FRIDAY
MAY 29
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Apple TV+, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Central Park is a new series from Apple TV+, and one that, at first, may sound eminently skippable. It’s an animated series about a wacky family in Central Park, where the patriarch works as a park manager. But the more you learn about this Central Park, the more intriguing it gets. It’s from the creators of Fox’s Bob’s Burgers – and when that network passed on this new series idea, Apple TV+ scarfed it up. And the show is not just a cartoon: it’s an animated musical comedy. And the stars lending their voices to this, in dialogue and in song, include Josh Gad from The Book of Mormon and Frozen, Kristen Bell from Frozen, and Leslie Odom Jr. from Hamilton. Other co-stars include Stanley Tucci, Tituss Burgess, Kathryn Hahn, and Daveed Diggs. I’m really intrigued by this show, but I may be biased: I love musicals, and I used to be a park attendant and night watchman at a 300-acre public park in South Florida.
 
  
 
 

Apple TV+, 3:00 a.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: If you’ve been watching this mystery drama from the start, as Apple TV+ has been rolling out weekly episodes, tonight is the season finale. And if you haven’t been watching – well, that’s still the case.
 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: This is Season 3 for Somebody Feed Phil, which follows Everybody Loves Raymond co-creator Phil Rosenthal as he travels around the world making new friends and trying new foods. Previous seasons of this series have been life-affirming, funny, and the sort of show that makes you want to start making travel plans. This year, watching this season that was filmed pre-pandemic, the first two elements remain true. The last one, not so much. When there’s a potentially deadly virus lurking and spreading out there, it’s hard to be bitten by the travel bug…
 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This new series is co-created by Greg Daniels, who already scored an out-of-this-world home run this month with Amazon’s Upload, and Steve Carell, his former star of NBC’s The Office. Carell also stars here, playing the newly appointed head of the new Space Force arm of the armed forces. It’s a little too much like HBO’s Avenue 5, which also transplanted bureaucratic clashes and egos to outer space. In Space Force, the characters are earthbound at first, with turf wars that may follow them all outside our atmosphere. Co-stars include John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Noah Emmerich from The Americans – and Fred Willard, whose supporting role here is his final screen performance. Willard, who died earlier this month, plays Carell’s father here – but it’s not Willard’s first Space Force role. His resume includes a TV movie comedy, also titled Space Force, in which he starred, playing the ship’s captain, Thomas Woods. And that was way back in 1978. For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower
 
  
 
 

YouTube, 7:00 a.m. ET

Beginning today and running through June 7, the TriBeCa Film Festival is combining with other film festival organizations around the world, similarly prevented from holding their annual cinematic showcases in physical spaces with large crowds, to present their wares online – and for free. Today’s opening-day offerings, listed on its website and available on the We Are One YouTube channel, include Traveling While Black, a film that couldn’t be more timely or important. Other very current events premiering on this online festival’s Day 1 include Sebastién Tellier on Paris’ Rooftop: A Takeaway Show (a pandemic city serenade from one of Paris’ tallest buildings), and The Stories That Prepared Us, which looks at the TV shows and movies that dramatized or warned about a coronavirus-type outbreak. There’s also a deep dive into a great movie, and a film short I know my son will want to watch: Jaws – Assembling a Top-Tier Team, in which YouTube’s Lessons from the Screenplay team analyzes how that Steven Spielberg film established and fleshed out its characters as more than just fleshy shark bait. There’s lots more – and even more, day after day, for more than a week. Bookmark, and enjoy.
 
  
 
 

Public Television, Check local listings

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE: From today through all of June, local PBS member stations can opt to show the TV premiere of An Accidental Studio, which would generate a lot more initial enthusiasm had it included George Harrison in its title. That’s because the studio in question is Handmade Films, which the former Beatle formed simply so he could rescue, finance, distribute and, most of all, watch a movie in the works from his friends at Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The first release by that “accidental studio,” therefore, was the brilliant Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and this documentary tracks the studio’s astoundingly improbable history, and its rise and fall. In Philadelphia, the documentary is shown Sunday night as part of pledge break. More than ever, throw some effort into seeing when and where it’s showing in your area. It’s worth it. I’m a huge Beatles fan (I adore huge Beatles), and this is wonderful. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s scheduled guests for this new at-home edition include Jay Leno, who already has popped in to visit Maher’s backyard (from a safe, neighborly distance) since the pandemic began. Also: Soledad O’Brien and Tom Colicchio.
 
