FRIDAY
SEPTEMBER 6
2013

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

More Max, 7:15 p.m. ET

Simon Pegg and company, currently getting enthusiastic reviews for their movie The World’s End, first plied their genre-busting ways almost a decade ago, in this 2004 zombie movie that plays like almost no other – but in its treatment of a group of London slacker buddies fighting against an onslaught of the undead, ended up launching an unlikely but highly entertaining franchise.

 
  
 
 

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

The good news: CBS is devoting two hours of tonight’s prime time to salute public school teachers, in a special hosted by Queen Latifah. The bad news: CBS also is using the special to showcase some stars of its new series, including Anna Faris and Jerry O’Connell, which makes the whole thing seem a little less altruistic.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1927 science fiction classic, directed by Fritz Lang, is presented in its most complete, recently restored version. Made at the end of the silent film era, its visuals have influenced sci-fi cinema ever since – and Brigitte Helm, as the robot woman temptress, established an iconic role that’s still a cinematic touchstone. And this dystopian future, by the way, was set at a time Conan O’Brien used to intone ominously: “In the year 2000…”

 
  
 
 

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: This taut, tense drama, starring Idris Elba as a cop with an obsessive streak, concludes for the season, with him chasing down a killer with an obsessive streak of his own.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:45 p.m. ET

This 1927 film pops in at various times in an imagined future, from 1940 to the still-in-our-future 2036. It’s better at predicting television than certain specific wars, and is way off on the whole flying-cars idea, but the general approach, as a parable and warning, continues to make sense.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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1148 Comments
 
 
Mary Bolduc
Mac,
Thanks.
Unrelated note on Friday Texas TV newscast about state legislation: Could that Texas state seal shown behind House Speaker Joe Strauss be any bigger?
May 27, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Bolduc
Where might a viewer who rarely watched "Twin Peaks" the first time round, and never saw a whole episode, locate a summary of the original?
May 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Try Wikipedia,since they usually break down stories with spoilers(it's what they do). And yes,there is a Fandom site on Wikia. I have never seen a complete episode,having bailed during the premiere with house guests who were dumbfounded (me,too) I'm still glad,though, that someone attempted to turn mainstream TV on its head. Someone with ties to Philly's Pa. Academy of the Fine Arts. I like to think that a possible diet of cheese steaks,Tastykakes and Black Cherry Wishniak led Lynch to some crazy dreams,some of which have become part of his films. Me,I got heart disease and diabetes from that stuff. As Lynch left Philly in 1971, I spent lots of time in the bowels of Center City and saw my share of odd moments. Who needs Twin Peaks when watching commuters around Philly's City Hall? My favorite was the schizo guy who sat in the back of the bus and argued the Vietnam War with himself till the bus driver pulled over and threatened to throw off both sides,though there was only one person.
May 26, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
There are always cries of "fake news" when a Frontline show is recommended. Ignore the screams and catch the current Bannon's War,which premiered 5/23 but available and well captioned online at the PBS website. It has the feeling of history from years ago but includes headlines from just days ago. To paraphrase The Most Interesting Fake Man(II,since TIFM I was thankfully blasted into space,forever-we can only hope):"Stay involved,my friend. I don't drink the Breitbart Kool-Aid often,but if I do,I have a Frontline chaser to cleanse my system."
May 24, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Mac, Thanks for the heads up. Awhile ago, I stumbled across a Frontline show. I then spent hours and hours on the Frontline website watching all the older shows. I always learn a lot about topical subjects. Good to know there's a new show out.
May 25, 2017
 
 
 
Joe in SF
Thanks for the Beatles Best Bet. We still need them. We'll still feed them. I guess SiriusXM could have put their music on Channel 64.
May 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
dave
Minor correction - Jason Bourne is on HBO tonight, not Cinemax
May 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Today (Saturday) is the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will stream from Kiev, Ukraine. Logo is streaming it in the US; it starts at 3 p.m. ET. This long-running competition--it began in 1956--is a strange combination of pop music and politics, since voting is done by country.
May 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
JP Becca
Dick is not a series premiere, it might be a season premiere.
May 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I have never seen an episode of Then Came Bronson.Was Michael Parks' top 20 single,Long,Lonesome Highway,eventually used as a theme? Written by a guy once married to Mama Cass.They were in a group,the Mugwumps, also included future Papa Denny Doherty,as well as two Lovin' Spoonful guys,John Sebastian & Zal Yanovsky. As faux singer/songwriter stuff goes,it was pretty good.
May 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
I remember thinking that title clip was all wrong for a show about such a cool dude. And Long Lonesome Highway is shown on the site EG linked to (far right pic- top row) I had no idea Michael Parks sang that song. Here's a very interesting YouTube video that was the pitch video for potential investors and the making of the Michael Parks documentary project that sadly fell through. https://youtu.be/J0tDx6ZKRuE Also, Michael played Jean Renault the drug dealer in Twin Peaks.
May 15, 2017
 
