Shows set in past, future can illuminate present – if they dare (TV commentary)

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Awhile back, I engaged in a chicken-or-egg-style argument with a co-worker about mid-20th-century civil rights legislation: Were the laws piggybacking on public sentiment, or did they shape public sentiment? The more I think about it, neither extreme is correct. Many citizens were ahead of the law (they believed blacks and whites should have equal rights, and hoped someday that laws would reflect that) and many other citizens were behind the law (once legislation was in place, they accepted that people should be treated equally). Simply put, law is not the sole cause of behavior, but nor is it irrelevant in shaping behavior.

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Fall TV preview: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and 7 other shows worth checking out (Commentary)

Well, that came upon us in a hurry. Perhaps because there aren’t any major new shows to get excited about, the Fall 2013 TV season snuck up on me rather quickly this year. But while this is the thinnest lineup of new network shows (and returning shows for that matter, after last season’s cancellation spree) in at least 20 years, it’s not time to throw out your TV yet. Here are four new shows worth a peek (all times Central):

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John’s 10 favorite TV characters at the moment (Commentary)

As the 2012-13 season winds down, here are my top 10 TV characters, some of whom will be featured in season finales this month, and some of whom have already bid adieu for the summer:

10. Michelle Simms (Sutton Foster), “Bunheads” — Despite (or perhaps due to) coming from a theatrical background, Foster has joined “Gilmore Girls’ “ Lauren Graham in the exclusive club of leading ladies who can handle Amy Sherman-Palladino’s dialogue while also developing a character.

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First episode impressions: ‘The Carrie Diaries’ (TV review)

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My approach to reviewing “The Carrie Diaries” (7 p.m. Central Mondays on The CW) will be different from most since I’ve never seen a single episode of “Sex and the City.” Granted, these voiceover-laden early adventures of Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb), based on Candace Bushnell’s books, are not intended to dovetail perfectly with the established mythology (similar to “Smallville’s” relationship with prior “Superman” works), but most viewers will be thinking of Sarah Jessica Parker’s portrayal and seeing this as a prequel anyway.

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