  
 
 

BBC America, 11:00 p.m. ET

In this new at-home edition, Norton’s guests include Katy Perry, Steve Carell, Dakoita Johnson and John Legend.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1925 Comments
 
 
Mac
5/29-Watching 7:12AM CNN live feed,including the arrests by State Police of an on-scene reporting crew headed by a black reporter 1/2 hr. ago. My personal reason for watching is because of my son not only lives nearby the scene but worked for years at the nearby Hub Bike Co Op,just feet from the 3rd Precinct station. Meanwhile,MSNBC had live on-air coverage,including Ali Velshi. And Fox News online headlines Trump's Twitter blast,already flagged by Twitter for "glorifying violence." Who is in charge here?
May 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/28-TCM's month of Edward G. Robinson films ends tonight with a uncharacteristic portrayal of a loving father to Margret O'Brien in the small farming town,inhabited by Norwegian immigrants. Dalton Trumbo's last credited script before being blacklisted for Communist leaning writings. What is displayed here is the "we're in this together,good times and bad" idea that permeates everything today. Fairness,helping those in need-pretty radical,huh? Sappy? Yeah,but a tremendous payoff. The film was kinda hidden because of Trumbo's blacklisting,but shows up at TCM many times,sometimes at Christmas. O'Brien is still with us,just 83, and knows how important this role is to her filmography. A true weepy to clean out the tear ducts but not a false moment.
May 28, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Stephen Meskin
Barkskins looked good but ads on Nat. Geo ruined it and drove me away! Please warn us in future.
May 26, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
With David's Best TV for 5/25,the History Channel's Grant docs,this reminds me of a great James Thurber short story,or a casual as they have been called:If Grant Had Been Drinking At Appomattox. I think this showed up on the single season of My World & Welcome To It,a sit-com with William Windom portraying a Thurberesque character in 1969. Why this much-requested show never made it to video is a true crime. Lost in the ether? Destroyed? Windom won an Emmy and the show itself won for Best Comedy Series ,though cancelled. Windom would portray Thurber onstage for years afterwards in a one man show.
May 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Is Disney just as lazy as CBS for recycling material to fill a dead Sat. night of TV? CBS continues with recycling Paramount blockbusters of relatively recent vintage on Sun. nights-5/24 it's Titanic,stretched from 3 1/4 hours to a 4 1/2 hour slot,with ads. Disney is airing their ESPN/Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan on ABC,censored,and in two hour blocks,which started last night and continues through 6/20. It goes behind the Netflix paywall in July. Verdict? Just as lazy,but at least more recent and at least no game show nonsense.
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mark H Flannery
The description for "Billions" is the same as that for "I Know This Much Is True"
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
"Labor of Love" is a lazy title for a show with a disappointing premise. Wouldn't it be better to call it "Crock of Love," "Steaming Pile of Love," or "Labor of Crock"?
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
I had no idea what Labor of Love was,so,after finding out(ties to the insipid Bachelor),I found that the first show pulled in less than a million folk,and an abysmal number for the desired demographic(source-The Hollywood Reporter).
May 24, 2020
 
