With Olympics Over, What To Watch On TV?

The end of this year's Olympics signals a time of important decisions: Olympic athletes leave Vancouver wondering what's next in their careers, and the millions who watched them are wondering how they are we going to fill the void? Maureen Ryan, TV critic for the Chicago Tribune discusses what to watch now the Olympics are over.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The end of this year's Olympics signals a time of important decisions: Olympic athletes leave Vancouver wondering what's next in their illustrious careers, and the millions who watched them are wondering, how are we going to fill the void?

It happens every Olympics. Life revolves around the games and then poof, they vanish. Apolo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn and the entire hockey team are no longer there.

Well, NBC offered promo after promo for life after the Olympics.

(Soundbite of TV program, "The Marriage Ref")

Unidentified Man #1: Welcome to "The Marriage Ref."

Unidentified Man #2: To solve the world's marriage problems...

Unidentified Man #1: We're going to give couples the one thing they've always wanted: a winner.

Unidentified Woman: How did you make this happen? Double scoop?

Unidentified Man #3: Triple.

Unidentified Woman: Great pancakes.

Unidentified Man #4: I'm crowning.

(Soundbite of screaming)

Unidentified Man #5: OK.

Unidentified Man #6: Yep, we're ready.

"The Office" baby is due Thursday after the Olympics, on NBC.

BLOCK: Joining us to help Olympic couch potatoes through this trying time is Maureen Ryan, TV critic for the Chicago Tribune. She joins us via Skype.

Maureen, thanks for being with us.

Ms. MAUREEN RYAN (TV Critic, Chicago Tribune): Oh, I'm happy to. Thanks for having me.

BLOCK: And let's talk about some of those shows that we were just hearing promos for. "The Marriage Ref," this is an idea sprung from the brain of Jerry Seinfeld, I guess based on his own experience. How long do you think this is going to last?

Ms. RYAN: I don't know. I actually saw some people on Twitter last night, some other critics and TV writers wondering if maybe NBC would cancel it in progress - or maybe that was just wishful thinking on their part. I don't necessarily think that the concept was off, but the execution was very off.

It was - the concept is that couples have an argument about a particular subject, and then a celebrity panel judges their competing arguments and decides who's right.

BLOCK: And the judges, I think, are including, what, Madonna, Kelly Ripa...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RYAN: Right.

BLOCK: ...Jerry Seinfeld himself, of course.

Ms. RYAN: Various - yeah. And one of the things that was off-putting is that they thought they were hilarious. I did not think it was hilarious. And also, it just - the whole execution of the thing was just not particularly funny and actually, made me feel sad. And when it finally has its premiere in its regular time slot on Thursday, I'm just wondering if it's going to make people nostalgic for Jay Leno in prime time.

BLOCK: Hmm. So not too optimistic about "The Marriage Ref." What about other new shows that you think have more promise?

Ms. RYAN: Well, another NBC show that they are putting into the lineup as of Tuesday is "Parenthood," which is - they're trying to reboot this film, and then it was a TV series for a while sometime ago. And now, they're trying to do another TV show based on the film "Parenthood."

It has a good cast. I think some elements work better than others. I think Lauren Graham, from "Gilmore Girls," is outstanding.

But there are some really cool new offerings that I definitely would want to mention. And I think in terms of things that are getting me excited about the post-Olympic time frame in TV, the two shows I'm most excited about are "Justified," a new program on FX which premieres March 16th. And it stars Timothy Olyphant as a lawman in Kentucky. And it's really, really good. It really has tremendous dialogue, great performances, a lot of great - just elements cohere in the show, right from the beginning. I highly recommend it.

And then there's also "The Pacific" on HBO, as of March 14th. And that - if you saw "Band of Brothers" and you loved it, you absolutely cannot miss "The Pacific." It's an incredibly made saga of Marines fighting World War II in the Pacific. And it's one of the most well-done productions I've ever seen on TV. It's just - it's absolutely well-acted, well-performed. And just the stories that it presents are not only exciting, but they're also kind of heartbreaking in terms of watching these guys fight this very, very difficult war.

BLOCK: Maureen, I've also been wondering how long our national nightmare will have to continue? How long will we have to wait for "Glee" to come back on Fox?

Ms. RYAN: Thank you.

BLOCK: Yes.

Ms. RYAN: You're speaking my language.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RYAN: We're on the same page here. It's not coming back 'til April 13th.

BLOCK: Ugh.

Ms. RYAN: ...and you can get ready for a whole bunch of new "Glee" episodes, including one directed by, you know, cult favorite Joss Whedon.

Neil Patrick Harris is going to be in an episode. They're just going crazy when the show comes back.

And on top of that, the show's going to go on a four-city tour in May. It's going to swing through Chicago, Phoenix, L.A. and New York. So you could catch a live stage show with the cast if you want to, as well - if you're that much of a "Glee" fanatic.

BLOCK: I wouldn't confess if I were.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Yes, I would.

Ms. RYAN: Of course not.

BLOCK: Maureen Ryan, TV critic for the Chicago Tribune, thanks very much.

Ms. RYAN: Any time. Thank you so much.

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