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TV News: Marcia Wallace, Edna Krabappel on ‘The Simpsons,’ Dies at 70

Marcia Wallace, photo by Joe Arce.

LOS ANGELES – Marcia Wallace, who created two classic TV roles on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Simpsons,” passed away in Los Angeles, according to her agent on Saturday. She was 70 years old. In the 1970s, she was known as Carol Kester, Bob Hartley’s assistant on that Newhart show. In 1990 – one season after “The Simpsons” began – she took on the voice role of Edna Krabappel, the frazzled and man-hungry fourth grade teacher of Bart Simpson.

TV Review: Clever, Fun ‘Toy Story of Terror’ Makes ABC Debut

CHICAGO – Was “Toy Story 3” the last great Pixar production? With the modest critical reaction to “Cars 2,” “Brave,” and “Monsters University,” it seems an entirely defensible position to take. In fact, one could easily argue that “Small Fry,” the “Toy Story” short that premiered with “The Muppets,” and “Partysaurus Rex,” which played with “Finding Nemo 3D,” should be considered higher on the Pixar hierarchy than “Cars 2” and maybe even “Brave.”

TV Review: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Casts a Spell

CHICAGO – Take this with a giant grain of salt but FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” shows incredible promise in its premiere episode tonight, setting a number of creative plates spinning in directions that could be fascinating. Why the salt? Well, “American Horror Story: Asylum” started with similar promise and quickly became cluttered and unfocused.

TV Review: NBC’s Struggles Continue with ‘Sean Saves the World,’ ‘Welcome to the Family’

CHICAGO – People often ask me why low-rated NBC shows like “Community” keep getting renewed (or how “Whitney” and “Up All Night” got a second season) and I often turn to a sports analogy — they have no one in the minor leagues to replace them.

TV Review: Rebel Wilson Brings Routine to TV for ‘Super Fun Night’

CHICAGO – It seems logical that Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealer from “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” would get her own sitcom. Logical, yes. A good idea, maybe not. Wilson’s “Super Fun Night,” premiering this evening on ABC at 8:30pm CST after “Modern Family,” is not yet super and not too much fun to start.

TV Review: NBC’s ‘Ironside’ is Worst New Drama of 2013

CHICAGO – As the TV world was bombarded by new shows last week, I heard a number of complaints about the new dramas and comedies. “Hostages” was too cliched. “The Blacklist” wasn’t believable. “SHIELD” wasn’t fun enough. “Lucky 7” was, well, just awful. People, those shows will look even better if you happen to stumble upon “Ironside,” premiering tomorrow night on NBC.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Hannibal’ is Best Drama on Network TV

Hannibal

CHICAGO – Has there ever been a network TV show more cinematic than “Hannibal”? Especially when one watches it commercial-free in “binge” format on the newly-released Blu-ray, one can even more distinctly appreciate the fact that the first season of Bryan Fuller’s incredible show, the best on network TV, plays like long film. Scratch that.

TV Review: CBS Misses Comedy Mark with ‘The Crazy Ones,’ ‘The Millers’

CHICAGO – There are very few recurring weak points in the CBS lineup. They’ve been dominating total viewers for years with mega-hits like “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory.” But there is one thing they haven’t been able to figure out — something to partner with “TBBT.”

TV Review: NBC Has Likable Hit in ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’

The Michael J. Fox Show

CHICAGO – Seriously, if “The Michael J. Fox Show” doesn’t connect with NBC’s target audience, they might as well give up. Yes, the show could use a stronger lead-in but it pairs well with “Parenthood,” also returning tomorrow night, September 26, 2013, and it’s the most straight-up likable new sitcom of the season. The first episode is a bit rocky and overly self-referential but it settles in nicely over the next two and already looks like it could be on for years.

TV Review: James Caan Comes Home in ‘Back in the Game’

CHICAGO – From Archie Bunker to Frank Barone, TV has a long history of crotchety, irascible, borderline offensive fathers who really love their kids. To the long list, we can now add Terry Gannon (James Caan), the scene-stealer from ABC’s “Back in the Game,” premiering tonight, September 25, 2013 in a coveted time slot between the returns of “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • ThroatPunch

    CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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