 
EG
Mac: The Gods of the universe have delivered a website dedicated to 'Then Came Bronson'... of course. (http://jimbronson.com) The title clip we're showing has a smooth jazz instrumental, standard for many series from the '60's and '70's. But I do recall "Long Lonesome Highway" being used as a theme... maybe during the closing credits. Wikipedia has it as a top 20 hit when it was released, along with the series. –EG
May 13, 2017
 
 
 
Mary Bolduc
Couple of theories, probably wrong:
Title of TV show "Castle" may refer or allude partly to the Castle law in Texas, which I think allows a property owner to defend himself and-or his family on his property or in his house.... or not. It's a fantasy of a civilian, non-cop, defending himself or helping defend himself or his family.... OK, maybe not.
And off topic, name of character Jamie in "Fifty Shades of Gray" (which I have not read or seen) may be a play on the French word jamais, or never. Jamie sounds like "jamais." The plot is so over-the-top, absurd, it would never happen? That might be a better theory.
May 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
DH
David, I'm surprised tonight's Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert (CBS, 11:35pm) didn't make your list. In celebration of Colbert's 20 years on late night television, he will host a "Daily Show" reunion with guests Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Ed Helms, & Rob Corddry. That's quite a lineup!
May 9, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Yeah,that could have gone on for a week. Good skit included. A shame it was cookie-cuttered like so much of late night TV has become. Still,better than Fallon.
May 12, 2017
 
 
 
Keith Robin
Mr. Bianculli, With reference to your preview of the "Billions" season finale, I would normally issue an admonishment to anyone revealing important plot points a mere seven days after broadcast. Many is the time, and I am sure I am not alone, when I am too busy to watch a TV show sooner than a week after it premiered. But...in this case, it's my opinion that anyone watching "Billions" already knows that the ONLY way to watch every episode is the same as watching "Game of Thrones": Live on Sunday night! It is, to me, the embodiment of the term "Must See TV"! I think it is one of the best dramas currently available on ANY medium! And last Sunday's episode was exceptional. I regret that too many viewers are either unaware or uninterested in watching it, but that's their loss! With so many shows available on so many platforms, it makes one feel good to know they've chosen wisely when deciding which of them is worth the time invested in entertainment of this quality.
May 7, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
"Almost guaranteed, there will be a sketch about a bunch of old white guys in suits and ties, celebrating their legislative “victory” in the Rose Garden." -- More likely is a sketch about Stephen Colbert sticking a fork in his "career."
May 6, 2017   |  Reply
 
Casey
Whatcha wanna bet, George?
May 7, 2017
 
 
 
Angela
David, In answer to your pop quiz question, I believe it was The Americans but I don't know the name of the show they were watching. Hopefully someone else will chime in with the answer.
May 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
Tom
(Hint: It wasn’t The Russians.)
May 4, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
Jia Talentino's New Yorker online story about the Sam Bee special describes taping starting mid-afternoon 4/29 for the 10PM broadcast,which was immediately repeated after the first showing. Lots of remote- button hopping that night between C-SPAN,Fox News,MSNBC and TBS. I missed the official correspondence remarks live because TBS ran the Bee special,but caught it on the first repeat later that PM. Lots of watching the Nerd Prom Cam on C-SPAN,wading through till the good stuff. Button hopping to hear Trump's Tall Tales. How tall? I live in Pa. minutes from the old steel works in Bethlehem and folks,there ain't ever gonna be any steel coming from there,ever. Billy Joel told you about that decades ago. It's all gambling,retail,music acts and movies today.
Note to Donald-Bethlehem Motors never used Bethlehem Steel in any of its cars. Bethlehem Motors never existed. Harold Robbins made that up to see if you were paying attention. Wrote the book,knowing you don't read.
May 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Entire Lehigh Valley is basically in the warehouse business,with Amazon leading the way,and dictating temp workers with few benefits and subpar wages. Proximity to major East Coast sites like NYC,Philly,Boston & D.C. Amazon now has two,count-em tow,warehouses and pretty much will control the airport. Fed-Ex is building a mega site that will jam vehicle arteries and keep wages well under what UPS is faced with. Sure,the unemployment numbers look good on paper,but folks have taken a financial hit. The life of a temp worker is one of the dirty little secrets of employment today.
May 12, 2017
 
