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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486 Comments
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........where are today's (10/30/14) Best Bets?
Oct 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
Mike C.
Thanks, Dave.
Oct 30, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Another sports comment about 10/24/14.Numbers for the first three World Series games show the Kansas City market holding near 50 percent of all TVs watching these games in real time.The other half is missing quite a show.
Oct 26, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........what happened to Friday's (10/24/14) Best Bets?
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
umm...Friday's Picks, please!
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
LANA TURNER? This is Halloween, not April Fool's Day. "The Innocents" stars the great Deborah Kerr in what is quite possibly her greatest performance. It's a great movie - maybe the best ghost movie ever made - with the original "The Haunting" being a very close runner-up. By the way that stars Julie Harris, not Virginia Mayo.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
You're right, of course, Jim. Thank you for making us aware of our egregious mistake. Fixed!
Oct 23, 2014
 
 
 
I'm sure it's already been pointed out. That's Deborah Kerr not Lana Turner. When I first saw it, it scared the hell out of me. Bought the DVD too.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jon Delfin
"But how many times, really, will I get the opportunity to write about a movie named Zombie Strippers?" Considering how often IFC runs it, lots!
Oct 20, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Better Call Saul,
What fun Vince Gilligan and crew, and "Saul" must be having with their new show. The commercials are funny and the amount of material from which they have to draw from in our sue happy country boggles the mind.

I enjoyed seeing the big red blow-up advert figure waving it's arms around, like an old friend from Breaking Bad. I can't place where we first saw it on the show. At the car-wash?
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
EG
Angela - The "Rectify" air dancer is here: https://rbellwoar.wordpress.com/tag/rectify/ (Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom of the page.) I'll keep looking for the BB example. –EG
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
Angela
Now I'm starting to second guess myself; I trust your memory EG, more than my own. So I googled inflatable sky dancers, Breaking Bad, and Rectify but didn't find any hits.
I seem to recall Mr. White briefly becoming entangled with the dancing red man during an argument with someone. Am I confusing the two shows?
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
EG
Oddly, I can only place it in "Rectify". I'll have to go back and review all my BB DVDs... –EG
Oct 15, 2014
 
 
 
John Noel
Well, Dave, I know the ROYALS were exciting as usual, but did they REALLY morph into the CHEIFS last night? Glad you were excited by the game and today's was your best bey. All of us here in the Fart, er, ah, the Heartland were excited too!!!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
CBA82
"Usually, after sliding off the rails like that, SNL rebounds strongly with its next episode" -- what, they quickly throw out all the bad scripts, turn up the dial, and come up with some funny bits just like that? They are 0-for-2 so far this season, and I'm not optimistic.
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Suzanne Melton
Believe there's a typo: Alex Baldwin has hosted SNL a lot, but doubt it's 167 times. Might wanna check that! Thanks!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
CBA82
Uh, sarcasm, maybe?
Oct 11, 2014
 
 
 
Dave
"Last night’s Game 1 between the Kansas City Chiefs"
Football or baseball game?
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
KC Royals, not Chiefs...different shaped ball!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Carrol
Since the new season began the ABC Wed. night comedy programs have had an annoying narration of what every one can see is on the screen. Do they really think we are that stupid that we need an interpreter? Very irritating.
Oct 9, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jim
I would like to say a few words regarding "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" It is absolutely nothing at all like the tv sitcom of the same title. It is one of the loveliest and, literally, most haunting love stories ever filmed. It's one of those movies where everything is just right - the photography, the performances, the direction by Joseph Mankiewicz and the glorious musical score by Bernard Herrmann. In fact this was the movie that first made me pay attention to music in film. Look for a very young Natalie Wood as Gene Tierney's daughter.
Oct 9, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
scott
Modern Family is on tonight on abc at 9 pm eastern. not sure why it isn't in tonight's best bets.
Oct 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Windsor McCay segment on TCM's animation night was fine,but they reran the segment at 11:00PM,EST,instead of showing the scheduled Van Buren material with guest programmer Steve Stanchfield. Looks like someone was asleep at the wheel,either watching football or baseball.
Oct 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Janet Troughton
The Good Wife has been delayed where I live for the first two episodes, meaning that we miss the last 10 minutes of the show. What the heck. Is it due to 60 Minutes, or is Madam Secretary the culprit? (I do record TGW) Anyway, just to let you know. Is that happening in the States? JT
Oct 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
Janet Troughton
Thanks guys. Guess you have to watch at the regular time, to get the banner. I added half an hour so we will see. JT
Oct 6, 2014
 
 
Angela
Good idea to add minutes to the recording length. I also have the "On Demand" option so instead I usually watch TGW the next night if my DVR can't record it.
I had to chuckle when my cable company threw up a ticker tape to let viewers know the show was going to start a half hour late. Though it was more like an hour later. Also some DVRs and cable companies will automatically adjust longer than usual episodes but I don't know if that would work with TGW. I wonder how the cast and crew of TGW feel about this since this happens every single season! I would be pissed but they still keep their audience. Says a lot about the show's quality.
Oct 5, 2014
 
 
jim
Sunday night's shows on CBS are almost always delayed due to sporting events that extend into the early evening, but this is nothing new it has been happening for years and it is a nuisance. There is really nothing to do about it except to anticipate the possibility and, if possible, manually set your dvr to record extra time. I usually add at least 90 minutes. If that conflicts with something else you want to record you might have some decisions to make.
Oct 5, 2014
 
 
 
Martha
National League wildcard playoff is on ESPN, not TBS.
Oct 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
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
 
 
 
 
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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.

 
 
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