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THURSDAY
APRIL 27
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part of the success of The Big Bang Theory is due to its fidelity to itself. It pays attention to its characters, and their interactions, and even their pasts, and adjusts accordingly. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) began the series as an airheaded neighbor, a bubbly blonde object of unattainable desire. But she quickly deepened as a character, showing sides of herself as both a frustrated wannabe actress and a sarcastic have-to-work waitress. Her on-again, off-again mating dance with neighbor Leonard (Johnny Galecki) took years, literally, to come to fruition – and recently, Penny’s past was revisited when a former boyfriend, Zach (Brian Thomas Smith), made an untimely reappearance, representing the sort of hunky stupid guys she used to date, as opposed to her current brainy scientist husband. Tonight, because the Big Bang writers always seem to know good things when they stumble on them, Zach returns again – this time with a job offer for Penny that may be the type of offer she can’t refuse.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET

Don’t look for it, it’s gone. This was the night and time slot the newest episode of NBC’s Powerless sitcom was scheduled to air – but the network just pulled it from the schedule, replacing it with a doubleheader of Superstore instead. The reason I’m stubbornly keeping Powerless, which starred Vanessa Hudgens as a worker drone in a DC Comics comedy where all the costumed superheroes are offscreen peripheral characters, in Best Bets tonight is because of what would have been tonight’s plot. Lois Lane dies. And the characters in Powerless, savvy to the tropes of comic-book death scenes, surmise that Superman is about to spin around the Earth fast enough, in reverse rotation, to somehow reverse time, to a point where Lois was still alive – and save her. It’s an actual plot from an old comic (and movie) – but in the Powerless universe, the characters realize that, in the window between Lois Lane’s death and Superman’s sure-to-come time-reversal heroics, they can do anything they want, anything at all, without any lasting consequences. That’s a really clever spin on the old reversing-time idea – and if I had the power, I’d spin the planet backwards to before NBC’s cancellation announcement of Powerless, so we could see tonight’s episode. Eventually, I’m guessing, NBC will burn off the remaining episodes somewhere, so we’ll get to see them – but that’s sometime in the future. Hey, wait a minute… If Superman were to fly clockwise around Earth, would that propel us onto the future? If so, we could see Powerless… now. Because it would be now, then.

 
  
 
 

CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

More comic-book strangeness: This bizarre CW adaptation of the Archie comic books, with its darker tone and characters, is up to episode 11 out of this season’s 13, so we’re nearing whatever cliffhanger the writers have in store. Meanwhile, tonight, there are some sparks between Fred and Mary, whose renewed chemistry might have them rethinking their divorce. They’re played by two teen-idol icons from a previous generation: series regular Luke Perry and recurring guest star Molly Ringwald (who, in tonight’s episode, is Pretty in Black).

 
  
 
 

CNN, 10:00 p.m. ET

This new CNN documentary series, looking at some of the connections between music and real life, continues tonight with music associated with New York and the events of 9/11. Among them is a fresh Billy Joel interview, in which he recalls performing “New York State of Mind” for an audience of invited firefighters, with a fireman’s helmet placed on his piano to help him focus. “It was like a dirge,” he says of that particular song’s pace that evening – and boy, is it an effective anthem.

 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Improv comedian Anthony Atamanuik has been impersonating Donald Trump for a while now, at the Upright Citizens Brigade and elsewhere – including a Comedy Central guest appearance that led to this gig. I haven’t seen the premiere of this new weekly series, which is being taped as close to air as possible to ride the waves of the real President Trump’s insanely rapid news pace – but I give the advance promo high marks for capturing Trump’s speech patterns as perfectly as Tina Fey nailed Sarah Palin’s. Atamanuik’s Trump, speaking of tonight’s premiere, promises: “I’ll have the best guests, the most beautiful women. It’ll be so funny – the most funny show.” Let’s see…
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1131 Comments
 
 
Angela
"Paige turner" and "paid scale". Groan! ;)
Apr 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The next chapter in FoxGate will not be seen but heard as Billo Reilly returns to his personal Spin Zone podcast online. Like any laundromat, you have to pay for this Spin Cycle,so news outlets have to pony up the $4.99 to hear if Billo takes a cue from his recent Papal visit and comes clean,or continues his Nixonian "I am not a cop feeler!"defense.
Meanwhile,a trivia tidbit from Wiki about Tucker Carlson and Anderson Cooper,now going head-to-head @ 8PM. Anderson's mommy is heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. Tucker's mommy abandoned him at six but his stepmommy is an heiress to Swanson TV dinners. Gloria has shown up on Anderson's show. Wonder if we'll see a Tucker mother soon?
Apr 24, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Listening now to Billo's 4/26 18 min. podcast. He is breaking down Trump's proposed tax plan. This is a guy lost without visuals. Pretty lame as right wing radio. El Rushbo may be Evil Incarnate but at least he knows how to fill up three hours of yakking. I listen to a lot of left of the dial volunteers newsreading,and Billo ain't that much better. Only one more freebie from the site(today),then back to the Premium Paywall 5/1.
Look for Billo's nemesis Keith Olbermann's op-ed take on what might happen next in Variety(online,too). Like Billo,Keith was given a bushel of money(couple of times?)to walk away from the mike,but not for Billo's reasons. Keith thinks Bill might actually have bigger numbers online,with more control,both with content and finances. Keith knows Bill won't change or admit anything but fans could pay for the next trip to the Vatican.
Apr 27, 2017
 
