+. One is to attack them directly by offering the same sort of unusual and imaginative programming. The other is to retreat — and offer familiar comfort food, like police procedurals.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Tonight HBO premieres a new four-part miniseries called "Catherine The Great" starring Helen Mirren as the 18th century Russian empress. Our TV critic David Bianculli has this review.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Back in the old, old days of TV, before either streaming or cable television, the broadcast networks were king — enjoying a virtual monopoly. And each fall, CBS, NBC and ABC would roll out their new shows at the same time to attract the most viewers for their automotive advertisers, who, in turn, were rolling out their new fall models. It's a TV tradition that has persisted, even though neither Detroit nor the networks are nearly as dominant as they used to be.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The original Veronica Mars premiered on television 15 years ago, which, in TV terms, was a whole different era. David Milch's HBO series Deadwood, which just reunited its cast for a fabulous TV movie, premiered that year. So did two major hits for ABC, Lost and Desperate Housewives.

On June 30, the Showtime network launches a new TV miniseries called The Loudest Voice. Based on the Gabriel Sherman book The Loudest Voice in the Room, it's a seven-part drama about the television triumphs and controversies of Roger Ailes, who created and ran the Fox News Channel.

Legion and Jessica Jones come from the more recent generations of Marvel comics, featuring relatively obscure characters. Neither show's protagonist is a superhero in the conventional sense of wearing a costume or having a secret identity, and both are battling inner demons as well as powerful adversaries. Yet even though they're technically comic-book stories, these shows are impressively ambitious and surprisingly satisfying.

City on a Hill is a period cop series about trying to change the system from within, and encountering resistance — sometimes deadly resistance — everywhere you turn. It's a bit like the 1973 biographical crime film Serpico, except set in '90s Boston instead of '70s New York, and starring Kevin Bacon in the Al Pacino role.

When CBS All Access unveiled its new version of The Twilight Zone earlier this year, the general consensus was that the initial episodes in the new series had fallen short of Rod Serling's original version. Not only were they unworthy of The Twilight Zone of old, but they also weren't nearly as good, or as smart, as a show that had begun in England in 2011, Black Mirror.

Pages