TUESDAY
SEPTEMBER 17
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s installment covers the years 1945 to 1953 – the Baby Boom boom years – and focuses, among other things, on the evolution and emerging popularity of bluegrass, which would see mass acceptance thanks to The Beverly Hillbilliesand Bonnie and Clyde in the Sixties. Among the artists profiled tonight: Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and Hank Williams (pictured), also known by tonight’s program’s subtitle, “The Hillbilly Shakespeare.” Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Sidney Poitier continues to be saluted by TCM every Tuesday this month – and tonight’s celebration begins with a prime-time triple-header that shows the actor at his powerful best, presenting an amazing range: first a determined inner-city teacher, then the ideal dinner date and potential husband, and finally a proud lawman sticking up for both himself and his race. And all three films were released in the single year of 1967. To Sir, with Love (8 p.m. ET, pictured) was one of my favorite movies as a young teen, and retains its charm. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (10 p.m. ET) pairs Poitier with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, playing the parents of a privileged white girl who brings a young black man home as her new boyfriend. And In the Heat of the Night (midnight ET) pairs Poitier with, and pits him against, incendiary actor Rod Steiger, in a film that, like the two preceding it, attacks racial attitudes with a vengeance – and a purpose. Watch all three films together, as you can this evening, and you get indisputable proof of the talent, power, and importance of Sidney Poitier.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1751 Comments
 
 
Mac
TV news junkies may be mourning the loss of Cokie Roberts as ABC News correspondent,Sunday talk show host and commentator. Outside of flipping by stations,I don't recall ever watching Cokie. Instead I listened to Ms. Roberts,via NPR,back when that "R" meant "radio"(today it means nothing). Everyone's loss. Bright with the gifted ability to communicate,never dumbing down to the audience. She was still showing up to work on Mondays to answer questions about how this screwy experiment called the United States of America works.
Sep 17, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Dana
You seem to be missing good shows time and time again. You didn't mention the return of Veronica Mars in your best bets. No mention of "The Spy" in your best bets even though it is a spectacular series with AMAZING performances by all. They don't even get so much as a, "This is not a recommendation"? Yet, you will continue to mention Dancing with the stars and other horrible reality shows? You seem to have lost your touch about good TV. And even today, no mention of "A little late with Lilly Singh"? A woman who is breaking through all kinds of glass ceilings & skin color stereotypes! A woman who has achieved so much in such a short time and she doesn't even make a blip on your radar? How can you keep recommending bullies like Bill Maher, yet, miss out on Women who are actually making a difference. I have been a follower of your TV recommendations way back from your NY Daily News. Today is the day that you have lost me after so many years. You have lost touch with good TV, IMHO
Sep 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The PBS Country Music show is a scant 1/2 hour and tacked on(at least for Philly) as filler to an American Masters doc on Raul Julia. And that "check local listings" is always important for PBS. Our local PBS outlet,WLVT,usually goes against the network offerings(partially because of the overlap with Philly) and tends to offer a rather bland mix of shows far less expensive. Tonight-an Antiques Roadshow and two-not just one- Great American Railroad Journey episodes-zzzzz.
As for the recommendation of the concert of the O Brother musical stars-Down From the Mountain-highly recommended. But know that fans of current country music will be disappointed as this show has lots of women folk in charge and no
greasy muscled guys in cowboy hats doin' that "it's five o'clock somewhere" masochistic schtick that pretends to be modern country.
Sep 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
Last night the nostalgic sitcom Goldbergs played "In Your Eyes," released by Peter Gabriel in 1994. But the show takes place during the 1980s..
Sep 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
As i understand this episode,from 2013 and probably a syndicated rerun,concerns the 1989 film,"Say Anything" and the Gabriel song used there. The Gabriel song,BTW,was actually a hit in 1986,during the era when MTV actually played music on the television. Gabriel was a hot MTV performer and his music videos were quite expensive and well produced. First album appearance-"So".
Sep 13, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
9/11 documentaries take up the entire day on the History Channel. 102 Minutes That Changed America airs in the evening-7PM,11PM and 3AM Thurs. Never forget. But try to forget how the Bruised Orange-in-Chief inserted himself(and Mrs. Orange) in his tweet this AM.
