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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484 Comments
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........what happened to Friday's (10/24/14) Best Bets?
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
umm...Friday's Picks, please!
Oct 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
LANA TURNER? This is Halloween, not April Fool's Day. "The Innocents" stars the great Deborah Kerr in what is quite possibly her greatest performance. It's a great movie - maybe the best ghost movie ever made - with the original "The Haunting" being a very close runner-up. By the way that stars Julie Harris, not Virginia Mayo.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
You're right, of course, Jim. Thank you for making us aware of our egregious mistake. Fixed!
Oct 23, 2014
 
 
 
I'm sure it's already been pointed out. That's Deborah Kerr not Lana Turner. When I first saw it, it scared the hell out of me. Bought the DVD too.
Oct 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jon Delfin
"But how many times, really, will I get the opportunity to write about a movie named Zombie Strippers?" Considering how often IFC runs it, lots!
Oct 20, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Better Call Saul,
What fun Vince Gilligan and crew, and "Saul" must be having with their new show. The commercials are funny and the amount of material from which they have to draw from in our sue happy country boggles the mind.

I enjoyed seeing the big red blow-up advert figure waving it's arms around, like an old friend from Breaking Bad. I can't place where we first saw it on the show. At the car-wash?
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
EG
Angela - The "Rectify" air dancer is here: https://rbellwoar.wordpress.com/tag/rectify/ (Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom of the page.) I'll keep looking for the BB example. –EG
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
Angela
Now I'm starting to second guess myself; I trust your memory EG, more than my own. So I googled inflatable sky dancers, Breaking Bad, and Rectify but didn't find any hits.
I seem to recall Mr. White briefly becoming entangled with the dancing red man during an argument with someone. Am I confusing the two shows?
Oct 20, 2014
 
 
EG
Oddly, I can only place it in "Rectify". I'll have to go back and review all my BB DVDs... –EG
Oct 15, 2014
 
 
 
John Noel
Well, Dave, I know the ROYALS were exciting as usual, but did they REALLY morph into the CHEIFS last night? Glad you were excited by the game and today's was your best bey. All of us here in the Fart, er, ah, the Heartland were excited too!!!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
CBA82
"Usually, after sliding off the rails like that, SNL rebounds strongly with its next episode" -- what, they quickly throw out all the bad scripts, turn up the dial, and come up with some funny bits just like that? They are 0-for-2 so far this season, and I'm not optimistic.
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Suzanne Melton
Believe there's a typo: Alex Baldwin has hosted SNL a lot, but doubt it's 167 times. Might wanna check that! Thanks!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
CBA82
Uh, sarcasm, maybe?
Oct 11, 2014
 
 
 
Dave
"Last night’s Game 1 between the Kansas City Chiefs"
Football or baseball game?
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
KC Royals, not Chiefs...different shaped ball!
Oct 11, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Carrol
Since the new season began the ABC Wed. night comedy programs have had an annoying narration of what every one can see is on the screen. Do they really think we are that stupid that we need an interpreter? Very irritating.
Oct 9, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jim
I would like to say a few words regarding "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" It is absolutely nothing at all like the tv sitcom of the same title. It is one of the loveliest and, literally, most haunting love stories ever filmed. It's one of those movies where everything is just right - the photography, the performances, the direction by Joseph Mankiewicz and the glorious musical score by Bernard Herrmann. In fact this was the movie that first made me pay attention to music in film. Look for a very young Natalie Wood as Gene Tierney's daughter.
Oct 9, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
scott
Modern Family is on tonight on abc at 9 pm eastern. not sure why it isn't in tonight's best bets.
Oct 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Windsor McCay segment on TCM's animation night was fine,but they reran the segment at 11:00PM,EST,instead of showing the scheduled Van Buren material with guest programmer Steve Stanchfield. Looks like someone was asleep at the wheel,either watching football or baseball.
Oct 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Janet Troughton
The Good Wife has been delayed where I live for the first two episodes, meaning that we miss the last 10 minutes of the show. What the heck. Is it due to 60 Minutes, or is Madam Secretary the culprit? (I do record TGW) Anyway, just to let you know. Is that happening in the States? JT
Oct 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
Janet Troughton
Thanks guys. Guess you have to watch at the regular time, to get the banner. I added half an hour so we will see. JT
Oct 6, 2014
 
 
Angela
Good idea to add minutes to the recording length. I also have the "On Demand" option so instead I usually watch TGW the next night if my DVR can't record it.
I had to chuckle when my cable company threw up a ticker tape to let viewers know the show was going to start a half hour late. Though it was more like an hour later. Also some DVRs and cable companies will automatically adjust longer than usual episodes but I don't know if that would work with TGW. I wonder how the cast and crew of TGW feel about this since this happens every single season! I would be pissed but they still keep their audience. Says a lot about the show's quality.
Oct 5, 2014
 
 
jim
Sunday night's shows on CBS are almost always delayed due to sporting events that extend into the early evening, but this is nothing new it has been happening for years and it is a nuisance. There is really nothing to do about it except to anticipate the possibility and, if possible, manually set your dvr to record extra time. I usually add at least 90 minutes. If that conflicts with something else you want to record you might have some decisions to make.
Oct 5, 2014
 
 
 
Martha
National League wildcard playoff is on ESPN, not TBS.
Oct 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Len Goodman
I watched SNL last night, with much anticipation: new season, new cast members, no Don Pardo for just about the first time ever, new Weekend Update co-anchor. There was only one main problem with the show: most of it was not FUNNY. Sketch after sketch were totally flat. Weekend Update ? Mostly not funny (I miss Cecily Strong there). I did not (actually "could not") watch the entire show - my health insurance does not cover injuries resulting from watching entire un-funny comedy shows). The only really funny thing I saw was the sketch with NFL players announing themselves at the start of a game and telling us their most recent criminal acts. There may have been funny stuff in the last half hour, but I did not watch it. Fortunately for the people who did watch the entire show last night, they were spared the two worst sketche and character which have appeared on the show for the past few years: the sketch "What's Up With That", and the W.U. character "Drunk Uncle".
Sep 28, 2014   |  Reply
 
Curtis
Oddly enough, I agree with most of what you say here. Weekend Update is still, after fourty years, the best part of the show. You're right. Cecily Strong could have been a great anchor. There's just not enough funny most of the time but we have always been amused by "What's Up With That" as a running gag. "Drunk Uncle" not so much. I made it through W.U. Plus, I don't know who the musical guest was but I could have used some intelligible lyrics, a decent melody and possibly, a live band(?), maybe.
Sep 29, 2014
 
 
 
Mike C.
You're dating yourself, Dave. The Giants beat the Houston Texans not the Oilers.
Sep 25, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Susan Lefever
I think the premier episode of HTGAWM is on tonight, not the second episode.
Sep 25, 2014   |  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.  He's currently at work on another.