MONDAY
MARCH 30
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

I don’t know about you, but when Rhea Seehorn, as Kim Wexler, confronted Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman at the climax of last week’s show, I was expecting her to erupt in anger and disappointment and betrayal regarding their personal relationship. I wasn’t prepared, though, for her proposed Plan B, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out in tonight’s show. For a “prequel” show painted into several corners by the fact that it must adhere to what we know will happen in the timeline of Breaking Bad, it’s amazing how often Better Call Saul manages to pull off surprises. And whatever happens, this Kim and Saul thing is a huge one.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

In Episode 3 of this excellent new David Simon and Ed Gross miniseries, based on the fiction novel by Philip Roth, the community and religious leader played by John Turturro speaks in the synagogue in support of presidential candidate Charles Lindbergh, despite his anti-Semitic comments and policies. And as the nation rallies around mbe, a noose of oppression tightens around this story’s central family members.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

When James Corden took over from Craig Ferguson and launched his version of The Late Late Show in 2015, he did so by going to the streets – and doing his show for a week, guerrilla style, by showing up at people’s homes in Los Angeles to broadcast the show remotely from those makeshift locations. Now, five years later, Corden is broadcasting from homes again – but, in this prime time special, for a very different, infinitely more somber reason. But how somber can things be when BTS is performing remotely?

 
  
 
 

AMC, 10:08 p.m. ET

This is Episode 6 of this intriguing Jason Segel miniseries – and continues the quartet’s search for the mysterious, inspirational Clara, with whom we spent last week’s episode. The group splits up temporarily in search of new clues, and avenues of exploration. Peter revisits work, despite having just either quit or been fired – and Simone follows the clues in Clara’s artwork. I may be wrong about this, but based on some of the planted visuals so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Simone ended up at Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation. At least that’s my impression, regarding its displays of impressionism…
 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 11:00 p.m. ET

Last Friday, Daily Show host Trevor Noah, from the safety of his home, interviewed infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, in one of the best and most informative extended interviews with the doctor I’ve yet seen. And yes, I’ve been watching the daily presidential briefings. It was Fauci’s idea to reach out to prominent players in the social media universe, whose younger audience figures number in the millions, as an effective way to spread the word about how to behave, social distance-wise, to young people otherwise less likely to hear, absorb, and believe the warnings. And this week, Noah keeps up the focus, back on Comedy Central this week – still from his home – for a show he calls, for now, The Daily Social Distancing Show. When I typed that, my computer’s autocorrect program changed that title to The Daily Social Distraction Show, which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad name either.
 
  
 
 

TBS, 11:00 p.m. ET

Working from home, and without an audience, some late-night hosts shine, while others sputter. (Read all about it in TVWW’s Eric Gould’s latest blog in Cold Light Reader.) Tonight, Conan O’Brien joins the fray, and I’m betting on him to do well. O’Brien always has gravitated to things he thinks are funny, rather than trying to second-guess his audience, and therein lies originality, and laughter.
 
  
 
 

ABC, 11:35 p.m. ET

ABC News Nightline began in 1979 as a late-night 11:30 p.m. ET news program reacting to an ongoing crisis, with Ted Koppel anchoring nightly reports, initially focused on the hostage crisis in Iran. Eventually, Nightline outlasted that single-topic focus. Decades later, the program, was shifted to after midnight, so Jimmy Kimmel could compete more directly with the other network’s late-night major-league hosts. But now, in the course of the coronavirus epidemic, ABC wisely has moved Nightline back to its original time slot opposite the late local news, and announced that, for now, the virus news will be its sole nightly focus. Good call.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 11:35 p.m. ET

Stephen Colbert has done very funny Late Show remote programs from his home, and even from his bathtub, online. Now he’s back on CBS, but still socially distant. And since he’s one of the best comics out there when it comes to reacting to the daily headlines, he’s one of the most prominent broadcast TV voices to watch. Keep it up, please, Stephen.
 
  
 
 

ABC, 12:05 a.m. ET

Jimmy Kimmel is now televised after midnight, and, like his cohorts on other networks, is working without an audience, remotely from home, and pretty much without a net. But watch. These are extraordinary times, and the times are providing us with some truly unprecedented television. And I’m pretty sure, in Kimmel’s desktop shots from his home, that birdcage drawing behind him is a drawing by Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes…
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1877 Comments
 
