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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.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1060 Comments
 
 
George Ashur
Eight years ago today, January 20, 2009, TV Worth Watching featured only one thing on TV that day that was worth watching -- the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Today, the Inauguration of Donald Trump is just one of several programs recommended including, ahem, Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

The 2016 presidential election represented at least as seismic a change as that of 2008. Double standard, David?
Jan 20, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
George, I remember how hopeful and even proud I felt for our country when for the very first time it chose to elect a black man as president in 2008. How does the election of a businessman in 2016 compare to that of 2008?
Jan 22, 2017
 
 
Mac
One scheduled TV showing that was a possibly sneaky way to protest the Trump Inauguration was TCM quietly scheduling Elia Kazan's 1957 "A Face In The Crowd". .
"Face" is a scary foreshadowing of a simple homespun philosopher,Lonesome Rhodes,who gains enormous fame via TV and uses his influence to promote a Presidential Puppet. Recently,"Face" was seen as a template for the rise of Glen Beck with Keith Olbermann even nicknaming Beck "Lonesome". Andy Griffith starred and it is scarier than any zombie story one can imagine.
After I noticed it,other online media like the Kansas City Star were way ahead of me.They reported that TCM said that it was coincidence- merely celebrating the birthday of actress Patricia Neal. TCM often has a theme for the 6AM-8PM schedule-all musical or Charlie Chan mysteries. Neal's birthday list included another troubling story-Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead". Rand is a hero to the Libertarian Party and many a Tea party supporter.
Jan 21, 2017
 
 
Mac
Listening to Trump's Hallmark card of platitudes known as his Inauguration Speech of his bringing things back to America. TV choices:I'd suggest a marathon of Father Knows Best or Ozzie & Harriet. Best choice?Mabye ABC Freeform will replay Pretty Little Liars.
Unemployment at near realistic lowest possible levels. Wages are stagnant though. Why? Why not ask one of the Monopoly Money Billionaires taking their place in Trump's cabinet. Why do 10 indivdiuals have more money than all of the poor.
?If someone is willing to work 14 hrs. for pennies a day,at any age,in super-polluted skies with no benefits now and no future,which has been going on from at least Nixon,Ford,Carter,Reagan,Bush41,Clinton,Bush 43 and Obama-how an one turn that clock back in 2017? Where were the U.S.Captains of Industry when Nixon went to China? Why do we buy so much garbage and demand so low prices? Maybe Nancy Reagan was right: Just say no.
Jan 20, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
Umbrellas of Cherbourg- greatest? No,but it should be up there,not only for the music but eye popping color.cinematography and sparking debate about the bittersweet ending. There is no middle ground for this film:either you accept it or not. Hopefully,TCM will double bill this some Sat. or Sun. primetime with the Demy/Legrand/Deneuve follow up: The Young Girls of Rochefort. It includes Americans George Chakaris(West Side Story,film),Grover Dale(original Broadway West Side Story and that was just the beginning) and,in a surprise small nut effective part,Gene Kelly(everything great about MGM musicals). Deneuve's sister,Francois Dorleac(sad personal story there) co-stars so there is beauty times 2. I think the lesser-known Legrand music for Rochefort to be at least an equal of Cherbourg. IMDB lists 197 movie/TV composer credits for Legrand(soon turning 85) including new material due this year.
Jan 19, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Dear friends at TVWW: I'm a big fan. I have a suggestion for a minor format change that, as a writer & former journalist, I believe you might welcome. But my description goes slightly over the 1,000-character limit. Could you please provide me with an email address to which I can send my suggestion? Thanks, Ross
Jan 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Sure, Ross. You can reach us at info@tvworthwatching.com. Looking forward to your suggestion.
Jan 19, 2017
 
 
 
