DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

CANDACE KELLEY

TOM BRINKMOELLER

MONIQUE NAZARETH

DAVID SICILIA

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
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THURSDAY
SEPTEMBER 21
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Fox, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: This new season of Gotham, Season 4, moves forward in its character studies, bringing the principals even closer to the costumed heroes, and villains, familiar from the Batman canon. In fact, by the end of next week’s episode, young Bruce Wayne will don a mask, and costume, as he decides to fight evil on the dark streets of Gotham. And this week, we get even bolder power grabs by the people we know, or soon will know, as the Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow.

 
  
 
 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part 5. Tonight’s episode covers the last half of 1967, when both the war and the body count escalated significantly – on both sides. It’s a period during which President Lyndon Johnson assures the American public that victory is around the corner. Instead, what’s around the corner, in the next episode, is the demoralizing surprise Vietnamese attack known as the Tet offensive. For a full review of this episode, see Alex Strachan’s TV That Matters. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

TCM tonight offers an evening of movies about music – not movie musicals, but films capturing the energy and evolution of rock music. And how rapid an evolution it was. The evening begins with 1968’s Monterey Pop, chronicling the first major music festival,1967’s gathering at Monterey, where Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and others all broke through as major stars. The evening ends, at 1:30 a.m. ET, with 1970’s Woodstock, which famously captured the peace, love, music, drugs and mud at 1969’s Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. In between those two seminal films are two others, the Bob Dylan documentary Don’t Look Back and the Rolling Stones concert movie Gimme Shelter, a disastrous post-Woodstock event that resulted in the murder of a concertgoer, and the death of the peace-and-love Woodstock era. Watch them all. And listen closely.

 
  
 
 

Fox, 9:01 p.m. ET

This third episode of The Orville plays more like a standard episode of Star Trek than anything else – and that’s not a complaint. The plot is pure Sixties-era Trek, with questions asked that are properly allegorical and philosophical. Two crew members have a baby, but there are certain sci-fi twists. The crew members are both male, the child is hatched from an egg, and is born healthy – healthy, but female, which is such a rare and unwanted occurrence in that species’ culture that they ask the ship’s doctor to perform a sex-change operation, and turn their baby girl into a baby boy. It’s a premise that, in the hands of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, could have been played purely for laughs – but it isn’t.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 9:30 p.m. ET

This 1967 documentary film by D.A. Pennebaker follows Bob Dylan on his 1965 concert tour of England. By the time the movie was released, Dylan already had solidified his next musical transformation, and released the groundbreaking, genre-busting, game-changing “Like a Rolling Stone.” But he’s just as potent a force here, too, whether seen mocking Donovan, performing mesmerizingly in concert, or – in the opening filmed sequence – prefiguring both music videos and rap music in his rapid-fire filmed “presentation” of his lyrically dense “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” “Better stay away from those / That carry around a fire hose / Keep a clean nose / Watch the plain clothes / You don’t need a weatherman / To know the way the wind blows…”

 
  
 
 

TCM, 11:45 p.m. ET

In the summer of 1969 came Woodstock, building on the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and ushering in a new age of multi-act, multi-day musical festivals. This new age didn’t last more than a few months. In Florida, I attended two that year, in West Palm Beach and Miami – in the former, the closing three acts on the final night were, in order, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and the Rolling Stones. Not too shabby. But then, before 1969 was out, came Altamont, where the Rolling Stones, one of several acts playing or scheduled to play there, sang and played as the Hell’s Angels security force stabbed an audience member to death. This 1970 film, by David and Albert Maysles, presents it all. The music is powerful, the mood satanic, the end of an era undeniable. And a few years later, the Maysles brothers would film another eerie, unforgettable documentary: Grey Gardens.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 1:30 a.m. ET

This 1970 movie has been updated, over the years, with several director’s cut editions adding formerly unused footage of performances and interviews. No matter which version of this documentary is shown by TCM tonight, though, it’s guaranteed to include the highlights, which include Joe Cocker singing “With a Little Help from My Friends” and Jimi Hendrix performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Watch comfortably from your living rooms, because the New York State Thruway is closed, man!
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

‘Will & Grace’ 2.0 – Of all the shows premiering this fall, few are more anticipated than the return to NBC of Will & Grace. The show may have been off the air for ten years, but it’s clear the slightly dysfunctional, though very loving, Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack have been missed. A special, airing Sept 19 on NBC – The Paley Center Salutes the Best of Will & Grace – should be a treat for fans who are holding their collective breath until Sept. 28 when the show returns. To whet the appetite of fans (as if their excitement level isn’t already through the roof), NBC has released a short video with treasured old scenes, new scenes that are destined to become favorites and the story of the original casting sessions. And it’s not “Just Jack!” – Linda Donovan

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


American Horror Story: Cult
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

The Deuce
HBO
Sundays
9 PM ET

Episodes
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Guest Book
TBS
Thursdays
10:30 PM ET

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Manhunt: Unabomber
Discovery
Tuesdays
9 PM ET

Mr. Mercedes
AT&T Audience Network
Wednesdays
8 PM ET

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Real Time with Bill Maher
HBO
Fridays
10 PM ET

You're The Worst
FXX
Wednesdays
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...
 
 
 

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 now available in paperback for under $15. 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. Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points... Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 
 

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