TUESDAY
JANUARY 22
2013

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

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.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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501 Comments
 
 
Keith
I'm really enjoying "The Flash" but I am starting to wonder how long its "freak of the week" focus can last. The "freak of the week" nature of "Smallville's" first season was often cited in reviews as a negative. "Smallville" eventually got rid of the "freak of the week" which, I think, strengthened the series for a while before it started going downhill and jumping the shark for other reasons. I'm just hoping that "The Flash" doesn't get too bogged down in limiting the show to villains (or heroes) affected by the particle accelerator disaster. I think "Smallville" learned not to focus each episode on "meteor freaks." Here's hoping that the producers of "The Flash" learn from "Smallville's" mistakes.
Nov 26, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Jan
I was lucky as a child--before DVDs--that both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind were both re-released to theaters, where I saw both of them. When The Wizard if Oz went from black and white to color, it was magical. Only years later, when I saw it as an adult, did I realize how clever the lyrics were. And Gone With The Wind was shown complete with intermission. I'll never forget either one, and I am eternally grateful for my father who loved movies so much that we went almost every weekend. (For some reason, he never let us see The Bowery Boys :-( but I used to see them on a Chicago TV station every Saturday morning and grew to love them. Still do.)
Nov 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Lynn
It's not Thanksgiving yet but I am so thankful for the TVWW emails I receive. After reading about the exhibit I now realize all that has been going on and why the TVWW email's timing has been off on some days. But here's the thing-- I see so many of the 'busy' people around me simplify and very much alter the quality of the products they produce. Personally I would rather most products come later but with the depth and quality I count on. A holiday example, I would always rather receive a thoughtful Christmas letter a month after Christmas than a hurriedly signed card weeks before. I watch TV to enrich my life, so I want to watch quality shows and I don't have or want to make the time to check them out myself. So to get reviews I can trust from TVWW, that are pretty much on time, that is absolutely worth receiving a few late ones for me.
Nov 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
You wrote today, "Why in the hell hasn’t [The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize] award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers..." Simple answer: demos. Everyone wants the 18-49 audience, including PBS. Leno is relatively current, and he appeals to people in that demo who watched the Tonight Show over the last few decades. To have watched and appreciated the Smothers Bros. Comedy Hour in their last year on air, you needed to have been at least 9 years old in 1969, which puts their audience at age 54 or older today. That's past the demos the TV industry wants to reach, so hence, no Smothers. The Prize Committee's choices have to be influenced by that thinking.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
You wrote today, "Why in the hell hasn’t [The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize] award been bestowed upon the Smothers Brothers..." Simple answer: demos. Everyone wants the 18-49 audience, including PBS. Leno is relatively current, and he appeals to people in that demo who watched the Tonight Show over the last few decades. To have watched and appreciated the Smothers Bros. Comedy Hour in their last year on air, you needed to have been at least 9 years old in 1969, which puts their audience at age 54 or older today. That's past the demos the TV industry wants to reach, so hence, no Smothers. The Prize Committee's choices have to be influenced by that thinking.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mike Pavlov
Jay Leno was a great comic that was, in my opinion (IMO) ruined by the
Tonight Show. I also love the contrary, somewhat snarky Dave Bianculli. Much better than an "agree to disagree" comment.
Nov 23, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Fred Montgomery
Your picks for Saturday are, like, so stale. An old SNL with Drew Barrymore? Really? How about something new like "The Missing," a new series beginning tonight on Starz? Cmon, let's look forward, not backward :).
Nov 15, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
I would like to apologize for my last comment as it wasn't fair or nice. Often I see recommendations for shows here in the comments section. (I've also read that it's not always easy to choose only 5 shows for the Best Bets.)
I usually read the comments partly for that reason as I've found out about some great shows I might have otherwise missed.
All the writers on TVWW do great things here and it's made even more special because they only do it out of their passion for TV (and not money) and wanting to share that love with everyone. How can we criticize that?
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
Angela
I have an idea! Why don't you start your own website with what you consider to be the best bets for TV worth watching instead of criticizing others who do more than complain? :)
(did my smily face take the sting out of what I said?)
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
Curtis
As the last person, most likely, in the country that doesn't have cable or satellite tv I appreciate Dave's picks that come up on broadcast channels. Considering that NBC has 40 years of SNLs to choose from the chances are very good that an old rerun will be pretty good so that's a gimme. New SNLs - not so much. I still appreciate the heads up. Conversely, we just got n•tfl•x. Now we're never going to get anything done.
Nov 15, 2014
 
 
 
Alan
Your picks of the day come along so late in the day that I generally click on your web cite just to see what I missed from the previous day. Really, can't you get your picks on pre-noon?
Nov 12, 2014   |  Reply
 
Bob
Really? Alan, how much do you pay for this website that you can request a time of delivery?
Nov 13, 2014
 
 
 
Bob
Updated before 8AM? What am I going to complain about all day?
Nov 10, 2014   |  Reply
 
Angela
Thanks for the smile on my face.
Nov 18, 2014
 
 
 
Janet
dare I say it. I like, I really like ... Constantine. And the Flash. NO NO NO
Nov 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
Hey, I would like to chime in here too. Casey, and Elise's comments echo my own sentiments. The only time I don't check out TVWW is when I'm not going to turn on the tube...Er, maybe I should say turn on the chip?

I wish whatever is going on in your life, is all good, and your effort pays off in a way that makes you happy.
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Two comments: First-Gracepoint...I have, indeed, avoided watching because I have seen Broadchurch, so thank you for the heads up about the upcoming episodes. Second, Parenthood...I have been watching this outstanding show since the first episode and I was never a big fan of the character Joel. I tolerated him. After the way he reacted to Julia's misstep and decided to separate, and then was so reluctant to work it out with her, it's my hope that she makes the divorce final and allows herself the happiness she deserves. Joel set himself up for this and I hope the producers & writers give him what he deserves! That's just my opinion, what's yours?
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Thanks for mentioning "A Sloth Named Velcro." If you hadn't, I probably would never even have been aware of the program. Fascinating stuff. And that's not the first time I've watched something that you mentioned that I had never heard of before. So thanks for all those other times, too.
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
David Wieck
Dave, your tribute to Tom Magliozzi made me choke up and smile at the same time. Bravo!
Nov 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Just a pat on the back: if your Best Bets show up at all, I'm eternally grateful. Can't imagine what the hurry is among some posters here. Not our job to tell you what YOURS is. Thanks for this great site. You're open in a permanent tab in this household.
Oct 31, 2014   |  Reply
 
elise
Well, then, Let me second Casey's sentiment. TVWW is my go to site for all my entertainment needs. I have your website open all the time, too! I hope your "hectic" is a nice problem to have. Hang in there, and it will patiently and kindly wait for any words you post .... Good luck!
Nov 5, 2014
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Casey, Thanks so much. Really nice. And believe me, everyone, the second I can get ahead on Best Bets, I will. Right now, for reasons I'll write about as soon as I get a chance, things are incredibly hectic even by my standards. But support like yours, Casey, keeps me going...
Nov 1, 2014
 
 
 
Mike C.
Dave...........where are today's (10/30/14) Best Bets?
Oct 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
Mike C.
Thanks, Dave.
Oct 30, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Another sports comment about 10/24/14.Numbers for the first three World Series games show the Kansas City market holding near 50 percent of all TVs watching these games in real time.The other half is missing quite a show.
Oct 26, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
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
 
 
 
 
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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.