DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

CANDACE KELLEY

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

DAVID SICILIA

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
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2014
Jan
31
 
 
Before David Simon was a TV writer and producer, creating such brilliant series as The Wire and Treme, he was a newspaper reporter – covering the police beat in Baltimore in an eye-opening experience that inspired Homicide: Life on the Street. In this new installment of Bill Moyers’ talk show, Simon applies the same skills he used so surgically and perceptively in all those TV series – taking the time to probe and explain, in human terms, the various institutions that shape pov
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
31
 
 
This is one of the great things TV can do for us: import, into our living rooms, something that can enrich as well as entertain us, and treat us to something we might otherwise have missed. This is a Great Performances presentation of Christopher Plummer’s Broadway performance of Barrymore, for which he won a Tony. He plays John Barrymore in that famous actor’s twilight year of 1942, preparing to humble himself for a backer’s audition in hopes of raising funding for a revival o
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
31
 
 
In 1987, Billy Joel took his high-energy band, and act, to the U.S.S.R., making a significant and unprecedented visit to that Iron Curtain country as a very loud and spirited exercise in glasnost. At the time, the trip was captured in two works: the documentary A Matter of Trust, and the concert special Billy Joel: Live in Leningrad. More than 25 years later, here comes a new look at that trip, using additional as well as familiar footage, and conducting new interviews that put Joel’s trip
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
31
 
 
This new CNN special profiles Jay Leno, on the eve of his stepping down – for the second time – as host of NBC’s Tonight Show. Nischelle Turner is the interviewer.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
31
 
 
Here’s hoping, for tonight’s show, Maher recycles one of his jokes that made me laugh out loud earlier this week. He was “live tweeting” for the Huffington Post during President Obama’s State of the Union Address, and noticed the same odd color disparity between the President and the two men seated behind him on TV. Maher tweeted: “Biden, Obama, Boehner – it’s like watching Neapolitan ice cream.”
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
30
 
 
To honor Pete Seeger, who died Monday at age 94, PBS is repeating its 2008 American Masters profile of the influential singer and songwriter. It’s an excellent documentary, and his TV return on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the Sixties plays a prominent part. For my salute to Pete Seeger, see Bianculli’s Blog. Many local PBS member stations will make room for this special telecast, either sometime tonight or over the weekend. Even more than usual for a PBS offering, Check loca
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
30
 
 
Geek fanboy alert: Tonight on this new Big Bang, the guest star, playing himself, is James Earl Jones. Forget what else he’s accomplished over a stunningly impressive lifetime on stage and screen: for Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Jones is known, and revered, for only one thing: providing the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. That’s cause enough for celebration – and an excuse to celebrate more.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
30
 
 
This series has been leading up to tonight’s episode for quite a while: Ann and Chris (Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe), future parents, take their union on the road – aiming for Michigan – and leave Pawnee. The actors themselves are leaving the show – but not without an on-air goodbye party, planned by Leslie (Amy Poehler).
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
30
 
 
Hastily scheduled, this is another special preview installment of The Sixties, the forthcoming CNN documentary series by Tom Hanks’ production company. The first of these, back in November, was keyed to the golden anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Now, two months later, comes a much happier 50-years-later program: a salute to the Feb. 9, 1964 appearance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2014
Jan
30
 
 
In tonight’s episode, Jessica Alba steps to the fore – and steps into a series of bitchslaps, traded with Kristen Wiig’s Cynthia in a very pointed homage to the Dynasty-era miniseries Spoils is so gleefully satirizing.
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 

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