MONDAY
JUNE 17
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Hulu, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: The original Das Boot drama, based on the same Lothar-Gunther Buchheim novel, was released as a movie in 1981 – a gripping, powerful film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, telling of life (and death) aboard a German U-boat submarine during WWII.  Petersen was so good at both the action sequences and the character development, and especially at filming in confined spaces to relay a feeling of claustrophobia, that he eventually was embraced by Hollywood, making such similarly themed action movies as Air Force One and The Perfect Storm. (Previously, Petersen had directed one of my favorite children’s fantasies of the 1980s, The Neverending Story. I was thrilled and impressed by Das Boot when it hit American theaters in 1981 – then even more excited when I learned that the movie was an edited version of a much longer German TV miniseries. The movie is just over two hours long, but the miniseries, televised in Germany in 1985, was closer to five hours (six, with commercials, when imported by the U.S., and televised by the then-classy Bravo cable network). I had always thought that the miniseries came first, but the reverse was true: German television had helped finance the expensive Das Boot film, and once it became an international success, capitalized by retrieving and editing in hours of footage shot for the movie but not used in the original final cut. Regardless, the length of the long-form miniseries format allowed viewers to get even more immersed, so to speak, in the palpable tensions of Das Boot – so this new sequel, starting nine months after the action of the original and focusing on a new U-boat and crew, benefits at times from that same asset. But Hulu’s Das Boot divides its narrative between the U-boat sequences and a parallel story line in which Vicky Krieps plays an interpreter who crosses path with the war resistance efforts. (Also co-starring, when she eventually shows up: Lizzy Caplan, who was so good in Showtime’s Masters of Sex.) This broadens the focus, but also dilutes the claustrophobia that was so central to the original Das Boot. As Mike Hale writes so cleverly in The New York Times, this approach to the new Das Boot miniseries (actually a series, since it's already been renewed for a second season) turns it into “a surf and turf proposition.” For a full review, see David Hinckley’s All Along the Watchtower.

 

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1933 Hollywood comedy is a pre-Code production, which means it was written and  produced just before the newly appointed censors clamped down on movie content. Hence, there’s a lot of double entendres in this satire of Hollywood stardom – and many single entendres, too. Jean Harlow plays Lola Burns, the blonde bombshell of the title, who is weary of her parasitic relatives, surrounded by an ever-present entourage, and increasingly at odds with her show-biz agents and handlers. It’s a bit like a female, black-and-white Entourage, and Harlow is a riot throughout, playing the hot star even as, at the time, she was a hot star, just coming off the superb Dinner at Eight.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 12:37 a.m. ET

James Corden takes his Late Late Show back to his country of origin this week, presenting, once again, a series of shows emanating from London. The last time he did this, he pulled off a stunningly successful “Carpool Karaoke” segment with Paul McCartney, driving the former Beatle around Penny Lane. This time, he’s got similarly audacious surprises in store, beginning with former First Lady Michelle Obama heading team USA in a celebrity pickup dodgeball game against the United Kingdom. Especially united, in this case: the U.K. team, coached and fronted by Corden himself, includes Benedict Cumberbatch and Late Late Show bandleader Reggie Watts. The US team, by contrast, is all-female, headed by Michelle Obama and including Melissa McCarthy, Allison Janney, and Mila Kunis (who was a very game player on the previous Late Late Show incarnation, goofing around with Craig Ferguson). I’m betting on the women.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1703 Comments
 
 
SharonGS
Thank you for finally mentioning the Women’s World Cup. Folks should realize, however, that there are many exciting games involving teams other than the U.S. Check it out, people! It’s on Monday-Thursday this week; knock-out rounds start next Saturday
Jun 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Let me recommend "Klepper's new participatory documentaries on Comedy Central Thursday nights at 11:30.
Jun 16, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Seriously, game 6 of the NBA Finals isn't worthy of a Best Bet? DB, you're killing me.
Jun 14, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
I’m disappointed that you haven’t mentioned the Women’s World Cup, which started in France on Friday and continues on the Fox networks through June. Great games!
Jun 10, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
What kind of sadist/wicked joker wrote the Payday candy bar TV commercial?
"Gets the job done"? Is that the bare-minimum or lowest common denominator expectation of candy, or something lower? Isn't adding the pegboard visual behind over the top or under the, uh, or round the bend? No, really, who is responsible for the eyesore earsore sorely not needed ... um..
Jun 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I just finished watching "Chernobyl," and I recommend it highly. It's difficult to watch in places but extremely worthwhile. I hope people who haven't seen it seek it out.
Jun 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
While revisiting Woodstock on TCM,why not gather $799(SRP) hiding in your couch cushions for the 38CD/1BluRay set of the entire weekend(sans two Jimi Hendrix cuts and a Sha-Na-Na track)? 432 tracks,267 newly released. Each act gets a CD. Stage announcements & sound bites. "Brown acid" speech,9 min. long,on disc 17.Comes with book,posters,photo prints,replica program and guitar strap(really),housed in a plywood box.Out Aug.1 and limited to 1,969 copies. Smaller sets will be out,too including some vinyl.
Jun 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Good to have you back, Mac. We were worried about you.
Jun 6, 2019
 
 
Mac
Tammy-Thanks for the kind words,but I dunno how often I'll show up-lots of reasons. Things are kinda OK.
Meanwhile,back when Rolling Stone magazine was worth reading,J.R. Young wrote a bunch of record reviews as short stories. His take on Woodstock-the film and soundtrack-still stays in my head. Basically,a guy tells of his Woodstock "I was there" tales,only to be shut down by a guy who really was there and proved that the guy's knowledge was based on the film & soundtrack. No where to be found online. Sad. Collected in the 1971 mass paperback,The Rolling Stone Record Review.
Jun 6, 2019
 
 
Tammy
With or without any kind of acid, it seems odd that the editors took some liberties with the timeline. It's framed as if it's chronological lineup, but its not-which pixilates the experience. Odd choice, Scorsese-I don't see the benefit. Every outdoor music festival I've attended has tried to recreate the experience to some extent, the vibe, the sleep deprivation, and even the mud (the best part). The journey is as significant for the film audience as it is(was) for the live audience.

