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Various Networks, 12:00 p.m. ET

So here we go… Today’s games begin at noon ET, with CBS coverage of the Midwest’s Michigan (seeded No. 7) vs. Louisville (No. 2), who thus far have advanced against lower-seeded teams. Next, at 2:40 p.m. ET, is the South’s No. 2 seed, Kentucky, facing No. 10 Wichita State, one of only a handful of double-digit seeds to make it into the second round. The CBS coverage continues at 5:15 p.m. ET with the Midwest’s No. 1 seed, Kansas, battling No. 9 Michigan State – and then, the action spreads to other networks. South’s No. 1 seed, North Carolina, faces Arkansas at 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT. Midwest’s No. 3 seed, Oregon, faces No. 11-seeded Rhode Island at 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS. The East’s No. 3 seed, Baylor, faces another No. 11 seed, USC, at 7:45 p.m. ET on truTV.  The East’s No. 2 seed, Duke, battles No. 7 seed South Carolina at 8:40 p.m,. ET on TNT. And I think that’s it. Good luck finding the games (I hope this helps) – and if you’re rooting for your home team, good luck there, too.


Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 1of The Circus was subtitled Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth. For Season 2, the subtitle is slightly different, for the focus is on governance, not campaigning. But the behind-the-scenes political insights and coverage by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and co-creator Mark McKinnon are just as valuable – and these Circus animals are now attempting to offer same-week coverage of the President Donald Trump administration, with a news cycle that, if anything, is even more hectic and complicated. Fasten your seat belts… It’s Washington, D.C., in mid-March 2017, and The Circus is in town.


AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

There was, indeed, a sudden death on The Walking Dead last week, after a relative though short-lived lull. What was less surprising than who died was the manner of death, and the person doing the killing – but that all sets up tonight’s escalation of tensions, when the Saviors pay a surprise visit to the Hilltop.

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is episode 5, and things are getting more and more roiled up, like the seaside surf this miniseries keeps returning to as a mood-setter. And nothing in Big Little Lies is more frothy or intense than the troubled marriage between Celeste and Perry, played by Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard.


Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s Homeland ended with gunplay, and with one character dead and another very nearly killed. And that only adds to the paranoia of the surviving characters, who seem poised in this episode to reunite and to band together – but against whom?


ABC, 10:00 p.m. ET

American Crime continues with the second episode of its third season, once again telling an extended, separate story, and once again allowing many of its recurring players, including the very talented Felicity Huffman (pictured), to take on different looks, roles, and attitudes. This season, she’s a blonde – but I’m not expecting that to mean that, as the vintage hair-color TV ad used to claim, she’s about to have more fun.


FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are terrific as, respectively, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in tonight’s Episode 3 of Feud: Bette and Joan, which delves in deeply into the on-set battles between the two actresses during the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? And what happens tonight is that those fights become physical as well as psychological. For a great feature on this miniseries' opening graphics title sequence, see Eric Gould's current Video Worth Watching.

HBO, 11:00 p.m. ET

For a political fix, and perspective, tonight, start on Showtime with The Circus, and end on HBO with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Both shows are likely to teach you something – and both shows, I suspect, are well aware of both the importance and unpredictability of their current subjects.


MGM HD, 12:25 a.m. ET

In this 1988 psychological vampire black comedy, Nicolas Cage gives a bravely larger-than-life, larger-than-death performance as a man who comes to believe he’s been stalked, and eventually turned, by a seductive female vampire. Like Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which rewarded fans with deep knowledge of the horror films he was spoofing, Vampire’s Kiss alludes, visually and comically, to many previous films in the genre, starting with the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu. This is the film where Cage commits to his craft by eating a live cockroach on camera, which I’ve never forgotten. But most of all, I’ve never forgotten the performance by Jennifer Beals as the “is-she-or-isn’t-she?” vampire dominating Cage’s imagination. As the embodiment of both his fears and desires, she’s equally spellbinding.

