Eric Deggans

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"Master Of None" returns on Sunday. It's an Emmy-winning series by Netflix. The third season centers on a character played by Lena Waithe, who's also the writer and producer. Our TV critic Eric Deggans says this is a change in focus with an off-screen backstory.

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Watching Elon Musk slouch his way through a stint hosting NBC's Saturday Night Live, I had one thought: Lorne Michaels, gentleman provocateur, has done it again.

Michaels, the sketch show's longtime executive producer and guru, does many things well. But his talent for poking the zeitgeist with attention-getting hosting choices may be one of his least appreciated talents — and his secret weapon for keeping SNL in the national conversation.

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It was this announcement that deflated a three-hour-plus broadcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: And the Academy Award for actor goes to Anthony Hopkins, "The Father."

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Nearly 140 documentary filmmakers have signed onto a letter given to PBS executives, suggesting the service may provide an unfair level of support to white creators, facing a "systemic failure to fulfill (its) mandate for a diversity of voices."

Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, Zack Snyder's Justice League is just over four hours long.

Four. Hours. Long.

Yet, somehow, it feels like the right length for a film that has moved mountains — and reportedly spent around $70 million beyond its original, blockbuster budget — to reinvent one of the biggest superhero movie bombs in recent memory.

And here's the thing: It actually succeeds. In more ways than I ever expected.

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OK, be honest. When I say craft beer, what comes to mind? A hoppy IPA? Sure. But maybe also, as James Bennett II writes in the digital magazine Eater, a, quote, "white guy swilling beer in specialty stemware in an authentic bar riddled with fugazi bullets in a gentrified neighborhood," unquote. And maybe we'll throw in some plaid shirts and beards along with that.

My first thought, when I heard about HBO's docuseries Allen v. Farrow, was that this moment was inevitable.

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Rap duo Salt-N-Pepa were hit machines in the 1980s and '90s with huge songs like "Let's Talk About Sex," their collaboration with En Vogue, "Whatta Man," and "Push It."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUSH IT")

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Something significant shifted in media this year — and it's not just about the pandemic keeping us inside, glued to screens. It's all due to a simple idea: cater to the will of the consumer.

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Pixar's newest movie, "Soul," was originally intended for theaters. But due to the pandemic, Disney released the animated film on Disney+ on Christmas. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says that's good news for families looking for an uplifting holiday diversion.

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HBO is out with its adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates' best-selling book "Between The World And Me." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it's a story of Black survival within white supremacy.

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The new season of Netflix's drama about England's royal family, "The Crown," drops today. In it, Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher and Emma Corrin is Princess Diana. Here's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans.

Finally, after weeks of new episodes that felt like awkward dress rehearsals for a funnier show we never got to see, Saturday Night Live delivered a performance that met the moment.

But it didn't come from the place you might expect.

True enough, news that media organizations officially projected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as America's next president and vice president lent a giddy energy to a show that, this season, often seemed unsure of what to say about all the real-life absurdity at hand.

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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.

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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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