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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FRIDAY
JULY 20
2018

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET

MOVIE PREMIERE: This 2018 movie is a sedate, quiet sci-fi film with a powerful wave of emotion behind it. On its surface, it covers the same ground as AMC’s HUMANS or HBO’s Westworld: the evolution of artificial intelligence and human synthetics so convincing they can pass for the real thing. In Zoe, Ewan McGregor plays Cole, the head of a scientific division developing such creations, with the goal being to offer life partners – computer-designed and programmed soul mates of sorts – who will never leave you. In other words, ultimate compatibility… and fidelity. (How much does it cost, and where do I sign?) Theo James plays the most recent and evolved of the company-generated examples, and Lea Seydoux plays the title role, one of Cole’s fellow team leaders at the company. As with Westworld, especially, there are some twists built in, but Zoe is less about the surprises, which are easy to see coming, than about the emotions underneath. Watch for a cameo by Christina Aguilera as one of the synthetics… but mostly, watch for Zoe to ask some deep questions about some of our deepest drives and emotions. Rashida Jones co-stars.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of this bold, fascinating 1999 fantasy, directed by Spike Jonze and directed by Charlie Kaufman – both of whom established their own artistic independence with this wildly original fantasy film. John Cusack plays Craig, a puppeteer and marionette operator who stages bleak, unpopular puppet shows based on classic mythic tragedies. Until, that is, he discovers a portal that allows him to enter the brain of actor John Malkovich, and control him like… well, like a puppet. Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener co-star, in a film so good it deserves this unusual Friday night prime-time HBO showcase.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

When I interviewed Stephen Sondheim on stage at Rutgers University last month, one of the pieces of news he delivered that night was that a movie remake of West Wide Story, with lyrics by Sondheim and music by Leonard Bernstein, was deep into initial development, with a revised screenplay by Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner that Sondheim said updated the rival gangs story line in a way that impressed and excited him. Kushner also wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln – and the director for the new West Side Story? Spielberg himself. Meanwhile, there’s this 1961 screen version, with its marvelous opening aerial shots of New York at that era, and with Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno co-starring with future Twin Peaks stars Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn.

 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Pudding on the Ritz: Tonight’s challenges include, well, puddings. Yorkshire? Christmas? Other? All part of the suspense… and the challenge. Check local listings.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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...



The 2000s
CNN
Sundays
8 PM ET

Anne with an E
Netflix
Streaming 

The Affair
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits and Monsters
TruTV
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Dietland
AMC
Mondays
9 PM ET

The Great British Baking Show
PBS
Fridays
9 PM ET

Harlots
Hulu
Wednesdays
3 AM ET

HUMANS
AMC
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Sharp Objects
HBO
Sundays
9 PM ET

Somebody Feed Phil
Netflix
Streaming 
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Pranks for the Memories – Clips from the new Sacha Baron Cohen comedy half-hour Who is America? have been released today, (Sunday, July 15) the day of its Showtime premiere. In this clip, Cohen (in heavy prosthetic makeup) plays anti-terrorist expert, Erran Morad, whose mission is to arm Israeli children as young as four years old. Gun lobbyists and some Republican leaders (but not all interviewed) happily agree with the “Kinder-Guardian” program. Cohen is still at the top of his prankster game, and is an equal opportunity political offender with Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean among his targets… along with Sarah Palin and former Vice President Dick Cheney. There seem to be 7 episodes currently planned, running through the end of August. –Eric Gould
 
 

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 book, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available in paperback for under $13. Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and Bianculli's has to do with quality television: what it is and how it got that way." The Washington Post adds, The Platinum Age of Television 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, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points. Bianculli has written a highly readable history."
 
 
 

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