SATURDAY
FEBRUARY 28
2015

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Well, not technically. Nineties country superstar Shania Twain recently wrapped up a two-year residency as a Las Vegas headliner, whose show included dancers, a 13-piece band, a motorcycle, and even a trained horse. (A main attraction and a mane attraction!) This is its captured-for-posterity, shown-after-the-fact TV edition, and why ABC is premiering this one-hour special on a Saturday night, I’m not sure. But here it is. I hope she’s in good voice after all these years, and doesn’t get horse.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

In promos for this biographical special, 16-time NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant explains that rather than write a biography or go into therapy, he’d just talk to the camera, explaining his life, his philosophies, and his work ethic. You can do anything if you apply yourself enough, he insists – but I’m not sure I agree. No matter how hard I try, the only way I can dunk is to submerge a doughnut.

 
  
 
 

Sundance, 9:00 p.m. ET

If you loved Peter Berg’s NBC series about a dedicated Texas high school football coach, and you should have, but never saw the 2004 movie on which it was based, you should have. And here it is, with Billy Bob Thornton playing the role Kyle Chandler would embody so powerfully on TV. In both the movie and TV versions, the wife is played by the same actress, the superb Connie Britton – but her role in this movie version, based on the book by Buzz Bissinger, is much smaller than in the series. But if you watch for her closely, you’ll see her: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…

 
  
 
 

BBC America, 10:15 p.m. ET

After a long hiatus, Graham Norton is back with new shows. (Hooray!) As always, there’s a mixture of the famous (Sean Penn, Kelly Clarkson) and the celebrities more familiar to those on the other side of the Atlantic (Celia Imrie, Ross Noble). And, as always, they all share the couch at the same time, leading to marvelous and unpredictable interactions – and, under Norton’s guidance, some hilarious stories – like how Sean Penn greeted his 16-year-old daughter’s first date when the young man came to call on her.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

This first new edition of Saturday Night Live after its big 40th-anniversary special is in living color, as they used to say – but with Dakota Johnson as host, also expect about 50 shades of grey. Musical guest: Alabama Shakes.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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IKETY
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556 Comments
 
 
Cheryle Dean
The Graham Norton Show is back but why the hiatus here in america when the show continued Jan and Feb in UK? Secondly will we be seeing those episodes 13-19 or will we have to pull them from some .com site -
Feb 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Well, now we know why WE decided NOT to renew "The Divide"-SEX BOX!!! Why am I surprised? It's really strange, considering they are a part of the AMC family of networks. What an out and out disappointment!
Feb 27, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dave
Lead Belly has been used for many years as 2 words, for example...The Lead Belly Foundation is a non profit organization founded by Tiny Robinson, niece of Huddie Ledbetter to preserve and promote the musical legacy of the “King of the .....
Feb 23, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
I was thinking the same thing as Jan. What a persistent and brave man your father was! Thanks for sharing that with us David
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Feb 21, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Thanks for recommending McCabe and Mrs. Miller. But you forgot to mention the gorgeous Leonard Cohen music, and that's a large part of the atmosphere of the movie. It's a beautiful film.
Feb 21, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
I was thinking the same thing as Jan. What a persistent and brave man your father was! Thanks for sharing that with us David. I'm half Italian so I should watch but I'm in need of mindless entertainment so am watching, Better Call Saul (on DVR) instead. Fill us in?
Feb 17, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
What a great family story, David. Having once been married to someone whose parents came from Sicily, I think I will watch as well. Should be interesting.
Feb 17, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
True,those spots promoting The Slap are keeping me away from it,added to the relentless plugging away about The Blacklist and that other new show which seems like The Americans Lite in the spot.NBC quoted a trade magazine,Ad Week, as a positive for watching Blacklist.Who knew that Comcast could screw up NBC even worse than GE?Oh,yeah,Comcast customers.
Feb 12, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Benita
She is not a Nazi agent, she's very clearly Russian.
Feb 11, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
BlueRae
I get these about 8am A DAY LATE. It doesn't help much to know the Grammy's are on Sunday, IF I RECEIVE THE NEWS ON MONDAY. This happens often enough to make a person angry.
Feb 9, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Pixie
Problems with website:
For the last few weeks when ever I copyyour specific description on a "picks" and paste this into Jarte (my short word precessor) I get all the comments (those I have never looked at and are hidden from sight.) I have not run into this problem prior to a few weeks ago and it happens each time. Is there someway that I can get a copy of your recommendations without getting the long list of comments? (I highlight your recommendation and copy (Ctrl C) Thank you -- appreciate your work and recommendations.
Feb 8, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
leih
that's the cutest rapper and the song itself is great! Glad you posted it...
Feb 8, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
David-Thanks for the heads up about Shout Factory's new streaming service.It is ad supported and FREE.For those who don't know,Shout Factory was founded by the folks responsible for Rhino Records,the coolest and most reliable pop music reissue label.They always had a soft spot for the weird and wacky,including Ernie Kovacs(on VHS decades ago) and cult movies. Shout Factory has been responsible for saving lots of music,TV & movies to CD & DVD.The streaming service is like finding quarters in the cushions for couch potatoes like me.
Feb 6, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
CM
Today and tommorow Feb. 5 and 6 M Huckabee will be on a show on Direct tv channel 377 at 3 pm central time and again on channel 377 at 11 pm central time. It is a rerun, but I will be watching it again at 3pm. To me this is tv worth watching.
Feb 5, 2015   |  Reply
 