 
Angela
Hi Mac, Thanks for the bad news about the Spin Zone. I can't bring myself to give O'Really the satisfaction of downloading his podcast for fear it will go to enlarging his already too unweildy ego due to whatever the number of listeners being recorded. That said, would you be willing to relay your take on it to us here?
Apr 26, 2017
 
 
Mac
This just in! Billo's podcast is on @7PM ET and is free till 4/30.I don't know if a signup or if any personal info is required to listen. Every news dept.save Fox,will probably be dissecting, anyway,but the nuances,tone,pauses and what he doesn't say should be interesting.
Apr 24, 2017
 
 
 
George Ashur
I tried Brockmire, and found it unwatchable.

Can we please show Hap and Leonard some love?
Apr 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The reason why 1776 is on 4/17 and not 7/4 is because William Daniels,star of the original Broadway version as well as this film,is TCM's Guest Programmer tonight. Maybe some stories about Jack. L. Warner,who produced 1776 for Columbia after leaving Warner,the company founded by Jack and his brothers:Harry,Sam & Albert. Stanley Tucci has been playing Jack in the FX Duel series these past weeks so there is renewed interest in this tyrannical mogul. Add to that, J.L. caved in and cut the important song, "Cool,Cool,Considerate Men", because Richard Nixon was offended. It is back in,though Wiki reports Laserdisc versions have footage and music that have yet to be included on any DVD nor TCM's cut. Additional Wiki trivia-the Broadway cast came to the White House even before the film was made and Nixon's people pressured to cut the song then but the producers wouldn't budge. Wonder if Trump today would even allow credits with the stirring overture to be shown? Sit down,Don!
Apr 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Joseph in SF
Thanks for the "1776" note. A sub-plot in season three of "Frankie and Grace" has Martin Sheen's character performing as Adams in his community theater's production of "1776". It'll be fun to compare Sheen's character's take on the role to the William Daniels performance.
Apr 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
This time-zone thingy with SNL has me stymied. Story from L.A. Times explain that these "live from coast-to-coast" viewings will be done ONCE,so folks on PT need to watch the show at 8:30PM,MT,9:30PM,CT,10:30PM and ET,11:30PM. Not sure what the L.A. Tribune reported since Lou Grant retired.I don't know how the live stream works. Makes sense as the ratings are so good with such amazing cold openings. Now,everyone much watch at once,like a football game,to be on the joke right away. Maybe Vegas is betting that Fallon might actually be involved with a show that matters in 2017. Just hope he doesn't have to interview anyone,unless it is a scripted gag.
Apr 15, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Steve Williams
David, thank you for all of your work. I am immensely grateful for all of the good TV that you've put me on to over the years. Even when I disagree with your assessments, I always appreciate your recommendations. In that spirit, I wanted to signal that you missed one. Wednesday's (2017.04.12) episode of "Underground" was stirring. I know that the show has not (yet) built up the same viewership as "Empire," but that episode stands out as remarkable in the history of television. If you haven't watched it, I'd strongly recommend that you do so; and if you have watched it, I'd love to hear why you decided against including it as a recommendation for the day. Again, thanks for all of your work. Keep it up!
Apr 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
"Executive Producer" is not exactly an exclusive role; some shows have half a dozen of them, it seems. So, how do we know the substantive role that Ellen Degeneres plays on First Dates? It seems a stretch to give her alone credit for the show working.
Apr 7, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
LarryD
Are my wife and I the only ones watching American Crime? I haven't heard any buzz. Season Three and they once again tackle difficult social issues I afraid to tell what is real life. Maybe you have. Forgive me for just finding this site (googling Bianculli, the one critic for the News who championed Homicide, did it).
Apr 5, 2017   |  Reply
 
MAS
@LarryD - I would watch the third season but the first night it was on I maxed out my DVR. I had to sacrifice something and this was it. Why oh why are all the networks piling up everything on Sunday nights? There's just too much good stuff to watch on Sundays, and if people are not watching shows because they are already recording too many maybe they should think about some other night, especially for a show that never got great ratings.
Apr 13, 2017
 
 
Matt
Yes, we are watching American Crime Season III, as well. As good as the
first two seasons were, this one is especially brilliant. Superb acting, writing
and directing.. incredibly moving so far. It's a shame that the ratings are
so poor, but not surprising given the subject matter and the national mood.
Hopefully, one of the cable companies (the show would be ideal for Netflix)
will take it on after this season. At the same time, kudos to ABC for airing
this show these past three years.
Apr 8, 2017
 
