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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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885 Comments
 
 
Neil
Since cutting the cord a few years ago, reading DB's Best Bets was literally the way I kept up with what was good on TV, so I knew what to try streaming online, or to look out for when it showed up on DVD or Netflix. Anyhoo, get well soon, David, I miss your daily previews (and the occasional groaner) herein, and your mellifluous voice subbing for Terry on Fridays.
Jul 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM pays tribute to Eli Wallich,with the oft-shown The Good, The Bad & The Ugly(last seen 7/19 on a Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone marathon-which aired during the RNC-I'll let you connect the dots),but the second movie,The Lineup(1958),is not so familiar,as is many a follow up on TCN's Essentials. Directed by Don Siegel with San Francisco locales,b&w and under 90 minutes(B movie budget in the waning days of the B movie). It is a surprisingly modern tale of heroin trafficking and the bad guys doing the dirty work for the baddest guys,the bosses. Great chase scene,though the movie involves the disturbing theme of a mother & young daughter caught in the middle.
Meanwhile,if you haven't sampled Johnny Carson episodes on broadcast Antenna TV,the weekends are the best to try one. These are 90 minutes,from the '70s,and reveal a much more relaxed Tonight Show than the later one-hour HHshows, though you'll need Google to get some of the monologue references. Fernando Lamas looks mahvelous. Hi-oohT
Jul 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Casey Chapple
Part 2/3

Scroll down for Part 1

If you’re like me, bit of a recluse, hopeful future cord-cutter, but stuck in cable for various reasons, this setup might work for you. The site is titantv.com which can lift your cable listings and present them with adequate descriptions and ratings in an expandable, searchable grid that’s highly customizable. You can mark your faves and choose to see only those listings, a real time and patience saver. Titan does have a mobile app, but it’s the pits right now, so I hope someone out there can recommend an app that comes close to the virtues of this desktop site.

Like most people, I bear hard feelings toward my cable co. Over-priced, aggressive, manipulative, stingy, monopolistic, yeah, that’s what I think. So I do my best to use it as little as possible. VOIP phone, my own DVR, Apple’s Mail program, and I fight price increases by beating the poor clerks about the ears with my purse.

My DVR: up next.
Jul 30, 2016   |  Reply
 
Angela
Casey, we'll have to talk cable cutting 'cause I pretty much did it and it's much more painless than I expected. I do cheat 'cause my landlord has basic cable that I "borrow" from so that I can stream from my computer or phone to my TV using Chromecast stick I bought for $35.00. The only show I watch live now is The Last Alaskans. I do have Hulu Netflix and MHZ.choice and that's more than enough for me. Oh, ya, I just bought season 6 of The Game of Thrones DVD for $13.00 on E-Bay. Amazon wants $40.00 for online streaming and it won't be available from them until next year!
I use a couple more tricks but that's most of it. Let me know if you want to know anything about it. I have to find out about your DVR though I did see an app that will program network TV for free I need to look at.

Thanks for the recommendations. Iv'e wanted to see both Ripper Street and Queen of the South. Cheers!
Jul 31, 2016
 
 
 
Harris hoffman
I have felt helpless without your daily a NED well written advice. So knowing what I now know, I am sending my best wishes for a satisfactory recovery
Jul 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
The Great British Baking Show is my pick of the night (7/29). Two back-to-back episodes of Signature Bakes, Technical Bakes and Showstoppers in a tent in Welford Park Berkshire England. No hokey shark special effects. Just good old fashioned oven drama. Every episode, there are at least four shots of contestants just staring at their ovens and I wish, "why aren't there oven cams so we can see, too?" Then I think how melted cameras might change the taste of the baked goods.
Jul 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Well,on a Summer night(sweltering here in Eastern Pa.,with lots of unexpected thunder booms and rain,followed by more humidity),an attempt to get something decent from TCM. Uhh,they too are stuck in the doldrums with the last of Olivia De Havilland films. The Fifth Musketeer(1979) is pedestrian-good thing they don't play the Richard Lester versions alongside it. It was De Havilland's last film. She just who turned 100 July 1.
Next up will hopefully bring Joe in SF to chime in. The Swarm(1978) from Irwin Allen,producer of disaster flicks after a successful career in cheesy Sci-Fi TV fare(Lost in Space). After most of the modern plagues had been filmed-fire, ship wrecks,flood,Evil Knievel-Irwin turned to Killer Bees. But without John Belushi as the go-to bee,this film barely lasted two weeks in theaters. Instead,find some d Raid ads animated by Tex Avery-better effects,plot and character development.
In David's absence,please insert your worst "bee" pun.
Jul 29, 2016   |  Reply
 
Joe in SF
Thanks for the pics, Mac. I love The Swarm. And what a cast - there are SIX Academy Award winners in it and more extras than in any other movie. 22 MILLION! (Of course, those extras are the bees, but technically, they are also the title characters.)
Jul 29, 2016
 
 
 
Casey Chapple
Here begins a 3-part, over 3 days (cause of charac. limits) descrip. of my setup, and program recs.

Part 1

Because you are a captive audience, here’s a trigger warning: there may be TMI (too much info) here, since I’m gonna share a favorite listing site and describe my new DVR gear that lets me follow and gather the programs I like. Also, I’ll recommend a couple new episodes appearing tonight (Thu 7/28) and the next 2 days.

Tonight, I’ll be recording S1/Ep6 of the not edifying but always entertaining “Queen of the South” on USA, and the first ep. of season 4 of “Ripper Street” on BBCAmerica because I like to be frightened and disgusted, on occasion. Both start in the 10pm slot here in the Northeast. 