Mac
Thanks.I'm glad I don't have Direct TV.However,I do miss his Saturday gabfest paired with Judge Jeanine.Always a fun drinking game when Jeanine's eyes burst through her sockets in an Obama rant followed by a reverse mortgage ad from Fred Thompson.Add some Lawrence Welk on PBS before and a cheapo horror flick on a retro TV channel afterwards and Saturday night TV had some fun surprises. Who needs SNL?
Feb 6, 2015
 
 
 
Erin
Re: Blacklist. Blacklist is now airing on Thursday nights, so the conclusion to the Super Bowl cliffhanger won't be seen until Thursday.
Feb 2, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
David, thank you for the heads up about "Fortitude"! I know what/where Pivot is (I'm a big fan of Megan McCain, AND they recently ran "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz", up for a Writer's Guild Award and more this year!)
That's the reason I visit your site every day! It's how I found out about "The Divide" (I still can't believe the constipated thinking at AMC Networks that didn't order a second season!) I know your reviews can't all be winners, but today it's my opinion that you hit a home run!
Jan 29, 2015   |  Reply
 
Keith Robin
Thanks, Angela. I was a big fan of Terriers, another show that wasn't given time to really click. As for "The Divide", I'm baffled by why the decision was made NOT to continue. I will be checking out "Mad Dogs"...thanks again and happy viewing.
Feb 4, 2015
 
 
Keith Robin
Thanks, Angela. I was a big fan of Terriers, another show that wasn't given time to really click. As for "The Divide", I'm baffled by why the decision was made NOT to continue. I will be checking out "Mad Dogs"...thanks again and happy viewing.
Feb 4, 2015
 
 
Angela
I too am glad for the heads up about Fortitude. Unfortunately I don't get Pivot with my cable subscription of over 250 plus channels. ::sighs:: But I will find it when it comes out on Hulu, Amazon, etc.
Keith, I am saddened to hear The Divide will not be renewed. I thought it was an excellent show that ended so so suddenly I was sure there were more episodes to come. I hope another network or online provider will think better than to let it go for good.
Another show to check out on Amazon aside from, Man in The High Tower, is a show titled, Mad Dogs by show runner Shawn Ryan-The Chicago Code, an HBO series The Shield, Terriers, and others. About 4 old friends who meet up in Belize for a relaxing vacation, but things don't go according to plan. I forgot to breath for at least one part of it. I'm really hoping it will become a series. (Please vote for it if you like it.) Plus it's not about zombies, et al, or comic book heroes, a welcome change.
Jan 30, 2015
 
 
 
jan
David, is there any chance Night Will Fall or German Concentration Camps Factual Survey will be available on DVD? It was hard to watch, but I saw footage I'd never seen before, and it sounds so political the way the movie was shelved. I think it's important that the world doesn't ever forget what happened then--although horrible things have been done to large groups of people for a very long time and continue today. It's an important film.
Jan 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
June Fuller
As The Mentalist spiraled down in seasons 5 and 6, even this diehard fan was wishing for its demise. Now comes along season 7 with a fair bit of the freshness that captivated me in its early years and leaving me wishing for more.
Jan 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
scott
tonight (Tues Jan 27) at 9pm on PBS there is American Experience: Thomas Edison which might be a good option for some.
Jan 27, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Curtis
Blake Shelton may be bought and sold by NBC but he certainly shows that he's game. Most of the show was very funny. "Wishing Boot" was a hoot. "We're gonna make a ****load of money from this."
Jan 26, 2015   |  Reply
 
jan
I have pretty much stopped watching SNL. I don't know if it was much better earlier on, but I find it mostly tedious now. (Maybe it's just me.) But I did record it Saturday night just to see Blake Shelton. Both the musical numbers were great, and the two musical skits--one of which was "Wishing Boot"--were worth watching. He wasn't even too bad in the other sketches. However, I did fast forward through any sketch Shelton wasn't in, but only after viewing it for a little bit to find out if it was funny or not (mostly not). I'm not sure what prompted your comment, Curtis, but I'm glad to have a chance to put in my two cents. I also thought Blake Shelton seemed game for whatever, and I agree that most of the show was very funny. Wish it was that way all the time.
Jan 27, 2015
 
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

Behind David in the picture is the first TV owned by his father, Virgil Bianculli, a 1946 Raytheon. (The TV, not his father. His father was a 1923 Italian.) David Bianculli has been a TV critic since 1975, including a 14-year stint at the New York Daily News, and sees no reason to stop now. Currently, he's TV critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and is an occasional substitute host for that show. He also teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University, and his most recent book, 2009's Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, has recently been purchased for film rights.  He's currently at work on another.