DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

Contributors

DONNA J. PLESH

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

MONIQUE NAZARETH

JONATHAN STORM

P.J. BEDNARSKI

DAVID SICILIA

 
 
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WEDNESDAY
SEPTEMBER 17
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part 4. This is my favorite episode of The Roosevelts – a shining installment that rises above even the rest of this documentary series’ glorious standards. In this two-hour segment, Franklin Roosevelt, at age 39 and with a growing family and the most promising of political careers, suddenly is stricken with infantile paralysis from polio, and finds himself, overnight, unable to walk. Edward Herrmann, in giving voice to Franklin’s memories of that period, is hauntingly evocative. So is this series’ writer, Geoffrey C. Ward, a polio survivor himself, who appears on camera to explain how Franklin must have felt – and succeeds with such empathy that it becomes this show’s most unforgettable moment. For my full review, see Bianculli’s Blog. And to hear my review on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which includes audio samples from several episodes, visit the Fresh Air website. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

Fox, 9:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This new series has been widely, and accurately, described as The Breakfast Club in the children’s wing of a hospital. Octavia Spencer stars as an autocratic nurse who seems frightening but has a warm heart underneath, the character who guides viewers through the show’s story (Griffin Gluck) is narrating from a coma, and the various young patients, with their various illnesses, include such identifiable stereotypes as the haughty cheerleader, the brooding loner and the untamed troublemaker. The problem, with this series opener, is that bonds between these disparate types are forged even before the opening episode is over. The commendable thing, though, is that Red Band Society contains many helpful aphorisms and understated teaching moments – and should be applauded, at least, for introducing teen characters with something more significant to confront than self-absorption and an obsession with popularity. For a review, read Uncle Barky's Bytes.

 
  
 
 

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: For this final entry in this season’s continuing story line on Extant, astronaut Molly (Halle Berry) dons her space suit once again, and heads into space, this time on a different and more dangerous type of mission. But will her mission ever end? To date, CBS hasn’t confirmed a second-season order for this series – so after tonight, there’s a good chance that Extant will become Extinct.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This is a warning, not a recommendation. Debra Messing is a very likable actress. The Mysteries of Laura, however, is a very unlikable show. She plays a detective juggling an intense and dangerous life at work with a hectic and harried life at home,  thanks to two wild young boys who won’t behave and a husband from whom she’s separated, and on the verge of divorcing. One immediate problem with this opening episode: The boys are such terrors, and their misbehavior so unaddressed, the viewer is all but forced to dislike and dismiss the parents as irresponsible, and the entire series as indefensible.

 
  
 
 

Bravo, 10:00 p.m. ET

Hey, look who the guest judges are on tonight’s installment: Cast members from Brooklyn Nine-Nine!

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Joan Rivers 1933 - 2014 -- It seemed Joan Rivers would go on forever making fun of fashion, celebrities, aging, plastic surgery and herself but, sadly, she passed away September 4th. She was a pioneer for women in comedy who, at the age of 81, was still going strong onstage as well as on the small screen, thanks in large part to the E! network’s Fashion Police. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, released a statement saying: “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.” In that spirit, we’d like to share a commentary about aging that CBS Sunday Morning had the comedian offer in 2002. It’s Joan Rivers at her best. (Please note: Because this was a commentary about aging, Ms. Rivers mentioned certain subjects, such as funerals, for example, that some may deem as inappropriate to find humor in at this time. We at TVWW felt she'd want the clip to run anyway -- especially now.) -- Monique Nazareth

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Boardwalk Empire
HBO
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Chair
Starz
Saturdays
11 PM ET 

The Honorable Woman
Sundance
Thursdays
10 PM ET

The Intruders
BBC America
Saturdays
10 PM ET

The Knick
Cinemax
Fridays
10 PM ET

Manhattan
WGN America
Sundays
10 PM ET

POV
PBS
Mondays
10 PM ET
Check Local Listings

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Real Time with Bill Maher
HBO
Fridays
10 PM ET

The Strain
FX
Sundays
10 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 AVENGERS: THE COMPLETE EMMA PEEL MEGASET – I usually prefer to bestow a Seal of Approval upon a complete series DVD set, but The Avengers – the Sixties TV spy series, not the current series of Marvel Comics superhero movies – encompassed so many different casts and tones, it was more like Doctor Who. First came the 1961 season teaming Patrick Macnee as dapper British spy John Steed with Ian Hendry, then the 1962-64 episodes featuring Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. Those are good, but Steed’s next partner, Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, was the perfect Sixties TV heroine. After Rigg left, Linda Thorson, as Tara King, became Steed’s final sleuthing partner in the original series, and was quite likable (the inferior The New Avengers followed a decade later), but the 1965-68 Rigg episodes were the series’ best. They’re also the ones first imported to the U.S., by ABC in prime time, when color TV was still a novelty and Rigg’s wild jumpsuits and pop fashions really stood out. So did the show’s wit, its playful lampooning of the secret-agent genre, and its sparkling sexual tension between Mrs. Peel and Mr. Steed. This Emma Peel Megaset contains all the Diana Rigg episodes, which are, indeed, the best of the best. – David Biancull

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
'Prohibition'

Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts, is premiering on PBS this week, so Amazon is offering deep discounts on the Ken Burns catalog. A recent favorite, Prohibition, by Burns and Lynn Novick, took a fascinating look at a time when alcohol was outlawed and an attempt was made to legislate morality. The three-hour documentary, as with Baseball, Jazz (up to 70% off) and others, is full of fascinating historical footage of times long gone and events and figures who helped form the society we know today. Prohibition is loaded with extras, including special segments on saloon culture, medicinal alcohol and much more. –Eric Gould