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SUNDAY
DECEMBER 16
2012

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

AMC, 8:00 p.m. ET

The best modern version of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic is shown tonight on AMC, when George C. Scott steps into the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in this splendid 1984 CBS telemovie. Scott nails the part, from the first moments of humbuggery to the triumphant final Christmas goose. And yes, I meant that description to sound a little inappropriate. Ho ho ho.
 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:15 p.m. ET

Facing each other for the first time in four years, these two teams are having great seasons: The 49ers are 9-3-1, the Patriots 10-3. And it’s a quarterback duel with a lot of drama. The Patriots have imposing veteran Tom Brady, and the 49ers have impressive young replacement Colin Kaepernick, who’s stepped up big time since Alex Smith was sidelined with a concussion.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE:  Last week, when Dexter (Michael C. Hall) learned that Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) had drugged his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), he gave Debra the evidence to put Hannah behind bars. But their story may not end there – and Dexter, thanks to evidence piling against him, may be headed for prison himself, unless he can do something drastic. Which, for Dexter, isn’t that much of a stretch.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 9:30 p.m. ET

Here’s a classic version of a classic: Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, in this 1951 adaptation of the Dickens story. This one manages to be scarier than most, and Sim’s performance is wonderful.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: Given the framework of this series, either Carrie (Claire Danes) or Brody (Damian Lewis) could die in this Season 2 finale – or they could both live. My guess is that Carrie’s character has become too valuable to lose, but Brody has served his purpose. Yet this series, at its best, confounds expectations – so let’s see what happens.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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932 Comments
 
 
vince everett
I love David and have read and followed him since his NY Daily News days, I wish him a speedy recovery....BUT do you seriously mean to tell us that NO ONE else can pick four or five shows and fill this space???!!! Step-up to the plate SOMEBODY !!! You will lose readers, Mr Bianculli worked very hard to build a great and enjoyable site, please don't let it wither and die while he is incapacitated
Aug 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Ann
Wednesday night- looking forward to another episode of Mr.Robot- surprisingly getting better each week. And You're The Worst - my favorite dark but oh so funny comedy that is finally returning!
Aug 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
lynn
Just binged Peaky Blinders. Extraordinary TV from BBC America, and not just because of Cillian Murphy's piercing eyes. David, don't get better before seeing the first 3 seasons (kidding, sort of). When season 4 starts, it definitely belongs in 'what we're watching'. On a par with Homeland, Luther, Ray Donovan, etc.
Aug 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
TVWW
Lynn -- We're hearing very good reviews on Peaky Blinders from others. Good tip. --TVWW
Aug 30, 2016
 
 
lynn
oops, it's a Netflix original. Isl that why you haven't listed it?
Aug 29, 2016
 
 
 
Danny Miz
9:00 AMC Fear Of The Walking Dead

9:00 BET, COM, LOGO, MTV, SPIKE TVLAND, VH1 MTV Video Music Awards
Aug 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
George Squire
The Jim Gaffigan Show causes me belly pain from laughing so hard. It is a very well written sitcom, with writing credit to the comedian and his real life wife. Blessedly, there is no laugh track; it doesn't need one. Surprisingly irreverent. Get well soon, David!
Aug 27, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
All reality competition shows are not created equal. “The Great British Baking Show” and “Face Off” are miles away from “Bachelor in Paradise”. But none of them compare to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on LOGO TV. Tonight (Thurs. 8/25) at 8PM, it’s the premiere of the All Star edition. There’s dancing, (lip-sync) singing and other stupid things unlike anything you see on other talent shows. The last ten minutes will feature a ‘Lip Sync For Your Life’ and someone will be required to ‘Sashay Away’. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely the most unique show on television tonight. And congrats to RuPaul Charles on the Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program.
Aug 25, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Thursday - What's on

6:00 BBCA - Ripper Street - If you are tired of senseless reality shows, who is dancing, singing, doing other stupid things, this show deserves one's attention

10:00 FX S&D&R&R - Not nearly as good as Rescue Me or The Job from 2001, this gives viewers their fix of Denis Leary

10:00 NBC Aquarius is back now that the Olympics is over, oops, preseason Football, 2 hours of Aquarius on Saturday.
Aug 25, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
If you loved the old ’90s sitcom “Caroline in the City” and/or the “Back to the Future” franchise, then you’re probably a Lea Thompson fan. Well, at 9PM on the CW tonight (Wed. 8/24), you’ll get a kick out of seeing Lea as the guest star of “Whose Line Is It Anyway”. And then at 10PM, switch over to “American Gothic” on CBS to watch how in the heck they are going to incorporate this week’s painting. For those who don’t watch this Boston serial killer drama, the show runners name each episode after a famous American painting and then, for no really good reason that I can figure out, position the characters into a re-creation of the painting. Tonight’s work of art is “The Veteran in a New Field” portraying a guy with a scythe harvesting wheat. You don’t see serial killers in Boston doing that very often.
Aug 24, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Wednesday's Suggestions

10:00 CBS American Gothic - Can't wait till it is over and can stop watching

10:00 Sundance Gomorrah - From Italy, a very popular show there about what else, Organized Crime by the original OGs. 2 hours plus each week, record and enjoy.

9:00 USA Suits - Mindless T.V. you can multitask to.