Glad to see you back, Mac. You were missed! ;)
Jun 5, 2019
 
 
 
Ron
"Brooks was an American actress, born in Kansas, who was hired by Pabst and flown to Germany to star in Pandora’s Box."

Either it was admirably brave of Brooks to fly to Germany considering this movie was released just 2 years after the first solo crossing of the Atlantic by Charles Lindbergh or else it is an error. Commercial transatlantic flights wouldn't commence for another 10 years.
Jun 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Long ago I read a capsule review of West Side Story, probably in The New Yorker, which referred to it as "the Ben-Hur of musicals." That was not intended as a compliment. I love both films, particularly WSS, but I also absolutely understand that viewpoint and I thought it was hilarious. I am not looking forward to a new, revisionist version. Particularly not from Spielberg.
Jun 1, 2019   |  Reply
 
Matt Alpern
Jim: Tend to agree with you about Spielberg. Would rather see Lin-Manuel or Barry Jenkins or Ryan Coogler have a go of this. But, Tony Kushner is a brilliant writer and what can anyone say about Sondheim. So, let's all wait and see.

Matt A.
Jun 1, 2019
 
 
 
Jim Considine
Hi, Your website is one of a handful whose icon is pixelated when viewing all of my personal favorites with an Amazon Fire Tablet. I am not a website developer, but I am a graphics person with a history in marketing. When looking at a page of favorite websites represented by icons, yours appears poorly. I realize that you probably do not have a webmaster on staff, but the next time you utilize this person, you might want to increase the resolution of the icon that is usurped by the Silk website browser.
Best wishes.
May 28, 2019   |  Reply
 
T
Hey Linda,
If you are interested in feedback, some of us work in UX and would love to help out.
Jun 5, 2019
 
 
Linda Donovan
Hi Jim -- Your comments on TVWW are genuinely appreciated. We're working on updating the site right now, actually, and your insights will be shared with the team. In fact, your concerns have been moved to the top of the to-do list. Thank you for taking the time to write up your concerns and solutions, Jim. We're very grateful!
May 29, 2019
 
 
 
Larry Levinson
David's AITF preview ... Archie work on a loading dock, and only occasionally drove a cab on the side. See 'sent a crate to London, UK'
May 23, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
T
It’s funny that you leave out the main through-line of the Welles documentary. “The Eyes” refer literally to his rich oeuvre of visual works-sketches, paintings, character studies-artifacts which help draw out why his films were so visually striking. Instead of being capricious, it layers biography, history, still images and clips into a beautiful tapestry. It helps you see the legendary films with fresh eyes, which is more than any linear documentary.


Where is Mac? I hope he’s okay.
May 14, 2019   |  Reply
 
Angela
Good question! I hope he's OK too.
May 22, 2019
 
 
 
Scott
Rough blurb for Chernobyl today! It says to look at the Uncle Barky or Watchtower sub blogs for further review but I don't see it written about on either one. Am I overlooking it?
May 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
Scott
"
Pleasant viewing it’s not. But in terms of capturing a time and place, the five-part miniseries (Monday at 9 p.m. ET) succeeds on every level. Initial viewer resistance is understandable. This is a grim and unsparing dissection of the April 26, 1986 catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat. Never more so than when radiation-contaminated pets left behind in evacuated areas are hunted down, shot, and dumped into a mass grave during a heartrending Episode 4."
May 6, 2019
 
 
Scott
It's up now after my initial comment.
http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogPostDetails.aspx?postId=18170
May 6, 2019
 
 
 
JOEL
The odds you give on the Kentucky Derby don't look right to me. Game Winner can't lead the field at 8-1 odds when there are a couple of horses in the race with odds of 5-1. Right?
May 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
Parallax View was how long after RFK assassination?
May 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
I feel your pain because Last Week Tonight is at the top of my list of Sunday must-watch shows and I am always disappointed when I hear John Oliver and Bill Maher say "We're off next week...", which was the case last night. At least Game of Thrones (also at the top of my list) was extra long and somewhat filled the void left by LWTw/JO's mini hiatus.
Apr 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
GLASS ONION
A glass onion is a coffin with a see-through lid. Because of this, it became a big part of the "Paul is Dead" hoax.

OR

A large hand blown glass bottle used aboard ships to hold wine or brandy.
Apr 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
About the "Bonding" write-up. Is this some Zen koan, "so the entire thing can be consumed in less time than it takes to watch."
Apr 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
Are home invasions, like the ones linked to the Chicago PD case in which Hank's son is left for dead, prevalent today in Chicago? Kind of a reflection of the home invasions in the mid- to late-90s in Haltom City, near Fort Worth, which were linked to Asian gangs.
Apr 24, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Haskett
Once again broadcast TV is pretty much ignored. Madam Secretary belongs in the best bets, and in the Emmy nominations. Why does the Emmy group ignore shows like "Bul"l and "Black List"? Is it because they can't show nudity or swear? I'm far from a prude (I liked "Masters of sex) but I wonder why good shows on broadcast TV never get a nod. Perhaps they need to have seperate catagories for broadcast and cable/satellite. What's your take on why they are virtually ignored?
Apr 21, 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.