Eric Deggans

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When the real world is as crazy as five Saturday Night Live skits, the bar raises to an absurd height for the quality of satire you need to make sense of it all.

Which explains, in part, why SNL's 46th season opener last night felt so flat and uninspired. After the kind of week President Trump had in real life – contracting the coronavirus and getting airlifted to a hospital days after making fun of opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask – there wasn't much Alec Baldwin could do to top that.

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The anthology TV series "Fargo" returns for a fourth season on FX on Sunday. Again this year, it has a whole new story and a whole new cast, including Chris Rock. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the comedian has arrived as a dramatic actor.

Like everything else, the ongoing pandemic and the nation's civil rights reckoning has completely upended this year's Emmy awards.

And it may be the best thing that has happened for the contest in quite a while.

Most years — held back by groupthink, star worship and Hollywood's unending popularity contests — the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences overlooks quite a lot in its nominees for TV's ultimate awards, the Emmys.

Which is why, years ago, I created my own TV honors, called the Deggys.

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Watch actor Sterling K. Brown, and one of the first things you may notice is his eyes.

In a scene from the last season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Brown plays Reggie, a hard-nosed manager who fires comic Midge Maisel from the opening spot of a major tour.

As Reggie explains his reasons in an emotional speech, tears well up in his eyes. His language is rough, but his eyes reveal something more: He's feeling guilty and defensive.

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Let's talk now about talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who has built her show around being welcoming. Have a listen. This is from her acceptance speech for Favorite Daytime TV Host at the People's Choice Awards.

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Finally today, Beyonce's long-awaited visual album "Black Is King" dropped yesterday on the Disney Plus streaming service. It includes a song Beyonce released earlier as a music video called "Already."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALREADY")

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For a guy who has spent more than 35 years handing out answers as host of the popular TV quiz show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek holds back a lot of them in his new memoir, ironically titled The Answer Is ...: Reflections on My Life.

TV Review: 'P-Valley'

Jul 12, 2020

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Since 1989, Cops has made riveting television from verité footage of arrests and emergency calls — often capturing scenes of police interacting with clueless suspects — filmed by riding along with police officers.

But the long-running unscripted show has been canceled after 32 seasons. The Paramount Network dropped it amid widespread protests nationwide about policing.

The show's 33rd season was scheduled to debut next Monday.

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I nearly lost it when the number dropped from 50 to 10.

My mother's church pastor tried to be steady and consoling, but I could hear the emotion at the edges of his voice. His news: Instead of the 50 mourners we hoped to host, just 10 people would be allowed to attend her funeral on March 28, courtesy of the latest social distancing requirements laid down by state and local officials. Including church staff.

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Last night, Lizzo won Entertainer of the Year honors at the 51st NAACP Image Awards. And her acceptance speech sounded a bit like the mission statement for the whole show.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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The "Breaking Bad" spinoff "Better Call Saul" is back for a new season in a two-night event on Sunday and Monday. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the show and its portrait of lawyer Jimmy McGill has stayed sharp, cinematic and tragic.

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The man behind some of the landmark television shows of the '70s and '80s has died. Fred Silverman was the network executive who gave the green light to...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVIN' ON UP")

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon has been a devoted Star Trek fan since he was 10 years old — but when people ask whether it's a "dream come true" to be a showrunner and executive producer on Star Trek: Picard he says no.

"I say 'no' because I never would have had the ... chutzpah to dream that," Chabon says. "I would have been happy just shaking Patrick Stewart's hand and telling him how much I loved him on Star Trek. But to be able to actually write words that he will speak and act? It's incredible."

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HBO's latest prestige mini-series is a TV version of a Stephen King novel, "The Outsider." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says this series, which debuts on Sunday, takes a dark subject and makes it darker.

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