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SATURDAY
NOVEMBER 24
2012

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

HBO, 7:45 p.m. ET

This film, a pet project of George Lucas’, finally came to the screen in 2012, directed by Anthony Hemingway, who also has directed some recent episodes of HBO’s Treme. It’s a dramatization of the WWII aerial combat unit known now as the Tuskegee airmen, a group of African-Americans who belatedly, but bravely, were sent into combat in 1944. Stars include Nate Parker, Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This new CBS series from the fall 2012 crop was cut down so instantly and emphatically, only two episodes were televised before CBS pulled it from the schedule: the pilot, and one other. But this is Thanksgiving weekend, when network TV presumes no one is watching or caring very much about what’s on the tube (all that family around and such), so why not broadcast a never-before-seen third episode of Made in Jersey, starring Janet Montgomery as Jersey girl attorney Martina? And, in the same spirit of post-turkey ennui, or saluting a different sort of turkey altogether, why not highlight it?
 
  
 
 

Encore, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2003 movie, the culminating installment in Peter Jackson’s directorial exploration of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, won Best Picture and an additional 10 Oscars – and the story isn’t over yet. Or, rather, it’s only just begun: Movies based on its prequel, The Hobbit, are just around the corner. And, no doubt, they’ll prove to be no less Hobbit-forming.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Even in black and white, you can tell, in this 1938 Oscar-winning role for Bette Davis, that the party dress she’s wearing in antebellum New Orleans is scandalously red. Okay, so the plot and dialogue help – but still.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

There’s a lot more to this 1959 biblical epic than its famous chariot race – but oh my, there’s a reason why that chariot race, in this version, is so famous, and so iconic. And if you have a wide-screen, high-definition TV, you can see why, in a big way. A big way, and a wide way, too – the image you see here is only half the picture.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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608 Comments
 
 
Neil
I'm disappointed with David's Best Bets for today, Memorial Day. Instead of insipid tripe like 500 Questions, Grace of Monaco or The Island, why do you overlook the excellent HBO productions Band of Brothers (being stripped today on HBO Signature) and Taking Chance (6:30pm ET & PT on HBO1)? I'm particularly fond of Chance, but either of these would be an infinitely better recommendation than the dreck you did pick.
May 25, 2015   |  Reply
 
Neil
Sorry, didn't intend to post this three times, but I kept getting error messages about sending email and didn't notice they actually were posting until my third attempt, then all three were there.
May 25, 2015
 
 
 
Neil
I'm disappointed with David's Best Bets for today, Memorial Day. Instead of insipid tripe like 500 Questions, Grace of Monaco or The Island, why do you overlook the excellent HBO productions Band of Brothers (being stripped today on HBO Signature) and Taking Chance (6:30pm ET & PT on HBO1)? I'm particularly fond of Chance, but either of these would be an infinitely better recommendation than the dreck you did pick.
May 25, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
I'm disappointed with David's Best Bets for today, Memorial Day. Instead of insipid tripe like 500 Questions, Grace of Monaco or The Island, why do you overlook the excellent HBO productions Band of Brothers (being stripped today on HBO Signature) and Taking Chance (6:30pm ET & PT on HBO1)? I'm particularly fond of Chance, but either of these would be an infinitely better recommendation than the dreck you did pick.
May 25, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sherman
"'Hop' Lips"? Perhaps this is a mid-holiday weekend proofreading test, or it's a nod to a Craig Ferguson goof that he would have turned into an episode-long faux double entendre. Either way, I'm a huge fan of MASH and of Craig Ferguson
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Tom Harrison
re: Veep Am I the only one who doesn't have an episode #5 on my list of this season's Veep? I use HBO GO and it has #1,2,3 4,6. Weird or deliberate?
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Alan culling
That movie Kite is recommended? It is awful! It's metacritic score is 19! You got friends in that POS Bianculli?
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
joanna pressfield
my only disappointment with the mad men finale is that I want the draper kids to remain with henry. he's the best and most loving parent figure they've ever had in their lives. I agree with sally, who is a better mother figure to bobby and gene than narcissistic betty ever was--the kids need their school and their beds. hopefully, henry's clout in ny state will keep the kids where they belong. also, it would have been nice to see a glimpse of ted and his new love in the finale, the girl who bested peggy in the ted sweepstakes.
May 18, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
zeke
IDOL FINAL IS TOMORROW MAY 13TH--- !
If it matters, don't wait until next week, as this blog says!
May 12, 2015   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Thank you for your help, zeke. Correction has been made.
May 12, 2015
 
