FRIDAY
AUGUST 1
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

TCM, 6:00 a.m. ET

Friday nights are good times to nestle into the couch and watch a good movie on TV – and August is the month when TCM devotes every day, as well as every night, to a single star or filmmaker, presenting a 24-hour marathon of related movies. This year, the celebration begins with Jane Fonda, and the party’s already begun (it started at 6 a.m. ET) with 1960’s Tall Story, the actress’ first movie, in which she played a cheerleader opposite star college basketball star Anthony Perkins. Other movies on the schedule today trace her very quick development: 1962’s Walk on the Wild Side (9:45 a.m. ET) gives her a role that morphs from sweet innocent to hardened prostitute; 1979’s The China Syndrome (5:45 p.m. ET) gives her a great role in a great movie, playing a fluff TV reporter determined to report on meatier stories, and stumbling into a nuclear power plant contamination story in an intense drama (Jack Lemmon is fabulous) that exploded in theaters just as Three Mile Island almost exploded in real life. And later tonight, there’s the giddy cowboy comedy Cat Ballou (9:15 p.m. ET), as well as Fonda’s first personal Oscar-winner, Klute (12:15 a.m. ET, pictured), in which she plays a high-priced prostitute who may be the key to murders investigated by Donald Sutherland. He’s the one named Klute by the way. She’s Bree.

 
  
 
 

Public Television, Check local listings

Bill Moyers doesn’t usually load his show with old-fashioned star power, but his latest installment does just that. The guest is John Lithgow, who’s currently starring in the title role in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park free production of King Lear – and Moyers is set to ask him about the meaning and importance of free theater, and of acting… and, in this current, fast-moving century, of Shakespeare. For dates and times when this series runs in your area, check the Moyers & Company website. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

There’s nothing like an outdoor Requiem Mass to make a summer night slip away – and for this particular evening of TV entertainment, Verdi’s Requiem is performed onstage at the cavernous Hollywood Bowl, featuring soprano Julianna Di Giacomo and those home-town faves, the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Given the participants and the material, expect this particular Great Performances offering to be Verdi good indeed. Check local listings.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

“Five Years” is the name of the opening track on David Bowie’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This documentary, also called Five Years, looks at the pop icon’s development and reinvention by focusing on five years in Bowie’s life – his transmogrification into Ziggy Stardust being one of them.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

MIDSEASON FINALE: For his final episode before his routine summer hiatus, Maher loads the deck on his comic talk show. Among the scheduled guests: Ralph Nader, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Chris Hardwick.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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446 Comments
 
 
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Barbara Leons
Because of the good reviews I watched The Honorable Woman on the Sundance channel tonight. It was good bust was interrupted by so many commercials that it was increasingly difficult to get involved in, much less follow. What should have been an hour show from 10 to 11 in fact ended at 11:15, apparently to get in more commercials. What is going on here?
Aug 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Mr. B, Ref you comments about Sharknado and Sharknado 2, evening more of a mystery to me than why there is even a sequel, is why is it going to be in theaters August 21st?????Who is going to pay $10 to $13 to see a movie that was available free on TV, and will undoubtedly be on dvd and bluray very soon thereafter (and for rental at under $2 a night????? I'm dumbfounded!
Jul 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Since we're remembering James Garner I would like to recommend one of his lesser known films, "Cash McCall" He plays a corporate raider - sort of a mid-2oth century Mitt Romney, but with personality. Some of the financial wheeling and dealing could be from last week's news. The film also stars the breathtakingly beautiful Natalie Wood.
Jul 28, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John
You know maybe I'm a little weird or something but I already saw episode 3 of the Bridge before it aired tonight on the 23rd. It was a new episode. Am I missing something?
Jul 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
marlene
Surprised not to see a mention of the 1932 Maurice Pagnol film (and play) "Fanny" upon which the 1961 version and Umbrellas of Cherbourg are both based. It's part of his wonderful trilogy Marius/ Fanny/ Cesar. Chez Panisse is named after the "older gentleman".
Jul 16, 2014   |  Reply
 
SharonGS
Thank you, Marlene, for mentioning Pagnol. I'm sure Robert Osborne will mention him as well. Pagnol's films are well worth watching.
Jul 16, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Hoping to catch The Divide on one of the probable repeats.Had to check if I'm still paying for this channel.Trailer showing up on other channels didn't look too compelling,but reviews are encouraging.And Stephen Bochco's Murder In The First let me down.Hoping the Philly vibe comes through more than the Geico Gecko dancing in front of Geno's.
Jul 16, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Thank you for highlighting the Tour de France. The prime-time show is a recap; live coverage is in the mornings with repeats overnight. Café au lait, croissants, and the Tour are a nice start to the morning.
Jul 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
I have seen no publicity about this, and it didn't get a mention on your site, but the second season of the wonderful "Last Tango in Halifax" just started on at least some PBS stations. The series features complex but realistic relationships, lovely scenery, and wonderful acting.

