DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

CANDACE KELLEY

TOM BRINKMOELLER

MONIQUE NAZARETH

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

DAVID SICILIA

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
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SecondSpin.com
 
FRIDAY
MARCH 24
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Netflix, 12:00 a.m. ET

Theater director Lonny Price, an original cast member of Stephen Sondheim’s 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along, directs this documentary looking back at why that particular musical, with its tale told in chronologically reverse order, became a famous flop from Broadway’s reigning musical genius – and what has happened to the show, and the players, since. Price is seen here, along with original castmates Ann Morrison and Jim Walton. This slipped past me when Netflix added it to its schedule last week – but here it is.

 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin return, respectively, in the title roles, launching all of Season 3 today on Netflix. Season 1 began when their husbands, Sam Waterston’s Sol and Martin Sheen’s Robert, admitted they were gay – and in love with one another. In the cliffhanger to end last season, Frankie slept with Sol, which might complicate things. Maybe this season, the show will take on an even more liberated Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice vibe (a famously “swinging” Seventies film), and, eventually, rename itself Grace & Frankie & Sol & Robert. But I doubt it…

 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

The title is taken from the headline of a 1964 Life magazine profile of its, and this film’s subject: famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose achievements included pressing for a successfully argued U.S. Supreme Court case banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools. Writer-director Tommy O’Haver focuses this film biography on the last bit of O’Hair’s life, which certainly has its dramatic elements – but, even with flashbacks, may leave behind some other very interesting bits along the way. Melissa Leo stars in the title role, and co-stars include Juno Temple and Adam Scott.

 
  
 
 

Various Networks, 7:00 p.m. ET

Ken, a longtime, loyal TVWW reader, posted a question yesterday, asking politely, in essence, why I didn’t just keep my basketball-related Best Bets to myself – arguing that anyone who is interested in watching this year’s NCAA college games, or any others, knows where and when to find them, and other readers simply don’t care. And while, in one respect, I appreciate that argument, I’ll beg to persist, giving two reasons of my own. One is that Bianculli’s Best Bets are served up in tiny, stand-alone bites, with a headline that tells you both the subject and the time. If you don’t want to read the entry, just scan or scroll down to the next one. The other is that, especially with tournaments such as March Madness, where games are played on as many as four networks simultaneously, and where the teams playing games aren’t set until a few days before, depending on whether they advance, I feel that even fans who want to follow, say, their alma mater may not know where or when to find their home team. So I did, and will continue to, list the day’s games – also because, in the final analysis, Best Bets are no more, and no less, than what I find most interesting about that day’s universe of TV offerings. So: At 7 p.m. ET on CBS, it’s the South’s No. 4 Butler vs. No. 1 North Carolina. At 7:25 p.m. ET on TBS, it’s the East’s No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 3. Baylor. At 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS, it’s South’s No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 2 Kentucky. And finally,  at about 10 p.m. ET on TBS, it’s East’s No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 Florida. If you read that, you took my advice. If you didn’t read that, you took my advice, too. Everybody should be happy…

 
  
 
 

Disney Channel, 7:30 p.m. ET

First came Tangled the animated Disney film, based on the Rapunzel fairy tale and starring Mandy Moore. That was in 2010. Then, earlier this year, came Tangled Before Ever After, a Disney Channel original made-for-TV movie prequel, also starring Moore. And now, beginning today, comes Disney Channel’s Tangled: The Series, an animated series also starring Mandy Moore – who’s also starring, in the flesh, in NBC’s This Is Us, playing Rebecca. I guess it’s true what they say: the Moore the merrier…

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Whenever this movie is shown in prime time, I mention it. That’s the rule.

 
  
 
 

VH1, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Normally, I wouldn’t point out this show, even on its Season 9 premiere, but tonight’s episode is special, inarguably and especially thematically. It makes room for a very special guest, as both muse and judge: Lady Gaga. The contestants are asked to dress up with a couple of different fashion “looks” for themselves: one that’s small-town simple, and the other that’s simply Gaga. And the guest judge herself comes dressed to impress, if not to kill…

 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

This week’s scheduled guests include MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who has interviewed Bill Maher on his own show in the past (pictured), but is showing up tonight on Real Time with a new book to promote – but who, this week, better be prepared to talk about a lot more than just that book…

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

A Graphic Introduction – The new FX series Feud: Bette and Joan is a throwback to old Hollywood and the tale of the bitter rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962). The clip, inspired by the simple cut-out figures and titles by Saul Bass during the same decade (Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo and many others you’ll remember) does its job well, setting up the conflict of the main characters and the historical mood of the times. (For a look back at TVWW’s views on main titles, see the season one versions of Vikings here, and Homeland, here.) –Eric Gould

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


American
Crime
ABC
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Americans
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Bates Motel
A&E
Mondays
9 PM ET

Baskets
FX
Thursdays
10 PM ET

Feud: Bette and Joan
FX
Sundays
10 PM ET

Girls
HBO
Sundays
10 PM ET

HUMANS
AMC
Mondays
10 PM ET

Last Week Tonight
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Legion
FX
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Planet Earth II
BBC America
Saturdays
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...
 
 
 

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 available on Amazon for under $20.

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. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series

Paul Reuben’s revived his TV character for last year’s comedy feature Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday and now, there is a new release of his 1986-91 CBS series that was must-see Saturday morning viewing not only for kids, but adults alike. The Emmy-winning playhouse was a surreal mash-up artwork by Wayne White, music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh and a cast of puppets and characters that included Laurence Fishburne, Phil Hartman and S. Epatha Merkerson (yes, that's Law and Order's Police Lieutenant Anita Van Buren!!) The madcap always finished with a moral message for kids. This re-mastered HD collection includes all 45 episodes, plus featurettes on the design and writing of the show, cast interviews, all on 8 discs. It’s available at Amazon for $26. (And see TVWW's review of the Wayne White documentary, Beauty is Embarrassing, here.) –Eric Gould