Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by coffee and stress.
Early this morning, I hit my wall.
It's been a chaotic and disorienting year so far. Impeachment, a pandemic and an economy that is likely to be in a slump for the rest of the year. And living here in the Twin Cities, I'm in the eye of a storm of civil unrest and well-deserved anger. It's difficult to absorb everything that's taking place and think clearly about what the media world will look like in six months or a year.
And yet, that's the challenge facing every media company right now. The shutdown of production due to COVID-19 had a profound impact, but the bigger issue is how the pandemic will impact the content being created over the next year or two. Do you acknowledge the shutdowns and masks and everything else that comes with a global outbreak? Or do you double-down on light-hearted fantasy stuff that distracts the audience from the world around them?
The widespread protests of the past week in the U.S. bring another level of complexity to this equation. When you look back at what broadcast television was doing the heights of the Vietnam War protests, they leaned heavily into old-school feel-good programming. But there were also attempts to reach younger audiences, with everything from "The Mod Squad" to shows about idealistic young defense lawyers.
Television is a much different place in 2020 and the audience is much more segmented and diverse. But current events lead to the same challenges for networks and it's an especially difficult calculation for networks that are targeted at younger audiences. If you're programming Nickelodeon, how do you engage teens in a way that is authentic and compelling? Sure, they are going to watch some of the traditional programming. But they are also going to want shows and events that speak to their activism and passions. And how does a network inside a massive media corporation make that happen?
It's also a complex consideration for a global media company such as Netflix. Even in the best of situations, creating content that is accessible and entertaining across multiple markets is a challenge. Now try doing it when one of your main markets is in the midst of a societal free-fall.
We all have to make our way through this unfamiliar landscape as best we can. This newsletter will be back to normal tomorrow. But we're going to be wrestling with these issues for a long time to come.
Here is a rundown of the new shows premiering today....
1) CMT Celebrates Our Heroes: An Artists Of The Year Special (CMT)
This uplifting celebration and two-hour virtual tribute brings together country music’s biggest names to recognize the most vital and inspirational Americans on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Superstars Brandi Carlile, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Kane Brown, Kristen Bell, Lauren Daigle, Luke Combs, Sam Hunt and Tim McGraw will join the previously announced star-packed lineup of Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line, Kelsea Ballerini, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett to honor pandemic heroes through virtual tributes, callouts and performances. All talent will film directly from their respective homes and will be virtually produced by CMT.
2) Counting Cars Season Premiere (History)
The latest installment of "Counting Cars" continues to follow Danny Koker and his team as they take on new projects and challenges. Upcoming highlights include Dee Snider from Twisted Sister enlisting Danny’s help on a secret project, the team entering the LeMons rally race where no car can be worth more than $500, and the crew finding a rare build from famous car customizer George Barris—the man behind the original Batmobile.
3) Final 24 Series Premiere (AXS TV)
Fourteen celebrities dead before their time, fourteen last days that lead to fourteen dramatic investigations and fourteen deaths that hold the key to fourteen amazing lives. The Final 24 is a compelling documentary series unlocking the hidden secrets, psychological flaws and events that result in the tragic deaths of fourteen global icons. Every episode maps out the final 24 hours of a different famous person’s life. The series weaves the star’s back-story with events from their last day, which lays bare the threads of fate that led inextricably from childhood to the moment of death. These are no ordinary biographies. They’re psychological detective stories attempting to uncover the mystery of why the celebrity died.
4) Forged In Fire: Beat the Judges Season Premiere (History)
Forged In Fire, the original competition series hosted by weapons expert and U.S. Army and Air Force veteran Wil Willis, returns for its fifth season as world-class bladesmiths compete to create history’s most iconic edged weapons. In each episode, four of the nation’s finest bladesmiths come together to put their skill and reputations on the line, trying to avoid elimination and win the $10,000 prize. They use sweat, fire, force of will, and a well-equipped forge to turn raw material into authentic, fully functional implements of war. These weapons must stand up to a battery of strength & sharpness tests, as well as the critical assessment of our expert Judges David Baker, Doug Marcaida, and Bladesmiths J. Neilson and Ben Abbott.
5) Spelling The Dream (Netflix)
Following four hopeful competitors’ journeys, this documentary explores the trend of Indian Americans ruling the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 1999.
For a rundown of all the new episodes of television premiering tonight, click here.
TOO MUCH TV REALLY IS A THING
This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.
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