TV critic at The New York Times. Also, the occasional film. Theater too.

Review: ‘The Last Alaskans,’ a New Animal Planet Series — The word "Alaska" or a variant of it in a reality-show title sets you up for low expectations. "The Last Alaskans," an affecting series that begins Monday on Animal Planet, defies quite a few of them. Where Alaska-based shows about truckers, pilots, gold miners, fishermen or survival-competition yahoos tend to be characterized by humans-against-nature bravura, this one thrives on sensitivity and solitude.

Review: ‘Texas Rising,’ a Mini-Series on Alamo Aftermath With Dialogue to Forget — A lot of the heroes of the Texas Revolution died at the Alamo, including, apparently, most of the interesting ones. "Texas Rising," a mini-series that begins Monday night on the History channel, is inspired by events after Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna wiped out Davy Crockett, James Bowie and practically everyone else at the Alamo in 1836.

Review: In ‘Poltergeist,’ They’re Baaack, With GPS and Flat Screens — The new "Poltergeist" might well be the scariest movie 13-or-unders have yet seen, just as the original was for their parents back in 1982. Those parents might find it an enjoyable trip down memory lane, even if they do now recognize it as largely a well-served collection of horror-movie tropes.

Review: ‘500 Questions’ (No. 501: What’s a Certified Genius?) — I have an idea for a new game show: "500 Things That Are More Interesting Than ABC's '500 Questions.' " It wouldn't be a very taxing game. All you'd have to do would be to name 500 things. Any 500 things. Waiting for a bus. Rewatching a season of "Survivor."

Review: ‘Sunshine Superman,’ About the High-Flying Daredevil Carl Boenish — Glorious daredevilry is wrapped in a slowly evolving ache in "Sunshine Superman," a bittersweet documentary about Carl Boenish, who looked at very tall things and saw an opportunity to leap. Boenish was largely responsible for creating the sport (or reckless activity, or excuse for criminal trespassing, depending on your point of view) of BASE jumping.

Review: In ‘Something Better to Come,’ Growing Up in a Garbage Dump — Approach " Something Better to Come " with the same patience that the filmmaker exhibited in shooting it and you'll be rewarded. That is, if your definition of "rewarded" includes being dismayed by the bleakness that exists on the edges of prosperity.

Your Tired, Your Poor and Your Xenophobes at a Rebuilt and Re-Envisioned Ellis Island — The people who most love Ellis Island are used to nearly impossible tasks. In 1982, when they took up the challenge of making something out of the site, its long-abandoned historic buildings were in a state of dereliction hard to imagine today.

Review: ‘One Hand Clapping,’ a Darkly Comic Story of Consumerism — Probing the shallow consumerism of the 1950s and '60s has been a popular pastime of late, but "One Hand Clapping," at 59E59 Theaters, reminds us that the "Mad Men" culture was mocked practically before it had even fully materialized.

‘Bob’s Burgers,’ After Five Seasons, Remains a Reliable Meal — Everybody has a go-to restaurant. It's probably not the best one around or the trendiest, but it's the place you can count on to give you a decent meal cordially served. Everybody has a television show like that, too - reliably good, visit after visit.

Review: ‘Our Man in Tehran’ Recounts Iran Hostage Crisis Escape — It made a darn good Hollywood movie, and the story of how the Canadian ambassador and others helped six American Embassy workers escape Iran in 1980 also makes a pretty watchable documentary. It's called " Our Man in Tehran," and if it doesn't have the slickness of Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning version of events, "Argo," it can claim authenticity.
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May 21, 2015

RT @kzjuliemack: Super fun video of K'zoo middle school parents singing Geromino at kids concert…

May 20, 2015

Email subject line of the day (their caps): Discovery Life Channel Reveals True Story of THE MAN WITH NO PENIS

May 18, 2015

@BarbaraFicarra We stood in the start chute for half an hour as rain started. Then lightning. Then cancellation. Never ran a step.

May 18, 2015

RT @dloehr: @HESherman DAWN OF A SALESMAN, then DAY OF A SALESMAN, plus ripoff THE WALKING SALESMEN #BroadwaySequels

May 18, 2015

Ran 6 today. My time per mile didn't vary by more than 8 seconds. Geez; I knew I was boring, but I didn't think I was THAT boring. #running

May 15, 2015

@chrisvognar Thx. Others disliked the movie more than I did, but I admit to being a big Queen Latifah fan.

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