 
Linda Donovan
We're glad you found us, Larry! For two of our critics' reviews of the current cycle of 'American Crime,' please see http://www.tvworthwatching.com/post/Opposite-of-Escapism-Season-3-of-ABCs-American-Crime.aspx and http://www.tvworthwatching.com/post/Season-3-of-ABCs-American-Crime-Addresses-the-Issues-of-Human-Trafficking-and-Undocumented-Workers.aspx
Apr 5, 2017
 
 
 
Keith Robin
In reply to Tom, let me say that I think you missed the point. First, I only recently started re-watching AXS-TV, previously a fan of HDNet. DISH doesn’t carry NASA-TV in HD, so shuttle launches in HD, and the late-night programming were things in which I indulged. So when AXS originally aired the Nilsson special, I missed it. Thanks to TVWW, I got a second chance. So my thanks to them is one point. The main point, though, was that they schedule “The Big Interview” “Rock Legends” and reruns of “Nashville”; movies like “Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams” (which have been broadcast previously on other channels) and repeat them at least once or more over the course of a single day, but a noteworthy special is relegated to a single broadcast! Would it be so difficult to put it into a late night slot for the benefit of the viewers that weren’t aware of it at noon? Oh, I forgot, it’s probably about the money. To quote Jonathan Mardukas, “It’s just about the f****in’ money!” Isn’t it always?
Apr 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
Tom
Keith, when they ran the Harry N show it was rerun several times including the same
night it ran in primetime later that night. At this point it might be fill in as other newer shows are broadcast in primetime. Ratings of AXS-TV are most likely nil so in the face of that they do put on some interesting shows, the Harry Nilsson doc was made in 2010.
Apr 5, 2017
 
 
 
PaulH
I think you're a week ahead of yourself re: the Better Call Saul marathon. Love the site. Keep up the great work
Apr 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
PaulH
Whoops! I misread your post and it is *me* that's off by a week! I was thinking of the BCS season 2 marathon next Mon.
Apr 3, 2017
 
 
 
Keith Robin
Re:WHO IS HARRY NILSSON (AND …)
AXS TV, 12:00 p.m. ET…It's really amazing the way , broadcast and cable TV networks run a really worthwhile program at an off-peak hour and then, unlike other less worthwhile shows on their schedule that are rebroadcast ad nauseum, THEY NEVER RUN IT AGAIN! Yes, I am yelling...AXS-TV, which has become the go-to network for rock documentary programming, has joined mainstream program outlets in this very frustrating scheduling policy. The silver lining in this dark cloud is TVWW, which included the Harry Nilsson special, being broadcast as I write this (12:30 pm EDT) as one of DB's Best Bets today. I was able to record it from the beginning, but what about the folks that didn't check your site today, who work, who can't program their dvr's remotely (or don't know how)? They must lament the lost opportunity. So thank you TV Worth Watching, thank you David and your staff. You make it possible for TV addicts like me to stay sane in an otherwise insane world.
Apr 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
Tom
WHO IS HARRY...was on AXS-TV months ago in prime time
Apr 3, 2017
 
 
 
Joseph in SF
Thanks for the fantastic Best Bets. I enjoy your site every day, but even more so on the first of April. The Green Acres Show sounds like something I'd trade city life for.
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
DanK
I fell for this last year...Good job!
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
Dang! The Russians looked promising!

What "global warming" trends?
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Well done, folks. I, too, was ready to search for The People's Supreme Court! BTW, Planet Earth III looks like the Borg finally took over the Earth with the same results as the anti-environment effects of the current administration.
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Stan
You SOBs. You have such credibility with me that I went immediately to my cable search to look for the shows since I didn't find them in the schedule. It wasn't until I looked at today's date that I knew I'd been had. Well done!
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
Well done! The first three shows almost seemed believable, the Putin show burst that illusion. I would love to see Joe and Joel of the The Americans turn the tables and do The Russians.
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
April 1 add-ons:
From Dick Wolf: Chicago Pizza Delivery Guy:Deep Dish;
Chicago Court Stenographer;
Law,Order& Recusal-starring Jeff Sessions.
Another BBC entry:Doctor Wha?A mumblin' space travel guy on a neverending quest to find a phone booth in the 21st Century. Clark Kent stars.
S@#% My Mother Ignored.
Painful Catheters Brought Me To The ER.
Oy Adrian!-Reality series where Rocky Balboa finds he is either Jewish or dyslexic.
Judge Janine-Still Mouth Foaming After All These Years.
Cake Mob Boss-Cannolis so good you won't forget them.
Minor Crimes-Fender benders,jaywalkers and folks who rip off that mattress tag.
Apr 1, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Gail
The Mon thru Friday HBO VICE NEWS TONIGHT should be a must watch.
Not to be confused with VICE which is only on Fridays.
Same creators and producers.
Mar 30, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

Behind David in the picture is the first TV owned by his father, Virgil Bianculli, a 1946 Raytheon. (The TV, not his father. His father was a 1923 Italian.) 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 also teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University, and his most recent book, 2009's Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour',has recently been purchased for film rights. His next, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is coming this fall, 2016.

 
 

Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post