Also, the Tour de France starts Saturday: exciting racing and amazing images.
Jul 3, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda D.
We at TVWW agree with you, SharonGS. We've been touting the beauty of "Last Tango in Halifax" since the beginning (see: http://tvworthwatching.com/post/Last-Tango-In-Halifax-December-December-ROmance-Charms.aspx) and continue to report about it on the site (http://tvworthwatching.com/post/PBSUpStreams-Ahead-More-Sherlock-Ken-Burns-and-Downton-Abbey.aspx). Just not today. But it is certainly TV Worth Watching.
Jul 3, 2014
 
 
 
Keith Robin
David, I was thrilled to read that you feel the same way about '$' that I do, and have, since first seeing it in the '70's! Thank you for the heads up...I always seem to miss its broadcasts and they are usually on one time only. Now, at last, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be able to record it in hi-def (no bluray available) on my dvr! In addition to the great music, there are also some solid performances from the cast that includes Robert Webber, Scott Brady, and the delightful Gert Frobe. It was wonderful to see him in a comedic role after his portrayal of one of the best Bond villains, Auric Goldfinger. I saw this movie for the first time when I returned to the US after a three-year tour of duty in West Berlin. I had been to Frankfurt several times, so it was great to "revisit" again so soon! Finally, I can't help but chuckle every time I hear a particular German word when spoken by Mr. Kessel (Frobe): "kaugummi"*! I laugh just thinking about it.

*chewing gum
Jun 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Speaking on Sunday aft. before first ep of "The Leftovers", I choose to doubt these guys would do a "Lost" number. My wish is for an existential adventure where god is simply not an option, fairytales don't come true, and animals get half a break.
Jun 29, 2014   |  Reply
 
Casey
Graham, it's like they knew what we wanted and did precisely the opposite. Well, if it bombs, maybe they'll try our recipe.
Jul 1, 2014
 
 
Graham
I agree, but having just watched it looks like we're out of luck on every count.
Jun 30, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Interesting that the 1938 edition is the only one of the four Big Broadcast films have been tranferred to VHS or DVD.Stayed for the televised 1937 edition and was entertained completely.Finished off the evening with an episode of Burns & Allen.What a lost treasure is Gracie Allen.
Jun 29, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mark
I have access to Dish and DirecTV in San Francisco. Neither one has the GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: "LA BOHEME" either tonight or in the future. DirecTV shows it on the national feed tonight but I'm unable to get it due to having access to local PBS station(s!). Why do you do this PBS?!
Jun 27, 2014   |  Reply
 
jim
The problem isn't with PBS. It's your local PBS station that determines when and whether to broadcast this program. I just did a little googling to see when it would be broadcast in the SF area and came up with the following info:
KQED Life: Mon, Jun 30, 2014 -- 7:00pm
KQED Life: Tue, Jul 1, 2014 -- 1:00am
Jun 27, 2014
 
 
 
David
PENNY DREADFUL was INCREDIBLE last night! Eva Green freaked me out, she is an amazing actress. The show just keeps getting better, it's like "True Blood" with class and decent writing.
Jun 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Graham
I just wanted to let everyone know that if you don't have cable but rely on over the air broadcast, Univision is running almost every single World Cup game. The commentary is in Spanish, of course, but the video feed is HD and might even be the same as ABC/ESPN.
Jun 22, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
The film 'Sous les Toits de Paris' is available on DVD through the Criterion Collection and may also be available through HuluPlus. TCM deserves a lot of credit for featuring it in prime time.
Jun 18, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Erin
There's a repeat of an excellent 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN 2 at noon eastern today. It's called "June 17, 1994," and it recounts the strange confluence of sports-related events that day, including the travels of a slow white Bronco.
Jun 15, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
 
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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.