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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George Ashur
Eight years ago today, January 20, 2009, TV Worth Watching featured only one thing on TV that day that was worth watching -- the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Today, the Inauguration of Donald Trump is just one of several programs recommended including, ahem, Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

The 2016 presidential election represented at least as seismic a change as that of 2008. Double standard, David?
Jan 20, 2017   |  Reply
One scheduled TV showing that was a possibly sneaky way to protest the Trump Inauguration was TCM quietly scheduling Elia Kazan's 1957 "A Face In The Crowd". .
"Face" is a scary foreshadowing of a simple homespun philosopher,Lonesome Rhodes,who gains enormous fame via TV and uses his influence to promote a Presidential Puppet. Recently,"Face" was seen as a template for the rise of Glen Beck with Keith Olbermann even nicknaming Beck "Lonesome". Andy Griffith starred and it is scarier than any zombie story one can imagine.
After I noticed it,other online media like the Kansas City Star were way ahead of me.They reported that TCM said that it was coincidence- merely celebrating the birthday of actress Patricia Neal. TCM often has a theme for the 6AM-8PM schedule-all musical or Charlie Chan mysteries. Neal's birthday list included another troubling story-Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead". Rand is a hero to the Libertarian Party and many a Tea party supporter.
Jan 21, 2017
Listening to Trump's Hallmark card of platitudes known as his Inauguration Speech of his bringing things back to America. TV choices:I'd suggest a marathon of Father Knows Best or Ozzie & Harriet. Best choice?Mabye ABC Freeform will replay Pretty Little Liars.
Unemployment at near realistic lowest possible levels. Wages are stagnant though. Why? Why not ask one of the Monopoly Money Billionaires taking their place in Trump's cabinet. Why do 10 indivdiuals have more money than all of the poor.
?If someone is willing to work 14 hrs. for pennies a day,at any age,in super-polluted skies with no benefits now and no future,which has been going on from at least Nixon,Ford,Carter,Reagan,Bush41,Clinton,Bush 43 and Obama-how an one turn that clock back in 2017? Where were the U.S.Captains of Industry when Nixon went to China? Why do we buy so much garbage and demand so low prices? Maybe Nancy Reagan was right: Just say no.
Jan 20, 2017
Umbrellas of Cherbourg- greatest? No,but it should be up there,not only for the music but eye popping color.cinematography and sparking debate about the bittersweet ending. There is no middle ground for this film:either you accept it or not. Hopefully,TCM will double bill this some Sat. or Sun. primetime with the Demy/Legrand/Deneuve follow up: The Young Girls of Rochefort. It includes Americans George Chakaris(West Side Story,film),Grover Dale(original Broadway West Side Story and that was just the beginning) and,in a surprise small nut effective part,Gene Kelly(everything great about MGM musicals). Deneuve's sister,Francois Dorleac(sad personal story there) co-stars so there is beauty times 2. I think the lesser-known Legrand music for Rochefort to be at least an equal of Cherbourg. IMDB lists 197 movie/TV composer credits for Legrand(soon turning 85) including new material due this year.
Jan 19, 2017   |  Reply
Dear friends at TVWW: I'm a big fan. I have a suggestion for a minor format change that, as a writer & former journalist, I believe you might welcome. But my description goes slightly over the 1,000-character limit. Could you please provide me with an email address to which I can send my suggestion? Thanks, Ross
Jan 17, 2017   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Sure, Ross. You can reach us at Looking forward to your suggestion.
Jan 19, 2017
Yay! My Christmas shopping for next year is almost done. Seriously, I hadn't heard of Lemony Snicket's, A Series of Unfortunate Events until last night's Best Bets. Oh, what fun it is to watch! And if I can keep my mouth shut long enough I'm buying the books for my 8 year old niece, and the DVD for everyone else in my family. Finally, a reason to be glad I was way beyond my teen years in the early 90s when the books first came out.