 
Mary B.
Could call it "Falling of Rock" or "Weakness of Premise." As Steve Ray Vaughn sang, "That's a cold shot.." a slap at women.
May 24, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
5/22-FX, now part of the Disney,premieres AKA Jane Roe @ 9PM. It proclaims deep investigation and interviews,with the headline bombshell from Jane Roe,aka Norma McCorvey ,reneges on her long about face against abortion. Her views renouncing abortion,after being the literal poster woman for abortion rights,a law and its Supreme Court rulings, which changed everything in the U.S. The conversion against abortion,she claimed late in life,were funded in the six figures,by pro-life money,including one religious guy interviewed who has since overturned his ideas. This supersedes any programming tonight. For both sides,ya gotta see what is here. Why this night,at the start of the Memorial Day weekend? Dunno. But thankful Disney didn't hide it behind a paywall and,since they took over FX & FXX,captioning has stabilized so many more can understand this important subject. In the recent past these channels were off limits,due to the folks @ Fox lazy work. Wow! I said something nice about Disney.
May 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
Please fix your listings for today
May 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Better Call Saul fans might want to look to the funny papers(available online via gocomics.com) for Ruben Bolling's scathing comic,Tom the Dancing Bug from 5/15/20. Taking the format of one of Saul's ads,it is headlined Better Buzz Barr,as in the AG William Barr as doing as much harm as Trump and McConnell. "You can smear Sessions,but you can't dis Barr! Call 1-855-LOWERTHEBARR".
May 21, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/19-TCM's daytime theme is madness and it includes 2 brilliant and disturbing British films from director Michael Powell. 1PM The Red Shoes- A young ballerina divided between not only two men- one a composer,the other a master of dance and the ballerina's passion for her own art. 6:15PM-Black Narcissus-A group of nuns working in the Himalayans. Two of the finest examples of color with cinematography by Jack Cardiff(never miss a Cardiff film). Sandwiched in-between-Lawrence Olivier's little effort-Hamlet-but I would still concentrate on the Powell films. Too intense? Try the Cartoon Network.
May 19, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Comedian Jim Gaffigan has been showing up on CBS Sunday Morning during quarantine from his Manhattan apartment. He is not alone-his wife,Jeannie,who had a brain tumor removed 3 yrs. ago,with complications after, is active in everything. Add all five kids-ages 8 thru 15. You Tube extras include a cooking series and a Q&A with the Qs from the kids and As from expert Andy Slavitt. Past episodes via You Tube. Nothing comedic that will spurt your coffee through your nose,but a family that truly loves each other in 2020, getting through Covid-19 while living in the U.S. epicenter-Manhattan.
May 16, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Seth Meyers 5/13-New best seller on the table-not yet a mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain-The Shorn Brads. Possible You Tube videos of Messrs. Pitt,Garrett,Bird & Paisley getting quarantine haircuts?
May 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I don't receive AXS but Dan Rather's interview with Ian Anderson has lit up a music forum I frequent. There are many Jethro Tull fans there and the obsessive nature of many audiophiles onboard bring about a load of comments,well beyond what you would consider merely "fans". Ian Anderson's COPD is incurable and could change things rapidly for the worse if left alone. The soundbite "can still run for the bus" is more than a cliche as Anderson evidently doesn't drive. His health is of great concern to fans and it is odd that the biggest Jethro Tull album is titled Aqualung. That album turns 50 next year.
May 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Why go through the trouble of making a video for BEST BETS and not updating the site?
Not everyone wants to spend the time watching a video.
May 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A follow-up to the cable airings of Monk. The Sundance Channel put a Covid 19-themed spot with Mr. Monk in showing that he was just ahead of the game. Now Comcast's upcoming Peacock paychannel has begun teasers integrating Covid 19 with interviews. First up-hosted by Seth McFarlane,Tony Shalhoub in his Monk character and guest stars. Quite good! Peaccok is probably going to have Monk in its lineup,as Universal owns rights to the entire series(no Disney Touchstone as it started with USA) and the short is available at You Tube for free. Sad,CC only in Spanish.
May 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
News story: ViacomCBS plans to rebrand CBS All Access. Possible rename-Nyah,Nyah,Nyah,Nyah You Must Be This Rich To Come In.
Last summer CBS broadcast the first year of The Good Fight. Evidently they didn't see adequate numbers coming to the paysite because it seems nothing this summer. Sad. They haul out 5 Paramount films,all not available via paysites,but often viewed via cable with ads and toss them to broadcast to fill a gap on Sundays during sweeps. Add to that,this cheap stunt yielded at least passing numbers as per Hollywood Reporter. NBC's lineup of new scripted shows,Zoey & Good Girls,drew smaller numbers yet both are expected to do OK with delayed viewing. But CBS proved that rather than even giving some of their current scripted fare a needed extra slot(Bull,All Rise,SWAT,the FBI franchises),the cheapest proved the best $$$ results. This experiment will not end soon. Meanwhile,the All Access virtual episode,an innovative experiment serving as a first season finale,tanked.
May 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Michael
Please update TVWW
May 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Just an asterisk to David's You Tube Best Bet For 5/4/20- TCM) does indeed have a bunch of Natalie Wood films scheduled,but the daytime(6AM-8PM) has only one-David's mention of Penelope(9AM). The rest start @8PM. TCM usually has a theme for their daytime schedule and psychiatry is the 5/4 theme(much better than Star Wars puns about May Fourth being with you.
I like many Natalie Wood's films;some are imperfect yet interesting. I'd like to see Inside Daisy Clover,Cash McCall,Marjorie Morningstar ,Splendor In The Grass and Love With The Proper Stranger. Maybe Natalie gets the Summer Under The Stars treatment in Aug.
May 4, 2020   |  Reply
 
Neil
“Let the Fourth Be With You”?? Twice??? Arrrgh!

It's "May the fourth be with you." David, you're usually so pun-itive.
May 4, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
From 2001 to Sining' In The Tain,TCM in their infinite wisdom,follows with another Donald O'Connor film,the first Francis,the Talking Mule entry. Cheap to make and a cash cow,err,mule,O'Connor made six of these even during the Singin' In The Rain era. Francis has a direct link to TV's Mr. Ed. Arthur Lubin directed most of the Francis films. Unable to get rights for TV,he bought the rights to a similar idea-a talking horse who only talks to one human-six seasons,originally in syndication,then on CBS.
May 2, 2020   |  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.