 
Tom
Bethlehem is one of the few steel towns that has a population about the same as its steel period peak. The people that ran the town brought in tech and other business to keep the town going. One of the great success stories.
May 4, 2017
 
 
 
Mary B.
"Jane the Virgin" is charming and quite watchable, but it's slightly alarming that the characters are so childish. Although most have left high school and college, and are adults, they talk continually about who has had sex, or is having sex. And they don't seem to have boundaries. Of course it's fiction ..
May 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Warning! Severe pain can kill. It can damage the heart and other organs. And I know I never want to see a loved one suffer like people do in some other countries because it is illegal to prescribe opioids ever! That pendulum has already swung too far the other direction. Now doctors often have little say in how they can treat pain. Their hands are tied. And in the instances where a doctor may have discretion their too afraid to prescribe pain medicine for fear of DEA retribution. That's one big reason civil forfeiture needs to be made illegal. There's too much money to be made busting doctors. I sure hope HBO finds the middle ground.
May 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Tom Ranftle
Hey, David! Keep in mind those of us who've been with you since TCM was a novelty. Some, dare I say most of us don't get all the pay channels. Some don't even get CNN. We need options on the low end of the pay scale. One over-the air network, one basic cable and four pay nets. I don't begrudge people who can pay, but we on this end need more help than they do.
May 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
"Paige turner" and "paid scale". Groan! ;)
Apr 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The next chapter in FoxGate will not be seen but heard as Billo Reilly returns to his personal Spin Zone podcast online. Like any laundromat, you have to pay for this Spin Cycle,so news outlets have to pony up the $4.99 to hear if Billo takes a cue from his recent Papal visit and comes clean,or continues his Nixonian "I am not a cop feeler!"defense.
Meanwhile,a trivia tidbit from Wiki about Tucker Carlson and Anderson Cooper,now going head-to-head @ 8PM. Anderson's mommy is heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. Tucker's mommy abandoned him at six but his stepmommy is an heiress to Swanson TV dinners. Gloria has shown up on Anderson's show. Wonder if we'll see a Tucker mother soon?
Apr 24, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Thanks Mac. And here I am watching the Trump "rally". (Can't believe he's blown off the WHC dinner.) I just tuned in and Trump said, "Before I talk about my first 100 days that's going great, let's talk about the media's 100 days." Of course you can imagine the rest. Now the crowd is chanting, "Get them out!, Get them out!" Not sure who they're want to leave but it sure seems Trump rallies incite anger and hatred. Now Trump is talking abut the Times. He's giving them a failing grade for dishonesty. Look who's talking!?!
Apr 30, 2017
 
 
Mac
Listening now to Billo's 4/26 18 min. podcast. He is breaking down Trump's proposed tax plan. This is a guy lost without visuals. Pretty lame as right wing radio. El Rushbo may be Evil Incarnate but at least he knows how to fill up three hours of yakking. I listen to a lot of left of the dial volunteers newsreading,and Billo ain't that much better. Only one more freebie from the site(today),then back to the Premium Paywall 5/1.
Look for Billo's nemesis Keith Olbermann's op-ed take on what might happen next in Variety(online,too). Like Billo,Keith was given a bushel of money(couple of times?)to walk away from the mike,but not for Billo's reasons. Keith thinks Bill might actually have bigger numbers online,with more control,both with content and finances. Keith knows Bill won't change or admit anything but fans could pay for the next trip to the Vatican.
Apr 27, 2017
 
 
Angela
Hi Mac, Thanks for the bad news about the Spin Zone. I can't bring myself to give O'Really the satisfaction of downloading his podcast for fear it will go to enlarging his already too unweildy ego due to whatever the number of listeners being recorded. That said, would you be willing to relay your take on it to us here?
Apr 26, 2017
 
 
Mac
This just in! Billo's podcast is on @7PM ET and is free till 4/30.I don't know if a signup or if any personal info is required to listen. Every news dept.save Fox,will probably be dissecting, anyway,but the nuances,tone,pauses and what he doesn't say should be interesting.
Apr 24, 2017
 
 
 
George Ashur
I tried Brockmire, and found it unwatchable.

Can we please show Hap and Leonard some love?
Apr 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
Amy
George -- agreed on Brockmire -- I get easily turned off by too much vulgarity. I do really like Hank Azaria in general though. Also, thanks so much for the tip on Hap and Leonard -- just binge-watched the first season and thoroughly enjoyed it.
May 3, 2017
 
 
 
 
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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 available on Amazon for $20.

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