SUNDAY
NOVEMBER 23
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

The latest honoree of this prize, named after the greatest humorist and political satirist in American history, is Jay Leno. Guests assembled for the night’s festivities include Leno’s Tonight Show successor, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jerry Seinfeld and Betty White. Not to rain on Leno’s parade, but every year at this time, I wonder: Why in the hell hasn’t this award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers, whose sense of humor, and outrage, matched Mark Twain’s in deed as well as spirit? Check local listings.

 
  
 
 

TBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This is one of the video snippets in my current Personal Theory of TV Evolution exhibit at the apexart gallery in New York’s TriBeCa – in a display about the earliest TV programming I can remember. Except, back then, the entire 1939 movie was in black and white, at least to me, because, as a young kid, I was watching on my family’s black-and-white TV set. Back then, you had  to wait a year for Oz to show up on television. Now you can watch it any time, on your own DVD – but it’s still worth mentioning whenever it’s shown on television. So here it is… 58 years after it was broadcast the first time.
 
  
 
 

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

After a series of harrowing episodes showing one or two of our hardy survivors at a time, tonight’s adventure reunites many of them in a “gang’s all here” kind of reunion. Well, many of them, anyway. And they’re reuniting for yet another grim and risky battle – this time to mount a surprise invasion of the medical facility where two of their own are being held against their will.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) escaped from captivity, and was led by Carrie (Claire Danes) to safety – until he wasn’t. What a dramatic episode. And what’s to happen this week, now that Saul is back in enemy hands, and the identity of the CIA double agent has been exposed?

 
  
 
 

CBS, 9:30 p.m. ET

MIDSEASON FINALE: Last week, I asked, “Could things get any worse for poor Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry)?” The answer was yes – he now has a bodyguard, and even though he had a clear-the-air face-to-face conversation with Bishop, the danger remains palpable. And tonight, in an episode titled “The Trial,” Cary faces a judge, and a jury, in the trial that may send him away for 15 years.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
 Website (optional)
 
WPOHW
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 25  | Go to page: 
498 Comments
 
 
Neil
You wrote today, "Why in the hell hasn’t [The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize] award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers..." Simple answer: demos. Everyone wants the 18-49 audience, including PBS. Leno is relatively current, and he appeals to people in that demo who watched the Tonight Show over the last few decades. To have watched and appreciated the Smothers Bros. Comedy Hour in their last year on air, you needed to have been at least 9 years old in 1969, which puts their audience at age 54 or older today. That's past the demos the TV industry wants to reach, so hence, no Smothers. The Prize Committee's choices have to be influenced by that thinking.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
You wrote today, "Why in the hell hasn’t [The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize] award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers..." Simple answer: demos. Everyone wants the 18-49 audience, including PBS. Leno is relatively current, and he appeals to people in that demo who watched the Tonight Show over the last few decades. To have watched and appreciated the Smothers Bros. Comedy Hour in their last year on air, you needed to have been at least 9 years old in 1969, which puts their audience at age 54 or older today. That's past the demos the TV industry wants to reach, so hence, no Smothers. The Prize Committee's choices have to be influenced by that thinking.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mike Pavlov
Jay Leno was a great comic that was, in my opinion (IMO) ruined by the
Tonight Show. I also love the contrary, somewhat snarky Dave Bianculli. Much better than an "agree to disagree" comment.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Fred Montgomery
Your picks for Saturday are, like, so stale. An old SNL with Drew Barrymore? Really? How about something new like "The Missing," a new series beginning tonight on Starz? Cmon, let's look forward, not backward :).
Nov 15, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
I would like to apologize for my last comment as it wasn't fair or nice. Often I see recommendations for shows here in the comments section. (I've also read that it's not always easy to choose only 5 shows for the Best Bets.)
I usually read the comments partly for that reason as I've found out about some great shows I might have otherwise missed.
All the writers on TVWW do great things here and it's made even more special because they only do it out of their passion for TV (and not money) and wanting to share that love with everyone. How can we criticize that?
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
Angela
I have an idea! Why don't you start your own website with what you consider to be the best bets for TV worth watching instead of criticizing others who do more than complain? :)
(did my smily face take the sting out of what I said?)
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
Curtis
As the last person, most likely, in the country that doesn't have cable or satellite tv I appreciate Dave's picks that come up on broadcast channels. Considering that NBC has 40 years of SNLs to choose from the chances are very good that an old rerun will be pretty good so that's a gimme. New SNLs - not so much. I still appreciate the heads up. Conversely, we just got n•tfl•x. Now we're never going to get anything done.
Nov 15, 2014
 
 
 
Alan
Your picks of the day come along so late in the day that I generally click on your web cite just to see what I missed from the previous day. Really, can't you get your picks on pre-noon?
Nov 12, 2014   |  Reply
 
Bob
Really? Alan, how much do you pay for this website that you can request a time of delivery?
Nov 13, 2014
 
 
 
Bob
Updated before 8AM? What am I going to complain about all day?
Nov 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
Thanks for the smile on my face.
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
 
Janet
dare I say it. I like, I really like ... Constantine. And the Flash. NO NO NO
Nov 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Hey, I would like to chime in here too. Casey, and Elise's comments echo my own sentiments. The only time I don't check out TVWW is when I'm not going to turn on the tube...Er, maybe I should say turn on the chip?

