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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594 Comments
 
 
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
 
 
Erin
I think your spelling of the X-Men movie is more appropriate than the official title.
Apr 11, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I binged watched the first few episodes of iZombie on demand because of the weekly recommendation and have to say it is better then I thought it would be. As for the finale episodes of Justified I feel the same way.
Apr 7, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Knight of Malta
Thanks Dave for your research, helping to narrow down hundreds of possibilities for my evening entertainment. Checking in on your website helps propel me through the day.
Apr 5, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
The Annie Lennox was wonderful to hear. Not to watch. The director, perhaps, was being paid by the shot: I never have seen such frenetic camera switching, outside a Monkees episode. The constant camera changes was irritating, to say it nicely.
Apr 4, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
So glad I decided to page back to Wednesday night's, "Best Bets" thinking there was a show I was interested in watching but had forgotten about by the time it aired. "Putin"? Ha! I didn't catch on until then, and even then I wasn't certain because DB's puns are always great. Oh, and I wanted to see La Tub. :)
Apr 2, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
I would totally watch "The Russians".
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Bob
David, you had me going for a moment, well done. I should have caught it with Cookie Monster. Well done!
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
David really does know how to pull you in, doesn't he, Bob? The Cookie Monster reference? One of my favorites.
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
 
Erin
Is it sad that I would actually want to watch Umpire?
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
dad1153
Me three! :-) Shoot, I was buying it until "The Russians" and then it clicked. Good thing I haven't left the house yet, or someone would have talked me already into giving them my clothes and keys to the car I don't yet own.
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
Linda Donovan
Me, too, Erin...!
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
 
Bill
If the BEST BETS are posted early it must be April Fools Day.
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
Angela
Heh! Good one. :)
Apr 2, 2015
 
 
 
Mac
Ahh.3/30 TCM triple feature of films featuring TV news:China Syndrome,Broadcast News(a TCM premiere)and Network. It's like a Memorial Day WWII marathon for media fans.
Mar 31, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Erin
It's particularly touching that Edward Herrmann narrated the Emperor of all Maladies before he succumbed to brain cancer.
Mar 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I just watched an entertainment tv host say that what James Corden does with bringing all the guests out at the same time unique when we have been enjoying Graham Norton doing that for years and I still hope Stephen Colbert will do the same.
Mar 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
The listings have moved to the home page. Hope the passive-aggressive harassment over how this site is run has not cost us the ability to comment here.
Mar 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I hope everything is all right with you.
Mar 26, 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.