TUESDAY
JULY 22
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Syfy, 9:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: This is one of those rare competition series – Project Runway is another – where, on good weeks, you can actually witness, and sometimes even be blown away, by the demonstration of talent on hand, creating amazing things under intensely difficult conditions. Every season, the makeup-and-prosthetics-loving contestants on Face Off have arrived with more impressive resumes and/or gifts, and it’s a one-stop-shopping TV destination for those interested in seeing imagination running wild, and made real. Regarding the initial challenge in tonight’s “Life or Death” season theme, a few of the finished designs are good enough to build a Hollywood horror film around – and the show’s just getting started. McKenzie Westmore hosts.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 9:45 p.m. ET

Joel McCrea has the title role in this 1944 movie, but the person to watch is Maureen O’Hara, who plays a woman Buffalo Bill Cody first rescues, then marries. Every Tuesday this month, it’s O’Hara’s night on TCM. Another reason to watch this particular movie biography: It spends time establishing not only Cody’s battles with Native Americans, but his respect for them.

 
  
 
 

PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

Poor, little children, desperate for a better life than the one in which they find themselves. It's the hottest of topics right now at the U.S.-Mexico border – but it also affects kids deep within our country, native born or not, as this timely new Frontline establishes. Check local listings.

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

In tonight’s fictional story line, unrest in the city leads to demonstrations in the public square (pictured), and threats of revolution. In real life, this series found its shooting locations, in Tel Aviv, so volatile because of real-life political clashes and violence that producers have moved their cameras, crew and actors to Istanbul for the duration of the season.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

Real Sports is one of those nonfiction cable shows that delivers installment after installment, as reliably and entertainingly as any of its fictional scripted counterparts. Bryan Gumbel hosts – and tonight, one of the pieces he presents focuses on some eye-opening gimmicks the powers that be in the golf world are thinking about adopting to increase the sport’s popularity in this new century. One idea: foot golf, allowing soccer balls on the fairway and greens, opening up the valuable real estate the way ski resorts eventually did with snowboards. Another idea: what Gumbel calls “pizza-pie-sized holes”: 15-inch cups to make pitching and putting a lot, lot easier, and to speed up the average round of golf by an hour. That sound you hear is that of TVWW contributor Gerald Jordan spinning in his grave - and he's not even dead yet.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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439 Comments
 
 
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Jul 22, 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
 
 
Harry
NHL finals > NBA finals
Jun 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
Dennis
Harry, well said.
Jun 7, 2014
 
 
 
Neil
In previewing "Jennifer Falls", you write: "...and their mom is played by one of the funniest TV moms in recent history, Jessica Walter of Arrested Development." Yes, but she also provides the voice of Mallory Archer in the "Archer" animated series, and she's at least twice as funny there as the dysfunctional, perpetually drunken head of a third-rate spy agency. Credit where it's due, Walters is quite a piece of work, who's found the perfect role to be typecast in!
Jun 4, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jwarthen
What a sad disappointment you are, this morning. LONGMIRE starts its third season, a word-of-mouth favorite that is still making itself known, and you miss your cue. That the series descends from models like FOYLE'S and WALLANDER hardly degrades it-- LONGMIRE's use of its uncommon Wyoming setting, its wonderful casting, and tangy idiomatic dialogue recall JUSTIFIED in seasons better than its last one.
Jun 2, 2014   |  Reply
 
EG
TVWW has reviewed the Season One premiere of "Longmire" (here: http://www.tvworthwatching.com/post/Longmire-Contemporary-Western-Rides-High.aspx) and featured the annual DVD releases in our New This Week block. As you mention, the series has a great lead actor with Robert Taylor playing the hangdog, sometimes down and out Sheriff Longmire and some spectacular western panoramas. Yet, it remains in the "Shows We Want to Love, But Can't" category due to it's habitual use of preposterous plot devices that are often needed to wiggle out of it's own, self-made handcuffs. We're still watching, though... we still need westerns. –EG
Jun 2, 2014
 
 
 
Andy in Cambridge
Um, "Hell and catch fire," above, should be changed to "Halt and catch fire."
Jun 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
Daniel
Nobody cares!
Jun 1, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Re:Comparisons of Seth McFarlane's "Million Ways" to "Blazing Saddles".
Early reviews of the McFarlane opus reveal a mixed message on Rotten Tomatoes.33% of critics liked it,52% of the audience liked it.Sounds "meh" to me. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen Rea thinks McFarlane,while clearly influenced by Brooks' film,doesn't understand the difference between mean-spirited racial jokes and satirizing racism.Brooks clearly mocked the haters by having the black sheriff the only hope in saving the bigoted townsfolk;Seth has no such point of view. "Million Ways" may be praised as the" funniest western since BS",but there really hasn't been any competiton. Monty Python never tackled the Wild West.
Jun 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Sylva
I can't believe that you have not reviewed Playing House on USA. It is one of the funniest shows on television. Please look up the show. You will not regret watching it. It is a smart female driven show, that is as funny as Bridesmaids the movie!
May 29, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jesse
I totally disagree with your review of the Maya Rudolph variety special last night. Compared to most of the mindless programming on network and cable including every CSI and Without A Trace whodunit it( I know you are fond of) this show was a refreshing change. Perhaps every skit wasn't hit out of the park but it was an encouraging beginning. I am fortunate to get Retro TV and occasionally watch the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis Comedy Hour. They were the masters but even some of their offerings fell flat or were beaten into the ground. Some actor/comedians I can watch even tho the writing may be a bit lack luster...Fred Armisen for one and Maya another. Just looking at both of them makes me smile. Not really sure if this is going to be a weekly show but my vote if anyone should ask would be YES PLEASE!! Justin Timberlake to host a variety show? ABSOLUTELY!!! Neil Patrick Harris OH PLEASE YIKES NO NO
May 20, 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.

 
 
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