DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
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MONDAY
SEPTEMBER 23
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

CBS, 8:30 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Last night, the Emmys were televised live. Tonight, it’s the official start of the 2019 fall TV season – but rather than list all the new and returning shows, I’ll limit mentions on Bianculli’s Best Bets to the shows I’ve actually enjoyed, or expect to. That makes it a much shorter list, and eliminates some smaller pleasures: hoping to see Sean Spicer eliminated on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (would an old tape clip from The Apprentichave Donald Trump seeing him off with a vintage “You’re fired”?), or welcoming Jimmy Smits back to yet another TV series, in NBC’s otherwise unremarkable Bluff City Law. Even Fox’s Prodigal Son, with the talented actor Michael Sheen, is a disappointment. So where, tonight, is the promise? Believe it or not, it’s with Chuck Lorre’s latest CBS sitcom. Billy Gardell from Mike & Molly stars as a heart patient who falls in love with his nurse, a Nigerian immigrant played by Folake Olowofoyeku. His interactions with her are sweet and funnier – and when he meets her friends and family, even more so. For a full review, see Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes
 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: There’s no Adam Levine this time around, so Blake Shelton must make do with a different type of on-air chemistry: with returning judge Gwen Stefani, whom Shelton romanced after sitting next to her in his red judge’s chair. Also judging this cycle: John Legend and Kelly Clarkson. Oh, yes, and there are competing singers to watch, and hear, too…
 
  
 
 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is titled “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?,” and covers the years 1968-72. That makes sense, because it includes the seminal 1972 multi-album release of the same name by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I remember getting that album when it was released, and being, at the time, almost totally ignorant of the artists and music showcased in the album’s gathering of past giants of country music. But if you’ve been watching Ken Burns’ Country Music thus far, you certainly know them by now: the players on that record, jamming with the Dirt Band boys, included Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, and others. That remarkable album is recalled tonight – as is another truly groundbreaking album from that era, Bob Dylan’s 1969 embrace of country, Nashville Skyline. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

The mid-Eighties are tough on the NYC neighborhood known as the Deuce: the spread of the disease identified as AIDS is decimating the gay community, the bath houses are attracting new interest from medical authorities as well as police, and the porn theaters are searching for ways to survive despite the rise of X-rated home-video releases. Two of the main characters in The Deuce have their own porn-related survival tactics: Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is pushing to direct and produce “femme erotica,” while Frankie (James Franco) is betting on amateur porn videos as being the next big thing.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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



Country Music
PBS
Check Local Listings 

The Deuce
HBO
Mondays
9 PM ET 

Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik
Comedy Central
Fridays
11 PM ET 

The I-Land
Netflix
Streaming

Last Week Tonight
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET 

Lodge 49
AMC
Mondays
10 PM ET

Mr. Mercedes
Audience Network
Tuesdays
10 PM ET 

On Becoming God in Central Florida
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET   

The Righteous Gemstones
HBO
Sundays
10 PM ET  

Unbelievable
Netflix
Streaming
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

CAN YOU SAY “PERFECT CASTING,” BOYS AND GIRLS? –The first promo clip from the upcoming movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has just been released, and it proves indisputably that this biopic of children’s TV host Fred Rogers has indeed found its ideal leading man. Tom Hanks portrays the soft-spoken, lovable host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the illusion is accepted instantly and totally. Hanks already has portrayed Walt Disney, in the 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks, and here he’s about to portray an even more beloved children’s TV icon. (And one, by the way, that Tom Hanks’ son, Colin, already has played, by portraying Fred Rogers on an installment of Comedy Central’s Drunk History.) Matthew Rhys from The Americans co-stars in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as the magazine reporter who is unexpectedly charmed by Rogers’ honesty and inspirational manner, and he, too, seems wonderfully chosen. Speaking of choosing – I’m choosing an additional Video Worth Watching to add here. It’s of the real Fred Rogers, accepting his Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 1997. Prepare to be moved. – David Bianculli

 
 

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: Television Finales: From Howdy Doody to Girls, the new collection edited by Douglas Howard and TVWW’s David Bianculli, is now on sale. More than ever, series finales have become cultural touchstones that feed watercooler fodder and tweet storms. TV Finales brings together seventy chapters, each focusing on a separate show, including reliable milestones such as The Fugitive and M*A*S*H through cutting-edge favorites like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Breaking Bad. Writers include today’s leading TV critics, along with many TVWW contributors. "The last word on TV endings." (Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Magazine)
 
 
Television today is better than ever, and David’s book, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific explores it all and how we got here. (Now on sale for $12). David maps the evolution of the classic TV genres – the sitcom, the crime show, doctor dramas, the Western – and many others. "The Platinum Age is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era... interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Matt Groening, Larry David, and Amy Schumer are high points. Bianculli has written a highly readable history." –The Washington Post
 
 
 

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