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I'm curious why the words SERIES PREMIERE starts off the section on Vice Principals, since it was first on last year. Are you going British on us?

I can handle that if you are, but The Orville?
Sep 17, 2017   |  Reply
David Kirshenbaum
Sorry I didn't catch this earlier, but surprised you missed it yourself- (so unlike you!) - The director character in The Band Wagon is actually played by Jack Buchanan... primarily a British music-hall star for whom this was easily his main screen credit (and a great one at that). The always-terrific Oscar Levant is one of the writers of the show-within-the-show... he's essentially playing Adolph to Nanette Fabray's Betty Comden. But yes, what a movie, and definitely an essential.
Congratulations on the paperback, and not least of all, glad you finally came around a bit on the new Twin Peaks by the end - no TV I've watched this summer has frustrated and thrilled me more, or kept me thinking about it as much nearly 2 weeks now (& counting) since it ended.
Keep up all the great work!
Sep 17, 2017   |  Reply
Unable to comment 9/12 but keep in the back of your mind a documentary TCM showed last night that is sure to repeat. Harold & Lillian:A Hollywood Love Story. I'll disclose one of the last events this couple shared:The king & queen in Shrek II were named after them-an homage after decades of behind-the scenes work on many an important post-WWII studio film,including Hitchcock and Mike Nichols(especially The Graduate). Harold was a storyboard artist and later art director,Lillian a research librarian with a self-made library of much needed background materials for Coppola and many others. Their connection to Rain Man alone will bring tears intertwining their personal lives. Much of it told in storyboard/cartoon drawing with personal artifacts as important the the shoes from the Wizard of Oz. Real love stories like this rarely make it to film. Cherish the result and the candid imperfections life gives those struggling to create art and live in the real world. Heartbreaking yet uplifting.
Sep 14, 2017   |  Reply
David Tarpley
Is there a written version of David Bianculli September 14, 2017 review of Ken Burns' Viet Nam documentary?
Sep 14, 2017   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Here you go, David...
Sep 14, 2017
Keith Robin
No mention of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee? Her show is new tonight, at least according to my program guide.
Sep 13, 2017   |  Reply
Mary B.
What is with the screenwriters' savaging of the Robin character on How I Met Your Mother? It's fun to hate seemingly appealing people, I guess. Sure, she's fictional, but making her so selfish and vain to make other characters look better ... makes her too unreal
Sep 13, 2017   |  Reply
Eric-re; VWW- Totally agree with you about not taking our 24 hour hurricane tracking coverage for granted. I told someone that I was weary of waiting so long for Irma to make landfall and he said, but can you imagine what it was like before we had a warning system of any kind? Good point!
Sep 12, 2017   |  Reply
Wow! Top of the Lake:China sounds good. With Elizabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman plus Prime Suspect....Ya, I'm in. Sure did need this too! Just back to being able to watch a TV show rather than waiting for Irma's wrath to be done with. Thanks!
Sep 12, 2017   |  Reply
9/11 TCM night,which starts with Swiss Family Robinson, is a Disney Vault night,hosted by Leonard Maltin and at 12:15AM,stick around for one of truly great Disney short: Lonesome Ghosts,which not only may have been the inspiration for Ghostbusters,but Mickey Mouse,Donald
Duck and Goofy,as well as the ghosts,pack more jokes in seven minutes than all three Ghostbusters films combined, and throw in those horrid animated versions,both the The Real or Filmation's cheapo stuff(they had the name Ghostbusters first) as well.
Sep 11, 2017   |  Reply
feel better
Sep 8, 2017   |  Reply
Post-Jerry Lewis TCM tribute:
While TCM ran their quickly assembled Lewis tribute 9/4,Movies!,a sub-channel network co-owned by Wiegel Broadcasting(MeTV,H&I,Decades,etc.) & 21st Century Fox,had a similar tribute that ran all day. Included were:Don't Give Up the Ship,The Ladies' Man,Boeing-Boeing,The Family Jewels,You're Never Too Young(Martin/Lewis) and The Nutty Professor(the only movie on both channels). Movies! has commercials and often edits and speeds up times,so it is rarely a go-to place to watch movies(also incredibly cheap filler between films),but it is interesting that the two channels had Lewis fare for Labor Day.
BTW,TCM had Ben Mankiewitz and Illeana Douglas for intros. Ms. Douglas, a past romantic partner with Martin Scorese( he directed Lewis in King Of Comedy),is quite capable of hosting solo as she had done for TCM in the past. The intros were poorly edited. One would hope a bit more breathing room for her stories.
Sep 5, 2017   |  Reply
I led off my original TCM-Lewis tribute post with the Labor Day connection. Still,it is rare that TCM ran a Remembers spot just hours after Lewis died and they were able to assemble the tribute in such short time. Many times these take days and weeks to assemble.
BTW,Movies! is sprinkling a few more Lewis films this month:The Geisha Boy,The Delicate Delinquent and The Family Jewels show up in the next two weeks. Their website schedule only shows 14 days in advance-another negative for the network as they don't realize that movie fans plan far ahead for certain films. Case in point: last night's TCM's Werner Herzog tribute(thanks,David), featuring all TCM premieres. The only knock is that they scheduled the Fitzcarraldo documentary eight hours after the movie. Showing them back-to back would have made sense. Strange,too that the doc is available from Criterion but there are no Herzog films in their catalog.
Sep 8, 2017
"but it is interesting that the two channels had Lewis fare for Labor Day. "

