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SUNDAY
NOVEMBER 25
2012

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Season 3 of Downton Abbey, featuring Shirley MacLaine, doesn’t premiere until next year – okay, January 6, but still, it’s a wait. In the meantime, here’s a new special, a retrospective that will remind fans what we’ve been missing, and initiate newcomers to what’s about to come. Angela Lansbury hosts. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week, Judd Hirsch guest starred as a judge, and gave a typically complex, captivating performance. This week’s new episode presents another guest star who can be counted on to provide the same: Stockard Channing, playing Veronica, the meddling mother of Julianna Margulies’ Alicia. This is her first appearance, but I’m already betting she’ll make more.
 
  
 
 

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s episode was a strong and pivotal one, taking several formerly disparate story lines – the prison, the Governor’s compound, the nomadic Michonne, Daryl and his brother – and weaving them, like a DNA strand, into one. And it left us with Rick, coming off a mental crisis that was cleverly scripted, staring through the prison fence at a wounded, wordless Michonne. But when she does speak, it’ll lead to a collision of the two camps, and, perhaps, to the two brothers.
 
  
 
 

Lifetime, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is not a recommendation in terms of quality – but this new Lifetime telemovie is fascinating in its own creepy way. It stars Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor, and Grant Bowler as Richard Burton. Bowler is convincing in the part, but Lohan isn’t, not for a second. And that becomes fun to watch, in a way, especially when the 1960s show-biz romance wallows in knowing allusions to the present. When the celebrity supercouple is chased by photographers, Lohan’s Taylor shrugs them off as a temporary nuisance. “They’ll find someone else to stalk,” she tells Burton. “You think?” he asks. Drolly, Taylor replies: “Yeah, I think.” And so they have. And while Lohan doesn’t improve her image with Liz & Dick, it has its moments, or at least its seconds. It’s written by Christopher Monger, who wrote the screenplay for one of the best telemovies in recent years, HBO’s Temple Grandin. For a full review, see Ed Bark’s Uncle Barky’s Bytes.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s episode ended with a cliffhanger that left us up in the air – or close to it, as Brody (Damien Lewis) was driven to a remote wooden clearing, with a helicopter appearing from nowhere. Its passenger? The elusive, manipulative and very dangerous Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban).
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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963 Comments
 
 
Joe in SF
If you like “Shark Tank”, but wished it had more drag queens on it, then tonight’s (Thurs. 9/29) mash-up episode of “RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race” on VH1 at 8PM is for you.
Sep 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Thank you for the big smile today, Joe.
Sep 29, 2016
 
 
 
George Ashur
"Frontline will also run its usual down-the-middle reportage" -- Ha Ha Ha!
Sep 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Donna DEal
"Camping in Nunavet"- seriously? You really can't camp there unless you have a camper- permafrost keeps tent stakes from really getting deep. You wouldn't 'camp' there in winter, which has begun already. But it's a great place, spent a summer not far from there. And yes, they have cable tv, but options are limited. Love your site, and miss David.
Sep 25, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
When “The Exorcist” was published, some people were afraid to keep the book in their house and some slept better at night when their copy was tucked away in their garage. When the film was released, people actually fainted in the theaters. And tonight (Fri. 9/23), “The Exorcist” premieres as a regular Friday night TV series on FOX at 9PM Pacific Time. H – E – Double-Hockey-Sticks, ya, I’m gonna watch!
Sep 23, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
As revealed yesterday, my television only gets one channel. So tonight (Thurs 9/22), it’ll be tuned to ABC to catch “How To Get Away With Murder” at 10PM Pacific Time. I started watching the first season just to see the super talented Viola Davis every week, but stuck around for the interesting characters and story-telling style. The second season was a little sophomore-slumpy for me, but they increased the number of Cicely Tyson appearances, so that kept me watching. “Notorious” is the new lead-in show and I might watch that one, too. I enjoyed Tony award nominee Daniel Sunjata’s performance in “Rescue Me”, so I might try to catch this show’s pilot to see if he uses his old firefighting skills in his new lawyer job.
Sep 22, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
Snark much, Frank! In case you haven't been following, Joe has been posting informed and helpful Comments while David is down. Including this one about the peculiar stylistic choice for the new AHS. I, for one, completely agree, but I'm hoping they have a reason for it up their sleeve, to be revealed later.
Sep 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
Joe in SF
Thanks for the kind words, Reiny.
*does The Little Rascals' 'Hi Sign' from Pier 15/Exploratorium toward your side of the bay*
Sep 22, 2016
 