 
 
Gary Burleigh
Glad to see "Happy Valley" get some love at the BAFTAS
May 10, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jeffrey rubin
Surely, you mis-typed when you wrote that Happy Endings was renewed undeservedly
May 5, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
THE BIG BANG THEORY
CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE

You might have the wrong week for the finale.
Apr 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
So, after fact,the first hour of the NBC Crossover Wed. 4/29 was the same episode of Chicago Fire from Tues.4/28. But within the three hours involving Chicago FD,Chicago PD and NYC's SVU,there were still traces involving one of the Chicago Med characters from the back door pilot shown a few weeks ago. The overall effect of the three hours together was disappointing as the gimmick was paying far more attention to itself than the storyline. Characters from both of the cop shows jumped from show to show with no regard to budget and time restraints actual tax funded departments would have prohibited. In this day and age of Skype and cell phones,hopping "on the next plane" seems wasteful. Add to that,the body count got so high that trailers for NBC's upcoming Aquarius,a retelling of the real Charles Manson horror, looked tame next to the fictious bloodletting by the Crossover Bad Guy.
If NBC greenlights Med,will they have an all-Chicago night,shuffling fire, police and medical personnel?
Apr 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The big change with the crossover event is that they prepped viewers with a prelude on Chicago Fire last night,so technically,Wolf is using four episodes to tell the story. The Chicago fanchise aren't really bad,they just conform to broadcast standards as opposed to cable's freer use of moral ambiguity, language and violence. Both shows are well cast and the possibility of a third series(Chicago Med)looms large(fans may see the return of Peter Mills if the Med show is picked up). Then Wolf will have a true four show crossover next year, for sure. In fact,there may be some Chicago Med bits tonight,based on Tuesday's Fire episode.
Apr 29, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
"But three shows? That takes some logistical planning."

They did this last year with a different story, a crossover with the same 3 shows.
Apr 29, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
GreyWolf
Saw episode 2 of VEEP, and my fears from episode 1 were mostly allayed, as this one was as brilliant and hilarious as ever! -What happened in making of episode 1 and what happened after toward making of episode 2?
Apr 21, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
What a great review of the finale of Justified. It's been one of my favorite shows, and the finale did not disappoint. I'll miss it.
Apr 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dave N.
Will miss Justified a lot. Along with The Good Wife, a series that we looked forward to seeing. The dialogue was often jaw-dropping. Example: "Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of ass****s". Many times the DVR got rewound to hear them again, just to make sure we heard right.
Apr 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dan Callaghan
Just heard your review of Justified on Fresh Air. You captured this episode and the entire program perfectly. I especially enjoyed the "brush strokes." Thank you.
Apr 15, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mark N
Just watched the last episode of my favorite show....goodbye "Justified"....was true till the end and held off using "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" till finale...class....Timothy Olyphant...I just wanna watch what he does next...and finally....thanks Elmore Leonard
Apr 15, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
GreyWolf
Veep. One of my favorite shows! Best Bet had the new premier as as good or better than before. I usually very much concur with your choices, but here I was dismayed by the changes which spelled doom for the show, I fear. The writing and performances were excellent as always. But the taping, framing, lighting, and editing had conceptual and quality changes that diminished rather than enhanced as it had in the past seasons. There seemed to be a conscious choice to make it seem more realite and off-the-cuff unpolished, throwing away 100 years of learning of techniques that Hollywood has to make moments, characters, lines, more effective, including comedy. An intellectual choice to be hip or trendy, but that lacked artistic and craftsmanship discernment. Most viewers might not be aware of the shift, but they would feel it in their response to the show. And the show would lose its 'must see' power. Do you see in the episode what I am describing? And evenso, is it just the style of today?
Apr 13, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

Behind David in the picture is the first TV owned by his father, Virgil Bianculli, a 1946 Raytheon. (The TV, not his father. His father was a 1923 Italian.) David Bianculli has been a TV critic since 1975, including a 14-year stint at the New York Daily News, and sees no reason to stop now. Currently, he's TV critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and is an occasional substitute host for that show. He also teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University, and his most recent book, 2009's Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, has recently been purchased for film rights.  He's currently at work on another.

 
 
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