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).
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1340 Comments
 
 
Mac
I meant to mention yesterday that there is now lots of pretend baseball on mlb.com. Today has three games on board,while local Comcast Sports will show the Phillies/Orioles game this P.M. Who needs real Olympics,when there is pretend baseball? Added interest is that MLB uses local feeds from one of the teams instead of generic announcers, so you can get the feel of the broadcasters' biases(expected in sports). Yesterday they had the World Series champs Astros,lots of coaches input(which I hate during real games),listening to Todd Kalas(Harry's kid-Harry was a Philly institution who always had "high hopes")and lesser known players trying to get a higher spot on the team. Everyone is relaxed,no one tries to get hurt with stupid sliding(did see a catcher involved with a bat in the head accident). Local ads,too, Folks like me want to know about Whataburgers and why we can't get one.Some in Fl. can get one AND grab a Wawa hoagie and a Tastykake. Not fair. Oh,my heart doctor says neither.
Feb 24, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Robert
Looks like Fox decided to drop "The X-Files" episode so they could give "The Resident" another chance to attract viewers. Too bad. I was looking forwardto seeing it again as well.
Feb 21, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
2/21-TCM's night not only includes those two amazing films David recommends (Judy Holliday-perfect!) but next-The Lion In Winter,a film that gets better with repeated viewings(I always find a missed throwaway line) and gets better with my aging. TCM has often shown this around Christmas,since the story,indeed,takes place during the holidays,but It's a Wonderful Life,it ain't. Christmas 1183 AD(I needed to look that up). A precursor to Hallmark Christmas themed TV movies? Naaah. More like Who's Afraid of Virgina Wolff-The Early Years.
Feb 21, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
Thanks,David,for the recommendation about TCM's 2/21 Best Actress films.I hope more folk saw Born Yesterday last night because of that. This is a film I've visited since a TV screening in the '60s,but under the Age 'O Trump,there is added meaning and call for alarm. If you missed,the next screening is just days away:Sun. 3/4,noonET,just hours after the 31 Days 'O Oscar ends. While not kiddie fare,this is relevant for teens approaching their first voting day. Civics 101,Corruption & Collusion 201, a dollop of "Me,too" and a nice tour guide of Washington,D.C.,circa 1950,to boot. This time around Broderick Crawford's bully earns high marks. It is a shame that a few years later he had to do Highway Patrol,an early TV police procedural(and a classic SNL sketch). Boomer kids loved it,but he was better as a bully. 10-4.
Feb 22, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
2/17-Here is on that might get away since it is only ten minutes long. While TCM celebrates supporting actors,@5:33ET,they spool a short that received an honorary Oscar:The House I Live In,starring Frank Sinatra singing the title song,which,while not written for Frank,became as iconic for him as Witchcraft. It deals with anti-Semitism,but is actually about tolerance in general,circa 1945,as World War II was winding down and the soldiers from different wealth,education, places,races and religion would be returning to peace time and wondering:What next?". Not surprising,the writers of the song felt the wrath of blacklisting. That is how we fear tolerance. Jeff Sessions,I'm looking at your cowardly elfin person. Come off the shelf and join the masses.
Feb 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
cheryl
I am looking forward to your review of the Madman series, hearing your take on Rapey Pete, Joan, Peggy and Roger. My favorite scene is when Betty is shooting the neighbors pigeons in a powder blue peignoir, cig in side of mouth, shot gun in hand. I was the same age as Sally, her room, clothes, manner all mirror my childhood. But my Dad never missed my birthday, or forgot the cake....
Feb 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
Angela
It was David reviewing Mad Men on NPR that turned me onto, and hooked me on TVWW. I agree with Cheryl about a Mad Men review by Mac. Ongoing, while we do a re-wind of the series perhaps? Just an idea....
I wonder if TVWW's audience would be interested in seeing Mad Men or any other TV series again while we review it together, here, with Mac as our guide.
Watching a series together - one episode a week, with the online "water-cooler" chit-chat afterwards is a lot of fun.
Feb 18, 2018
 
