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NBC has a good new drama ('Crisis')

While on a school field trip, a bus

(Credit: Vivian Zink / NBC)

NBC has a good new drama: How many times have you read those words anywhere over the last year? Even though "The Blacklist" was certainly good, and "Hannibal" has emerged as the real deal, and -- hey! -- a lot of people even liked the launch of "Believe" last Sunday (myself included), the network has been scratching to get back in the elite drama game, with mixed results.

But Sunday has a...

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'Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon': So far, so very good

Jerry Seinfeld visited "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy

(Credit: Getty Images / Theo Wargo)

Exactly two weeks in, how's the most important, pivotal and historic programming move of the year - of many years - going so far, referring here of course to "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"? On the most basic level of them all -- numbers -- almost amazingly well. Thanks to DVR, or time-shifted viewing -- which has essentially become the coin of the realm in late night, making late night TV essentially "watching-the-next-day-during-your-coffee-break" TV -- the show boosted total viewership by 2,000,000 viewers for the first week. That makes for a total of 10.4 million, or the most for one week since Johnny Carson's last week in May of 1992 (just under 20 million -- so, no contest, of course).  And here's the clincher: The average age of that audience is just under 53 years of age, or a drop of around six to seven years in age from Jay's show. Keep in mind -- NBC engineered this whole business as a mean of reversing "Tonight's" graying audience.

  But from a critical perspective, how is this show doing? There's nothing here that suggests I should change my initial impression -- a positive one -- except that maybe I might offer an even more positive spin at this point: This has been an excellent two weeks for Fallon on the air. Sure, the "interviews" often seem more like rolling kaffeeklatsches absent substance, but with plenty of laughs and non sequiturs (the rambling on about the "Rocky" franchise with Paul Rudd, for example). But get past those -- and they do tend to be amusing -- and you have yourself a revitalized, enjoyable, and surprisingly smart new "Tonight."  Fallon's monologues -- of all things! -- have been one of the strong points: Effortless, funny, roll-with-the-punches and smart. Fans knew all along he could nail this show, but the new monologues-on-steroids strategy was certainly something to be concerned about. (Fallon is a fine performer, but he's not a joke machine.) But he's nailed that too.

  Meanwhile, the embedded comedy -- for want of a better term -- has been a standout as well. Here is one example: Last night's "Wastepaper Basketball with LeBron James." Not quite comedy, but a catchy interlude nevertheless. 

 

'Heroes' is reborn as 'Heroes: Reborn'

Hayden Panettiere may or may not return to

(Credit: Getty Images)

Reasonably insanely big news for all fans of "Heroes:" In a word (or two), it's back. But the even bigger news: It's back with Tim Kring at the helm. A 13-episode "standalone" series arrives in 2015. (Yes, that's next year...)

 NBC has announced that the promo, no doubt, will air on tonight's Olympics, and we can all finally wonder - at long last - whether a cheerleader will save the world. (On that note - no word about casting.) Of course this all seems part of a one-show trend - "24" is back in May. "Heroes" will have a chance to recapture some magic next year...

  The ever-so-slightly hyperbolic statement from the boss (but yes, it's still exciting news): 

"The enormous impact ‘Heroes’ had on the television landscape when it first launched in 2006 was eye-opening,” said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke. “Shows with that kind of resonance don’t come around often and we thought it was time for another installment. We’re thrilled that visionary creator Tim Kring was as excited about jumping back into this show as we were and we look forward to all the new textures and layers Tim plans to add to his original concept. Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.”

NBC newsman Garrick Utley dies at 74

Garrick Utley, the veteran NBC News correspondent, anchor

(Credit: AP)

Garrick Utley, the veteran NBC News correspondent, anchor and host of "Meet the Press," has died, NBC announced on its air Friday morning.

Below, the clip from the "Today" show, with which Utley was also long associated. Utley, as longtime viewers of network news will attest, was a deeply serious newsman (his parents were also correspondents for NBC News radio) who believed that television...

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