Jan 16, 2017   |  Reply
Keith Robin
I ntoiced a clip from Full Frontal with Sam Bee on YouTube that apparently was brand new, so I checked and found that TBS has started showing new episodes in the new Wednesday time slot. I guess we all missed it, so for fans of the show, it will repeat on Saturday night, Jan. 14th, at 11pm EST. For those of you that have never watched, DB himself once wrote, "...her voice was missed, so welcome her back tonight, with her sorely needed take on the current news"
Jan 12, 2017   |  Reply
Oh, snap! If I were in Hollywood tonight I know exactly where I'd be hanging. You know what that means? A DB book signing and Hollywood goes on my bucket list, for sure.
Jan 11, 2017   |  Reply
Yes, that's right. I've never even been to Hollywood. Until then we want a pic with David in front of the store and the stars!
Jan 11, 2017
Re:1/6/17 This Day in History-Schoolhouse Rocks begins with My Hero Zero. Wiki says 3 Is A Magic Number(the pilot) aired first while Zero aired next,1/13/73.
My Hero Zero should be earning composer Bob Dorough some money with extra zeroes. VW has been using the song for its Winter Sales ads,forgoing the Santa/Black Friday spin many use for end-of-year car ads. Dorough is alive,well, still performing at age 93 and uses those Schoolhouse Rock songs in his performances,often at schools.
Has any song from Sesame Street been used in commercials?
Sesame Street eventually tackled the idea of "zero"-a pretty difficult concept for pre-schoolers. The '90s would have great to see the Seinfeld cast in such a skit. Actors on a show about nothing explaining "zero". Update it for today-Actors On a Show About Nothing Explaining Zero... In Cars.
Jan 7, 2017   |  Reply
her lively "sponge" cake

Please, this is a family site, post as such.
Jan 6, 2017   |  Reply
Mac, Heh! I sincerely hope you're comments are never jettisoned from this site! And yes, puns are fun. I just didn't know it was a pun 'cause out of context it doesn't look one. Cheers!
Jan 7, 2017
*your* :P
Jan 7, 2017
I take my commenting very seriously and,while indeed they are snark-filled,they are written for all. I like my entendres doubled, thank you. Super-size me.That's why puns are so much fun.David & Staff can jettison anything deemed irresponsible,as they have in the past.
I'm recently retired and,till a part-time job happens,I have way too much time to spend here. Meanwhile-waiting for the phone call for my future employ as a price checker at a dollar store. Our Dept. of Transportation doesn't need me as they just bought a self-standing shovel for road work and someone already gets coffee for the crew.
Jan 7, 2017
If you're serious (or not) I'd say this points to where you're mind went more than anything. ;-)
Jan 7, 2017
TCM aired Cool Hand Luke just this past Thurs.(12/29) with a night remembering movie folk who died in 2016,honoring George Kennedy,who passed away at 91 last Feb. Kennedy received his Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in this film. Well-cast,down to the smallest part,including recognizable stars Jo Van Fleet. J.D. Cannon,Dennis Hopper,Ralph Waite and Anthony Zerbe. And then there is Joy Harmon,memorable to many a young male,though she had no dialogue and no name,though Kennedy imagines her as "My Lucille"(not a B.B. King reference). IMDB reports that nowadays Joy runs a successful wholesale bakery,Aunt Joy's Cakes. No doubt the chain-gang prisoners in the film would have been first in line for samples of her lively "sponge" cake.
Jan 3, 2017   |  Reply
Reiny in Berkeley
How about the once thought impossible Lord of the Rings, in not two, but three successive years 2001, 2, and 3. Maybe not in the literary league as some of the aforementioned, but quite a feat , tho 50-65 years later, when tech finally made it possible to bring to life.
Jan 3, 2017   |  Reply
Keith Robin
I 'm so glad you are feeling better, Mr. B. Be sure, in case you haven't already, to get your flu and pneumonia shots!
As far as authors who have been adaptated for movies (and tv), your query includes a qualification that is (IMO) open to interpretation. "Better movies" and "in two consecutive years" may narrow the field, but despite them, you must consider the all-time champion of having adaptations made into films and tv: William Shakespeare! Second on the list is Charles Dickens. I'm not saying that the cinematic adaptations of Mr. Steinbeck's work are not great-only suggesting that there are so many others that could easily be contenders (Dumas, Dostoevsky, Hugo, Tolstoy, Verne and even Stephen King). I also agree Jane Austen should be included in the list. I guess what it tells us is that since movies were first based upon books and stories already written, there has been no lack of excellent material from which to adapt-very often more than once with varying degress of quality.
