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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Breaking Bad finale may rank as the greatest achievement in our modern Golden Age of Television

Bryan Cranston nailed the role of a lifetime as Breaking Bad's teacher-turned-crime lord, Walter White.

AMC

Bryan Cranston nailed the role of a lifetime as Breaking Bad's teacher-turned-crime lord, Walter White.

That’s how you end a series.

No unexpected stops, hanging storylines or ambiguous resolutions; Sunday’s finale of AMC’s amazingly high-quality drama Breaking Bad resolved the tragic story of Walter White with an ending many expected, delivered in a most unexpected way.Full Story

As Breaking Bad's finale looms Sunday, one question remains: Who dies in the end?

Bryan Cranston as Walter White (left) and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on AMC's blockbuster series Breaking Bad.

AMC

Bryan Cranston as Walter White (left) and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on AMC's blockbuster series Breaking Bad.

As Breaking Bad steams toward the best finale season of any drama in modern TV history Sunday, it’s the one question fans are gathered in bars debating ad infinitum:

Who is going to die in the end?Full Story

My fall TV adventure: Grading the new shows for NPR and EMMY magazine

NBC's Ironside remake, debuting next week, embodies the best and worst trends of the fall TV season.

NBC

NBC's Ironside remake, debuting next week, embodies the best and worst trends of the fall TV season.

 

With just a few days left until I leave this space for good -- I'm headed to work at NPR as their TV critic on Monday -- I managed to sneak in one last freelance commentary for public radio in a conversation with All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel about the fall TV season.

The discussion, which included me cracking on Blair Underwood's disappointing Ironside remake, reminded me of a poll I filled out for EMMY magazine weeks ago about the fall season. Since EMMY's stories are usually hidden behind a paywall, I figured it might be fun to post my analysis here -- in the magazine, it will appear alongside answers from a bunch of other respected TV critics.

So check out my reaction here -- they're remarkable consistent with how I feel today, despite the fact that I wrote them months ago.Full Story

Florida native, ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader advances on NBC's The Voice

Florida singer Donna Allen wows two judges on NBC's The Voice.

NBC

Florida singer Donna Allen wows two judges on NBC's The Voice.

 

Tampa Bay area fans of The Voice now have a Florida singer to support.

Donna Allen, a native of Key West who grew up in Tampa and was once a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, stunned two of the judges in NBC’s Emmy-winning singing competition in an episode aired Monday.

Pop diva Christine Aguilera and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine both turned their chairs around during Allen’s performance of You Are So Beautiful – a rendition of the ballad she delivered in the style of blue-eyed soul singer Joe Cocker.

Full Story

Finale for Showtime's Dexter Sunday only highlighted every reason why show needed to end now

Dexter's finale Sunday exposed all the series' flaws in one package.

Showtime

Dexter's finale Sunday exposed all the series' flaws in one package.

This is what happens to TV shows which stay too long at the party.

Sunday’s finale for Dexter highlighted every problem that has turned this drama about a serial killers of killers from Showtime’s crown jewel to a series well past its sell-by date.Full Story

Billy Cobham's Spectrum 40 band delights eager jazz fans at the Palladium Theater Friday

Jazz drumming icon Billy Cobham in rehearsal at the Palladium Theater Thursday.

Tampa Bay Times

Jazz drumming icon Billy Cobham in rehearsal at the Palladium Theater Thursday.

Sometimes, being a contemporary jazz fan in Tampa Bay area can feel like wandering in the desert like a nomad.

Appearances by ace, big-name players are rare; a sign of how much the genre struggles locally, despite the passionate support of a devoted fan base.

All of this helps explain why drummer Billy Cobham and his band received a hero’s welcome when they touched down at the Palladium Theater Friday for a powerhouse performance of tunes from his landmark Spectrum album – now 40 years old.Full Story

Forget the Emmys: Here's the last Tampa Bay Times edition of the Deggys

Neal Patrick Harris hosts the Emmys, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

CBS

Neal Patrick Harris hosts the Emmys, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

This is a bittersweet moment; my last edition of the Deggys for the Tampa Bay Times.

As you may already know, I’m leaving the newspaper in October to become NPR’s TV critic. And who knows if the home of Nina Totenberg and Carl Kasell would ever let me present my own pronouncements on who really would take TV’s top honor if you could eliminate celebrity worship, fixation on past success and Hollywood’s passion for superficiality from the mix.Full Story

Questions about race and media? See my final book signing as Times TV/Media Critic Friday at The Club in Treasure Island

Eric Deggans

Why did CBS take so long to reveal racist comments made by white participants inside the house-like set of its reality TV show Big Brother? And why have TV viewers, even now, only seen comments made by one person when several others did the same?

