NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Again, I mention this only for fans of this NBC competition show, or for those curious enough to check in once the chaff is being separated from the wheat in a vigorous way. There were 36 competitors left as this week begins, and last night a dozen of those performed again, hoping to advance to the next level. Tonight, seven of those 12 will receive reprieves from the judges – which means, in this one night of TV, five contestants will not. One of the 12 who performed last night is Courtney Hadwin (pictured), who’s expected to make the cut.


PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s final installment of this three-part nature documentary miniseries about Australia is titled Return of the Wet, and focuses on that continent’s ruthlessly oppressive rainy season, which usually follows a long, dry, brutally hot spell. Yeah. Tell me about it. Try living in New Jersey in the summer of 2018. Check local listings.

TCM, 11:45 p.m. ET

In August, TCM salutes a different movie star each day, showing a generous sampling of that performer’s films all day and night. Today’s star in Peter Finch, whose salute begins at 6 a.m. ET with 1957’s The Shiralee, and continues with such Finch-featuring films (say that three times) as 1956’s A Town Like Alice (12:45 p.m. ET) and 1967’s Far from the Madding Crowd (5 p.m. ET). The most gleaming jewel, though, is 1976’s Network, starring Finch as unhinged TV anchor Howard Beale – a brilliant performance at the center of an equally brilliant movie. Network, co-starring William Holden and Faye Dunaway, is televised at 11:45 p.m. ET, and is well worth the wait. Paddy Chayefsky, America’s first breakout television writer (Marty, for starters), wrote the script, which, all these decades later, is astoundingly intelligent, and even more astoundingly prescient.

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8/15-Another interesting Finch film comes up early,10AM(missed it?TCM schedules it frequently,usually on a Sun. afternoon) is Fred Zinnemann's Nun's Story with Audrey Hepburn,seemingly out of her element playing the nun the story is about. Many of Zinnemann's films had a struggle of morals and A Nun's Story is one of the best. Don't mistake Hepburn for some goodie-two-shoes. Finch here plays a doctor involved with helping the sick in the Congo. Her Christian values,already coming under question,is in conflict with the atheist surgeon Finch but they learn from each other. There is much more to the film,but that is Finch's part. The filming experience led to Hepburn's real life work with UNICEF years later.
Aug 15, 2018   |  Reply
"The leader after Day 3, former PGA champion Brooks Koepka (pictured), sits alone at 12-under par"

