TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1942 romantic comedy is a great newspaper movie, a great relationship movie, and a great movie, period. It stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as reporters with very different specialties and interests – she’s an international public affairs reporter, and he’s a sportswriter – who feud, compete, and, of course, fall in love. When the movie was released, the hard-to-please critic Bosley Crowther raved about it, calling Woman of the Year “as warming as a Manhattan cocktail and as juicy as a porterhouse steak.” And tonight, as part of The Essentials canon, we’ll hear similar accolades from Alec Baldwin and his guest, Tina Fey – whose enthusiasm for this movie is both understandable and heartwarming.

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

One of the clones most recently introduced on this series was Krystal, a caricature character – blonde, self-obsessed, hair-and-makeup-consumed – whom Tatiana Maslany somehow has made not only believable, but touching. Krystal has been absent for all but a few seconds this season, but tonight she resurfaces, in a story line that may provide a key piece of the puzzle for the other clone sisters.


CNN, 10:00 p.m. ET

This is a bit selfish to point out, but it’s also an exciting viewing opportunity I never thought CNN would provide. In every decade the network has decided to examine as a documentary miniseries, starting with The Sixties, CNN has opened each miniseries with an episode divided to that era’s television. Tonight, beginning with the “The One About TV” installment that opened The Nineties last Sunday, CNN presents them all, in reverse order, in a mini-marathon, presenting the TV-centered opening episodes from The Nineties, The Eighties, The Seventies, and The Sixties. The only reason it’s selfish to point out is that I’m in all of them – but I promise, the opportunity to see 40 years of TV history encapsulated so concisely, and so entertainingly, is worth having to put up with me every now and then.


NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

This is a repeat episode from February, but it’s well worth revisiting. The guest host is Alec Baldwin – and five months have elapsed in Trumpland since then, so Baldwin’s appearance, as his Trump impression, may seem almost like nostalgia for a simpler time. Musical guest: Ed Sheeran.

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Correction -- according to schedules on both BBC America and Comcast "Planet Earth: Wild West" will air on three consecutive Saturday nights, not three episodes tonight.
Aug 19, 2017   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Our apologies. They keep changing these schedules without consulting us! Thank you, MAS...
Aug 19, 2017
In the interest of equality, I was hoping to see Solheim Cup competition listed here among Best Bets, since the PGA Championship was listed (as you typically list most, if not all, of the men's majors).

Can you give the distaff side an equal share of you Best Bets moving forward? I'm surely watching our best women competing in the name of our country!
Aug 19, 2017   |  Reply
I second the accolades for Episodes! It's been fantastic, and should have received a lot more attention as funny and smart comedy. I never really thought of Matt LaBlanc any which way for his acting or comedic abilities, but he has been brilliant in this show.
Aug 19, 2017   |  Reply
Keith Robin
Well said. I could not agree with your more!
Aug 19, 2017
Sean Dougherty
Why do you list movies that are on after this publishes? It seems mean. Midnight ET was 11.5 hours ago.
Aug 17, 2017   |  Reply
If you are referring to the TCM showing of His Girl Friday,that was on @ midnight Thurs.,going into Friday AM. Best Bets for 8/17 was published many hours before. True,sometimes the BBs are late(I'd like to see them up 6AM-8AM when I do my daily news read,but this one wasn't. And know that ,if indeed it is a TCM showing,the channel considers their day starting @ 6AM till 5:59AM the next day,so if they have a film scheduled @ 2AM Friday,TCM lists it as a Thurs. offering on their own schedule. And if one missed His Girl Friday,TCM shows this with some frequency-don't go to the commercial film sites like Movies-you will regret it. Also,ff TCM has a film scheduled,they can email you a few days before screening.
Aug 18, 2017
will forest
Why never any posts about Preacher? It's a great edgy show.
You seem to be so far away fro the type of TV i watch, that if you recommend it, I look for the reason why I should avoid it.
Aug 15, 2017   |  Reply
I tried to watch the Thursday version of Weekend Update, but turned it off after two minutes because of the phony canned laughter. What a disappointment!
Aug 11, 2017   |  Reply
Evidently viewers who stayed were treated by Bill Hader skewing Antny(sic) Scaramucci. Yo,Mooch,we hardly knew #$%^& 'ya!. And were better for it. Cameos from the better cast members of yesterday(please,no Adam Sandler) might keep folks setting their DVRs &orfollowing You Tube for the good stuff.
Aug 13, 2017
They need canned laughter because it isn't funny hoping you will laugh along with the annoying sound of fake laughs.
Aug 11, 2017
Re:Glen Campbell's passing. I have met two singer/songwriters important to Campbell's success as a singer(this, after being a studio go-to-guitar wiz and touring Beach Boy): John Hartford (Gentle On my Mind) and Jim Webb (Wichita Lineman,Galveston,By The Time i Get To Phoenix-and those are just the hits). Both great performers in their own right,but both knew what Campbell brought to their art. Webb has heartfelt words about his friend on his Facebook page. Webb also performs regularly and sometimes has a "Glen Campbell Years" show with singing and stories from the era. Adios!
Aug 10, 2017   |  Reply
Bummer, looks like XFinity does not get the AT&T Audience Network. I would have loved to watch Mr. Mercedes.
Aug 10, 2017   |  Reply
You and me both. I enjoyed the book a lot. I think Mr. Mercedes is only on Dish Network but am hoping it will air on cable in the not too distant future.
Aug 12, 2017
Reiny in Berkeley
Wow. A Firesign Theater ref in your Room 104 review! But are you sure the name is not Regnad Kcin? Thanks for the flashback.
Aug 4, 2017   |  Reply
Elton LeHew
Feed burner says I am already getting your feed, but I no longer am. Can you help me get back on? Thanks. Elton
Aug 3, 2017   |  Reply
Hello Elton: We will look into it -- the feed burner service is a bit old and it might take a little work to update it.
Aug 10, 2017
I am glad The Guest Book comes recommended because my dad who only watches three tv shows, heard a review of it earlier this week and really wants to check it out
Aug 3, 2017   |  Reply
Frank Dracman
Proof that my previous post was dead-on b***s accurate-David Bianculli: "...that’s only because I’m desperate, after six months, for a slow news week."
Aug 2, 2017   |  Reply
Frank Dracman
David B. says " Good thing it was a slow news week, so he’ll have an easy time easing his way back into the swing of things…", as he slowly removes his tongue from his cheek!
Jul 30, 2017   |  Reply
With DB's first in 10 years Best Bets recommendation(s) for last night, how could I not do MY best to watch all 4 of Hitchcock's best? So, I watched Vertigo, North by Northwest and half of Psycho but had to bite the bullet and and make myself go to bed before I could watch my very favorite, The Birds.