 
Mac
This site was onto the Mad Men series from day one. It took me until the first season ended,as AMC had become THE place to avoid to watch movies(still is) and was to be avoided as much as the 500 Club,Fox News and shopping channels. Thanks to Terry Gross & Fresh Air to enlighten me with an audio clip that had impact before the visuals. Of course,the Kodak Carousel slide projector sell,where you got lots of who Don Draper was and a foreshadowing of his story through the years. Decades from now,this is the clip CNN will use for their "The '00s-TV".
Feb 17, 2018
 
 
 
jan
I wish you would resume recommending "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" on Fridays. I love that show, but I don't think a lot of people watch it. (I may be wrong about that, though.)
Feb 16, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
2/14-TCM's Oscar nods doesn't fall into Valentine's Day trappings. Instead,it is Best Adapted Screenplays and the lowest reviewed film receives 3 !/2(out of four) stars from the Leonard Maltin guide(still a great,concise book of reviews). 3 David Lean films:Great Expectations @ 9AM,Brief Encounter @ 11AM & Dr. Zhivago @ 12:30AM(Lean was part of the writing team for two). Anytime you & your Sweetie tune in today there is something of interest(and many are LOVE themed) that is akin to surf and turf for the mind.
Happy Valentine's Day and remember everything you bought yesterday for today is 1/2 off tomorrow.
Feb 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
If you liked the movie Cabaret (and even if you didn't), I strongly recommend Babylon Berlin on Netflix.
Feb 12, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
jim
After all these years apparently it still needs to be pointed out that:
It's Liza with a Z, not Lisa with an S. Cause Lisa with an S goes ss not zz. It's z instead of s, Li instead of Le. It's simple as can be, it's LiZa.
Feb 12, 2018   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
You're right, of course, Jim. Stupid "helpful" autocorrect.
Feb 13, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
I visit a few respected animation websites and find none discussing Our Cartoon President. Sad. As for the state,not federal,tax credit,one wonders where the writing,voicing,animating,editing and post-production jobs may have been kept in NY,which would make the credit worthy.
A workplace comedy where nobody works. Reports of Trump not clocking in till 11AM,out @ 4PM with "free time" (nap,eating,Fox binging,maybe a Matlock or porn)-work is a four letter word. And he doesn't(can't?) read,he has gophers boil it down to soundbites. So audio would be the best venue to skew this thug. Turnaround as quick as a late night monologue. Satellite is free of FCC no-nos. An edited version could make the daily radio rounds like Letterman's Top 10 years before. Iheartradio -naaa,and they may be gone soon-a good thing. NPR is too chicken,but PRI or Pacifica could be alternatives.
Feb 11, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
Update:as the first episode is available online(gotta give Showtime some info-make sure it is fake). It is lamer than one can imagine and,yes,the real footage is the most damning part of the 1/2 hr. you won't get back. Captioning is bleeped but an f-bomb goes out aurally. And that theme song-as insipid as CC's President Show. If you're gonna be repetitive,do it as reggae. Keep watching Trevor during the week,Colbert till the first guest,then over to Maddow @ midnight. Remember Sam Bee on Wed. (repeats on Sat.,before SNL),and John Oliver via YouTube.
Feb 11, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Re:2/10-Not only a great night for TV watching,but some real alternatives to the Winter Games(the word "Olympic" is trademarked by the USOC, like the NFL owning the phrase "Super Bowl") that are just cable-no premium channel or online pay service. Comcast is boasting their bringing so much Olympic coverage over broadcast TV-it must be killing them having one money stream cut off even though still they get extra revenues from higher ad rates.
Now,here's a word from proud Olympic ad partner, Procter & Gamble: Looking for psyllium husk but paying less? Try Metamucil,Meta Daily Heart Health,Meta Daily Blood Sugar Support or Meta Appetite Control.They are all the same thing,marketed differently,found in four different sections of the store with four different prices. Enjoy,while P&G messes with the sizes and prices of paper towels,toilet tissue,diapers & tampons. Grab a coupon from Sunday's newspaper and stay confused. Now back to Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir with Olympic Snark.
Feb 10, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mark Young
For the Olympic opening ceremony, I had to read twice to see that indeed Bob Costas will be replaced by Bob Costas. If so, it does strike me as a bit odd, unless there are two on-screen announcers with the same stage name. ;)
Feb 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mark Young
It looks like Mike Tirico replaced Bob Costas.
Feb 10, 2018
 
