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DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
FRIDAY
SEPTEMBER 18
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Hulu, 3:00 a.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 1 of PEN15 ended with a very touching, uncomfortable, poignant episode set at a high school dance, where the young teens played by series co-creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle endured small and large humiliations before reconnecting with the strength of their formerly fractured friendship. The bold thing about PEN15 is that, unlike other teen TV comedies from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis to The Wonder Years, the lead characters in PEN15 are played not by youngsters, but by adults. Erskine and Konkle, who write and created this series, are in their early 30s, but play their namesakes as seventh-graders (this season, eighth graders). All the other “kids” are played by actual young teens, and if Erskine and Konkle didn’t pull off their roles convincingly, PEN15 would be unwatchable. But they do, so it isn’t. In fact, it underscores the universality of the pains and joys of that age. This season: more life lessons, more indignities, more tiny victories, and more awkward moments that, sadly, are all too familiar.

 

 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Ryan Murphy and Evan Romansky co-created this new Netflix series, a prequel of sorts to the Ken Kesey novel, and subsequent movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But instead of giving us earlier insights into the character of R. P. McMurphy, the young rebellious protagonist played in the 1975 film by Jack Nicholson, Ratched hones in on the story’s antagonist instead. That would be Nurse Ratched, played in the film by Louise Fletcher – who, like Nicholson and the film and its director, Milos Forman, won an Oscar. In this TV series, Ratched is played by Murphy rep-company favorite Sarah Paulson, who’s been in every season of his American Horror Story, and played O. J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark in his American Crime Story. And her steely, determined portrayal is just right, in a series that makes room for one scene-stealing supporting player after another: Vincent D’Onofrio, Amanda Plummer, Sharon Stone, Judy Davis, Corey Stoll, and more. For my full review on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, visit the Fresh Air website. And for a full review here, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.
 
  
 
 

Peacock, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: As Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Wilmore was a very funny, very outspoken standout. As host of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Wilmore was brilliantly vocal, and way ahead of his time, on such issues as the historic insult and racial subtext of the Confederate flag and what became the Black Lives Matter movement. If Comedy Central executives don’t regret cancelling Wilmore’s show after a single season, they ought to. But now, Wilmore is back, with a new weekly talk and comedy discussion series on Peacock, called, simply, Wilmore. If the program is anywhere near as funny as its on-air promos, where Wilmore promoted the show by interviewing himself in split screen, we’re in for another fun ride.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

Maher is back in the studio, even if some of his guests, and almost all of his audience members, are not. But those guests, this week, include former Trump lawyer, and felon, Michael Cohen – and actress and activist Jane Fonda.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 12:00 a.m. ET

Albert Brooks co-wrote (with Monica Mcgowan Johnson), directed, and starred in this 1985 comedy, which is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen – and contains almost as many memorable and quotable punch lines as The Princess Bride. “Oh, you mean the $100,000 box!” “…Things with toast.” “Twenty-two. Twenty-two. Twenty-two…” You have to watch Lost in America to learn why these lines are so hilarious – and you have to watch it, period. Watch, especially, for Happy Days and Mork & Mindy producer Garry Marshall as a Las Vegas casino owner. Marshall was one of the funniest men in Hollywood, off camera, at press conferences touting his various sitcoms – and in Lost in America, his droll delivery is preserved perfectly on camera. Oh, and Julie Hagerty, as Brooks’ gambling-addicted spouse, is another delight. Please watch.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 2:00 a.m. ET

Two David Lynch movies are shown after midnight by TCM this evening. At 2 a.m. ET, the weirdness begins with 1990’s Wild at Heart, starring Laura Dern as a wild child attracted to Elvis-y rebel Nicolas Cage (pictured). Then, at 4:15 a.m. ET, it’s 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the Twin Peaks prequel that features a lot of Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, and a lot of other familiar faces from the TV show, but also makes room for such new Peaks playrs as David Bowie, Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

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...
 
 
 

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