'60 Minutes' returns for its 50th season on Sunday

Posted 9/22/17

By Kevin McDonough

Where would cable television be without cold cases? In addition to bingeable series, social media has become a place for amateur detectives to pore over evidence and spread rumors about unsolved crimes. Sometimes in an …

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'60 Minutes' returns for its 50th season on Sunday


By Kevin McDonough

Where would cable television be without cold cases? In addition to bingeable series, social media has become a place for amateur detectives to pore over evidence and spread rumors about unsolved crimes. Sometimes in an obsessive fashion.

The six-part series "The Disappearance of Maura Murray" (8:15 p.m. Saturday, Oxygen) follows the case of a nursing student who vanished in New Hampshire on Feb. 9, 2004. Her disappearance spawned a cottage industry of blogs, books, websites and podcasts.

Investigative journalist Maggie Freleng examines the case's conflicting evidence as well as its surrounding media interest. Unlike many of the "experts" who have emerged on social media, Freleng gained access to Murray's family and friends, some who have not spoken to the press for the past 13 years.

"Disappearance" returns next Saturday, airing at 9 p.m.

How contagious is the obsession with this case? "What Happened to Maura Murray?" (8 p.m., ID, TV-PG) also airs on Saturday.

• How old is "60 Minutes" (7:30 p.m. Sunday, CBS)? Old enough to have its own AARP card. If shows were people, "60 Minutes" would have to schedule a colonoscopy! Fifty seasons represents a ripe number for anyone or anything. But for a television series, eight good years is a very healthy run. A half-century seems impossible.

To put it another way, I'm not so shocked that "60 Minutes" has entered its sixth decade. I'm more surprised that television itself is still alive and kicking. I'm not talking about dwindling ratings; I'm just comparing it to other broadcasting phenomena. Radio became a very big deal when it reported the results of the 1920 election. But by 1950, viewers (and, more importantly, advertisers) began to see TV as the dominant medium. That capped a 30-year reign on top for radio. Take the LP, or Long Playing, record album. It was introduced in the late 1940s and eclipsed by the CD in the late 1980s. That was a 40-year pop cultural run. Television was a good 20 years old when "60 Minutes" began, so the medium itself has been going for 70 years. That's incredible. There are fewer and fewer people who can remember life before television.

To look at "60 Minutes" in relative terms, we are as far away from its first broadcast as it was from 1919 and the end of World War I, the rise of Prohibition and the beginning of women's suffrage. Time flies.

When "60 Minutes" first aired, "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" was the most popular show on TV. The social and political tumult of the Tet Offensive and domestic political assassinations, covered on Sunday's installment of "The Vietnam War" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-MA, check local listings), were fresh in the air.

Tonight's "60 Minutes" embarks on its 50th season with a report on the increasing severity of hurricanes and threats to America's coastal cities from rising waters. Lesley Stahl interviews Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Oprah Winfrey examines the political divide in America.

As somebody who takes journalism seriously, I have my qualms about the place of Winfrey on any news broadcast. But I will reserve judgment and comment. It's never polite to start an argument at a birthday party.

• CBS revisits another institution from the 1960s with "Star Trek: Discovery" (8:30 p.m. Sunday, TV-14). A review screener has not been made available.

Viewers will be able to watch the season premiere of this newest incarnation of "Star Trek" on the broadcast network, but subsequent episodes will only be made available on the subscription streaming service CBS All Access.

• Fox ventures into true crime with "Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?" (8 p.m. Sunday, TV-14), examining the two-decade-old mysteries behind the murders of the two popular hip-hop artists in 1996 and 1997. Ice-T and Soledad O'Brien are your hosts.


College football action includes Mississippi State at Georgia (7 p.m., ESPN), Penn State at Iowa (7:30 p.m., ABC) and Notre Dame at Michigan State (8 p.m., Fox).

• Joey Lawrence stars in the 2017 shocker "Girl Followed" (8 p.m., Lifetime) about a cranky 14-year-old (Emma Fuhrmann) who falls into a seemingly innocent relationship with a much older man. What could go wrong?

• Gordon's daughter has a crisis at school on "Halt and Catch Fire" (9 p.m., AMC, TV-14).

"Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies" (9 p.m., CNN) recalls the hunt for a heroin trafficker with links to the Taliban.

• A white Bengal tiger requires a hysterectomy on the series premiere of "Animal ER: Code Red" (9 p.m., Nat Geo Wild, TV-14).


• Jamie fears his foe has become his warden on "Outlander" (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

• The Washington Redskins host the Oakland Raiders in "Sunday Night Football" (8:20 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

• Some things must be done delicately on "Fear the Walking Dead" (9 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).

• Vincent feels blindsided by a new partner on "The Deuce" (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).

• An old enemy returns on "The Last Ship" (9 p.m., TNT, TV-MA).

• Beverly confronts Carol with bad news on "Episodes" (10 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

• Cam proceeds from a new angle on "Survivor's Remorse" (10 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).


A petty officer will never swim with the SEALs on "NCIS: New Orleans" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * A two-hour "Dateline" (8 p.m., NBC) * Lewis' brother arrives on "Criminal Minds" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * "48 Hours" (9 p.m., CBS) * A repeat helping of "Saturday Night Live" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).


Politics and television collide in the strangest ways in the 1987 dystopian fantasy "The Running Man" (9 p.m. Sunday, Sundance), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.


U.S. Olympic athletes play "Celebrity Family Feud" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * A season ends for "Steve Harvey's Funderdome" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Sam goes rogue on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9:35 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * "The $100,000 Pyramid" ends its season (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14) * Fears for Henry's safety on "Madam Secretary" (10:35 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).

© 2017, United Feature Syndicate