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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THURSDAY
APRIL 27
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part of the success of The Big Bang Theory is due to its fidelity to itself. It pays attention to its characters, and their interactions, and even their pasts, and adjusts accordingly. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) began the series as an airheaded neighbor, a bubbly blonde object of unattainable desire. But she quickly deepened as a character, showing sides of herself as both a frustrated wannabe actress and a sarcastic have-to-work waitress. Her on-again, off-again mating dance with neighbor Leonard (Johnny Galecki) took years, literally, to come to fruition – and recently, Penny’s past was revisited when a former boyfriend, Zach (Brian Thomas Smith), made an untimely reappearance, representing the sort of hunky stupid guys she used to date, as opposed to her current brainy scientist husband. Tonight, because the Big Bang writers always seem to know good things when they stumble on them, Zach returns again – this time with a job offer for Penny that may be the type of offer she can’t refuse.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET

Don’t look for it, it’s gone. This was the night and time slot the newest episode of NBC’s Powerless sitcom was scheduled to air – but the network just pulled it from the schedule, replacing it with a doubleheader of Superstore instead. The reason I’m stubbornly keeping Powerless, which starred Vanessa Hudgens as a worker drone in a DC Comics comedy where all the costumed superheroes are offscreen peripheral characters, in Best Bets tonight is because of what would have been tonight’s plot. Lois Lane dies. And the characters in Powerless, savvy to the tropes of comic-book death scenes, surmise that Superman is about to spin around the Earth fast enough, in reverse rotation, to somehow reverse time, to a point where Lois was still alive – and save her. It’s an actual plot from an old comic (and movie) – but in the Powerless universe, the characters realize that, in the window between Lois Lane’s death and Superman’s sure-to-come time-reversal heroics, they can do anything they want, anything at all, without any lasting consequences. That’s a really clever spin on the old reversing-time idea – and if I had the power, I’d spin the planet backwards to before NBC’s cancellation announcement of Powerless, so we could see tonight’s episode. Eventually, I’m guessing, NBC will burn off the remaining episodes somewhere, so we’ll get to see them – but that’s sometime in the future. Hey, wait a minute… If Superman were to fly clockwise around Earth, would that propel us onto the future? If so, we could see Powerless… now. Because it would be now, then.

 
  
 
 

CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

More comic-book strangeness: This bizarre CW adaptation of the Archie comic books, with its darker tone and characters, is up to episode 11 out of this season’s 13, so we’re nearing whatever cliffhanger the writers have in store. Meanwhile, tonight, there are some sparks between Fred and Mary, whose renewed chemistry might have them rethinking their divorce. They’re played by two teen-idol icons from a previous generation: series regular Luke Perry and recurring guest star Molly Ringwald (who, in tonight’s episode, is Pretty in Black).

 
  
 
 

CNN, 10:00 p.m. ET

This new CNN documentary series, looking at some of the connections between music and real life, continues tonight with music associated with New York and the events of 9/11. Among them is a fresh Billy Joel interview, in which he recalls performing “New York State of Mind” for an audience of invited firefighters, with a fireman’s helmet placed on his piano to help him focus. “It was like a dirge,” he says of that particular song’s pace that evening – and boy, is it an effective anthem.

 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Improv comedian Anthony Atamanuik has been impersonating Donald Trump for a while now, at the Upright Citizens Brigade and elsewhere – including a Comedy Central guest appearance that led to this gig. I haven’t seen the premiere of this new weekly series, which is being taped as close to air as possible to ride the waves of the real President Trump’s insanely rapid news pace – but I give the advance promo high marks for capturing Trump’s speech patterns as perfectly as Tina Fey nailed Sarah Palin’s. Atamanuik’s Trump, speaking of tonight’s premiere, promises: “I’ll have the best guests, the most beautiful women. It’ll be so funny – the most funny show.” Let’s see…
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Long Laughs – Andrea Martin has a new NBC series, Great News, and it’s no surprise that after starting her comedy career, ahem, 40 years ago on Canada’s SCTV, (Second City Television) her physical comedy has lasting star power. The kids will remember her from My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002, but the rest of us treasure (and still liberally reference) her work on the landmark SCTV sketch comedy series with Martin Short, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. The SCTV premise was about a low-budget independent TV station with all sorts of one-off programming and commercial spots. One of Martin’s characters was Edith Prickley, the off-center station manager who was usually in a leopard-print suit and rhinestone studded glasses. Here she is in “Cooking with Edith Prickley” and BTW, don't miss the stuffing of the turkey at 1:50. —Eric Gould

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

  
   Visit TV We're Watching for these and other shows on
our DVRs right now...


The Americans
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Better Call Saul
AMC
Mondays
10 PM ET

Brockmire
IFC
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

The Circus: Inside the Biggest Story on Earth
Showtime
8 PM ET

Fargo
FX
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Genius: Albert Einstein
NatGeo
Tuesdays
9 PM ET

iZombie
CW
Tuesdays
9 PM ET

Last Week Tonight
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Silicon Valley
HBO
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Son
AMC
Saturdays
9 PM ET
 
 

BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!


FRESH AIR FAVES

Audio of Bianculli's favorite 'Fresh Air' reports, and the stories behind them...


FAVES FROM
"THE MORGUE"

Bianculli's favorite newspaper articles, and the stories behind them...


EXTRAS & FEEDBACK

Share your favorite TV in-jokes and first TV loves...
 
 
 

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

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
The Birthday Boys: Season One

Bob Odenkirk has returned as everyone’s fave crook lawyer for the third season of Better Call Saul. But before his spin as Jimmy McGill, (who would take the name of Saul Goodman for Breaking Bad) he had a career in sketch comedy, even penning the “Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker” sketch for Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live. Odenkirk’s long resume includes four seasons on HBO in the ’90s in Mr. Show with David Cross, and in 2013-14 he starred in this sketch comedy show, The Birthday Boys, for IFC. Odenkirk and crew delve here into the thinking man’s absurdist style of humor, recalling the best of Monty Python, Kids in the Hall and The Ben Stiller Show. On sale at Amazon for $14. – Eric Gould