 
Mac
A tip of the face mask to John Krasinski's DUI YouTube video-Some Good News. I usually barf at goody-two shoes only positive stories a la Paul Harvey. This is 16 min. of upbeat stories John asked for via Facebook-all true and at least one pulling at your heart. Like apiece of chocolate candy with a gooey surprise(no crunchy frog),Steve Carell guests,thanks to his wife with a phone,and they reminisce on The Office turning 15. Like the late-night shows using their kid's artwork usually reserved for the fridge,John's kids,too,add a touch of sorely needed humanity. There might be a 2nd show. Let's hope!
Mar 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Heads-up-TCM is replacing the in-person April Film Festival with a cable version,featuring not only films but interviews from the festival's vault,which started in 2010. It starts Thurs. 4/16 @ 8PM and continues non-stop till Sun. 4/19@ 6AM. Details @ tcm.com. Sun. @ 8PM includes films slated for this year's event,minus scheduled stage guests. Past interviews scheduled for airing include Peter O'Toole,Kim Novak,Eva Marie Saint,Luise Rainer,Faye Dunaway and Norman Lloyd. Special mention of Lloyd;his interview was taped in 2015,as he turned 100. He's still with us @ 105 and attended the 2017 World Series. Why is that notable? He saw the 1926 WS @ 11 years old(Source-Wiki).
Mar 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
Loved your T Shirt (and suggestion) for Saturday's best TV today. Jorma Kaukonen's Quah spent a great deal of time on my turntable. Glad to see you are fan if not the album at least his ex wife's artwork. Stay safe and healthy.
Mar 28, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Matt Alpern
Hi Mac: Actually, Billy Wilder.. also the subject of many TCM tributes (deservedly so).. was the author or co-author of many brilliant last lines.. think Stalag 17, Sunset Boulevard, and.. well, you name so more!
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Sorry for the Dept. of Redundancy Dept. appearance in that reply.
Mar 29, 2020
 
 
Mac
Billy Wilder-favorite director. Jack Lemmon-favorite actor. Perfect storm-both in a film,though a couple of their projects missed the mark. TCM is overdue to schedule the lengthy Billy Wilder Speaks documentary,Billy Wilder Speaks,originally shown on the network in 2006.
Mar 29, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Just an FYI,that TCM clip of Tony Curtis talking about Cary Grant may have been recently aired(it comes up often when promoting Some Like It Hot) is many years old as Curtis passed in 2010. BTW,as TCM finds many ways to air Some Like It Hot,tonight's reason is because Joe E. Brown is the Star of the Month. He may be billed under the stars like Monroe,Lemmon and Curtis,but he gets one of the greatest lines in Hollywood history as the last line of the movie. Never seen this classic? I won't spoil it by revealing the line,but know that it is right up there with Estelle Reiner's line in When Harry Met Sally. Maybe surpassing it. Brown was a durable box office money maker from the beginning of talkies and made dozens of films(30 are on TCM this month and that's only about half of his output),yet that line surpassed decades of work.
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Kudos for both Mr. Bianculli for the heads-up and TCM for the night of Alice Guy-Blache. They repeated the doc @ midnight and following it up with 3 more films. Between the passing of Robert Osborne and AT&T gobbling up TCM,there was speculation about TCM's future. Outside of Comcast's forcing folks to pony up extra cash to enjoy TCM,many of their changes have been pretty good. Alicia Malone hosted the Guy-Blache evening,setting just the right tone. She showed up last weekend to co-host Noir Alley-Elevator to the Gallows-with Eddie Muller-a fine pairing. Oh,to highlight a quote from TCM's online intro to Noir Alley(via The Asphalt Jungle):"If you want Fresh Air,don't look for it in this town." Don't tell Terry Gross.
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
In 2016 I spent some rime & money at a Ollie' Bargain Outlet with some Black Friday specials.Besides a coffee maker for $4(Walgreens overstock)I picked up a few original DVD sets before Mill Creek got them. Friday Night Lights,Rockford Files(including the movies);later, 2 ESPN 30 For 30 boxes and Parenthood,all under $25. The coffee maker just lasted a year(nor a bad deal,as it made a full pot every day) and FNL & Rockford remained sealed. Sad but Ollies no longer gets DVDs. TV sets ready for consumption,besides films picked up used or in dollar stores. and just fixed up the VHS player. We just watched the 2 Grumpy Old Men films and,while not the finest Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau films,they ain't Odd Couple II. Bogey & Bacall scheduled this week. 3/24 Steve McQueen films,daytime on TCM-Soldier In The Rain @7:30AM. Stay safe and engaged with stuff.
Mar 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Barry
Please credit co-plotter/artist John Byrne alongside Chris Claremont for “The Dark Phoenix Saga” from Marvel Comics. ‘Nuff said!
Mar 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Abbie
I have HULU streaming and recently noticed they have seasons 1-7 of Homeland available. Since I've never subscribed to Starz I'm looking forward to checking out this series.
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Martinez Peter C.
Lighten up, Francis.
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Martinez Peter C.
Firesign Theater has several of their LP’s released on Mobile Fidelity w/great album covers & insides. $20 in ‘70’s vs the LP then of ~$5. Social History docs. They never deliver up here in the hills!
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Those MoFi CDs went away as the first era of the company folded in 1999-2001. With all of the reissues,check out the 2CD Shoes For Industry Columbia comp,with generous portions of the early years,including the entire 28 min. original Nick Danger episode. Remastered by Sony's acclaimed Vic Anesini and dirt cheap.
Just think-discussion of a comedy troupe known for non-visual masterpieces on a TV site. In these troubled times,50+ years old Firesign Theatre routines make plenty of sense,especially Don't Crush That Dwarf,Hand Me The Pliers.
Mar 18, 2020
 
 
 