 
 
Joe in SF
This season’s American Horror Story is being told in a phony baloney documentary style where one set of actors describe the story and another set of actors act it out. If you want to watch phony baloney documentaries, I’d recommend “Documentary Now!” airing on IFC tonight (Wed. 9/21) at 9:30PM Pacific Time. Bill Hader and Fred Armisen make clever parodies of documentaries each week that are sure to be funnier than anything they’ll show on American Horror Story.
Sep 21, 2016   |  Reply
 
Frank Dracman
I didn't realize AHS was a comedy! And my condolences...it must be rough having only one channel on your TV.
Sep 21, 2016
 
 
 
Sarah
Tonight begins the 14th season of NCIS, 3rd season of NCISNOLA and new show Bull which I will be watching, new seasons of, Brooklyn 9-9, New Girl and Agents of SHIELD which I am recording
Sep 20, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
mikeindc
Here's a shout out for Major Crimes which ends its summer season tonight. This spin off from The Closer has done nothing but get better. Its a solid procedural with smart stories and often hilarious episodes to balance the darker tone it has taken lately.
Sep 20, 2016   |  Reply
 
Mac
Like the many varieties of Law & Order(Unleaded,SVU,CI,et al)both The Closer and Major Crimes don't have the grittiness by exploring of a dark side like The Shield. The good guys are good,the bad guys bad and the defense lawyers and DAs in-between-a mixed bag with fans and foes on their sides. These shows purposely don't attain to super high storytelling art and,as such, are usually ignored in Emmy nominations.But they are still capable of telling a captivating story.The ensemble cast that both The Closer and Major Crimes share have become a favorite unit in our house.
Sep 20, 2016
 
 
Sarah
I agree! My dad doesn't watch much TV but it is one of his favorite shows and was just saying the day after the Emmys, that it's a shame it or cast has never been nominated(but we can say that about many good shows)
Sep 20, 2016
 
 
 
Sarah
Tonight I will be watching the return of The Big bang Theory, Gotham and my favorite mid-season replacement Lucifer. I will give The Good Place a chance
Sep 19, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
DaveB
Is it me, or has Kiefer Sutherland turned into Tom Arnold?
Sep 19, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
No one more batch of episodes available sometime. Netflix financed two truncated seasons of which last night's episode was the end of the penultimate season. I glad someone else appreciates the program. And I'm glad it has closed captioning; it would be impossible to follow without. Shout out to Matthew Macfadyen for his work on Churchill's Secret; a small role but memorable.
Sep 16, 2016   |  Reply
 
jan
Thanks for the info. I haven't watched "Churchill's Secret" yet, but I have it recorded.
Sep 16, 2016
 
 
 
jan
Maybe someone can clarify this for me. I understood that" Ripper Street" had been cancelled, yet in last night's season finale it ended with "To be continued." Will we be getting another season (I hope) or at least Part 2 of the finale? Also, I'm really upset that "Devious Maids" has been cancelled. It was super melodramatic, but there was a lot of humor, I cared about the characters, and there were more twists in the storyline than were even possible, but I was hooked on it. It was one of the shows I most looked forward to each week, and now we'll never know what happened to Marisol.
Sep 16, 2016   |  Reply
 
jan
Thanks, Jjoek1. I'll look forward to the final season on Amazon Prime.
Sep 16, 2016
 
 
Jjoek1
Has been renewed by Amazon Prime, but for only one more season.
Sep 16, 2016
 
 
 
