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THURSDAY
JUNE 30
2016

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

BroadwayHD, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s Best Bets are entirely, coincidentally, musical – and the evening begins with a true rarity. She Loves Me, the current Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the classic Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock musical (which itself was based on the same Miklos Laszlo play that inspired You’ve Got Mail), is being performed tonight at 8 p.m. ET, as usual, on Broadway. It’s anything but usual, though, that it’s also being streamed live, and available for viewing nationwide, via the BroadwayHD website. The cost is $9.99 for the event, about half of what it costs you just to pay the toll into the Lincoln Tunnel. Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski star, and the show’s Tony-winning set is indeed one of the most intricate, functional and beautiful sets I’ve ever seen on Broadway. Come for the set, then stay to be charmed by the utterly delightful music and performances.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Movie Musical Thursdays, on TCM, has a ridiculously strong lineup tonight, beginning with Bob Fosse’s breathtakingly energetic movie version of Cabaret. Liza Minnelli is given her most indelible and iconic role – and slays it.

 
  
 
 

ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: ABC is trying a lot of old tricks this summer – game and quiz shows, mostly – and here’s another one, a musical variety show that invites both current acts and oldies to perform numbers from a particular five-year era. It starts with the 1980s, so these are relatively newer oldies, but time goes on. Hosted by Arsenio Hall, who’s 60, and rising country star Kelsea Ballerini, who’s 22, this new six-part series, which is arriving without previews, may be a lot of fun. It’s executive produced by long-time Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, whose tastes in music, and in pairing musicians from different eras and genres, has been a delightful Grammy staple for decades now.
 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: For Season 2, Denis Leary and company don’t indulge in a moment of scene-setting: If you don’t know these characters well from last season, you’ll have little or no sense of how they came together, stay together, or are so comically dysfunctional. (A fast binge view of Season 1 is highly recommended.) But basically, Leary plays the former lead singer of a vintage rock band hoping to make a comeback, but with Leary’s long-estranged daughter, played by Elizabeth Gillies, as the new, very talented lead singer. The new season begins with the death of a former musical peer, and has several subplots going at once, with Leary’s trademark deadpan dialogue, the best thing about Rescue Me, so prevalent and enjoyable. My favorite subplot: The continuation of last season’s idea about band member Rehab and his pretentious idea to do a rock opera song cycle about the Irish potato famine. Last year, that was laughably ridiculous. This year, after the mega-success of Broadway’s Hamilton, suddenly it’s finding interest – and investors. For an interview with Robert Kelly (Bam Bam), see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET

Speaking of Hamilton, when it comes to Broadway shows that introduced or popularized new types of music to Broadway, TCM includes two film musicals representative of that trend. First, at 10:15 p.m. ET, comes the 1979 film version of Hair, directed by Milos Forman, who loved the musical’s embrace of political, lyrical and visual freedom. John Savage and Treat Williams star, and Central Park is the setting for most of the action, and the hits include the title song, “Easy to Be Hard,” “Aquarius,” “Let the Sunshine In,” and many others.
 
  
 
 

BBC America, 11:15 p.m. ET

This is sort of a stretch for an all-Musical Best Bets, but it includes, as Norton’s guest stars, Rebel Wilson, now starring in London in the musical Guys and Dolls. So there. But the real reason is that other guests on Norton’s couch tonight include Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, all three of whom are in a new Absolutely Fabulous film, and very vintage punk musician Iggy Pop.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 12:30 a.m. ET

Jesus Christ Superstar may be the closest Broadway analogue to Hamilton, in both approach and reception, so seeing this 1973 movie adaptation in this new era is quite instructive. This rock opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, started as a concept album, then was transferred to the stage, with Ben Vereen and Yvonne Elliman its breakout stars as, respectively, Judas Iscariot and Mary Magdalene. Elliman reprises her stage (and original LP) role in this film, but Vereen does not. Judas, in the film, is played by Carl Anderson, with Ted Neeley as Jesus. It’s not that good a film, really, but it does capture the intent, and an era.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 4:45 a.m. ET

Now here’s a classic. This is a filmed performance by the 1982 national touring company of Sweeney Todd, with George Hearn replacing Len Cariou in the title role (very commendably), but with Angela Lansbury still playing her Tony-winning role as cannibalistic piemaker Mrs. Lovett. Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are as good as musicals get, the story is great, and this particular performance is well worth setting your DVRs to capture. Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd…

 
  
 
 
 
 
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836 Comments
 
 
Mac
Further into the Disney Vault 6/28/16,Turner spooled Waking Sleeping Beauty,a documentary about Disney's Renaissance in animation,post Black Cauldron. Though a Disney production,it reveals more than a few warts in telling the story of how Roy E. Disney brought in Frank Wells,Michael Eisner and Eisner's hiring of Jeffrey Katzenberg to revitalize Disney,including a string of animation hits which included The Little Mermaid,Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King,which rank amongst the jewels of Walt's crown of the King of Animated Features.
In between-great Disney 'toons,including those Mickey Mouse greats mentioned before WSB and Silly Symphonies after. BTW, the soundtracks to all 75 Silly Symphonies were recently released as a vinyl-only boxset with fantastic artwork for each of the eight double LP covers .
Jun 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
To take it a step further, I watched last night's episode and it was a rerun of the first episode! It appears to me, CBS didn't want to go up against the NBA Finals with a new episode of a "promising" new series. It also indicates how unreliable program guides on the various tv platforms have become.
Jun 20, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mark
BrainDead: Looking at the schedule on the CBS web site at http://www.cbs.com/schedule/?t=8 it sure looks like tonight's BrainDead is a rerun of last Monday's episode (The Insanity Principle ...), and Episode 2 (Playing Politics ...) will be airing tomorrow night 9:59-11pm ET/PT. (Hover the mouse over the show title to see the expanded description, and it is there where one sees air time is really 9:59-11pm, not just 10-11pm).
Jun 19, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Martha
Mr Darcy "spongeworthy?" Oh, no, you dd not!
Jun 18, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Bolduc McKeown
Job news site says CBS in Dallas looking for a part time entertainment and media news writer, if your staff knows people who might be interested. Thanks.
Jun 17, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Grey
Jerry Seinfeld on The Cooking Channel? Really??
Jun 16, 2016   |  Reply
 
