Critic's Guide to Monday TV: Rock Center, Halloween Marathons, and More!
Rock Center with Brian Williams
The biggest TV news of the night comes from a network's news division, as NBC News launches Rock Center With Brian Williams (10/9c), the first high-profile network newsmagazine with serious intent to premiere in a long while, closer in tone to 60 Minutes than Dateline's lurid true-crime fixation. How serious is this? No less a legend than Ted Koppel has signed on as a contributor, though he wasn't on the initial first-night playlist. Top-rated Nightly News anchor Brian Williams hosts live from Studio 3B in Rockefeller Center, and the opening lineup includes a report on Syrian rebellion from star foreign correspondent Richard Engel, a Kate Snow investigation about Chinese women who come to America to give birth and return with U.S. citizenship, and former CBS anchor Harry Smith with a piece about "the one place in America with a negative unemployment rate."
No one's expecting blockbuster ratings, especially on Halloween night, but this project is more about prestige and credibility, and NBC is going to give it time. Besides, it's not as if they could do any worse in the time period.
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Boo! Halloween is a good excuse to get your freak on, and TV is happy to comply. Among the selected highlights: FX repeats the first four episodes of its stylishly berserk American Horror Story starting at 10/9c. ... MTV replays the entire 12-episode first season of its summer hit Teen Wolf (which turned out to be much better than expected) starting at 9 am/8c. ... Syfy goes wall-to-wall with Ghost Hunters, capping a daylong marathon (starting at 8 am/7c) with a six-hour live extravaganza (starting at 7/6c). ... AMC fills the day and night with various installments of the Halloween movie franchise, but the best is still the first, the 1978 classic (8/7c). ... TCM saves its creepiest classics for the witching hour of midnight, with the brilliant The Innocents, a 1961 adaptation of "The Turn of the Screw" starring Deborah Kerr, at 12:15 am/11:15c, followed by the equally chilling The Haunting (2 am/1c) from 1963, based on Shirley Jackson's masterpiece "The Haunting of Hill House."
Episodic TV is also taking note of Halloween, most notably on CBS, where How I Met Your Mother (8/7c) finally reveals the identity of the "Slutty Pumpkin" mystery girl, played by Katie Holmes. ... Mike & Molly (9:31/8:31c) go to a Halloween party at her boss's house, despite Mike's aversion to the holiday. ... Freddy's back! Robert Englund, anyway, from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, guesting as a drifter who puts a curse on Danny on Hawaii Five-0 (10/9c).
We don't usually recommend turning to PBS for laughs, but Will Ferrell: The Mark Twain Prize (check local schedules) finds the Saturday Night Live funnyman-turned-movie star following in Tina Fey's footsteps, receiving the coveted prize for American humor. Among those paying wry tribute: Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Conan O'Brien and Ben Stiller.
Speaking of Conan, his TBS talk show (11/10c) kicks off a week of New York broadcasts by welcoming his NBC replacement, Jimmy Fallon. Who says there's no civility in late night?
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