 
Cathy Backus
I wondered about this also! Will the real Bob Costas please stand up!
Feb 10, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Check last night's SNL,probably online by now,for a surprise visit from an SNL alum with Philly ties in a sketch that imagines a rivalry between Boston & Philly in 1775. Here,many a Philly fan will find the origins of Wawa-that is in said SNL alum with Philly ties' basket.
Me,change of venue to avoid Super Bowl shenanigans. Leftovers and Black Narcissus on TCM-don't believe that post WWII British films are cheap,black & white and quaint. This one will have both your eyes and mind popping out. A story of exotic India,completely filmed in England.
Go Iggles-I'll check in after the film. And if you live in the Philly area,know that,win or lose,putting Crisco on metal poles will not keep some from climbing them. The best thing about a Super Bowl is that pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks. Go Phillies!
Feb 4, 2018   |  Reply
 
Angela
Mac, Re; exciting life- sounds about my speed. I wouldn't want to battle those crowds though I'm happy Philly won. It's my favorite city-not too big it can't be walked, or doesn't feel safe alone at night, and not so small that it doesn't have just as much to offer in entertainment and culture as say, Chicago. I've lived in both and Philly's definitely my favorite though I really like Chicago in the summertime. Oh, and by the way, I envy you those Philly steak sandwiches, too! Can't pass those up.
That's another thing I love about Philly. Look at people walking down any sidewalk in Philadelphia, at least half of them will be eating something good.
Feb 13, 2018
 
 
Mac
Angela- Full disclosure:I did watch the final five minutes(1/2 hr. in real time). I am far enough away from Philly to escape the crowds. When the game ended,there were just a few firecrackers down the street. After watching Philly stations showing the crowds pour into the streets,a Wawa Run was declared. Wawa,the Philly-based convenience store,was way too quiet. Free coffee all day till kickoff and discounted hoagies. So a large Italian,dry,sweet peppers(don't tell my doctor),wrapped in Eagle-themed paper and a return to flipping around stations for crowd coverage. I live one exciting life.
How long since an NFL championship win for Philly? 12/26/60-I turned nine a week before. Today I'm retired. Vince Lombardi's only post season loss. Bethlehem,Pa. & Eagle great Chuck Bednarik was in every play-offense and defense-the last of the "60 Minute Men". Bednarik earlier tackled Giant Frank Gifford. Gifford 's many head injuries brought on CTE and shortened his pro career.
Feb 6, 2018
 