Why are efforts to compare the murder of Australian baseball player Chris Lane by three teens – one black, one bi-racial and one white – to George Zimmerman’s shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin ultimately unfair and inaccurate?

Why did the election of America’s first non-white president create more conversation about race difference, prejudice and stereotypes than less? And why are some people so angry about that?

If you have wondered about the answers to these questions or similar ones, I urge you to join me at 5:30 p.m. Friday (tomorrow) for a discussion and signing of my book, Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.  …

Full Story

As Survivor returns tonight, Tampa couple Brad and Monica Culpepper admit they almost didn't join Blood vs. Water season

Monica Culpepper appeared on Survivor: One World last year.

Monica Culpepper appeared on Survivor: One World last year.

The call, when it came, reached Monica Culpepper as she was hiking with her family in Arizona.

She looked down to see the Los Angeles area code, and hit "delete."

Survivor had come calling. Again. And she wasn't interested.Full Story

The good news and bad news about AMC's decision to stretch Mad Men's finale over 2014 and 2015

The series finale for Mad Men will come in 14 episodes evenly aired in 2014 and 2015.

AMC

The series finale for Mad Men will come in 14 episodes evenly aired in 2014 and 2015.

You can tell a lot about a TV channel by the scheduling moves it makes.

Which is why news today that AMC decided to split the final season of its landmark drama Mad Men into two, seven-episode chunks airing in 2014 and 2015 smells a little bit like desperation.Full Story

My NPR adventure: Talking Fall TV, from the low of Fox's Dads to the highs of Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine debuts at 8:30 tonight on Fox.

Fox

Brooklyn Nine-Nine debuts at 8:30 tonight on Fox.

One of the most fun elements of my work with NPR has been recording what we call “2 ways” – or the slightly structured conversations with show anchors centered on a certain subject.

On Monday, NPR aired a 2 way between me and Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, in which we had loads of fun talking about the start of network TV’s fall season and one of its particularly disappointing trends: the crotchety, dysfunctional older parent.Full Story

Ending Bad: Why isn't Showtime's Dexter finishing with the same quality as AMC's Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad's Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston, left) seems to be getting a better end off than Michael C. Hall's Dexter Morgan.

AMC/Showtime

Breaking Bad's Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston, left) seems to be getting a better end off than Michael C. Hall's Dexter Morgan.

One show is ending its series run with a blitzkrieg of taut episodes in which characters are changed forever, and another seems to be running in place toward its finale, limping toward an ending which doesn’t feel particularly high stakes despite its finality.

Which begs an important, TV-centered question: Why does Breaking Bad’s series finale feel so much bigger, entertaining and well done than the approaching end of Dexter?Full Story

My last Tampa Bay Times Fall TV preview: Watching the networks try to copy the cool kids of television

No Instagram photo can capture the coolness of this year's fall TV preview in Sunday Latitudes - so pick it up!

Tampa Bay Times/Brittany Volk

No Instagram photo can capture the coolness of this year's fall TV preview in Sunday Latitudes - so pick it up!

It's not often you get to write this in our modern media age, but you really need to pickup the physical, newsprint copy of today's Tampa Bay Times to appreciate the fun, cool flavor of our latest Fall TV Preview.Full Story

Fox's Dads tops my list of the Four Worst New Fall TV Shows

Brenda Song plays a video game company staffer pressured to dress like a sexy schoolgirl to impress clients in Fox TV's heavily-criticized new show, Dads.

Fox

Brenda Song plays a video game company staffer pressured to dress like a sexy schoolgirl to impress clients in Fox TV's heavily-criticized new show, Dads.

If someone told you that something you created was derivative, hokey, borderline racist and blithely sexist, how would you respond?

The Fox network and the minds behind their new sitcom Dads reacted to critics’ almost universal thrashing of the new comedy in a novel new way – by pretending that the caustic reviews are a badge of honor.Full Story

Eric Deggans joins George Foster Peabody Awards Board

The Peabody Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in electronic media.

PeabodyAwards.ocm

The Peabody Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in electronic media.

The University of Georgia has included me among three new members added to the George Foster Peabody Awards Board, the group which selects one of the most prestigious honors in electronic media.Full Story