DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

Contributors

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JONATHAN STORM

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DONNA J. PLESH

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FRIDAY
DECEMBER 19
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

CW, 8:00 p.m. ET

“And razzleberry dressing!” This 1962 animated Christmas special predated even A Charlie Brown Christmas by several years, and I love that it’s getting the full-respect treatment tonight. CW is presenting this wonderful musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic in a 90-minute time slot, which means, even with commercials, it will be presented relatively intact. Gather the family and enjoy, because the songs, by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, are delightful – and when I was a kid and watched this special for the first time when I nine years old, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come haunted me long after the special was over. (And my family didn’t have a color set, so that particular ghost was even scarier in black and white.) Jim Backus stars, of course, as the voice of the vision-impaired Mr. Magoo, who’s shown here starring as Scrooge in a local theater production of A Christmas Carol.

 
  
 
 

ABC Family, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2003 movie appears to be becoming a holiday tradition of sorts, receiving lots of airings since Thanksgiving. And why not? Will Ferrell is goofily giddy as the overgrown elf who leaves the North Pole to encounter life of a less sheltered sort, and Bob Newhart, as his elf boss, is a delight. So, by the way, is Zooey Deschanel, who showed off her lovely singing voice here long before she began releasing CDs as half of She and Him. And did you know that the voice of Leon the Snowman was provided by Leon Redbone? I didn’t, until just now.

 
  
 
 

Starz!, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2014 Muppet comedy introduces a Kermit the Frog doppelganger – Constantine, “The World’s Most Dangerous Frog,” who schemes to have Kermit thrown into a Russian prison so he can take Kermit’s place and commit crimes while on tour with the other Muppets. Tina Fey is particularly outrageous as a Russian prison guard – but luckily, Vladimir Putin did not hack the Disney studio to protest his country’s negative cinematic image. Other human co-stars: Ricky Gervais and Modern Family star Ty Burrell.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Talk about high society: This 1956 movie musical is the romantic comedy made by Grace Kelly after she had just become engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Here, she’s one point of a romantic triangle, the other points being crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra plays the guy she intends to marry, and Crosby plays her ex-husband, who wants her back. Oh, and Louis Armstrong and his band are on hand throughout, making this even more valuable a movie musical.

 
  
 
 

CBS, 12:35 a.m. ET

SERIES FINALE: Last night, Stephen Colbert provided a very fitting farewell to his Colbert Report, gathering dozens of favorite guests on stage for a group sing-along before flying off to immortality on Santa’s sleigh. Tonight, Craig Ferguson ends his 10-year reign as the host of The Late Late Show, CBS’s follow-up to Late Show with David Letterman – and does it by featuring, as his final guest, Letterman’s one-time late-night rival, Jay Leno. Doubtlessly, there’s a message there – and there’s also likely to be a message, or at least an homage, in the show’s closing minutes. For a decade, Ferguson has been increasingly loose and impromptu with his opening monologues and his interviews with guests – but expect him to go out as Colbert did, with an involved and ambitious final sequence. These guys not only have am attuned sense of when to exit – but how.

 
  
 
 

CBS, 11:35 p.m. ET

A long-standing TV tradition ends tonight. With David Letterman set to step down next year, long before Christmas 2015, tonight’s annual Christmas show is the last time Darlene Love will be on hand to sing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home”). It’s also the last time Jay Thomas, who has been on the show most years to toss a football at the giant meatball atop Letterman’s Christmas tree, is likely to share his story of driving around stoned with the Lone Ranger in his back seat.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

THE END OF A HOLIDAY ERA -- We here at TVWW, like many of you, have clips of shows we like to watch over and over…primarily those that make us laugh so hard we can barely breathe. Too many to list, actually. What about the holiday clips?  Actually, there are quite a number of those, too. But when the holiday season puts me in a musical mood, I pull up two favorites: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and, of course, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” as sung by no one else but Darlene Love. And she always sings it for David Letterman on Late Night. Sadly, as Letterman is retiring in May, this year will mark Ms. Love’s 21st and final appearance and, she says, the last time she’ll sing it on television. Thankfully, we have a mashup to remind us of her powerful and amazing performances and the Wall of Sound that Paul Shaffer, the CBS Orchestra, and friends recreate to perfection. -- Linda Donovan

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


American Horror Story:
Freak Show
FX
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

The Colbert Report
Comedy Central
Weeknights
11:30 PM ET

The Good Wife
CBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Graham Norton Show
BBC America
Saturdays
11 PM ET

Homeland
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Jane the Virgin
CW
Mondays
9 PM ET

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

The Late Late Show
CBS
Weeknights
12:35 AM ET

Parenthood
NBC
Thursdays
10 PM ET

The Walking Dead
AMC
Sundays
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...

TV JUKEBOX

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

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey [Blu-ray]

TVWW has lots of suggestions for holiday TV gifts this month here, at our annual Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll find a lot options there for all tastes and ages including Cosmosthe reboot of the original Carl Sagan PBS series. Hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the series brings glorious state-of-the-art CGI to explore all the lessons of the universe. Segments illustrating historical moments in scientific discovery are done in animation by Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy team. With a fresh style, these animated segments are critical to the clarity and success of the series, as is Tyson’s obvious passion for his subject. On sale at Amazon for $35.  –EG