DAVID BIANCULLI

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SUNDAY
JULY 23
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

NBC, 7:00 a.m. ET

The final day of competition features more of the gorgeous conditions that have led to such stellar play and low scores for most of this tournament. Yesterday, Branden Grace from South Africa surged through round three with a record eight-under-par 62, an average of a birdie almost every other hole. (It’s also the first 62 recorded in men’s major championship history.) But even that effort pales to Jordan Spieth’s overall dominance at this year’s British Open. Grace begins this final day at 4 under par for the tournament, while Spieth sits alone in the lead at 11 under, three strokes ahead of the nearest competitor, Matt Kuchar.

 
  
 
 

Discovery, 7:00 p.m. ET

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the TV set: Yes, it’s summer, and Shark Week again, on the Discovery Channel. All this week, the network is filling the water, and its air, with documentaries about sharks – some serious, others about as fanciful as a Sharknado Syfy telemovie. Tonight’s lineup, for example,  begins at 7 p.m. ET with Great White Serial Killer Lives, followed by Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White at 8 ET (relax: the illustration is Photoshopped), Shark-Croc Showdown at 9 ET, and The Great Hammerhead Invasion at 10 ET. And that’s just tonight. Personally, I think much of this Shark Week coverage is nothing but underwater racism. Even in this allegedly enlightened era, it’s all about the Great White…

 
  
 
 

CNN, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s installment of The Nineties is “Can We All Get Along?,” and is about racially charged news events of that decade – including Rodney King and the L.A. riots, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s opener, like most season openers on this show, reset the stage, and the chess board, and put pieces in motion towards one another. Tonight, expect some alliances you’ve never seen before, and some characters and actors sharing the scene for the first time. It’s getting to be unavoidable, and it’s eagerly anticipated.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

I’ll say two things about last week’s Twin Peaks. No, I’ll say three, because the continually amassing violence against women – pointed out so presciently by Ed Bark in his season-opening Twin Peaks: The Return review in his Uncle Barky’s Bytes column – shows no signs of abating. That’s a definite issue, as is, by now, the way-too-slow transformation of Dale Cooper back into the character we knew and loved. (Will he ever come back whole?) But here are the two things I wanted to note, two elements of last week’s show that were purely, successfully Lynchian. One was the retro-dressed casino trip of Candie, Mandie, and Sandie (pictured), who move like they’re underwater and act like they’re overdrugged. The other was the closing song performance, a regular feature of Twin Peaks: The Return. Last week was the first time a vocal performance, and the music, fully matched with the old Twin Peaks vibe. Rebekah Del Rio was the singer, “No Stars” was the song, and it was co-written by Del Rio, John Neff, and David Lynch himself. (So no wonder.)
 
  
 
 

PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Part 2: This three-part miniseries continues, with Michael Palin’s Tom missing and unaccounted for, as investigators try to sort out the bodies, and mysteries, left behind in his wake. Last week’s opener shifted strongly into paranormal territory – and tonight’s installment has its scares of frights, and apparent ghosts, as well. Check local listings.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:30 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Issa Rae, the star and co-creator of this smartly self-aware sitcom, has not only made a worthy spiritual successor to HBO’s Girls – young women, as friends, trying to cope with life and love in the big city – but done it with two significant tweaks. The city is L.A., not New York, and Issa and her girls are black, not white. Do those changes make a difference? When the writing and acting is in such good hands, absolutely – and here comes Season 2.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

How a Barefoot Contessa Welcomed Ben Mankiewicz to TCM – Monday, July 24, is Ava Gardner Day on Turner Classic Movies, a night of films that includes 1953’s Mogambo and 1964’s The Night of the Iguana. But it begins at 8 p.m. ET with 1954’s The Barefoot Contessa — which TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, in this special video, credits with leading to his job at the network. Sort of. It’s a delightful story, especially if you believe in the power of coincidence. Or karma. Or Ava Gardner. –David Bianculli
 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


America in Color
Smithsonian
Sundays
8 PM ET

Broadchurch
BBC America
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
TBS
Wednesdays
10:30 PM

Game of Thrones
HBO
Sundays
9PM ET

The Great British Baking Show
PBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

Insecure
HBO
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Nineties
CNN
Sundays
9 PM ET

Orphan Black
BBC America
Saturdays
10 PM ET

Remember Me
PBS
Sundays
10 PM ET

Will
TNT
Mondays
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. (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

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season One

IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! (2012-16) was a respectable heir to the late ’70s PBS Fernwood 2 Night legacy of talk show satire — generally improvised by its host Scott Auckerman and his celebrity guests. Aukerman, a veteran of Bob Odenkirk’s Mr. Show and co-creator of Between Two Ferns, carries the ultra-droll torch here, tongue firmly in cheek, sans laugh-track. Comedy Bang! Bang! also helped launch the career of sidekick and musical conductor Reggie Watts, now leading the house band for The Late Show with James Corden. A bargain at Amazon, under $7. –Eric Gould

 
Fluance