Sep 11, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Taking nothing away from Sidney Poitier's wonderful performance in "Lilies of the Field" his vocals were dubbed by Jester Hairston who also wrote and arranged the song "Amen"
Sep 10, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Irene
Just a quick FYI, Ed Koch was NYC mayor in 1985. Giuliani didn't run or mayor until 1989 and didn't win until 1994.
Sep 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
If checking TCM primetime for Sun. 9/8,you'll see two Carol Lynley films as a mini tribute to a minor star. Carol Lynley died last Tuesday,9/3,of reported natural causes(also a recent heart attack). Strange thing is that this is not a TCM tribute. It was probably scheduled months ago and the intros were taped weeks ago. Stories seem to have hit Thurs.,two days after her death,but I just saw a notice this AM. Leave it to the superfans at the TCM message board as they have been talking about this eerie coincidence for days.
Sep 8, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Jeselnik,nearing 41,is not exactly a new face-many a pro sports figure is already collecting a pension by 40. He was involved in a show for Comedy Central,The Jesselnik Offensive,2013. I only remember promos for this but imdb has a lengthy list of guests appearing as themselves. Also some unknowns with bit parts,so it may have been a combination sketch/interview situation. The new show fills up CC's Fri. @ 11PM slot and,if successful,maybe CC can replace the dreadful David Spade bomb that follows the Daily Show,M-Th.. The only thing worse than Spade would be Adam Sandler(Thanks,Netflix,for keeping away from the masses) or Dice Clay(that crud was recently touring with Roseanne. His website is two years behind).
Sep 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Any excuse to show a Marx Bros. film is OK with me. TCM Fridays is full of football films. 8PM-a silent classic-Harold Lloyd's The Freshman-a fine opening act for Horsefeathers(9:30PM)-my 2nd favorite Marx film(#1-Duck Soup). Lots of wordplay,fourth wall breaks,physical funny stuff with peashooters, and Thelma Todd(no Margret Dumont,but a true beauty-see her in another Marx classic- Monkey Business). You'll never see a pack of Lifesaver candy the same way again. I first saw this in 1971 about halfway through in an arthouse theatre where the doors were literally shaking from folks laughing. And before Chico does his piano solo, Groucho looks at me,saying:"I have to stay here but there's no reason why you folks shouldn't go out out to the lobby still this thing blows over." Later years,my one son & I did the speakeasy password bit and just laugh with each other. 67 minutes of crazy. Cut the cards.
Sep 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
I thought the same thing, Vince, but look closely at the punctuation and you'll see he only picks one, the clear champ, Goldfinger!
Sep 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Vince Everett
9/5 in today’s comments about tonight’s Bond films on TCM you cite BOTH Dr No AND Goldfinger as “the best of the Bond films” is it a tie? Anyway, I don’t disagree, they are my favorites !!
Sep 5, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
9/3-It is 4PM and no update. May I suggest Conan's quickly assembled travelogue to Greenland with an hour special @ 10PM on TBS. Seems like a wry way to pull down the size 46(presuming) pants of they guy who canceled plans with Poland to stay in the U.S. and monitor a category 5 hurricane(an occurrence he thought never heard about,not knowing about the 4 that threatened the U.S. since his swearing at,2017)-monitoring via playing golf. Conan is not as mean spirited as TBS host Sam Bee,but he still knows how to ridicule through truth telling. Hope there is a Brawny paper towel ad in respect of David Koch(R.I.H. and his Georgia-Pacific) and a reference to the 5th category 5 during The Golfer's Watch.
Sep 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Leonard Maltin casually mentioned that the 9/2 Disney Vault night would be the last on TCM for 2019. First,odd that the night fell on Labor Day,a low TV night,especially for families(end of summer,school starts). Second,no more Disney Vault for five months. No Halloween or Christmas themed nights. Nothing near Frozen II premiere. 2020? Who knows? This, while Disney gets bigger. They just moved a new Christmas-themed comedy,Noelle,with Anna Kendrick & Bill Hader, from a 11/8 theatrical release to 11/12 Disney+,their new streaming service.Ya gotta buy the package to see it. No theatre,no Disney Channel,no ABC,no DVD,no sharing. Not a new idea,but one that builds a wall from the public-meaning you,kids. Disney Channel was originally a premium slot,then gradually became part of basic cable. Wall up,then(kinda) dismantled. Moral of this fairy tale? No one rides in the Magic Kingdom unless they are this rich.