Joe in SF
Imagine if you adopted Rolfe, the telegram delivery boy from “The Sound of Music”, and had to nurture the Nazism out of him. That’s pretty much what the plot is of “Tomorrow, the World!” from 1944 airing tonight on TCM at 8:45PM Pacific Time. Look for Agnes Moorehead (Endora from “Bewitched”) and Joan Carroll (the other daughter in “Meet Me in St. Louis”) in the cast. The kid who played the adoptee went on to do tons of other things, including an alien in the original “Star Trek” series (“The Way To Eden” episode)!
Sep 15, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Matt
We liked the premiere of 'Better Things' on FX, created by Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K.
There are alot of garden and farms shows we like. They are all BBC or Aussie shows, like 'Victorian Farmer,' 'The Gourmet Farmer,' 'Garden Rescue,' 'The Instant Gardener,' etc. You may need wicked internet skills to find some of them....
Sep 15, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
alex
"this is us" looks like the most overhyped, unoriginal show of the season, how are people interested in this...? is it like comfort food? we'll i won't keep trashing it without having seen it, but (if you can't tell) the barrage of corny trailers have rustled my jimmies. no new and bold shows out but some returning favorites. atlanta is very good, from the trailers i expected more drama and less comedy. the strain is off to it's weakest season yet. i'm pumped for AHS tonight and South park next week. vice principals really won me over the with the last 2 episodes, i recall the authors here weren't so hot on it.
Sep 14, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
Are you excited about the arrival of the New Fall TV Season? There is not one new show that I’m holding my breath in anticipation to see. So, I’ll stick with anything Sarah Paulson appears in and recommend “American Horror Story” on FX tonight (Wed. 9/14) at 10PM Eastern. This season’s subject matter is still a secret. It could be about a farm. Or a cult. Or Roanoke colonists. Or spooky mist monsters. Tonight is the first episode, and usually, the first and last episodes of AHS are the best of the season.
Sep 14, 2016   |  Reply
 
TVWW
Joe: We will be posting Fall Previews 2016 (in part) this weekend. It will take us a week or two to get everything posted for the whole season. Right now, we're thinking "This is Us" and "Designated Survivor" are worth a continuing look... --TVWW
Sep 14, 2016
 
 
 
Ann
Mr. Robot finale is tonight. This show warrants watching for the cinematography alone. The last 45 seconds of last week's show was a gem. Oh and the storyline is not bad either! Kudos for You're the Worst- still an edgy and different show.
Sep 14, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Ron
One of the worst, most difficult sites I've ever visited--at least insofar as navigation is concerned. Almost impossible to search by show or actor or director, etc.
Sep 13, 2016   |  Reply
 
Tom
Don't worry Ron, Casey is only saying that you are dumber than her cat. The "Cat Lady" gets very defensive when someone doesn't heap praise on the website.
Sep 14, 2016
 
 
Casey
We (my cat Tippy and I) are sorry you think this site is not like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, etc., wrt navigation and finding facts and is, therefore, bad and "difficult." Happily, for those of us who like this site, it's not a giant database for FFF (finding facts fast), but rather a gathering of thoughtful critics who offer reviews of TV programming, and a list, updated daily, of programs, good, bad, or just strange, that our leader, David Bianculli, thinks notable. The list is in hiatus until Mr. Bianculli recovers, we hope soon, from a recent illness.

if you scroll to the top of the page, you'll find a blurb describing Mr. Bianculli's soon to be published book, "The Platinum Age of Television," which will reveal him to be a rare expert on TV from its earliest days. He is still an avid fan of all things television, including internet programming and movies streamed to TV. The choices here are eclectic, the archives deep. So do calm down and dip in.
Sep 14, 2016
 
 
 
Ann
Tonight- Braindead finale- hopefully just the season finale! Love this smart really funny series- especially Tony Shaloub!! Also Fear the Walking Dead- getting better but makes me eager for the real deal- TWD.
Sep 11, 2016   |  Reply
 
Lee
I almost slipped up and did not record the first of two Braindeads tonight.
Sep 11, 2016
 
 
 
 
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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: An advance copy of David’s upcoming book from Doubleday has just arrived! The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now available on Amazon for pre-order for its November 15th release. You can read some of the dustcover summary here, including: “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. In tracing the evolutionary history of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television,…he focuses on the development of the classic TV genres, among them the sitcom, the crime show, the miniseries, the soap opera, the Western, the animated series and the variety show. David Bianculli's book is the first to date to examine, in depth and in detail and with a keen critical and historical sense, including exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history.” —TVWW