Angela
Yay! My Christmas shopping for next year is almost done. Seriously, I hadn't heard of Lemony Snicket's, A Series of Unfortunate Events until last night's Best Bets. Oh, what fun it is to watch! And if I can keep my mouth shut long enough I'm buying the books for my 8 year old niece, and the DVD for everyone else in my family. Finally, a reason to be glad I was way beyond my teen years in the early 90s when the books first came out.
Jan 16, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
I ntoiced a clip from Full Frontal with Sam Bee on YouTube that apparently was brand new, so I checked and found that TBS has started showing new episodes in the new Wednesday time slot. I guess we all missed it, so for fans of the show, it will repeat on Saturday night, Jan. 14th, at 11pm EST. For those of you that have never watched, DB himself once wrote, "...her voice was missed, so welcome her back tonight, with her sorely needed take on the current news"
Jan 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Oh, snap! If I were in Hollywood tonight I know exactly where I'd be hanging. You know what that means? A DB book signing and Hollywood goes on my bucket list, for sure.
Jan 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Yes, that's right. I've never even been to Hollywood. Until then we want a pic with David in front of the store and the stars!
Jan 11, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
Re:1/6/17 This Day in History-Schoolhouse Rocks begins with My Hero Zero. Wiki says 3 Is A Magic Number(the pilot) aired first while Zero aired next,1/13/73.
My Hero Zero should be earning composer Bob Dorough some money with extra zeroes. VW has been using the song for its Winter Sales ads,forgoing the Santa/Black Friday spin many use for end-of-year car ads. Dorough is alive,well, still performing at age 93 and uses those Schoolhouse Rock songs in his performances,often at schools.
Has any song from Sesame Street been used in commercials?
Sesame Street eventually tackled the idea of "zero"-a pretty difficult concept for pre-schoolers. The '90s would have great to see the Seinfeld cast in such a skit. Actors on a show about nothing explaining "zero". Update it for today-Actors On a Show About Nothing Explaining Zero... In Cars.
Jan 7, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Sue
her lively "sponge" cake

Please, this is a family site, post as such.
Jan 6, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Mac, Heh! I sincerely hope you're comments are never jettisoned from this site! And yes, puns are fun. I just didn't know it was a pun 'cause out of context it doesn't look one. Cheers!
Jan 7, 2017
 
 
Ange
*your* :P
Jan 7, 2017
 
 
Mac
I take my commenting very seriously and,while indeed they are snark-filled,they are written for all. I like my entendres doubled, thank you. Super-size me.That's why puns are so much fun.David & Staff can jettison anything deemed irresponsible,as they have in the past.
I'm recently retired and,till a part-time job happens,I have way too much time to spend here. Meanwhile-waiting for the phone call for my future employ as a price checker at a dollar store. Our Dept. of Transportation doesn't need me as they just bought a self-standing shovel for road work and someone already gets coffee for the crew.
Jan 7, 2017
 