Martinez Peter C.
How about Max Headroom full seasons replay?
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
RandyR
Set your wayback machine to Ernie Kovacs on YouTube. Last I looked, there were five hours of Kovacs there. He was way ahead of his time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWdEr1XaLrw
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Also via shoutfactorytv.com. Lots of free stuff,including Mystery Theater episodes.
Mar 18, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
No St. Patty's parades,Guinness puts me in a carb stupor, no Irish potato candy(a Philly thing)- a no-no for this diabetic,but leave it to TCM to have 24hrs.(already in progress) of Irish films,highlighting the 8PM showing of John Ford's A Quiet Man,a Technicolor Valentine to Ireland. It is perfect! If you're watching all day, TV viewers of a certain age know that the 11:48 short subject features singer Morton Downey Sr.,who sired a disgusting,hot-headed son. Jr. brought TV to a then-lowest common denominator with a talk show,featuring rants,chainsmoking(Jr. died of lung cancer)and insults to "pablum puking liberals". Fun fact:Jr. was fired from a radio gig and Rush Limbaugh replaced him. This was the first station Rush presented his modern persona of hate and misinformation,yet he was considered Downey-lite.
Mar 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
John Oliver 3/15-Take away the audience,the set,the building where they write and where they tape-and still Oliver & Co. produce an Emmy-worthy almost half hour of gasps and laughs. Available online so you can catch up. Caution,kiddies-the naughty bits are included. Ooookay.
Mar 16, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George E Stewart
Have our latenight hosts become so addicted to the approbation of an audience that they can’t work without them? Steven Colbert takes forever getting his smug show started as the audience is forced to give him a standing ovation. Friends who have been in the audience for Bill Maher tell me they are instructed to give him the unearned love of a standing ovation. Only Jimmy Kimmel seems secure in himself to just come out a do a show and earn his laughs without being so self-righteous about the national disaster that is Donald Trump.
Mar 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Jim Cullen
Thanks for alerting me to the Smothers Brothers reruns on GetTV. I’d never even heard of that channel, but there’s all sorts of chestnuts to fill up my DVR.
Mar 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Jim: You're welcome. And I don't even GET getTV, as ironic as that sounds. -DB
Mar 21, 2020
 
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
With all due respect to David's son, the reason Lincoln Rhyme will certainly not be renewed is that it is terrible. Stilted dialogue in stagy and cliched scenes, only occasionally redeemed by decent acting from the two principals. And awful supporting cast. Will not be missed or remembered.
Mar 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Late night surprises. I tuned into Colbert late,as Trevor Noah had a decent interview(Octavia Spncer). Colbert & Co. ditched the audience earlier than expected. Only ones in the seats were on payroll(Sam Bee did this Wed.) A weird moment. Timing without laughs. Billed as a rehearsal and one wonders if his glass of brown liquid was indeed alcohol(possible,as band leader,Jon Batiste, seemed authentic in refusing a drink because he abstains). Mention of Stephen viewing a Steve Allen clip with Allen playing piano behind writer Jack Kerouac reading from his 1957 novel,On The Road. And then Stephen feigned the possibility of filling time with similar shtick. Awkward yet effective as I wondered what would happen next. When was the last time one wondered that on a late night talk show? Craig Ferguson,especially when Robin Williams came out? Hoping the powers that be repeat Colbert's episode,if only to prove it really happened.
Mar 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George E Stewart
Shoes for Industry. Shoes for the Dead.
Mar 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Matt-Color me green-not for St. Patty's Day,but jealous of what you got to witness. I distinctly graduating high school,June'69,with some extra money in a newly discovered record store. Guy suggested Waiting For The Electrician album with weird guys on the cover. Wasting money on a comedy LP? Naa. Turns out I heard some of this stuff via WUHY(now WHYY,where David does his Fresh Air hosting) played an early(by Philly standards) underground show,Freed:The Electric Aunt Jemima Of The Air. Sun. nights were the Goon show and then this bizarre show,where I first heard Frank Zappa. Newly discovered fact-the show's host,Meatball Fulton,aka Tom Lopez,is alive and well,producing Firesign-like radio material to this day.
Mar 15, 2020
 
 
Matt Alpern
Matt A. Hey Mac: Once attended a benefit concert for the local listener-sponsored radio station in NYC that had a lineup of.. wait for it.. Judy Collins, the Mahavisnu Orchestra (had just formed) and.. The Firesign Theatre.
Mar 14, 2020
 
 
Mac
How can you be two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?
Not only a great album title,but,like much of the Firesign Theatre-the truth. Album came out on Columbia,at a time of great turmoil in the record industry. Columbia was home to Leonard Bernstein,Andy Williams and Ray Conniff. But it also was home to
Bob Dylan,Janis Joplin's band,Big Brother & the Holding Company, Blood,Sweat & Tears, Chicago(Transit Authority-by just a few weeks)and,Carlos Santana(one month later).
Mar 13, 2020
 
 
Matt Alpern
I think we are all bozos on this bus.

Matt A.
Mar 13, 2020
 
 
 
 
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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.