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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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835 Comments
 
 
Keith Robin
To take it a step further, I watched last night's episode and it was a rerun of the first episode! It appears to me, CBS didn't want to go up against the NBA Finals with a new episode of a "promising" new series. It also indicates how unreliable program guides on the various tv platforms have become.
Jun 20, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mark
BrainDead: Looking at the schedule on the CBS web site at http://www.cbs.com/schedule/?t=8 it sure looks like tonight's BrainDead is a rerun of last Monday's episode (The Insanity Principle ...), and Episode 2 (Playing Politics ...) will be airing tomorrow night 9:59-11pm ET/PT. (Hover the mouse over the show title to see the expanded description, and it is there where one sees air time is really 9:59-11pm, not just 10-11pm).
Jun 19, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Martha
Mr Darcy "spongeworthy?" Oh, no, you dd not!
Jun 18, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Bolduc McKeown
Job news site says CBS in Dallas looking for a part time entertainment and media news writer, if your staff knows people who might be interested. Thanks.
Jun 17, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Grey
Jerry Seinfeld on The Cooking Channel? Really??
Jun 16, 2016   |  Reply
 
Talbert
Best guess is that this is a "cereal-ized" program.
Jun 16, 2016
 
 
 
Neil
Apropos of today's Best Bet on 'To Tell The Truth,' the Buzzr channel, which airs on a digital subchannel in many markets, reruns episodes of the original TTTT, as well as 'I've Got A Secret' and 'What's My Line.' I especially enjoy WML, where the panelists have to guess the weird occupations of everyday people, as well as a celebrity guest while being blindfolded. The sets are embarrassingly rudimentary and the video comes from old kinescopes, but the panelists build on each others questioning to zero in on the correct occupation. For its time, it was a surprisingly smart game show.

Question for the dean of teleliteracy: Was WML ever implicated in the quiz show scandals? Because sometimes the leaps of logic to guess the right answer seem to defy credulity.
Jun 14, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Susan
Pretty sure that Vincente Minelli wasn't Judy Garland's father, but rather her then future husband.
Jun 11, 2016   |  Reply
 
Neil
I was about to write the same comment. Minnelli was Liza Minnelli's father.
Jun 11, 2016
 
 
 
Neil
Regarding Sunset Boulevard and Ace In The Hole, I do my TV watching either over the air (OTA) or via streaming, having cut the cord a few years back. That means I don't get TCM, but I do get digital subchannels like Movies, GetTV and The Works, which predominantly run older films. And both "Sunset" and "Ace" have aired on one of these channels in recent months, albeit with lots of commercials aimed at seniors (i.e., drugs, walkers, scooters, law firms, etc.). If you can tolerate the spot load, some of these films do get alternate ways of distribution, assuming you can find the x.2 and x.3 type channels on your TV.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
Hey, Sean, are you mental? Last time I checked, 1950 came before 1951. The way you expressed it, 1949 came AFTER 1950. And according to iMDB, the folks at TVWW are correct.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Sean Dougherty
The Dragnet TV showed debuted in 1951 - after Sunset Boulevard, so if his role in 1950's SB was "just before" he started the role of Joe Friday, it was on the radio show, which debuted in June 1949, not the later TV version.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Where are picks for Tuesday?
Jun 7, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Kathleen Weber
where are picks for Monday?
Jun 6, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Many theaters will be showing the 1971 Willy Wonka on June 26 & 29 via Fathom Events. I always found this movie to be deeply disturbing,then my first born told me,after reading much of Roald Dahl's kiddie material,that was the point.:"Mom & Dad aren't watching. Let me tell you about this..."
Also,later this summer,Dahl's BFG comes to theaters directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Melissa Mathison(both behind E.T.)
And what's up with Choclae?Sounds like a new pretend sweet from Nestle,who own the real Willy Wonka trademark for some truly disturbing candy.
Jun 3, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
David and staff, having seen the first episode of "Outcast", I want to commend you for your listing and comments. I think it is one of the best you have ever posted because you tell your readers to decide for themselves based upon their own viewing choices. Many time critics will dismiss a quality show based solely upon their personal feelings about a genre. I agree that if you are a fan of "exorcism" drama, as am I, you'll probably enjoy this series. I was attracted to it mainly because Philip Glenister is one of the lead actors. I always enjoy whatever he's in.
Jun 3, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Julie
Casey says "EAT IT"

ALSO "the amount of entitlement on display here by certain (always male) posters is staggering. What IS it, guys? WHAT IS WRONG?"

What is up with that?
Control your anger, don't make it look like all of us girls are angry at men.
May 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Mark, et al: Here's my canned response to this kind of complaint. The Best Bets come from a mind that has no allegiance to any particular taste, except for damn good, worth a look, weird and/or rare, or godawful. (Godawful saves me the most time. It's my favorite.) Every BB can fit into one of these. They're ALWAYS right on. If your taste is more particular than any of these, you will be disappointed time and again because, think about it now, there is NO WAY Mr. Bianculli can mention everything appearing on a given day that would suit your preferences and still serve the rest of us. The only entity that can do that is a basic TV guide. BUT, we have the internet now, and you can probably find a site that has chosen to limit its gaze to those programs that you might find of interest. So here's the canned part: Your must-see TV may or may not be MY must-see TV. BB does not need to fix itself. YOU need to eat what's put in front of you. It's DINNER. It's nourishing. EAT IT.
May 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mark Miller
How do you not list "The Dresser" among today's Best Bets? An adaptation of a critically acclaimed play and starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ian McKellen, on Starz.
May 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey Chapple
This is the age of DVRs that can be set remotely. Please upgrade your equipment.
OR
Please find another site that runs more according to your requirements. There are many, now that the internet has realized we are no longer embarrassed to admit we adore TV.
AND
Leave us, who have gratitude for all the things this site offers us for FREE, alone.
ALSO,
the amount of entitlement on display here by certain (always male) posters is staggering. What IS it, guys? WHAT IS WRONG?
May 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Dan
10:17 am Eastern Time and no Friday article. This is the age of DVRs and some of us like to set record in the morning. Please set the release time for "best bets" much earlier. I know it can be done because twice in the last ten days it was there early in the morning.
May 27, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/23/16-A night of OK premieres and finales. Meanwhile,TCM celebrated films with TV roots that won Peabody Awards:
Green Eyes-a 1977 story about a vet returning from Vietnam.
Hoop Dreams,the 1994 documentary about two Chicago kids taking different paths to,hopefully, achieve pro basketball success,told over a five year filming process. If it looks like a PBS doc,that was intentional.
Promise,starring James Garner and James Woods. This delicate story was originally made to sell last-minute Christmas cards for Hallmark.
George Wallace,the 1997 made-fro-cable historical drams by noted director John Frankenheimer. He started work in TV during the first Golden Age(including Rod Serling's The Comedian) and,as he branched out to feature films,tackled difficult subjects,including the original Manchurian Candidate. TCM showed both parts with no interruption.
So, TV & feature film mixing it up-a truly great night for TCM and viewers.
May 24, 2016   |  Reply
 
Angela
Thanks for the detailed information and recommendations. Green Eyes is a film I'd like to see. And Hoop Dreams was great! I am unfamiliar with the film, George Wallace but anything by the writer of Manchurian Candidate is worth seeing. Right this moment I am need of pure entertainment, I'm on information overload and need to "output" all that's bouncing around in my brain, so I'll probably watch The Voice, tonight, so thank you, too, TVWW.
May 25, 2016
 
 
 
 
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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.