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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469 Comments
 
 
Len Goodman
I watched SNL last night, with much anticipation: new season, new cast members, no Don Pardo for just about the first time ever, new Weekend Update co-anchor. There was only one main problem with the show: most of it was not FUNNY. Sketch after sketch were totally flat. Weekend Update ? Mostly not funny (I miss Cecily Strong there). I did not (actually "could not") watch the entire show - my health insurance does not cover injuries resulting from watching entire un-funny comedy shows). The only really funny thing I saw was the sketch with NFL players announing themselves at the start of a game and telling us their most recent criminal acts. There may have been funny stuff in the last half hour, but I did not watch it. Fortunately for the people who did watch the entire show last night, they were spared the two worst sketche and character which have appeared on the show for the past few years: the sketch "What's Up With That", and the W.U. character "Drunk Uncle".
Sep 28, 2014   |  Reply
 
Curtis
Oddly enough, I agree with most of what you say here. Weekend Update is still, after fourty years, the best part of the show. You're right. Cecily Strong could have been a great anchor. There's just not enough funny most of the time but we have always been amused by "What's Up With That" as a running gag. "Drunk Uncle" not so much. I made it through W.U. Plus, I don't know who the musical guest was but I could have used some intelligible lyrics, a decent melody and possibly, a live band(?), maybe.
Sep 29, 2014
 
 
 
Mike C.
You're dating yourself, Dave. The Giants beat the Houston Texans not the Oilers.
Sep 25, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Susan Lefever
I think the premier episode of HTGAWM is on tonight, not the second episode.
Sep 25, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Janet Troughton
sometimes your updates are verrry slow.
Sep 25, 2014   |  Reply
 
Bob
Yeah! I want every penny I paid for this website back.
Sep 25, 2014
 
 
 
Hoppy
Molar less? Really? Have you no decency at long last?
Sep 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Your reviews of today's shows are a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone! Since I watch both these shows, I thought it was great the way you reviewed them.
Sep 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Kate
At the risk of life and limb, I'm submitting an unsolicitated request that TVWW update the contributors list. Thanks
Sep 21, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
mar
For Webmaster: The "New Shows 2014" page says "Previously premiered shows have moved to the bottom of the page.) -DB." They are not visible there, however, and what may be intended as a link to them does not link. Hope this is helpful. Thanks.
Sep 19, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
I love listening to Mr. Bianculli's well-informed commentary on NPR but it is quite
distracting and nerve-racking when you take those very audible breaths into the microphone between sentences. I'm sure if u tried a little harder u can control ur breathing better, thereby making it less irritating to listen. Hope my observation is taken in the spirit it is being given. Looking forward to more of ur great reviews.
Sep 18, 2014   |  Reply
 
Jim
Dear Angela,
Since unsolicited advice seems to be the order of the day may I recommend that with a little effort you could make your writing much less irritating by actually spelling out the words you (not u) are using. I've been listening to Mr. Bianculli for years and I have never, ever noticed the verbal tick that you (not u) seem so disturbed by. That doesn't mean you're (not ur) are wrong, but if you want your (not ur) complaint to be taken seriously you really should try writing it in the English language and not in text speak.
I know Mr. Bianculli likes to keep things civil around here and I apologize if this reply crosses any lines, but I couldn't resist.
Sep 18, 2014
 
 
 
Ken
No recommendations for today?
Sep 18, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I am loving The Roosevelts-I have already learned more then the school history books told me. Love, birth, death, wealth, family, prestige and ambition are the elements that make a good story and this real life soap opera has it all! I find myself thinking about the "episode" all the next day and I actually cried when T.R. died in last nights episode. A wonderful thing to watch as we wait for the new season.
Sep 17, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Rinnie
Have I missed your recommendations for new shows this fall? I've been looking forward to reading them, but haven't seen anything yet on your website.
Sep 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Hi Rinnie -- Thanks for asking about our 2014 Fall Season Preview. Look for it next week!
Sep 10, 2014
 
 
 
Frank Minor
Was interested in reactions to Peggy Lee-Danny Thomas "The Jazz Singer." I love Miss Lee and usually dig Fifties Technicolor musicals (even the lesser ones), but this movie disappointed me. I much prefer "Pete Kelly's Blues."
Sep 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Thanks for mentioning The Bridge. I love the show--especially this season after they pretty much got rid of Tate--but I understand a lot of people are not watching, and a third season is in question. I hope they get one and that your mentioning the show as one of the Best Bets helps it find more support.
Sep 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The Pioneer's Robin Williams remembrance had some interesting parts(Pam Dawber's insights,with even her repeatedly asking "Why?" at the end)but they implied that Robin's first HBO special came as a transition,post Mork & Mindy,when it actually aired in 1978,during the first rapture of M&M(Henry Winkler is shown in the audience).Now,he would return to HBO over the years,the next being in 1982,but,while I rarely watched netowrk TV at the time,that '78 HBO show was revealing and exhausting.How could so much material fly from one person my own age?Our generation seemed to be contributing its own Groucho so early on.
Few(any?)visits on talk shows were shown.Robin played the circuit and,as conan pointed out days after Robin's death,the talk show world lost their best guest ever.
And in all of the sadness,losing Jonny Winters and Robin Williams 16 months apart just adds to the emptiness.Father & son gone.
Sep 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Erin
Hey, David, just so you know, the NFL has been playing Monday Night doubleheaders since 2006 for first week of the season. And Thursday Night games have been played (albeit on the NFL Network) during week 2 for the past 2 years. So, 4 games in 5 nights? It's been happening since 2012.
Sep 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Karen Engel
Any news on the show "The Divide"? Have been enjoying since July on Wed. nights -- then last night, nuthin. Will it be back? It's really excellent.
Sep 4, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
Linda Donovan, Thank you for the update about, "The Divide". I forgot that I came to this show late, and had my DVR set to, "repeats". Yet I fully expected another episode after the finale since it ended the way it did! There has to be more... here's hoping they do renew this excellent show. I may write a letter to WE. :)
Sep 7, 2014
 
 
Linda Donovan
Karen and Angela -- The season finale for "The Divide" aired 8/27. Sadly, no word yet on whether it will be renewed.
Sep 6, 2014
 
 
Angela
Karen, I just checked my DVR and it has a recording for The Divide from 9/4 but it wad recorded at 3am! Not sure if the time changes was because of a conflict in recording or what. I'll let you know if I find any info from my DVR. I sure hope they do a rerun for you and anyone who missed it.
Sep 5, 2014
 
 
 
Ernie
Hi, there's a typo under Welcome to Sweden - it says " Also guest starring: Parts and Recreation co-star Aubrey Plaza." ("Parts").
Aug 28, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Nicely done, Ernie! You found our deliberate error. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Thank you, Ernie.
Aug 29, 2014
 
 
 
Angela
I just finished two episodes of, "Happy Valley" on Netflix. Had to force myself to stop watching as it's getting late. I could have easily watched the entire 6 episodes in one sitting and that's not like me. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it.
Thanks so much for the heads up or I might have missed this excellent show.
Aug 20, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
Update: This show is not be missed. In depth characters with a lot of action and suspense. At one point I was in tears, a rarity for me.
Aug 27, 2014
 
 
 
Dennis Paul
Just a correction: Bart Giamatti was the commissioner when MLB and Rose agreed to the lifetime ban. Bud Selig is the current commissioner but was the owner of the Brewers at the time.
Aug 20, 2014   |  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.