His first win in this tournament was on Sunday, he was not a former PGA Champion though he has won two U.S. Opens. Four wins overall, three of them Majors.
Aug 13, 2018   |  Reply
The Palin episode delay of Who Is America is not just a rumor,though Showtime is coy about its future. They are leaving it up to Cohen for final decision. Showtime has a free weekend,Labor Day weekend, 8/31-9/3, for non-subscribers with cable. Some episodes of WIA are included during trial. With all of the publicity for the show yet resulting so-so numbers, they are wise for airing WIA during the free weekend. Unfortunately,they are also showing Our Cartoon President,which seems too tame for its subject matter
Aug 12, 2018   |  Reply
So you say there's NOTHING else of quality to watch tonight ? OBVIOUSLY you have not viewed a single episode of Snowfall. Great storytelling. Top notch cast, acting and cinematography. Get a clue my man.
Aug 9, 2018   |  Reply
8/9 TCM salute is for Walter Matthau. 5 goodies in a row. 6PM-Sunshine Boys. Neil Simon play. Oscar for George Burns. 8PM-Odd Couple. Another Simon,with Jack Lemmon. Matthau plays Oscar. 10PM-Fortune Cookie-Billy Wilder co-written with I.A.L. Diamond & directs. First Lemmon/Matthau team up. Matthau wins Oscar. 12:15-Taking of Pelham 123-the good one. Hijack a subway? Robert Shaw is a baddie. 2:15AM-Charley Varrick-a low key violent caper,directed by Don Siegel. A great supporting cast,including Dean Wormer(John Vernon),who evidently was already on double secret probation before Animal House.
Aug 9, 2018   |  Reply
The first time the Godfather films were shown on network tv (NBC?) the two films were edited together and shown over two or three nights with the events unfolding in chronological order. In other words, it began with the DeNiro segments from II followed by the Brando film and concluded with the Pacino segments of II. I was one of the half dozen people in this world who hadn't already seen the films in the theater so that was the way I first experienced Godfather. It included scenes that were not in the original films, but which I still expect to see when I watch them. Hopefully someday Coppola can be persuaded to release that version again. I wouldn't want to be without the originals, but this other version is a worthwhile variation.
Aug 8, 2018   |  Reply
The TV showings of the Godfather films are so complicated the story has its own wiki entry. As much as I,too,would like to see a DVD of The Godfather Saga,or Epic or Trilogy or whatever,Coppola's idea to watch Michael's fall parallel with Vito's rise is one reason why Godfather II is so great. And Don Jr.,err, Fredo,shows just how much John Cazale is missed. 40 years gone.He was in only five feature films. Total. Godfather I & II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter. Best Picture Nominations for all.
Aug 9, 2018
Kind of a quiet day on TCM-literally,as Harold Lloyd is the star 8/7. There are a few talkies in the mix,but the prime time set of Safety Last,Girl Shy,The Freshman and Speedy is silent relief on another hot,humid 24hrs. in the Northeast US. Keep the drinks full of ice. Stay hydrated,my friend,but stay away from over-hyped beer.
Aug 7, 2018   |  Reply
David-Thanks for the "no spoilers". Unfortunately,David Hinckley went the Imdb route about spoilers. Better Call Saul is one of the few of the smart modern shows not locked by a paywall a la Nexflix,Hulu, and HBO. Just the crummy cable bill. For the next few weeks,AMC is worth watching. I don't think I've been on the channel since the last BCS episode almost 14 months ago. With Lodge 49 following BCS,no Talking Saul anymmore. TS was hosted by Chris Hardwick,who seems to be regaining employment following abuse accusations and I especially enjoyed watching the bad guys leaving their personas behind to explaining their craft. BTW,the new BCS episode repeats @ 11PM and shows up 3 more times till the next episode.
Aug 6, 2018   |  Reply
8/4-TCM spotlights 24 hrs. of Clint Eastwood,starting @ 6AM. From Noon till 8PM,the Dollars Trilogy of Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns is shown in order and commercial free. I didn't appreciate these when first released. They are great! Next-8PM,Hang 'Em High, Eastwood and the horse he rode in on
are back in the U.S. but still influenced by Leone's work. 10PM-Coogan's Bluff-a pre-Dirty Harry modern cop film I like better than the Harry series. TV shaped Coogan into Dennis Weaver in the "McLoud" Mystery Movies.
TCM's Aug. Spotlight days puts Underground,Noir Alley,Sunday Silents and Foreign Films on vacation. Hope they can all find a place "down 'da shore."
Aug 4, 2018   |  Reply
Re: NPR's Fresh Air hosted by Our Host,on 8/3. David takes extra care not to reveal what happens in the new season. While listening,I went over to Imdb for some trivia and to refresh on what happened. I was immediately hit with a spoiler. Why? Often,Imdb gives little if any info about films & shows that have not been made to the public. Not here. Stay away from Imdb.
Aug 3, 2018   |  Reply
8/2-HOF pre-season football is Real Fake Sports. It's an exhibition game,where,not unlike Who's Line Is It Anyway,the points don't count. Somebody breaks a collarbone ending their season and possibly career- that counts. Question- Are the players getting ready for pre-season kneeling,standing or staying in the locker room for the National Anthem? And,if so,will these actions cause Trump to use CAPS when Tweeting about those who protested,pre-season?
In the meantime,real baseball,where everything counts, is played and on lots of outlets.
Aug 2, 2018   |  Reply
8/2 TCM has a day of Myrna Loy, including 6 of the 14 films made with William Powell while,today,only one Thin Man film(there were 6). Watching Loy is always an enjoyable experience. Beauty,quick delivery,nuanced moments. During WWII she put her career on hold for the Red Cross and the USO. While she did some TV,it was infrequent and unmemorable. She was a movie star.
Aug 2, 2018   |  Reply
August means TCM goes 24 hours celebrating one star. Aug.1 salutes Frank Sinatra with hits(From Here To Eternity, 2:15AM)and misses(Double Dynamite-you missed it-you're welcome). Dog days. Often surprises and rarities,even with the big names.
Aug 1, 2018   |  Reply
7/25- Sam Bee once again used the right words for the occasion. She called Maria Butina's boyfriend an "effin jabroni". Like when Joe Biden re-established "malarkey" to the 21st Century conversation,"jabroni" was a phrase I hadn't heard since high school. Best fiend knew all the cool Italian insults. Some are really nasty. And, sorry urban dictionary,"jabroni" ain't just a wrestlin' insult. Sam also compared the guy to Kevin from "The Office". Just the best!
Aug 1, 2018   |  Reply
Fun facts around Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The TV Alice spun off Flo to 29 episodes of her own series,creatively titled "Flo.". In her place,Diane Ladd,the original Flo in the film, was cast as Belle. By summer of '81 both Flo and Belle were gone. Flo never returned to the "Alice" TV show. Antenna TV currently schedules two episodes of "Alice" @ 8PM,M-F.
Jul 30, 2018   |  Reply
Where is the notice for Preacher? CNN is recommended, and not Preacher? You need to get out of your comfort zone more..o
Jul 29, 2018   |  Reply
Keith Robin
I totally agree, Ken, both about "Preacher" and comfort zone.
Jul 30, 2018
Being conflicted over "Who Is America?" is part of the point,and reason why opinions are needed from everyone,including Li'l Missy Prissy Palin, who apparently doesn't understand how this "gotcha" stuff works. Lots of criticism about Cohen going after the Bush Bunch like it is so 2004. We're just catching up to those crimes while there a new bunch are committed daily. It doesn't just almost hurt-it hurts. When Ryan Zinke's antics fly under the radar(Scott Pruitt had 18 investigations when he left-Zinke,10,and still around) you know there is a plan afoot to swamp the drain. Laugh,cry-who cares-just vote,including primaries. Then,sit back and enjoy the Cohen antics-Sacha's and Michael's.
Jul 29, 2018   |  Reply
Did you forget today's Best Bets?
Jul 26, 2018   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Sorry, Ken. They were actually there -- just listed at the bottom of Wednesday's Best Bets. Little technical glitch. Our apologies!
Jul 27, 2018
A note on a minor music figure with noted TV credits. Patrick Williams died 7/25 at 79. Pat was involved with many MTM productions:Mary Tyler Moore(not the theme song,but everything else),Bob Newhart,Lou Grant and Molly Dodd,as well as non-MTM shows: Streets of San Fransisco,Slap Maxwell and lots of TV movies and feature films. There was a sense of humor that came through much of his work. Later recording credits included arranging and conducting Sinatra's last recordings,Duets I & II. His big band material included Threshold,possibly the best of its type post WWII-it is that good. A family guy,a major force for the Henry Mancini Institute,keeping this art alive in modern times and just someone who excelled at his craft and loved every minute of it. Everyone has heard a Pat Williams piece of music-few knew just how good he was.
Jul 26, 2018   |  Reply
Ron Spain
I wish there were better TV shows to watch since people are wasting so many resources allowing this medium to exist.
Jul 26, 2018   |  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.

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