Labor Day was the The Jerry Lewis MDA Day Telethon
Sep 6, 2017
TCM's Beach Party also includes For Those Who Think Young(2AM ET)which quite possibly is an early "placement" movie(there's a subject needing a written history). The title comes from Pepsi-Cola's then-current ad slogan. I have never seen this(and don't plan to tonight)but there seems to be numerous Pepsi vending machines throughout(a good drinking game but diabetics like me must resort to Diet Pepsi-ecch!). Unfortunately,the movie doesn't use the vocalist for the ads-Joanie Sommers-and I can't find out if there is any version of the jingle(signs point to no). Anyway,like many of these '60s B movies,look for lots of recognizable folk: Tina Louise & Bob Denver(Gilligan's Island),Paul Lynde,Nancy Sinatra(Daddy- Frank) & Claudia Martin(Daddy- Dean).Co-written by George O'Hanlon,who starred in all of the Joe McDoakes Warner one reelers on TCM(and was the voice of George Jetson:"Jane!Stop this crazy thing!"). Movie title also used for the great MadMen season 2 opener.
Sep 1, 2017   |  Reply
"Today is Marion Davies day on TCM. If her name isn’t that familiar as a star in the Hollywood constellation, try this: She was the B-list actress who was the mistress of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst..."

And (for fans of symphony orchestras, or anyone who has ever lived in or visited the San Francisco Bay area) the "Davies" in Davies Symphony Hall, home to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.
Aug 29, 2017   |  Reply
Labor Day weekend meant the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon,hosted by the late
Jerry Lewis for decades. It is kinda fitting,yet bizarre,that TCM will spool five Lewis films this Labor Day,9/4. The lineup:
8PM-The Nutty Professor-The best known Lewis film.
10PM-The King of Comedy-Martin Scorsese directs Robert DeNiro as an obsessive wannbe comic kidnapping a Johnny Carson-type,played by Lewis,and mayhem happens with dark ideas. If you aren't familiar with Lewis,avoid this. But longtime fans,and fans of the classic talk-show format,should watch,no matter how strange things get.
12AM-The Stooge-Lewis with Dean Martin,at the time the hottest duo with radio,clubs,screen and TV. The film plays with the idea of the straight man and the clown. They made 16 films from 1959 to 1956.
2AM-The Bellboy-Lewis in total control:producing,writing,directing,even a cameo as himself. Lewis as the schlub bellboy is silent.
3:30AM-The Disorderly Orderly,directed by Frank Tashlin,who directed cartoons.
Aug 29, 2017   |  Reply
Mark Flannery
The film "Sideways" was set in Santa Barbara County's wine country, not Northern California. The two places are several hundred miles apart.
Aug 29, 2017   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Thank you, Mark. Fixed.
Aug 29, 2017
Musical version of Blazing Saddles? Can't wait or the campfire scene. Little toots? And there has to be a Wells Fargo Wagon type of anticipation number for the arrival of the Rock Ridge Sheriff. It's Hedley,not Hedy. Gum?Spit it out! Did you bring enough for everybody! This thing writes itself!
Aug 28, 2017   |  Reply