I still remember when I saw, The Birds as a 10 year old child. I was scared by it and mesmerized all at the same time. I normally didn't scare easy but Hitchcock got me good that night. And I haven't seen it since! How did they make the birds do what they did? I really need to see it again.
Jul 28, 2017   |  Reply
I like Hooten and the Lady. It is so old fashioned and cute. You seem to knock it every week as you recommend it.
Jul 27, 2017   |  Reply
Re:South Korean show named God's Gift:That phrase was used by my long-departed boss as a nickname for the mailman for our shopping center. He wore shorts as much as possible,was tanned and wore a pith helmet-always attracting the attention of the ladies on the route. We sometimes followed him when he entered another emporium,just to see the attention for him-rarely failed. The nickname was a shortened version of "God's Gift To Women". Next dull Summer day I'll tell you about Leafblower,Leafblower II(his replacement) and Those Two Cleaning Guys From the Multiplex Who Looked Like They Were Going to Steal Stuff But Who Proved To Be Nice Guys(well,one did).
Jul 25, 2017   |  Reply
This is a family-safe place,so I can't print the urban legend blooper of a TV showing of The Barefoot Contessa. The story has the announcer saying:"The next portion the film is sponsored by Bayer Aspirin. Stay tuned for tonight's feature:Ava Gardner in the Barea-- Contessa. Most bloopers have no real tape to authenticate;many that purport to be the real thing are recreations or possibly written after the fact. What actually exists is a 1955 Mad Magazine parody-The Barefoot Nocountessa. Mad icon Jack Davis gets credit for story and art. The movie poster tagline,"The Most Beautiful Animal", refers to Lassie. The parody stars Humphrey Yogurt,Ava Nother ,"plus a cast of plaster". Davis could draw a curvy creature like Gardner better than anyone on staff but lots of Bogey closeups add to the fun! Davis did lots of real movie posters:It's A Mad,Mad,Mad, World and The Russians are Coming!The Russians Are Coming are two standouts.
Jul 24, 2017   |  Reply
Sat.7/22-TCM has a triple feature of Betty Davis films starting with the Essential All About Eve,with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey chiming in for what promises to be a bumpy ride,indeed. The next two films also showcase Davis in roles as an actress:The Star and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. I bring these to folks attention after the recent FX series surrounding the real backstory ill will between Davis & Joan Crawford when filming Baby Jane. What's all the hubbub,bub? It's on display tonight.
Jul 22, 2017   |  Reply
Anytime Rear Window rears it pretty little head,it is time to look out for the real David Seville(Ross Bagdasarian) before he turned his rodent problem a profit when he found out the chimpunks living in his house could sing,Raymond Burr and even Frank Cady,before he opened up his general store in Hooterville as Sam Drucker in Petticoat Junction & Green Acres.
Jul 21, 2017   |  Reply
Ed Q
Ditto on Friends from College. Perhaps it's just that the cast is incredible but I enjoyed the series. It's not always perfect and they're not always likable but it's pretty good tv during a summer lull
Jul 18, 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 available on Amazon for $20. (Paperback will be available September 5th, here.)

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