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ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Does TV really need another cooking competition show? Of course not. But this one, like The Voice, brings something new to the mix: a democratic sense of fair play. In The Voice, contestants, in the initial round, are heard but not seen, so judges spin their chairs around in approval based on only the singing skills of the competitors. The Taste is the culinary equivalent of that. A quartet of judges, including Nigella Lawson (pictured) and Anthony Bourdain, select the best recipes in a blind taste test. Not blind as in blindfolded, but blind as in not knowing which chefs prepared which dishes, and having only one spoonful to register a very important first impression. So taste tonight's episode, and form your own first impression.

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

This installment is devoted to prime-time soaps – but has such a narrow focus, it’s devoted almost entirely to Dallas, its spinoff Knots Landing and its main Eighties competitor Dynasty. Though ABC’s Sixties hit Peyton Place does get a mention, the genre’s first prime-time series, DuMont’s Faraway Hill in 1946, isn’t noted at all, not even with a fleeting mention. Nor, for that matter, is the current TNT revival sequel to Dallas, which seems really odd. All that said, this hour is worth watching for getting Larry Hagman on the record before he died, and for exploring and explaining both the “Who Shot J.R.?” and “Bobby Ewing in the Shower” Dallas phenomena. Check local listings.

NBC, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: This final episode of the season is a pivotal one, especially for the women on the show. Kristina (Monica Potter, pictured) gets ready for the next stage of her cancer treatment, and Sarah (Lauren Graham) makes the choice regarding the two men in her life.

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Dominic Monaghan, the charismatic actor who played Charlie on Lost and “Merry” Brandybuck in the Lord of the Rings movies, takes viewers on a hectic romp to try and hunt dangerous animals and insects – but only with a film crew, and a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm. He ends up being an infectiously delighted, unafraid and nature-loving mixture of Sir David Attenborough and the late Steve Irwin. The opener takes him, and us, to Laos, and deep into a cave in search of the world’s largest spider. For a review of the show, and an interview with Monaghan, see Bianculli’s Blog.

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

Where are things going this season? I’m not sure – but the twin primary plots this year, a cold case involving a skyjacker thief and the intrusion of a new fundamentalist religious sect into the Kentucky countryside, seem quite promising. And Timothy Olyphant, as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, continues to swagger with a wry comic edge that hasn’t been seen since early Eastwood.
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"'Hop' Lips"? Perhaps this is a mid-holiday weekend proofreading test, or it's a nod to a Craig Ferguson goof that he would have turned into an episode-long faux double entendre. Either way, I'm a huge fan of MASH and of Craig Ferguson
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
Tom Harrison
re: Veep Am I the only one who doesn't have an episode #5 on my list of this season's Veep? I use HBO GO and it has #1,2,3 4,6. Weird or deliberate?
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
Alan culling
That movie Kite is recommended? It is awful! It's metacritic score is 19! You got friends in that POS Bianculli?
May 24, 2015   |  Reply
joanna pressfield
my only disappointment with the mad men finale is that I want the draper kids to remain with henry. he's the best and most loving parent figure they've ever had in their lives. I agree with sally, who is a better mother figure to bobby and gene than narcissistic betty ever was--the kids need their school and their beds. hopefully, henry's clout in ny state will keep the kids where they belong. also, it would have been nice to see a glimpse of ted and his new love in the finale, the girl who bested peggy in the ted sweepstakes.
May 18, 2015   |  Reply
If it matters, don't wait until next week, as this blog says!
May 12, 2015   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Thank you for your help, zeke. Correction has been made.
May 12, 2015
Gary Burleigh
Glad to see "Happy Valley" get some love at the BAFTAS
May 10, 2015   |  Reply
jeffrey rubin
Surely, you mis-typed when you wrote that Happy Endings was renewed undeservedly
May 5, 2015   |  Reply
CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET


You might have the wrong week for the finale.
Apr 30, 2015   |  Reply
So, after fact,the first hour of the NBC Crossover Wed. 4/29 was the same episode of Chicago Fire from Tues.4/28. But within the three hours involving Chicago FD,Chicago PD and NYC's SVU,there were still traces involving one of the Chicago Med characters from the back door pilot shown a few weeks ago. The overall effect of the three hours together was disappointing as the gimmick was paying far more attention to itself than the storyline. Characters from both of the cop shows jumped from show to show with no regard to budget and time restraints actual tax funded departments would have prohibited. In this day and age of Skype and cell phones,hopping "on the next plane" seems wasteful. Add to that,the body count got so high that trailers for NBC's upcoming Aquarius,a retelling of the real Charles Manson horror, looked tame next to the fictious bloodletting by the Crossover Bad Guy.
If NBC greenlights Med,will they have an all-Chicago night,shuffling fire, police and medical personnel?
Apr 30, 2015   |  Reply
The big change with the crossover event is that they prepped viewers with a prelude on Chicago Fire last night,so technically,Wolf is using four episodes to tell the story. The Chicago fanchise aren't really bad,they just conform to broadcast standards as opposed to cable's freer use of moral ambiguity, language and violence. Both shows are well cast and the possibility of a third series(Chicago Med)looms large(fans may see the return of Peter Mills if the Med show is picked up). Then Wolf will have a true four show crossover next year, for sure. In fact,there may be some Chicago Med bits tonight,based on Tuesday's Fire episode.
Apr 29, 2015   |  Reply
"But three shows? That takes some logistical planning."

They did this last year with a different story, a crossover with the same 3 shows.
Apr 29, 2015   |  Reply
Saw episode 2 of VEEP, and my fears from episode 1 were mostly allayed, as this one was as brilliant and hilarious as ever! -What happened in making of episode 1 and what happened after toward making of episode 2?
Apr 21, 2015   |  Reply
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
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
I think your spelling of the X-Men movie is more appropriate than the official title.
Apr 11, 2015   |  Reply
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
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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.

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