Talbert
Best guess is that this is a "cereal-ized" program.
Jun 16, 2016
 
 
 
Neil
Apropos of today's Best Bet on 'To Tell The Truth,' the Buzzr channel, which airs on a digital subchannel in many markets, reruns episodes of the original TTTT, as well as 'I've Got A Secret' and 'What's My Line.' I especially enjoy WML, where the panelists have to guess the weird occupations of everyday people, as well as a celebrity guest while being blindfolded. The sets are embarrassingly rudimentary and the video comes from old kinescopes, but the panelists build on each others questioning to zero in on the correct occupation. For its time, it was a surprisingly smart game show.

Question for the dean of teleliteracy: Was WML ever implicated in the quiz show scandals? Because sometimes the leaps of logic to guess the right answer seem to defy credulity.
Jun 14, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Susan
Pretty sure that Vincente Minelli wasn't Judy Garland's father, but rather her then future husband.
Jun 11, 2016   |  Reply
 
Neil
I was about to write the same comment. Minnelli was Liza Minnelli's father.
Jun 11, 2016
 
 
 
Neil
Regarding Sunset Boulevard and Ace In The Hole, I do my TV watching either over the air (OTA) or via streaming, having cut the cord a few years back. That means I don't get TCM, but I do get digital subchannels like Movies, GetTV and The Works, which predominantly run older films. And both "Sunset" and "Ace" have aired on one of these channels in recent months, albeit with lots of commercials aimed at seniors (i.e., drugs, walkers, scooters, law firms, etc.). If you can tolerate the spot load, some of these films do get alternate ways of distribution, assuming you can find the x.2 and x.3 type channels on your TV.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
Hey, Sean, are you mental? Last time I checked, 1950 came before 1951. The way you expressed it, 1949 came AFTER 1950. And according to iMDB, the folks at TVWW are correct.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Sean Dougherty
The Dragnet TV showed debuted in 1951 - after Sunset Boulevard, so if his role in 1950's SB was "just before" he started the role of Joe Friday, it was on the radio show, which debuted in June 1949, not the later TV version.
Jun 10, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Where are picks for Tuesday?
Jun 7, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Kathleen Weber
where are picks for Monday?
Jun 6, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Many theaters will be showing the 1971 Willy Wonka on June 26 & 29 via Fathom Events. I always found this movie to be deeply disturbing,then my first born told me,after reading much of Roald Dahl's kiddie material,that was the point.:"Mom & Dad aren't watching. Let me tell you about this..."
Also,later this summer,Dahl's BFG comes to theaters directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Melissa Mathison(both behind E.T.)
And what's up with Choclae?Sounds like a new pretend sweet from Nestle,who own the real Willy Wonka trademark for some truly disturbing candy.
Jun 3, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
David and staff, having seen the first episode of "Outcast", I want to commend you for your listing and comments. I think it is one of the best you have ever posted because you tell your readers to decide for themselves based upon their own viewing choices. Many time critics will dismiss a quality show based solely upon their personal feelings about a genre. I agree that if you are a fan of "exorcism" drama, as am I, you'll probably enjoy this series. I was attracted to it mainly because Philip Glenister is one of the lead actors. I always enjoy whatever he's in.
Jun 3, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Julie
Casey says "EAT IT"

ALSO "the amount of entitlement on display here by certain (always male) posters is staggering. What IS it, guys? WHAT IS WRONG?"

What is up with that?
Control your anger, don't make it look like all of us girls are angry at men.
May 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Mark, et al: Here's my canned response to this kind of complaint. The Best Bets come from a mind that has no allegiance to any particular taste, except for damn good, worth a look, weird and/or rare, or godawful. (Godawful saves me the most time. It's my favorite.) Every BB can fit into one of these. They're ALWAYS right on. If your taste is more particular than any of these, you will be disappointed time and again because, think about it now, there is NO WAY Mr. Bianculli can mention everything appearing on a given day that would suit your preferences and still serve the rest of us. The only entity that can do that is a basic TV guide. BUT, we have the internet now, and you can probably find a site that has chosen to limit its gaze to those programs that you might find of interest. So here's the canned part: Your must-see TV may or may not be MY must-see TV. BB does not need to fix itself. YOU need to eat what's put in front of you. It's DINNER. It's nourishing. EAT IT.
May 31, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mark Miller
How do you not list "The Dresser" among today's Best Bets? An adaptation of a critically acclaimed play and starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ian McKellen, on Starz.
May 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey Chapple
This is the age of DVRs that can be set remotely. Please upgrade your equipment.
OR
Please find another site that runs more according to your requirements. There are many, now that the internet has realized we are no longer embarrassed to admit we adore TV.
AND
Leave us, who have gratitude for all the things this site offers us for FREE, alone.
ALSO,
the amount of entitlement on display here by certain (always male) posters is staggering. What IS it, guys? WHAT IS WRONG?
May 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Dan
10:17 am Eastern Time and no Friday article. This is the age of DVRs and some of us like to set record in the morning. Please set the release time for "best bets" much earlier. I know it can be done because twice in the last ten days it was there early in the morning.
May 27, 2016   |  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.