TCM's annual Summer Under The Stars usually keeps Sat. & Sun. for superstars with deep catalog(e.g.-Jimmy Cagney last night). But today they spotlight Leslie Caron,which,while never approaching the status of Grace Kelly,Doris Day,Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor in the post-WWII era,has an interesting canon worth spending some time on the penultimate Summer Sun. And much of it is family friendly:The Glass Slipper,Gigi,Father Goose,a modern day documentary about Caron(always required TCM viewing to understanding film)and Lili-about 12 consecutive hours of a fascinating actress and how she slowly,almost quietly, made her mark in film. Still active at 86.
Aug 27, 2017   |  Reply
Oops. An American in Paris follows Glass Slipper,which is always worth your time.
Aug 27, 2017
If you pay to watch the fight tonight, make sure you watch the singer of the Irish national anthem. If you never heard of her before? You'll know her now. Imelda May. One of Ireland's national treasures.
Aug 26, 2017   |  Reply
Thank goodness for the internet to capture this post-fight moment so I didn't have to shell out a hundred bucks for a truly lame pseudo sporting event. But that singing was amazing!. I actually had to investigate why this part of the Las Vegas spectacle-MacGregor is Irish born. Seems he is referred as the Notorious Mystic Mac. Me,I'm neither notorious,nor mystic,but I am still a Mac.Big? Yea,I get that a lot,thanks to Tastykakes & cheesesteaks,but I usually tell folks my nickname is "Mac,like the truck." Allentown was once world headquarters for Mack trucks and their hq was just a few blocks from where I'm writing. I digress. Erin go braugh,except for pretend sports like last night. Time for some pretend football in August!
Aug 27, 2017
As regards America's Got Talent: when you (DB) write that it's a live show, that is not true for the western time zones. 8 pm ET is 7 pm CT, where it airs live. But unlike a sports broadcast, live in all time zones, this and programs like it are recorded replays in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii (and presumably Guam, if it's still there this evening).
Aug 22, 2017   |  Reply
Eclipse redux. I went to the NASA Channel for the event and was treated to an amazing afternoon of visuals and not-so-polished announcers(a good thing) and no ads(a better thing). C-SPAN 1(unleaded,I guess) simulcast the NASA feed(which included a visit from the space station and pictures they took),so,not unlike NOAA providing the best weather info,our tax dollars seemed to do a great job yesterday. Seemed to me that most of the scientists interviewed were women-a good thing for the granddaughters to experience.Science Channel is not on the overpriced 100+ channels on our upgraded,but still not premium, cable setup(lots of channels selling crud,lots of religious channels selling much the same,but little science)but I'd bet that NASA did as good a job. Don't tell Trump,McConnell & Ryan or they may defund the truth for the masses.
Aug 22, 2017   |  Reply
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

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's also an author and teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University. His 2009 Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', has been purchased for film rights and his latest, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is now available at Amazon. The paperback version will be released fall, 2017.


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 available in paperback for under $15. 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. Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points... Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post