DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

CANDACE KELLEY

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

DAVID SICILIA

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
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SATURDAY
AUGUST 19
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

BBC America, 1:00 p.m. ET

This spectacular nature series gets an encore telecast today, in what it calls an “enhanced” version. That usually means a few extra facts super-imposed or added as interstitial informational spots – but no matter what is or isn’t added, the program itself is unbeatable. The action begins at 1 p.m. ET, with installments repeated all afternoon.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 7:00 p.m. ET

Season 5 of this underrated Showtime comedy series begins tomorrow – and to set the table, Showtime tonight presents an “Episodes eve” marathon showing of Season 4. Matt LeBlanc stars as an exaggerated version of himself, taking paychecks to star in one bad TV series after another – just as, in his post-Friends career, in real life. He’s excellent and very funny here, though – as are his co-stars, Tamsin Greig (pictured here with LeBlanc) and Stephen Mangan, as the TV writing team roped into working with him, again and again.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Fashion designer, and movie writer-director Tom Ford, has made only two films to date, but they’ve both been visually arresting, and nominated for Oscars. His first was 2009’s A Single Man, and his follow-up, shown tonight on HBO, was last year’s Nocturnal Animals, a moody and mysterious piece starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1962 psychological thriller, directed by John Frankenheimer, is one of the best political dramas of the decade – and somewhat ahead of its time, since it feels like one of those great Seventies conspiracy films. Especially like The Parallax View. Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury star. Leigh sandwiched this movie in between filming 1960’s Psycho and 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie. Talk about range… and as movies go, talk about The Essentials, which this film, presented under that appreciative TCM umbrella, certainly is…

 
  
 
 

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: AMC’s tale of the early Internet – a sort of more serious prequel to HBO’s Silicon Valley – begins its fourth and final season tonight. If the series ever returns, it’ll be as a 2.0 reboot. For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.

 
  
 
 

BBC America, 9:00 p.m. ET

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE: This three-part series, from some of the makers of Planet Earth II, looks squarely and exclusively at America – that part also known as John Ford country, and the wide open lands – and, yes, the wild west. Part 1 is shown tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. ET with a special look at the impact of the Acme company on the hunting habits of Wile E. Coyote in his unending quest to catch the Road Runner. (Okay, I was kidding about that last bit. Meep meep!)

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Taking Both Sides – CNN’s The History of Comedy is focusing in on political comedy this week, and one of their early citations is the late Pat Paulsen, who ran for president in 1968 as a gag as part of his stint on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Paulsen was notable for his satire of politician's double-speak and bald-faced lies, all delivered in his trademark deadpan style. That’s evident here in a performance art-like split screen of him answering a question two ways, one for liberals, the other for conservatives. Paulsen went on to run for President again five more times, getting 1% of the New Hampshire Democrat primary vote against incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996. –Eric Gould
 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

  
   Visit TV We're Watching for these and other shows on
our DVRs right now...


Baroness von Sketch Show
IFC
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

CBSN: On Assignment
CBS
Mondays
10 PM

Comrade Detective
Amazon Prime Video
Streaming

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
TBS
Wednesdays
10:30 PM

Game of Thrones
HBO
Sundays
9PM ET

The Guest Book
TBS
Thursdays
10:30 PM ET

Manhunt: Unabomber
Discovery
Tuesdays
9 PM ET

Mr. Mercedes
AT&T Audience Network
Wednesdays
8 PM ET

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Room 104
HBO
Fridays
11:30 PM ET
 
 

BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!


FRESH AIR FAVES

Audio of Bianculli's favorite 'Fresh Air' reports, and the stories behind them...


FAVES FROM
"THE MORGUE"

Bianculli's favorite newspaper articles, and the stories behind them...


EXTRAS & FEEDBACK

Share your favorite TV in-jokes and first TV loves...
 
 
 

Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20. (Paperback will be available September 5th, here.)

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
Ray Donovan: Season One

The Liev Schrieber series is now back on Showtime for its fifth season and one thing is certain – no matter how bad the jam is, Ray, a Hollywood fixer for stars and crooks alike, finds an inventive way out. Created by Southland writer Ann Biderman, Ray Donovan has the similar emotional stakes and gravitas of that series, all starting with the release from prison of Ray’s father Mickey, a Whitey Bulger doppelganer. Things come unglued from there and season one sets Ray’s house of cards in motion. On sale at Amazon for under $12. –Eric Gould