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

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MONDAY
SEPTEMBER 1
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

FXX, Check local listings

This is Day 12, the final day, of FXX’s Simpsons every-episode marathon, one of the smartest and most successful cable network promotional stunts in years. The marathon concludes at 11:30 p.m. ET with episode No. 552, Season 25’s “The Yellow Badge of Cowardge,” from last May. But before that, there are two episodes today that deserve special mention. At noon ET, there’s 2013’s “The Saga of Carl,” a Season 24 spot-on parody of a truly unusual subject: Homer and company go to Iceland to learn the story of their despondent friend Carl, and even visit the Blue Lagoon. Then, at 10:30 p.m. ET, there’s the Season 25 episode “Brick Like Me,” the inventive Lego episode from 2014.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

For the holiday weekend, HBO is repeating the first three episodes of The Knick in a mini-marathon, so folks can catch up. What makes this noteworthy? Because HBO is repeating a show that it didn’t present the first time, because The Knick premiered, and still runs, on sister network Cinemax. But it was so well-received that HBO has made room for it on its own schedule. Lots of room. Clive Owen stars.

 
  
 
 

BBC America, 9:00 p.m. ET

Part documentary, part social commentary, part comedy routine and part automotive analysis program, this Top Gear spinoff, starring the plain-speaking James May, continues to provide his very personal perspective on cars and their history. Tonight’s topic, as he puts it: “the baffling world of the European micro-car.” Highly entertaining.

 
  
 
 

History, 9:00 p.m. ET

MINISERIES PREMIERE: Adrien Brody stars in the title role of this new two-part, four-hour History miniseries. And he’s virtually the only star, unless you recognize Kristen Connolly, who appears in House of Cards, as Houdini’s wife, Bess. This new biography, filmed in and co-produced with Budapest, probably is going to be another History hit – but it’s largely a disappointment. Its CSI-style special effects, unless they’re revealing magic trick secrets, are inserted for ridiculously metaphorical reasons. The script by Nicholas Meyer, the novelist who wrote The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, is too reverential to its psychobabble source biography, is spotted with anachronisms, and is much too obvious in its approach. But the story of Houdini is so fascinating, it survives all that – just as it has survived previous docudramas, such as the ones starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh as Harry and Bess Houdini in 1953, Paul Michael Glaser and Sally Struthers in 1976, and Johnathon Schaech and Stacy Edwards in 1998. Part 1 of 2.

 
  
 
 

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Things may have seemed bad and complicated enough under the dome, but tonight they get worse. The sheriff (Dean Norris) comes face to face with his wife, who’s been presumed dead for almost a decade – and other townspeople are visited by departed loved ones and acquaintances, too, people who were not only presumed dead, but were dead. These days, almost everywhere I turn on TV, I’m like the little kid in The Sixth Sense. I see dead people.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

The One With Jimmy Kimmel -- If you've been feeling nostalgic for the NBC sitcom Friends, you're not alone. The show premiered 20 years ago on September 22, 1994 (and ended on May 6, 2004) yet has never really lost its devoted following. To mark the 20th anniversary of its premiere, Warner Brothers and Eight O'Clock coffee are opening up a replica of the gang's hang out, Central Perk, in the Soho neighborhood of New York on September 17th. Fans will have one month to savor the artifacts, trivia and guest appearances, not to mention free coffee, at the pop-up shop. But the tributes have already started. Jimmy Kimmel offered his own homage to the show this week with help from a few of his Friends. -- Monique Nazareth

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Drunk History
Comedy Central
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Happy Valley
Netflix
Streaming

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

Moyers & Company
PBS
Check Local Listings

POV
PBS
Mondays
10 PM ET
Check Local Listings

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 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

 
 
 
 
 

Dispatches from TVWW

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robin Williams: 1951-2014
By Bill Brioux
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
'Breaking Bad' The Complete Series - DVD

Hollywood just sent Breaking Bad off on a proper note with a sweep through the Emmy Awards, rightfully sealing the show's legacy as one of the all-time greats. The Complete Series here is the same content as the collector’s item “money barrel” set released after the shows finale last fall – 21 discs, including the entire series and a jaw-dropping 50 hours of special extras, including extensive interviews with all the main actors, directors' commentary, how the cast thought the show would end, the making of some of the most memorable scenes, and much more. (The Blu-ray version is here for about $25 more.) Now 55 percent off at Amazon. –Eric Gould