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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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593 Comments
 
 
jan
What a great review of the finale of Justified. It's been one of my favorite shows, and the finale did not disappoint. I'll miss it.
Apr 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dave N.
Will miss Justified a lot. Along with The Good Wife, a series that we looked forward to seeing. The dialogue was often jaw-dropping. Example: "Wonderful things can happen when you sow seeds of distrust in a garden of ass****s". Many times the DVR got rewound to hear them again, just to make sure we heard right.
Apr 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dan Callaghan
Just heard your review of Justified on Fresh Air. You captured this episode and the entire program perfectly. I especially enjoyed the "brush strokes." Thank you.
Apr 15, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mark N
Just watched the last episode of my favorite show....goodbye "Justified"....was true till the end and held off using "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" till finale...class....Timothy Olyphant...I just wanna watch what he does next...and finally....thanks Elmore Leonard
Apr 15, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
GreyWolf
Veep. One of my favorite shows! Best Bet had the new premier as as good or better than before. I usually very much concur with your choices, but here I was dismayed by the changes which spelled doom for the show, I fear. The writing and performances were excellent as always. But the taping, framing, lighting, and editing had conceptual and quality changes that diminished rather than enhanced as it had in the past seasons. There seemed to be a conscious choice to make it seem more realite and off-the-cuff unpolished, throwing away 100 years of learning of techniques that Hollywood has to make moments, characters, lines, more effective, including comedy. An intellectual choice to be hip or trendy, but that lacked artistic and craftsmanship discernment. Most viewers might not be aware of the shift, but they would feel it in their response to the show. And the show would lose its 'must see' power. Do you see in the episode what I am describing? And evenso, is it just the style of today?
Apr 13, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Erin
I think your spelling of the X-Men movie is more appropriate than the official title.
Apr 11, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I binged watched the first few episodes of iZombie on demand because of the weekly recommendation and have to say it is better then I thought it would be. As for the finale episodes of Justified I feel the same way.
Apr 7, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Knight of Malta
Thanks Dave for your research, helping to narrow down hundreds of possibilities for my evening entertainment. Checking in on your website helps propel me through the day.
Apr 5, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
The Annie Lennox was wonderful to hear. Not to watch. The director, perhaps, was being paid by the shot: I never have seen such frenetic camera switching, outside a Monkees episode. The constant camera changes was irritating, to say it nicely.
Apr 4, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
So glad I decided to page back to Wednesday night's, "Best Bets" thinking there was a show I was interested in watching but had forgotten about by the time it aired. "Putin"? Ha! I didn't catch on until then, and even then I wasn't certain because DB's puns are always great. Oh, and I wanted to see La Tub. :)
Apr 2, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
I would totally watch "The Russians".
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Bob
David, you had me going for a moment, well done. I should have caught it with Cookie Monster. Well done!
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
David really does know how to pull you in, doesn't he, Bob? The Cookie Monster reference? One of my favorites.
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
 
Erin
Is it sad that I would actually want to watch Umpire?
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
dad1153
Me three! :-) Shoot, I was buying it until "The Russians" and then it clicked. Good thing I haven't left the house yet, or someone would have talked me already into giving them my clothes and keys to the car I don't yet own.
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
Linda Donovan
Me, too, Erin...!
Apr 1, 2015
 
 
 
Bill
If the BEST BETS are posted early it must be April Fools Day.
Apr 1, 2015   |  Reply
 
Angela
Heh! Good one. :)
Apr 2, 2015
 
 
 
Mac
Ahh.3/30 TCM triple feature of films featuring TV news:China Syndrome,Broadcast News(a TCM premiere)and Network. It's like a Memorial Day WWII marathon for media fans.
Mar 31, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Erin
It's particularly touching that Edward Herrmann narrated the Emperor of all Maladies before he succumbed to brain cancer.
Mar 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I just watched an entertainment tv host say that what James Corden does with bringing all the guests out at the same time unique when we have been enjoying Graham Norton doing that for years and I still hope Stephen Colbert will do the same.
Mar 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
The listings have moved to the home page. Hope the passive-aggressive harassment over how this site is run has not cost us the ability to comment here.
Mar 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I hope everything is all right with you.
Mar 26, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Bob
David, I hope everything is ok.
Mar 26, 2015   |  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.