Sep 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
WRT Ghostbusters tonight, I never associated the two before, but could Marshmallow Man have been a metaphor for a certain New York real estate mogul, famously narcissistic, with an unquenchable appetite for attention? (No names, but you probably can guess who I mean.)
Aug 27, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A favorite 1/2 hr. comedy episode-from "Car 54,Where Are You"(1962,"Boom,Boom,Boom". Nat Hiken was behind this show about NYC cops after his time on Phil Silvers' army show,with many borscht belt comics and Jewish
character actors on both. Filmed in the Bronx. The plot involves comic Jan Murray( best known on TV for hosting game shows) as a celebrity judge for a city-wide barbershop quartet competition. 163 versions of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon",barbershop-style,with all groups singing "boom,boom,boom" for background effect. Murray-straitjacket ready. As subtle as a Bugs Bunny cartoon and just as funny. "Car 54" shows up on Decades & MeTV,but Shout! Factory TV has episodes streaming for free.
Aug 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Matt-Fun fact(Wiki)-lyrics to the theme were by series creator Nat Hiken. Another kinda fun fact-the 8:30-9PM Sun.slot for Car 54 was sandwiched between Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and Bonanza,two ratings juggernauts that sold lots of color TVs for NBC's parent,RCA. Car 54 was filmed black & white. The time slot was sponsored by Procter & Gamble from 1960 to 1973,no matter what NBC scheduled,even though the slot rarely kept pace in ratings between WD & Bonanza.
Aug 23, 2019
 
 
Matt Alpern
Thanks Mac.

Many of us (of a certain age) remember "Car 54" with great affection.
Joe E. Ross as Gunther Toody.. Fred Gwynne (pre-Munsters) was hilarious
as Gunther's befuddled partner, Francis Muldoon.. Captain Bloch.. Al Lewis
as Leo Schnauzer (sure, I've gotten the spelling wrong).. etc. etc. One of the
first theme songs that stuck in my head. Matt A.
Aug 22, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker,died 8/18 at 95. Deep Philadelphia ties,including his time at CBS owned channel 10. Late '50s,Whitaker did regular sports reports alongside news reader John Facenda. Whitaker joined CBS Sports in 1961,hosting the CBS Sports Spectacular(their version the ABC's Wide World of Sports)golf,horse racing and others,including part of the first Super Bowl broadcast team. Both CBS and NBC broadcast the game with separate announcing teams with both using the CBS camera feed.
In 1965 Facenda would become the voice of NFL Films,later nicknamed The Voice of God.
Aug 19, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Bolduc
The key word for "New Girl"'s writers might be "lazy." Creating a plot point around the title character's alleged obsession with a hard-to-identify-with movie like "Dirty Dancing" just seems like a very weak joke. So many actors then were more lovable than Patrick Swayze of "Dirty Dancing," for one thing. Her fictional attachment to that movie just doesn't work. The beginning of that episode put me off so much I don't want to watch more.
Aug 17, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Tonight (Tuesday) on my local PBS are hours two and three of « Family Pictures ». Having enjoyed the « North Carolina » hour, I’m looking forward to these and urge others to find them.
Aug 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Giving advance for Wed. 8/14 TCM 24 hrs. of Liv Ullmann. Many interesting choices that rarely make it to TV,including a lengthy 2012 documentary involving Ingmar Bergman,who directed Liv in 11 films and was her lover,1965-70. But I'm spotlighting a stinker,earl AM:Lost Horizon,the 1973 musical film based on an interesting book(James Hilton) and a classic Frank Capra 1937 film(7:45AM). This dud ruined the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songwriting team,almost ruined Columbia Pictures, ended "roadshows"-expensive films that had advanced ticket sales and nearly ruined the all-star cast. In 1973 my future ex & I celebrated our first night out after the birth of our first child. We saw the roadshow version,including horrid dancing(prancing?,maybe shuffling) and all,and left midway. We disagreed on much over the years,but agreed about this dismal film. George Kennedy in an airplane-what can go wrong? Enjoy the positive reviews at TCM.com and wonder what drugs were used when viewing.
Aug 12, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

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's also an author and teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University. His 2009 Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', has been purchased for film rights. His latest, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV.