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2021’s Notable Moments on TV: Capitol Riot, ‘Rust’ Bullet, Shatner in Space and Meghan’s Bombshell

If a yr could be accused of bait-and-switch, 2021 is honest recreation. It was cheap to imagine, or hope, that the pandemic would steadily recede within the rear-view mirror, {that a} White House transition would possibly imply much less political rancor, that America might honorably finish its “endlessly struggle” in Afghanistan.

Television, which helped form our expectations, was there to witness them being upended. It additionally was our window when racism met its match in court docket; when the “Star Wars” franchise proved its enduring energy and Oprah Winfrey did the identical; Capt. Kirk soared into area, and a film manufacturing turned lethal.

Here are a number of the yr’s defining TV moments from the attitude of The Associated Press’ tv and media writers.


Every 4 years, Congress’ certification of the presidential electoral vote is so routine it barely deserves a footnote within the media. Not this yr. Egged on by soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, a crowd of indignant demonstrators demanding that the counting be stopped surrounded the US Capitol on January 6 and broke into the constructing.

Rioters attempt to break by a police barrier on the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Egged on by soon-to-be former President Donald Trump, a crowd of demonstrators demanded that the electoral vote counting be stopped. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Lawmakers scattered, police have been crushed and a girl was shot as she tried to climb by a window that led to the House ground. At first, photographs captured the horror largely from a distance. But numerous cameras have been watching — together with these held by rioters — and because the days, weeks and months glided by, new video emerged giving a recent have a look at what occurred.


Hollywood make-believe has turned lethal earlier than. But on the set of Rust in October it was a well known actor, Alec Baldwin, who held the vintage gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

This aerial photograph reveals the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe on October 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed on the ranch on October 21, killing the cinematographer, officers stated. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The first wave of frenzied media protection targeted on pictures, together with one in all Baldwin doubled over in anguished response to Hutchins’ dying and one other, undated, of armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed placing a pose with two weapons in hand. But it was a snapshot posted by Hutchins’ husband that conveyed the wrenching loss: In it, a relaxed, sunlit Hutchins stands with one arm wrapped round her younger son, the opposite raised to the brim of a jaunty hat.


America’s two-decade struggle and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, which value 1000’s of US and Afghan lives and billions of {dollars}, resulted in chaos and extra dying in August. As the remaining American troops have been evacuated and people who had aided them desperately sought a manner out, there have been flashbacks to the autumn of Saigon in 1975.

Afghan residents pack inside a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, as they’re transported from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, on August 15, 2021. (Capt. Chris Herbert/U.S. Air Force by way of AP, File)

Then, US army and different helicopters scrambled to airlift Vietnamese allies to security. Among the indelible photographs this time: a father in a surging crowd handing his child to troopers over a razor-wire fence. Once once more, Americans lamented the end result of U.S insurance policies.


In the unique area race, astronauts had the proper stuff and the USA and USSR have been rivals. In this summer time’s model, passengers had the proper checking account or sway to get a seat, and a trio of billionaires — Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson — competed for space-tourism supremacy.

William Shatner, middle, speaks as Audrey Powers, left, and Chris Boshuizen seem throughout a press availability on the Blue Origin spaceport close to Van Horn, Texas, on Oct. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Observers carped about galactic-sized egos and privilege, however TV couldn’t resist the thundering rocket launches or William Shatner, 90, wisecracking his manner the place no “Star Trek” actor had gone earlier than.


Relief. That was the speedy emotion for a lot of Americans in April when a jury discovered Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin responsible of homicide for kneeling on the neck of George Floyd. For three weeks, tv viewers adopted the trial extra carefully than another continuing in years.

The prosecution’s repeated revisit to the disturbing video of Chauvin’s refusal to maneuver, regardless of the pleading of Floyd and bystanders, reopened a wound within the nation’s psyche that hadn’t actually closed. The concern of what a unique verdict would possibly convey led to the collective exhale the decision impressed.


An interview with a photogenic younger couple who gave up their rarefied royal life in Britain might have been merely a gossipy diversion. But with Oprah Winfrey doing the questioning, and Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, showing prepared and prepared to be candid, the dialog proved newsworthy.

One bombshell was delivered by Meghan about son Archie, now 2: Someone within the palace had questioned aloud how “darkish his pores and skin is perhaps when he’s born.” Winfrey blurted out, “What? Hold up,” reinforcing the facility of the trade between two Black ladies. At the time of the interview Meghan was pregnant with daughter Lili, who was born in June.


Roll up your sleeve! In the early days of 2021, tv screens have been crammed with photographs of individuals throughout the nation getting photographs of the Covid-19 vaccine After the world had been altered by dying and concern, it appeared an indication that the pandemic would quickly be over and life would return to regular. Millions of individuals have been vaccinated, however many extra weren’t, out of non-public cautiousness or the surprising view that refusal was a political assertion. Between that and the emergence of recent variants, hope for a fast finish to the coronavirus light.


TV’s smartest recreation present was clueless when it mattered: discovering a successor for beloved host Alex Trebek. “Jeopardy!” made government producer Mike Richards the shock choose in August, then later that month bid him farewell due to unsavory previous podcast remarks.

Mayim Bialik, set to host prime-time “Jeopardy!” specials, crammed in with an help from an all-time champ, Ken Jennings. Stellar contestants Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider additionally got here to the rescue, reaffirming the late Trebek’s mantra that gamers, not the host, make the present. Trebek died in November 2020, shortly after taping his remaining reveals.


“Not responsible.” Five instances the phrase was repeated in court docket, and on the final one, Kyle Rittenhouse convulsed into sobs and his legs gave manner. The November verdict in a Wisconsin courtroom ended the 18-year-old’s homicide trial, the jury believing he acted in self-defense in capturing three folks throughout protests over racial injustice. Like so many issues at this time, his trial turned a proxy for political warfare, this time over weapons and justice. Within days, Rittenhouse was telling his story to Tucker Carlson on Fox News Channel.


It was an enormous reveal unequalled by any in actuality TV. On “The Mandalorian” season two finale, The Child aka Grogu was within the clutches of Moff Gideon, backed by the Dark Troopers. Then a hooded, lightsaber-wielding Jedi emerged from a X-Wing spacecraft, saved the day and revealed his determine — younger Luke Skywalker, as portrayed by a pc age-adjusted Mark Hamill, R2-D2 at his facet.

There have been whoops of pleasure from “Star Wars” fans, and the universe smiled. The episode arrived in late December 2020, sure, however it’s timeless, as is Hamill’s response to followers.

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