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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.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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598 Comments
 
 
Tom
THE BIG BANG THEORY
CBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE

You might have the wrong week for the finale.
Apr 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
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
 
 
Mac
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
 
 
Tom
"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
 
 
GreyWolf
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
 
 
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
 
 
 
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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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