James Poniewozik

James Poniewozik writes TIME magazine's Tuned In column, about pop culture and society. Tuned In, the blog version, is about the stuff we used to call "TV," whether it's in your living room, on your computer or - once the networks figure out the technology and line up the advertisers - in your dreams themselves.

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If You Can't Beat 'Em…: The WB, UPN Merge

Lorelai Gilmore, meet Chris Rock. Superman, this is your new neighbor, Smackdown!  The Big Four’s two baby-sibling networks, UPN and The WB, today announced plans to combine into a single supersib, The CW, to launch in September. (The WB is owned by TIME’s parent company, Time Warner; UPN, by CBS Corp.)

The new "fifth network," to be

Tuned In Tuned In

The West Wing: Time for the Republican to Win One

In politics,
you dump bad news at the weekend, and that was what NBC did with the expected
announcement that The West Wing will end after this season. The quality of the
often-sanctimonious drama has actually improved inversely with its ratings, the
show was invigorated by the campaign between Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) and Matt

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Lostwatch: The Doctor is In(sufferable)

SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses last night’s episode of Lost. If you haven’t gotten around to watching it, go to your TV immediately–walk off the job or leave your kids unattended if necessary–watch it and come back before reading further.

Last night on Lost we got out first extended look at one of the "Others" since the menacing

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American Idol Sings Itself

The amazing thing about American Idol is that it gets tens of millions of people to watch it two months before it really starts. It begins with the audition episodes-singer after deluded singer in city after deluded city-that lead into the Hollywood-audition episodes, and thence to the interminable semifinal rounds that will bring us,

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Everything the Oscars Should Be, And Less

Why are the acceptance speeches better at the Golden Globes than at the Oscars or Emmys? Are the pressures lower? The winners cleverer? The stars drunker? I don’t know, but upon winning Best Actress in a TV Drama, Geena Davis told a touching story about a little girl telling her that the show had inspired her to be President, only to

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24 Gets to Know Jack

The review disc of the first four episodes of this season’s 24 (debuts Sunday, 8 p.m. E.T.) comes with a message from Fox, in bold and underlined: "Do not divulge to your readers the events of the first 10 minutes in the first hour." Given that 24 is a serial show, that makes it kinda impossible to tell you anything about what happens in

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Lostwatch: Time to Drag In the Magic Puff

Last night, Lost returned, after a hiatus of—what was it, five, six years?—and came through on one of the promises of the producers to resolve some of the show’s tantalyzing questions: we finally saw the monster. Kind of. On an excursion into the island’s jungle, rocker-cum-junkie Charlie and African enigma Mr. Eko heard the by now …

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Can iTunes Save SNL?

For years, Saturday Night Live viewers have been like dogs licking the bottom of an empty dish, in the wistful, futile memory of the delicious dinner that used to be in there. Once in a while, there would be a brief reward: a good Weekend Update segment, an Ashlee Simpson meltdown. But as in a substandard dog food, the meat-to-filler

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American Koppel: Ted Jumps to Cable

The Discovery Channel, your go-to cable channel for middlebrow documentaries, Monster Garage, I Shouldn’t Be Alive, American Chopper and finer motorcycle-custom-shop-based reality shows, is the new employer of former Nightline host Ted Koppel. A press release issued this morning says the home of MythBusters has hired Koppel — along

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Many Happy Returns: My Other 10-Best List

The dirty secret of my annual top 10 TV shows list is that it is not  really a top 10 TV shows list. Like TIME TV critics before me, I  concentrate on new shows and series, on the theory that a list of the
straight-out best shows would include, say, Lost or South Park every  year, and thus be insufferably boring. Not too boring for a

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Live from Iraq: It's the Saddam Show

The trial of Saddam Hussein is as much about the appearance as the execution of justice; as important as bringing a former tyrant to account is saying, Look, this is how we do it in a democracy. As the trial has returned to session, the audience watching on TV sets across Iraq is getting a taste of American-style justice, all right. We

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