Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

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Ask James Franco why a movie star might want to work in TV, and he won't mention a television show. He'll talk about a book.

Turns out, like a lot of TV nerds, Franco geeked out over the book Difficult Men, a detailed look at how the creators and showrunners of classic "quality TV" series like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Wire shaped the shows that built the foundation for modern TV drama.

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Before we get too far into 2016, it's worth taking one more look at what happened to media in the year that just ended. To paraphrase the old saying, ignorance of history dooms you to repeat it. And some of what happened in media in 2015, we really want to avoid repeating.

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans spoke to Carrie Kahn on Weekend Edition Sunday about the plethora of television available on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, and you can hear that conversation at the top of the page. Eric has, however, picked 12 shows that rose above the rest for this year-end wrap.

You may see a lot of teeth-gnashing from critics in year-end pieces lamenting how the flood of TV shows this year undermines the industry and makes picking out the best stuff of 2015 nearly impossible.

Don't believe it.

As the pilot episode for ABC's counter terrorism drama Quantico begins, one of the biggest stars in Bollywood is lying in the ruins of a bomb blast.

It's Priyanka Chopra, and she's playing Alex Parrish, an FBI trainee falsely accused of setting off the explosion. She's also making history as the first South Asian woman to play the lead in a network TV drama.

"The bomber knew exactly what they were doing," Chopra says as Parrish in a later episode. "They framed the brown girl."

As I watched each episode of the second season of Amazon's Transparent, the same question kept popping into my mind: Are the Pfeffermans the most dysfunctional family now on television?

The first episode of the new season begins with an awkward wedding photo. The family has gathered for eldest daughter Sarah's marriage to her lesbian partner. But the show's lead character, Jeffrey Tambor's transgender academic Maura Pfefferman, has a problem: Her homophobic sister is in the audience.

When NBC first considered bringing The Wiz Live! to television, the network couldn't have known how much America would need to see this.

At a time when the country is reeling from mass shootings, protests over police killing black teens, and presidential candidates railing against immigrants and refugees, there is no better time to experience a soothing, expertly executed celebration of family, friendship and black culture.

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Tonight, ABC will celebrate the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," one of the most successful animated Christmas specials in TV history.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE")

They won't actually get to host Saturday Night Live, but four GOP candidates have completed agreements with NBC allowing them to broadcast campaign messages on affiliate stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend.

These deals resulted from "equal time" requests made after leading GOP candidate Donald Trump guest-hosted Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7.

SPOILER ALERT: This column discusses events from Sunday's Walking Dead episode. Read with care if you haven't already seen the show.

It was the biggest head fake in recent television history.

Fans of The Walking Dead Sunday finally got an answer to the question that had been on their lips since late October, when long-running character Glenn Rhee was shown tumbling into a crowd of flesh-eating undead from the top of a dumpster with a hapless friend who had just shot himself.

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This next story comes with a huge spoiler alert for fans of "Scandal." I repeat - spoiler alert. Got it, "Scandal" watchers? You've been warned.

Marvel's Jessica Jones, a powerful Netflix series debuting today, is about a broken ex-superhero. She seems like every other angsty crime fighter on film and TV, until you learn why she's so wracked with PTSD she drinks herself into a stupor most nights.

SPOILER ALERT: Be warned that this post discusses details from Thursday's winter finale of ABC's drama Scandal.

ABC's buzzed-about drama Scandal dropped a bombshell episode Thursday, seeming to show lead character Olivia Pope secretly ending a pregnancy she may have had with her lover, President Fitzgerald Grant.

Earlier in the episode another character, former First Lady Mellie Grant – now divorced and the junior Senator from Virginia – filibustered a spending bill which might have helped Congress curb funding to Planned Parenthood.

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First there was "Chicago Fire," then "Chicago P.D." Last night came "Chicago Med." Chicago is taking over your TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Six weeks into the new fall TV season, and I'm typing a sentence I never expected to write as a professional TV critic: ABC's Dr. Ken is one of the most successful new sitcoms on TV this fall.

And it managed that feat thanks to scenes like this one — featuring the wife of Ken Jeong's character, Dr. Ken Park, asking her husband to handle a problem with their credit card.

"I need you to actually take care of it," Allison Park says.

"Why wouldn't I?" says Jeong's Dr. Ken, indignantly.

It's the moment fans of the horror comedy franchise Evil Dead have waited decades to see.

Starz's TV series, Ash vs Evil Dead, begins with a bracing blast of classic rock — Deep Purple's psychedelic anthem Space Truckin' — and the disquieting sight of star Bruce Campbell squeezing his midriff into a massive, leather corset.

That moment says everything about Campbell's character Ash Williams, a vain, aging low-rent ladies man whose only talent is killing zombie-like demons known as Deadites.

WARNING: The column contains numerous spoilers regarding Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead and how it connects to events in the graphic novel. If you wish to remain in the dark — and have somehow avoided the online explosion of fan anguish until now — be warned that this piece will discuss lots of details from Sunday's show.

It was the death some fans of The Walking Dead had been anticipating for a long time. It just didn't come in the way that we expected. If it actually happened at all.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: Ari, look up in the sky.

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What? It's a bird.

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And now it's time to play the music.

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It's time to light the lights.

SHAPIRO: It's time to meet the Muppets...

MCEVERS: ...On "The Muppet Show" tonight.

One of the most painful ironies of the TV business is the way short term business needs force action that makes no sense in the long run.

Consider this week's start of the fall TV season. There's a heap of brand new programs coming to the networks just as broadcasters face more competition than ever from shows on cable and online. This means there's never been a greater need for ambitious, groundbreaking material to prove the broadcast networks haven't become the buggy whips of the media business.

In a year when more than 400 series will air on various television-like platforms, why should anyone still care about Sunday night's Emmy Awards?

The short answer: It's still the biggest honor in TV, handed out by the very people who make all the stuff we're watching on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and big-screen monitors.

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