 
Angela
If you're serious (or not) I'd say this points to where you're mind went more than anything. ;-)
Jan 7, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
TCM aired Cool Hand Luke just this past Thurs.(12/29) with a night remembering movie folk who died in 2016,honoring George Kennedy,who passed away at 91 last Feb. Kennedy received his Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in this film. Well-cast,down to the smallest part,including recognizable stars Jo Van Fleet. J.D. Cannon,Dennis Hopper,Ralph Waite and Anthony Zerbe. And then there is Joy Harmon,memorable to many a young male,though she had no dialogue and no name,though Kennedy imagines her as "My Lucille"(not a B.B. King reference). IMDB reports that nowadays Joy runs a successful wholesale bakery,Aunt Joy's Cakes. No doubt the chain-gang prisoners in the film would have been first in line for samples of her lively "sponge" cake.
Jan 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
How about the once thought impossible Lord of the Rings, in not two, but three successive years 2001, 2, and 3. Maybe not in the literary league as some of the aforementioned, but quite a feat , tho 50-65 years later, when tech finally made it possible to bring to life.
Jan 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
I 'm so glad you are feeling better, Mr. B. Be sure, in case you haven't already, to get your flu and pneumonia shots!
As far as authors who have been adaptated for movies (and tv), your query includes a qualification that is (IMO) open to interpretation. "Better movies" and "in two consecutive years" may narrow the field, but despite them, you must consider the all-time champion of having adaptations made into films and tv: William Shakespeare! Second on the list is Charles Dickens. I'm not saying that the cinematic adaptations of Mr. Steinbeck's work are not great-only suggesting that there are so many others that could easily be contenders (Dumas, Dostoevsky, Hugo, Tolstoy, Verne and even Stephen King). I also agree Jane Austen should be included in the list. I guess what it tells us is that since movies were first based upon books and stories already written, there has been no lack of excellent material from which to adapt-very often more than once with varying degress of quality.
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
MAS
David, re Steinbeck does it have to be theatrical release movies only? Because if it includes both movies and made for TV, including miniseries, I would think Jane Austen wins the prize.
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Another log to the flame-out that is The Apprentice,New,Old,Borrowed and Bleech. Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strip had skewered Trump for decades(recently collected in book form)as well as Schwarzenegger after his own notorious fondling stories. Trudeau always drew a caricature of Trump,blustery in his orange hair-blown creepiness,but used an icon-a huge hand always out for a touch-for Old Arnie. Two recent Sunday strips of new material (including yesterday)combine the two-kinda a Superman/Batman Dubious Duo -The Trumpster and the Gropenator Maybe Ahhnold will screw up the show's tag line and pronounce to a contestant: "You're fried!"
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM has scheduled the tribute to Debbie Reynolds for Friday,Jan.27,2017 with a 24 hour marathon. Rather than list them in this limited comment section, go over to tcm.com and look for the special notice,which includes a fine bio. The TCM Remembers collage was updated to include Carrie Fisher and Zsa Zsa Gabor,but not Debbie. Not enough time? Perhaps. But since Debbie was one of the remaining stars of the old movie contract era with an active TCM presence including the 2012 Festival),they possibly felt that a few seconds would not have done her justice and,at the same time,diluted the original ending of the annual piece(no spoilers).
If anything,Debbie Reynolds was a force of nature. Watch The Unsinkable Molly Brown. It says more about Debbie than any other film(indeed,even the real Molly Brown) and gets the 8PM centerpiece,AFTER Singin' In The Rain. A few duds included? Well,there is The Singing Nun. But at least no Goodbye Charlie, a very sad,forced farce-though she looks fantastic!
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Singin' In The Rain was already scheduled for theatrical-The Big Screen- with showings Sun. 15 & Tues. Jan.18,@ 2& 7 PM via Fathom Events.
Debbie's TCM Festival interview with Robert Osborne shows up online. A salty hoot and a half.
Jan 2, 2017
 
 
 
SHEILA
CHECK OUT SPIRAL AND BROQUE ON HULU- REALY WORTH WATCHING
Jan 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Oops! That was supposed to read, I can't recommend, Trapped enough.
Jan 4, 2017
 
 
Angela
Shelia, Spiral is one of my very favorites series and am happy Hulu is airing such fine shows. There's a 6th season of Spiral scheduled for the not too distant future.
Since you like these two series I must suggest, "Bron/Broen" the original version of The Bridge from Denmark and *so* much better than the American and French remakes, the latter titled, The Tunnel. And also, "Trapped", a superb suspense mystery thriller series that takes place in Iceland. I can't recommend Iceland enough.
Jan 4, 2017
 
 
SHEILA
SORRY THAT WAS Baroque
Jan 1, 2017
 
 
 
Neil
Hey DB, glad to see you seem to be feeling better, just in time to usher this wretched year into the trash heap of history. But you forgot to mention one other Best Bet for the bitter end: CBS's annual tribute to/rerun of a classic Guy Lombardo episode for those of us who've joined their core demo. May auld acquaintance be forgotten (in pristene 480p black&white), and a happy new year to all!
Dec 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Ed Quigley
Man 2016 just needs to end. Get well soon David or you'll be forced to watch the Outback Bowl, Clockwork Orange style. :)
Dec 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Lois Klein
GET WELL SOON! WE'RE ALL ROOTIN' FOR YA!
Dec 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
David, usually I wish people a complete and speedy recovery, but not to put pressure on you I will wish you a complete and timely recovery.

Hope this will be a healthy and happy new year for you.
Dec 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Hope you feel better soon, David. This time of year, not much is on unless you're crazy about all the Christmas specials, which I'm not. I'll look forward to your return--whenever that is. Just don't try to do too much too soon or you'll relapse. We can wait.
Dec 28, 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: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now avaialble on Amazon.

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