Get well soon, David. I knew that’s what was up, and though worried, enjoyed the funny joke ongoing in Best Bets. Seemed it couldn’t be TOO serious if you guys were waving that silly thing around for so long.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I hope you're feeling better, David. We certainly miss your daily input. You often pointed out shows that I might have missed, and I appreciate that. Hope you are back online soon.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
OK, so Mac will be the TCM guy and I'll be the Syfy guy. I can accept that. But all of you Best Bets Besties know which shows Mr. Bianculli would write the best puns for. I miss him. Tonight (7/28) at 9PM Eastern, it's "Ozark Sharks". Do I even have to give you the plot summary? It's your choice: Democratic Convention or SHARKS OVERTAKING AN OZARK FIREWORKS SHOW!! WHO WILL SURVIVE? I am asking that last question about "Ozark Sharks", not that Philadelphia show on all of the other channels.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Ripper Street returns tonight on BBC America for Season 4.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I don't mean to be the "TCM Guy",but with Hillary Clinton and the 300 lb. donkey in the room,even the guilty pleasures are few and far between.Joe in SF will probably fill you in what's happening with Sharknado Week on Syfy. I must admit that they program their Sharknado Week a bit closer to when I first saw Shark Week(1988), during a vacation with my kids down the Jersey Shore.Free cable- then a luxury. Two night time memories-one year NBC spooled The Godfather I & II in chronological order... and Shark Week. My middle kid was a ball of energy and loved it. Such fun watching him. Add hot dogs, root beer floats,the night heat and mosquitoes resulting in true summer love in a screened-in porch.
But I digress. TCM shows a '70s movie that may have gotten away from you:Scarecrow(1973) ,starring Gene Hackman & Al Pacino in what should have been a hit,but proved to be too slow paced for the masses. On a hot summer night,sans mosquitoes,a bittersweet bromance with two greats in fine form.
Jul 28, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
You've seen every "Planet of the Apes" film and sequel and remake. But, have you seen "Planet of the Sharks"? Syfy is airing it tonight (7/27) at 9PM Eastern. Picture it: Global Warming. 98% of the Earth is covered in water. And sharks dominate the planet. I am NOT MAKING THIS UP! It's your choice: Democratic Convention or a MUTATED ALPHA SHARK leading a massive school of sharks!!
Jul 27, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Wed. 7/27 -TCM rewards folks staying up all night,or setting their DVRs,for the final night of their Westerns overview hosted by David Carradine with a quirky quartet of stories with modern ideas.
The Shooter(1966)-Roger Corman funded this super low budget film with Jack Nicholson involvement, starring Warren Oates in a disturbing tale of death and paranoia.Never released to theaters and spare TV showings for this cult film.
Little Big Man(1970)-Dustin Hoffman is a white man raised by Cheyenne and recounts his 121 years,yes,121, and his many changing roles over decades. Weird? You bet. Arthur Penn directs this epic.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller(1970)- Warren Beatty and Julie Christie with Robert Altman's vision of a gritty mining town. The town,actually constructed by Altman and crew, is really the star of this classic.
Finally,Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate(1980) gives the viewer a chance to reflect and decide for themselves if this is a hit or a miss. Cimino died July 2nd.
Whew!
Jul 27, 2016   |  Reply
 
Joanne
Thank you!
Jul 27, 2016
 
 
 
Angela
Here's my condensed BB recommendations for any night of the week: Casual, a Hulu exclusive comedy. By the creator of UP and another excellent movie I forget the name of. A feel good series that is also intelligent. It's about 3 siblings trying to navigate relationships and life and that most everyone can relate to because they are the real deal. Meaning they've taken off their masks. Perfect for binge watching. And if you still in the mood to binge on TV after that then check out, Love on Netflix. Down to earth, funny, and clever.

Speaking of masks, I do hope people aren't missing out on Mr. Robot, on Wednesdays nights at USA network, 10pm Eastern time. Even if you decide you have no idea what Mr. Robot is all about, (join the club) the characters more than make up for it, and even if you decide you don't like the characters, though I don't know why anyone wouldn't, the show is worth watching just for the photography. You can see season 1 for free on Amazon Prime.
Jul 27, 2016   |  Reply
 
EG
Angela - We were just discussing the cinematography of 'Mr. Robot', on par with 'American Horror Story' and a few others. (Although we gave up the nightmares of AHS awhile ago.) Not to be missed, and a true television work of art. --EG
Jul 27, 2016
 
 
 
Oh, who are you kidding? TMC is having an uber-marathon of cool old flicks and you just wanted time off to watch them all. WE'RE ON TO YOU, DAVID! :D Just kidding, of course. Get well soon, we TV sheep need our shepherd to guide us through the muck of daily TV schedules. Come back to "pick" for us soon. ;-)
Jul 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Joanne
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Jul 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mark N
be well, David
Jul 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Gail
Hope to "see" you soon, David!
Jul 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Elise
Get well soon, David!!
Jul 26, 2016   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Certainly a night of few bets,outside of NBSCN,which is actually running a marathon of new episodes of Poker After Dark. Best? Dunno. Colbert has been great not only with Jon Stewart popping up but also having a stuffed weasel named Caligula raising havoc last week at the RNC and this week in Philly. Till Then? How about ESPN with crosstown rivals the Chicago White Sox and the Cubs with the added attraction of possibly seeing newly minted Cubbie reliever,Aroldis Chapman,just acquired from the Yankees. Yesterday the Yankees had a mini-fire sale,closing their hopes for 2016 by ridding themselves of the controversial All Star closer that only saw action in pinstripes for three months. Chapman has a 30 for 30 documentary in his future for sure.
Jul 26, 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.

 
 
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