DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

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TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

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JONATHAN STORM

 
 
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FRIDAY
JULY 21
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Golf Channel, 1:30 a.m. ET

The first day of play at the Royal Birkdale course was an uncharacteristically clear and pleasant one, which helped three players – including former Major winners Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka – finish the day five strokes under par, at 65. But day two could bring new weather… and, on this treacherous course in Southport, England, significantly higher scores. For a preview, see Gerald Jordan’s Crossing Jordan.
 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Many critics are comparing this new drama series to AMC’s Breaking Bad – an unfair comparison, and not only because it sets an almost impossible standard to equal. But comparisons to that and other prestige crime series are unavoidable, as well as unfortunate.  In Ozark, Jason Bateman stars as Marty Byrde, a white-collar Chicago criminal, a money launderer whose connected partner is deeply embroiled with a Mexican drug cartel. Laura Linney plays Marty’s wife, Wendy, and they and their kids seem like a typical middle-class family, like the Walter White clan of Breaking Bad – except that he’s already broken bad, and so has she, having betrayed her husband with an affair that, like Marty’s money-laundering enterprise, quickly leads to murder. The Byrdes pack up and relocate to the Ozark lake in Missouri – part of Marty’s desperate scheme to spare the lives of his family and himself. Marty is portrayed as a guy who can talk himself out of almost any situation, like Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and is surrounded by unpredictable and unreliable backwoods types, like the transplanted hero of Justified. I really like Bateman as an actor, and Linney too – but their characters, in Ozark, are required to do too many things which stretch or snap credulity to the point where you just don’t care, about them or the show they’re in. And supporting characters are even less believable, as is any sense of overall logic. Linney and Bateman deserve better, and since the entire Season 1 of Ozark already is completed and is dropping today, they can start hunting for something better immediately. For a full review, see Ed Bark’s Uncle Barky’s Bytes.
 
  
 
 

Various Networks, 8:00 p.m. ET

MOVIE PREMIERE: This sequel to the 2015 Disney musical, aimed at and hitting the lucrative but fickle “tween” and pre-teen market, continues the story of the offspring of familiar Disney villains. Mal (Dove Cameron), the purple-haired daughter of Maleficent, reprises her lead role, and China Anne McClain is introduced as Uma, the daughter of Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Disney is hoping to make quite a splash here, by premiering the  Descendants 2 musical simultaneously not only on the Disney Channel, but on sister networks ABC, Freeform, Lifetime and other Disney-owned networks. For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

We’re up to the mid-Fifties in TCM’s month-long Wednesdays and Fridays this month, and that’s Alfred Hitchcock’s sweetest sweet spot. So tune in, strap in, and tonight and next week, wallow in some of the best suspense movies ever made, by Hitch or anyone else. This evening begins with 1954’s Real Window (pictured), an unequivocal classic (and tour de force of celebratory voyeurism) starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Also tonight: At 12:15 a.m. ET, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock’s 1956 remake of his own 1934 film, which TCM showed earlier this month. James Stewart and Doris Day star – and Day gets to introduce one of her biggest hits, “Que Sera Sera,” worked somehow into the plot of this cinematic remake.

 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is all about “Desserts,” so if you’ve been waiting for this imported baking show to get its just desserts – well, tonight, it’s just desserts. Check local listings.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

In Memory of the Mayor of Quahog - Family Guy has released a tribute reel in memory of former Batman! star Adam West (1928-2017), who played a monumentally self-effacing version of himself as cartoon mayor of Peter Griffin’s fictional hometown of Quahog, Rhode Island. West made appearances in over 100 episodes of the series. Executive producer Steve Callaghan told Entertainment Weekly “The vocal performance and the specific comedic angle that he brought to the role were truly unlike anything he’d done before, and were such an enormous gift to the series and us as writers.” West obviously took great delight in bits here, including singing a song about his own name, playing poker with dogs and pardoning a frozen turkey. Family Guy is going ahead with three more episodes that West had already recorded parts for. —Eric Gould
 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


America in Color
Smithsonian
Sundays
8 PM ET

Broadchurch
BBC America
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
TBS
Wednesdays
10:30 PM

Game of Thrones
HBO
Sundays
9PM ET

The Great British Baking Show
PBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Nineties
CNN
Sundays
9 PM ET

Orphan Black
BBC America
Saturdays
10 PM ET

P.O.V.
PBS
Mondays
9 PM ET
Check Local Listings

Power
Starz!
Sundays
9 PM ET

Will
TNT
Mondays
9 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$
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season One

IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-16) was a respectable heir to the late ’70s PBS Fernwood 2 Night legacy of talk show satire — generally improvised by its host Scott Auckerman and his celebrity guests. Aukerman, a veteran of Bob Odenkirk’s Mr. Show and co-creator of Between Two Ferns, carries the ultra-droll torch here, tongue firmly in cheek, sans laugh-track. Comedy Bang! Bang! also helped launch the career of sidekick and musical conductor Reggie Watts, now leading the house band for The Late Show with James Corden. A bargain at Amazon, under $7. –Eric Gould

 
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