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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TUESDAY
JANUARY 23
2018

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: The song “We’ll Meet Again,” popularized by British singer Vera Lynn when it was released at the start of her nation’s involvement in what would become WWII, has since been utilized to conclude two of the best pieces of entertainment ever made: Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and Dennis Potter’s 1986 TV miniseries, The Singing Detective. (“We’ll meet again / Don’t know where, don’t know when…”). Now it’s used as a title of a new PBS documentary series, presented by former Today personality Ann Curry, who reunites and interviews people who met at pivotal times in history. The subject of tonight’s opening hour, fittingly, is WWII itself. For a full story, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part 2. Last night’s opening installment of Mosaic proved two things. One, Sharon Stone still can play a mercurial and self-confident leading role with ease and charisma. Two, director Steven Soderbergh, in filming this six-part mystery about the murder (told in show flashbacks) of a famous and successful children’s author (Stone), was caught up equally in framing his leading lady and the snow-resort architecture and scenery around her. Tonight, the narrative, the mystery, and the Architectural Digest-type photography continue.
 
  
 
 

CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s series premiere of this newest CW superhero series based on a DC Comics character had more resonance and relevance than expected. Tonight, with the introduction of its characters and premise out of the show, Black Lightning will reveal whether it continues or abandons that commendably topical approach as regards to the racial divide in the U.S.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is called “That’ll Be the Day,” and the advance promo by NBC is full of noting but happy moments, suggesting this will be a bright, cheery episode of This Is Us, with nothing sad befalling any of its characters. On this series, that’ll be the day…
 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 5 of this intoxicating (or at least intoxicated) comedy history series begins by getting three female storytellers inebriated, then getting them to tell the stories of three heroines: Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson (who joined the Army disguised as a man), art preserver Rose Valland (who rescued stolen art from the Nazis), and nurse Clara Barton (who founded the American Red Cross). Those drunken narratives are then re-enacted, digressions and belches and all…

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: This isn’t the first rodeo for Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis) – he started on this series taking a demeaning job as a rodeo clown. But as Season 3 begins tonight on FX, it’s the first rodeo Chip has managed to manage. Along with his twin brother Dale (also played, of course, by the delightfully deadpan Galifianakis) and their doting yet irritating mom (played, Emmy-winningly, by Louie Anderson), they’re now reviving and running the Bakersfield rodeo that had once hired, humiliated and fired Chip. But that was when the Chip was down. Now he’s the boss… one of them, anyway. For a full review, see Eric Gould's The Cold Light Reader.
 
  
 
 

WGN America, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: In this new series, Bellevue isn’t the name of a famous insane asylum. It’s the name of a small town – and like many small towns on TV, is the site of a particularly grisly and haunting murder. In this case, literally, it’s about a high school hockey star with gender issues, whose death echoes that of a case from 20 years before. Tackling the mystery, and her own memories of decades before, is detective Annie Ryder – played by Anna Paquin, the former True Blood star, continuing a string of recent TV returns, begun last year with roles in the miniseries Alias Grace and the anthology series Electric Dreams.

 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 3 of this bawdy little Comedy Central period series begins with Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, as pampered citizens of the early American era, continuing to tackle old norms with idiotic and self-absorbed approaches. Today, the episode is called “Congress,” and the Bellacourt sisters fight for suffrage. Or set it back.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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...



Baroness Von Sketch Show
IFC
Thursdays
10:30 PM ET

Black Mirror
Netflix
Streaming

The Chi
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Good Place
NBC
Thursdays
8:30 PM ET

Mosaic
HBO
Nightly
Jan. 22-26

8 PM ET

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams
Amazon Prime
Streaming

Portlandia
IFC
Thursdays
10 PM ET

Planet Earth: Blue Planet II
BBC America
Saturdays
9 PM ET

Somebody Feed Phil
Netflix
Streaming

Victoria on Masterpiece
PBS
Sundays
9 PM ET
Check Local Listings
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Radio Activity – Portlandia’s final season has premiered, and Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are still delivering top-shelf irony in this NPR-style podcast being done in the local police station. Broadcasters Dan and Dana perform the usual radio sound effects in real time, without editing, much to the annoyance of everyone. Live banjo and violin accompanists are also along for the broadcast. Looks like “Serial” has competition. –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 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 $13. Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with quality television: what it is and 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. 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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This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$$
Trumbo

Actor Kirk Douglas was recently honored at the Golden Globes and was again applauded for his role in ending the Hollywood Blacklist, hiring then-exiled screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — one of many accused communist-aligned Hollywood writers — to write the screenplay for SpartacusThis 2007 documentary recounts Trumbo’s fall as one of the most renowned writers of his day to spending the next ten years sending scripts from Mexico under pseudonyms. Joan Allen, Liam Neeson and David Strathaim contribute readings and help paint a riveting portrait of a writer committed to his principles and art under the most enormous pressure imaginable. At Amazon for $14. (The 2015 feature about Trumbo starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston is here, for $10.–Eric Gould