I wish whatever is going on in your life, is all good, and your effort pays off in a way that makes you happy.
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Two comments: First-Gracepoint...I have, indeed, avoided watching because I have seen Broadchurch, so thank you for the heads up about the upcoming episodes. Second, Parenthood...I have been watching this outstanding show since the first episode and I was never a big fan of the character Joel. I tolerated him. After the way he reacted to Julia's misstep and decided to separate, and then was so reluctant to work it out with her, it's my hope that she makes the divorce final and allows herself the happiness she deserves. Joel set himself up for this and I hope the producers & writers give him what he deserves! That's just my opinion, what's yours?
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Thanks for mentioning "A Sloth Named Velcro." If you hadn't, I probably would never even have been aware of the program. Fascinating stuff. And that's not the first time I've watched something that you mentioned that I had never heard of before. So thanks for all those other times, too.
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
David Wieck
Dave, your tribute to Tom Magliozzi made me choke up and smile at the same time. Bravo!
Nov 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Just a pat on the back: if your Best Bets show up at all, I'm eternally grateful. Can't imagine what the hurry is among some posters here. Not our job to tell you what YOURS is. Thanks for this great site. You're open in a permanent tab in this household.
Oct 31, 2014   |  Reply
 
elise
Well, then, Let me second Casey's sentiment. TVWW is my go to site for all my entertainment needs. I have your website open all the time, too! I hope your "hectic" is a nice problem to have. Hang in there, and it will patiently and kindly wait for any words you post .... Good luck!
Nov 5, 2014
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Casey, Thanks so much. Really nice. And believe me, everyone, the second I can get ahead on Best Bets, I will. Right now, for reasons I'll write about as soon as I get a chance, things are incredibly hectic even by my standards. But support like yours, Casey, keeps me going...
Nov 1, 2014
 
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........where are today's (10/30/14) Best Bets?
Oct 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
Mike C.
Thanks, Dave.
Oct 30, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Another sports comment about 10/24/14.Numbers for the first three World Series games show the Kansas City market holding near 50 percent of all TVs watching these games in real time.The other half is missing quite a show.
Oct 26, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........what happened to Friday's (10/24/14) Best Bets?
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
umm...Friday's Picks, please!
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
LANA TURNER? This is Halloween, not April Fool's Day. "The Innocents" stars the great Deborah Kerr in what is quite possibly her greatest performance. It's a great movie - maybe the best ghost movie ever made - with the original "The Haunting" being a very close runner-up. By the way that stars Julie Harris, not Virginia Mayo.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
You're right, of course, Jim. Thank you for making us aware of our egregious mistake. Fixed!
Oct 23, 2014
 
 
 
I'm sure it's already been pointed out. That's Deborah Kerr not Lana Turner. When I first saw it, it scared the hell out of me. Bought the DVD too.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jon Delfin
"But how many times, really, will I get the opportunity to write about a movie named Zombie Strippers?" Considering how often IFC runs it, lots!
Oct 20, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Better Call Saul,
What fun Vince Gilligan and crew, and "Saul" must be having with their new show. The commercials are funny and the amount of material from which they have to draw from in our sue happy country boggles the mind.

I enjoyed seeing the big red blow-up advert figure waving it's arms around, like an old friend from Breaking Bad. I can't place where we first saw it on the show. At the car-wash?
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
EG
Angela - The "Rectify" air dancer is here: https://rbellwoar.wordpress.com/tag/rectify/ (Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom of the page.) I'll keep looking for the BB example. –EG
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
Angela
Now I'm starting to second guess myself; I trust your memory EG, more than my own. So I googled inflatable sky dancers, Breaking Bad, and Rectify but didn't find any hits.
I seem to recall Mr. White briefly becoming entangled with the dancing red man during an argument with someone. Am I confusing the two shows?
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
EG
Oddly, I can only place it in "Rectify". I'll have to go back and review all my BB DVDs... –EG
Oct 15, 2014
 
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 25  | Go to page: 
 
 

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.