10:00 USA - Mr. Robot - UGH - Really, renewed for a 3rd season with tiny viewership, has 500 scripted series on TV reached it's limit?
Aug 24, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Tuesday's Suggestions

9:00 and 10:00 AMC Halt and Catch Fire returns now based in Silicon Valley

11:00 HBO Real Sports

10:00 NBC Better Late Than Never - A new show, if you watched the Olympics you know about it

You know the shows, no need to add much detail.
Aug 23, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Abbie Peters
I am loving BrainDead and fear it will not be renewed. It's my recommendation for tonight besides Olympics closing ceremonies.
Aug 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
Angela
Stacy and Abbie, I almost watched an episode of Brain Dead but decided it couldn't be good if it was on network TV. You've convinced me to give it a try...I think. ;-) Thanks!
Aug 31, 2016
 
 
Stacey
Absolutely agree about BrainDead! Binge watched the first 8 episodes last week. Smart writing, good acting (Tony Shaloub is great), novel premise that is well executed. I haven't watched a network series in a long time, but this one is definitely worth it. And hopefully it will survive even though it's a bit smarter than most network fare.
Aug 22, 2016
 
 
 
E Lomke
Cf Joe in SF (8/19). W F Buckley was buried with his TV remote (true). But you and I have been thro that, & this is not our fate.
Aug 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Danny Miz
9:00 - AMC- Fear the Walking Dead
Aug 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
BEBE
Re today's post showing the odious Michael Cohen's interview with Brianna Keeler on CNN.. you should try to find the interview from 8/19 with she and the equally odious Jack Kingston, when - in response to her question about DT addressing rallies full of white faces while discussing (insulting) African Americans - he replied "well I guess he could have had a burning car behind him, then"...appalling, to say the least.
Aug 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Another night of Anything But Olympics finds few treasures. Boston EMS is new and,though buried on Saturday night,provides an hour of reality medicine drama that won't leave you feeling dirty,as say, Sex Sent Me To The ER(same Bat Time,different Bat Channel).
TBS has the usual marathon of six-count 'em-six episodes of The Big Bang Theory. TBS shows them in sequence,so if you stumble upon the 8PM,ET,episode tonight you will see the last episode of Season 8(2015) followed by the pilot(2007),which was re-shot from the original idea that had a darker tone,as well as no Penny.
Antenna TV,one of those broadcast oldies channels has the last episode of The Newhart Show,cleverly titled The Last Newhart. Don't be fooled. It is classic. Hopefully,the network includes the MTM logo ending,featuring Mimsie the Cat as you've never heard her before. Wait for it.
Aug 20, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
Last night, I dreamt that Mr. Bianculli was in his recovery room when the Grim Reaper floated in and stood by his bed. He pointed his bony finger at David and said, “’DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ on the CW. ‘Houdini & Doyle’ on Fox. ‘Preacher’ on AMC. ‘Heartbeat’ on NBC. ‘Angel from Hell’ on CBS”. David yelled, “NO! Those aren’t recommendations! Those are warnings!!” David pointed his trusty TV remote at the ghoul and clicked the button.

I woke up all panicky, but I knew then that Mr. Bianculli would be fine. Get well soon, David. And keep your TV remote close by, just in case.
Aug 19, 2016   |  Reply
 
Angela
Where's the "like" button when you need it? This is a wonderful comment, Joe from SF. Thanks for the grin on my face.
Aug 20, 2016
 
 
 
Mac
Thurs. 8/18/16-Larry Wimore closes shop on his two-year Nightly Show. Comedy Central,the channel bleeding money since the exits of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert,also lost John Oliver & Samantha Bee to do their own versions of Stewart's job(and Oliver gets to let the f-bombs go out without censoring). Hoping there's lots of Wilmore and less of his posse,which sometimes drew cringe-worthy moments(Nightly! Nightly!-that catchphrase and segment was annoying from the start. And the Trump guy-once is enough. Trump,live on the campaign trail,gives plenty of comedy fodder and horrors,too.) But if Larry kicks Cosby one more time(besides last night),he will have accomplished much. These last shows have been alcohol-fueled,thanks to care packages from Ms. Bee & Mr. Colbert. Larry,throw the last glass of that cable-quality wine in the fire and move on.
Aug 18, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Chris Wilcox
Sex&drugs&rock$roll.... All right! Need I say more? Dennis Leary is an aging super cool, almost famous, rock 'n' roll star--trying to make a comeback with his beautiful daughter as the lead singer in the band. They dress like rock 'n' roll stars. They've got attitudes and quirks and personality. And there's a great music that sounds great blasting through my new sound bar! They just need a little bit more nudity! It's on at 10 PM on FX.
Aug 18, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Amy
Mr Robot is great, on USA, at 10 pm Wed night (also can get reruns). I also really like the show Tyrant on tonight, 10 pm on FX.
Aug 18, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Nothing on TV? :-/ Man I miss TVWW BBs. Those hidden gems I could never find on my own. Wish I had a recommendation for Tuesday but I don't. Sorry. I'm just checkin in hoping to see TVWW Live once again!
Aug 17, 2016   |  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. His next, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is coming this fall, 2016.

 
 

Good news, TVWW readers: An advance copy of David’s upcoming book from Doubleday has just arrived! The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now available on Amazon for pre-order for its November 15th release. You can read some of the dustcover summary here, including: “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. In tracing the evolutionary history of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television,…he focuses on the development of the classic TV genres, among them the sitcom, the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the Western, the animated series and the variety show. David Bianculli's book is the first to date to examine, in depth and in detail and with a keen critical and historical sense, including exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history.” —TVWW