 
Angela
Sooo! Congrats Philly Eagles. Mac, Are you celebrating the Eagles win? Looks like Philly fans were having fun! Bet the city was crazy!
Feb 6, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Here is brilliant programming for Groundhog Day,except it is in the U.K.and they don't even celebrate the holiday(kind of a big deal around here,with other groundhogs vying for Punxsutawney Phil's forecast).
To mark the 25th anniversary of Harold Ramis' modern classic film, Groundhog Day,Sky Cinema is showing the film in a near 24 hr. marathon. At least Sony got the film scheduled in the U.S. in a few cinemas. Check around(some places show it after Feb. 2).
Best way to celebrate Groundhog Day-consume lots of sausage. Why? It's usually made of ground hog meat(thanks to a great Bob& Ray bit).
Feb 2, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A heads up on TCM's 31 Days of Oscar. This year they spend an entire 24 hr. period spotlighting an award category,with Sat. & Sun. getting 48 hrs. for major categories. This weekend:cinematography. Nominees are mixed with winners(so they don't miss some great films that "should have won").
Sat.: Showboat(9:30AM) She Wore a Yellow Ribbon(6PM) and A River Runs Through It(8PM).
Sun.:Ice Station Zebra(2:15PM),Black Narcissus(8:PM) and Zorba The Greek(10PM).
Great movies(not B-movie filler as the regular schedule sometime features) all day,all night,with schedule starting @6AM,thru Mar. 3.
Feb 2, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
Note that the two day marathons do not fall on weekends. Also,Best Actor & Actress get the two day treatment,broken up as:2/21-Best Actress I,2/22-Best Actor I,2/23-Best Actress II,2/24-Best Actor II. That leaves the rest of the schedule,an entire week,from Sun. 2/25 @ 6AM thru Sat. 3/3(actually till Sun.3/4 @6AM) for 72 Best Picture nominees and winners. Sprinkle in a few wine ads,cruise ads and TCM's Festival & Backlot ads in-between,not during the unedited films,and enjoy.
Feb 5, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
The State Of The Onion(I,too,can misspell)is comparable to the Super Bowl for political junkies,at least till the 2020 primaries. During the Super Bowl,my wife picks the restaurant with no TV,and we bring,hopefully, "scintillating conversation" to the table. Tonight, there are probably folks entering a eatery trying to get away from all the politics,looking for sports. Good luck.
Katy Tur & Steve Kornacki host a SOTU Watch Party(as opposed to a SOTU Search Party) live on NBCNews.com &You Tube @ 8PM & returning @10PM after the SOTU. Tur's star rose covering Candidate Trump in 2016(some awkward,unwanted attention from CT). Kornacki,who gets lots of face time on all of NBC's platforms,should prove a bright sidekick. Scintillating conversation,indeed. Hopefully,MSNBC will have more Maddow & less Brian Williams.
Also-The Daily Show and The Opposition are live tonight @ 11PM on cable's Comedy Central.
Jan 30, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Suze Keefe
New episodes of Drunk History and Another Period on Comedy Central tonight.
Jan 30, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Mac, My sister lives in the UK with her daughter so I'll pass along the free poster/site info, thanks! Edit: Turns out they sold out of the poster. First it said delivery was delayed to 6 week and now it's sold out! I'm glad people care.
Jan 28, 2018   |  Reply
 
Angela
Though to be fair, I never saw, "The Premature Burial" and I feel my imagination is lacking so there's that.
Feb 2, 2018
 
 
angela
Agree about the gallon of ink needed. Funny how different we all are. When I was a kid and really sick for awhile, my mom went out to look for a pet snake for me. Unfortunately she came home empty handed but at least she tried. I thought snakes were the coolest thing ever!
Jan 30, 2018
 
 
Mac
While physical poster is gone,there is a downloadable pdf available.It is full of info. It would probably require a few gallons of printer ink to make a physical copy,but it enlarges pretty nicely in my browser. Notice the fangtooth fish. Could this have been a cross between White Fang & Black Tooth from the Soupy Sales show? When I was a kid,this kind of stuff gave me a scare whenever I opened our World Book Encyclopedia. I always tried to avoid the"S" volume with a full color page of snakes, ready for their close up. Being a kid and watching the AIP Edgar Allen Poe "The Premature Burial" in a theater,my mind went into overdrive imagining those snakes could come alive and slither out of the book. Years later,the Indiana Jones movies gave me a jolt-I suspect Spielberg & Lucas may have had a similar experience while growing up.
Jan 29, 2018
 
 
 
Thanks to Vince Gilligan, David Bianculli and Breaking Bad another weekend has gone missing. You've a bad influence! (But in a good way).
Jan 28, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
BBC America is the only place to catch Blue Planet II tonight:the other AMC stations carry their usual fare. Also,no repeat of Episode I earlier in the evening(why?),and no repeat of the new episode till Wed. @9PM. Wed. is designated as Planet Earth Day,with repeats of Frozen Planet 1/30 surrounding the Blue Planet encore from 1/27.
Jan 27, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
BPII fans-there is a free poster with more ocean stuff than you can imagine(well,after viewing this series,maybe you can) along with lots of reading material at www.open.edu/openlearn/blueplanet. Some of the audio & video,as well as links to BBC materials, may not work in the U.S.,but there is a lot of information to wade through(pun intended). OpenLearn is a safe,UK based,open university website. And yes,if you are really bold,there is an elective quiz-no blue book or sharpened #2 pencils needed.
Jan 28, 2018
 
 
 
 
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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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