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
David, re Steinbeck does it have to be theatrical release movies only? Because if it includes both movies and made for TV, including miniseries, I would think Jane Austen wins the prize.
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
Another log to the flame-out that is The Apprentice,New,Old,Borrowed and Bleech. Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strip had skewered Trump for decades(recently collected in book form)as well as Schwarzenegger after his own notorious fondling stories. Trudeau always drew a caricature of Trump,blustery in his orange hair-blown creepiness,but used an icon-a huge hand always out for a touch-for Old Arnie. Two recent Sunday strips of new material (including yesterday)combine the two-kinda a Superman/Batman Dubious Duo -The Trumpster and the Gropenator Maybe Ahhnold will screw up the show's tag line and pronounce to a contestant: "You're fried!"
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
TCM has scheduled the tribute to Debbie Reynolds for Friday,Jan.27,2017 with a 24 hour marathon. Rather than list them in this limited comment section, go over to and look for the special notice,which includes a fine bio. The TCM Remembers collage was updated to include Carrie Fisher and Zsa Zsa Gabor,but not Debbie. Not enough time? Perhaps. But since Debbie was one of the remaining stars of the old movie contract era with an active TCM presence including the 2012 Festival),they possibly felt that a few seconds would not have done her justice and,at the same time,diluted the original ending of the annual piece(no spoilers).
If anything,Debbie Reynolds was a force of nature. Watch The Unsinkable Molly Brown. It says more about Debbie than any other film(indeed,even the real Molly Brown) and gets the 8PM centerpiece,AFTER Singin' In The Rain. A few duds included? Well,there is The Singing Nun. But at least no Goodbye Charlie, a very sad,forced farce-though she looks fantastic!
Jan 2, 2017   |  Reply
Singin' In The Rain was already scheduled for theatrical-The Big Screen- with showings Sun. 15 & Tues. Jan.18,@ 2& 7 PM via Fathom Events.
Debbie's TCM Festival interview with Robert Osborne shows up online. A salty hoot and a half.
Jan 2, 2017
Jan 1, 2017   |  Reply
Oops! That was supposed to read, I can't recommend, Trapped enough.
Jan 4, 2017
Shelia, Spiral is one of my very favorites series and am happy Hulu is airing such fine shows. There's a 6th season of Spiral scheduled for the not too distant future.
Since you like these two series I must suggest, "Bron/Broen" the original version of The Bridge from Denmark and *so* much better than the American and French remakes, the latter titled, The Tunnel. And also, "Trapped", a superb suspense mystery thriller series that takes place in Iceland. I can't recommend Iceland enough.
Jan 4, 2017
Jan 1, 2017
Hey DB, glad to see you seem to be feeling better, just in time to usher this wretched year into the trash heap of history. But you forgot to mention one other Best Bet for the bitter end: CBS's annual tribute to/rerun of a classic Guy Lombardo episode for those of us who've joined their core demo. May auld acquaintance be forgotten (in pristene 480p black&white), and a happy new year to all!
Dec 31, 2016   |  Reply
Ed Quigley
Man 2016 just needs to end. Get well soon David or you'll be forced to watch the Outback Bowl, Clockwork Orange style. :)
Dec 29, 2016   |  Reply
Lois Klein
Dec 28, 2016   |  Reply
David, usually I wish people a complete and speedy recovery, but not to put pressure on you I will wish you a complete and timely recovery.

Hope this will be a healthy and happy new year for you.
Dec 28, 2016   |  Reply
Hope you feel better soon, David. This time of year, not much is on unless you're crazy about all the Christmas specials, which I'm not. I'll look forward to your return--whenever that is. Just don't try to do too much too soon or you'll relapse. We can wait.
Dec 28, 2016   |  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. His next, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is coming this fall, 2016.


Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now avaialble on Amazon.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post