DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

JIM DAVIS

Managing Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

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ERIC GOULD

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FRIDAY
SEPTEMBER 4
2015

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: The pilot episode of Hand of God has been available for quite a while on Amazon – but today, the streaming site presents the entire first season of what becomes its second originally produced drama series. Ron Perlman stars as a modern-day hanging judge whose entire outlook is altered after a family tragedy: His grown son is in a coma, after being beaten senselessly by the same unidentified perpetrators who raped his son’s wife as his son was forced to watch. Perlman’s character finds religion, and starts seeing visions, hearing voices, and setting out on his own path – for revenge as well as hope. The characters are drawn somewhat broadly at first, but they’re certainly watchable. And with such personal-favorite supporting co-stars as Garret Dillahunt and Dana Delany, I urge you to try it out. It certainly compares well to the new fall crop of dramas about to be unveiled by the broadcast networks.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

It’s been 100 years since W.C. Fields started making film shorts in New York. To mark the occasion, TCM is presenting a prime-time salute to the classic comedian, showing four wonderful Fields movies. One of them, 1935’s David Copperfield (12:30 a.m. ET), has him playing it semi-straight as a broad Dickensian character – but the other movies are pure, undiluted Fields of joy. It’s a Gift, from 1934, is shown at 9:30 p.m. ET, and 1939’s You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man is shown at 11 p.m. ET. And the evening begins at 8 p.m. ET with 1940’s classic The Bank Dick, one of his most famous comedies. Prepare to laugh – a lot.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

This documentary film biography of tennis champion Althea Gibson is presented in cannily timely fashion, just as Serena Williams is trying to accomplish some amazing feats in women’s tennis at the current U.S. Open Championship. What Gibson did, as an African-American tennis player in the years after WWII and beyond, is a special story indeed. Watch her face her first opponent in a major tennis final. Watch her, later, winning it all at Wimbledon, and later at the U.S. Open. Watch her as a guest on What’s My Line? and singing on The Ed Sullivan Show – and then ask yourself, Why don’t I know more about this woman? Now you will. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

This musical documentary captures a Jimi Hendrix concert in Atlanta from 1970 – one of his final performances before his death. I happened to be there for one of his first U.S. performances, a handful of years before – when he was the unknown opening act for The Monkees. But at this 1970 Electric Church concert, no one, as he played and sang, was screaming for “Davy!”
 
  
 
 

ABC, 10:00 p.m. ET

Today’s special subject: Pope Francis, who’s about to visit the United States. Perhaps you’ve heard…

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

DISNEY VILLAINESSES BY WAY OF ‘CHICAGO’ – August 31 is the premiere of Todrick (10 p.m. ET), a new MTV series in which former American Idol contestant Todrick Hall, now going only by his first name, takes viewers behind the scenes of the makings of his notably popular YouTube music video mini-epics. It’s another example of “traditional” TV trying to cash in on the momentum generated by web videos, and that’s not necessarily a bad move. Take, for example, this Todrick video from 2013: Spell Block Tango, a takeoff on a song from the musical Chicago, in which a group of behind-bars lady killers – that is, killers who also are ladies – plead their cases in verse. Hall’s inspired idea was to use the same tune and staging, but with Disney villainesses as the women behind bars. It’s a great conceit (beating ABC’s own Once Upon a Time, which last season introduced several more Disney villainesses to its mix, to the punch by several years), and it’s staged and performed admirably and infectiously. Skip past the ad that precedes the music video, then sit back and enjoy one of Todrick’s greatest bits. – David Bianculli

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Boston EMS
ABC
Saturdays
10 PM ET

Dates
CW
Thursdays
9 PM ET

Drunk History
Comedy Central
Tuesdays
10:30 PM ET

Key and Peele
Comedy Central
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Masters of Sex
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET

POV
PBS
Check Local Listings

Public Morals
TNT
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Welcome to Sweden
NBC
Sundays
8 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...

TV JUKEBOX

A new edition of Bianculli's favorite TV themes, coming soon!
 
 
 

From TV Worth Watching
TOP PICKS FOR YOUR HOME LIBRARY

The TVWW Seal of Approval is an honor we save for TV’s very best – our picks for a truly teleliterate home video library.
 
 

THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW: THE COMPLETE SERIES – You aren’t going to find better deals than this newly repackaged release of Garry Shandling’s hilarious, impressively influential HBO comedy show. All 89 episodes, spread over nine discs, on sale for only $24.29 on Amazon. That’s crazy cheap. And this series, which ran on HBO from 1992-98, is crazy good. On camera, you get the lead troika of Shandling as neurotic TV talk host Larry Sanders, Rip Torn as his always-simmering producer, and Jeffrey Tambor as Larry’s neurotic TV sidekick. You also get an endless parade of great guest stars, from Carol Burnett and David Letterman to Sharon Stone and Jon Stewart. Series regulars, at various points in the series, include Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven and many others – and behind the scenes, Shandling’s writing and producing collaborators include Judd Apatow, Peter Tolan and Dennis Klein. All that, and there’s also a skewering of TV in general, and the talk-show world in particular, that is as observant and honest as it is biting and hysterical. “Hey, now!” What are you waiting for? – David Bianculli

 
 
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This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$

The Knick: Season 1

It’s seldom that a new DVD is released and TVWW immediately puts it up for recommendation. But in the case of Cinemax’s Season 1 of The Knick, it’s an easy choice. Director Steven Soderbergh’s examination of medical progress at the turn of the 20th century in New York City is as revelatory as it is gruesome. Not for the squeamish, The Knick (fictional Knickerbocker Hospital) shows the wretched trial and error that gave birth to modern surgery techniques, all through the brilliant and often brutal works of Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), who crashes his way through scientific breakthroughs and his own demonic cocaine addiction. The Knick is often an intense, unsettling experience. But with Soderbergh’s mashup of historical set pieces, modern camera work and pulsing electronic soundtrack, it’s one of television’s true works of art. At Amazon for $16.99 —Eric Gould



 
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