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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449 Comments
 
 
Casey
Should have been a trigger warning on "2Guns" review for Walburg demonstrating his gun handling by shooting the heads off live chickens. How is this necessary in the unfolding of the plot? Prissy? I don't care.
Aug 16, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
George
Ever since I heard David Bianculli's review of "Family Tree"I had been waiting for it to come out on streaming for a while (since I cut the chord) ... Finally saw it on Amazon Prime recently. Loved it! Sadly I found out it's not being renewed for a second season by HBO. I'm frustrated that good shows like this one keep getting canceled before their time. A lot of people are watching TV like me these days just on streaming services... It seems to me shows are more and more often finding their audience after the shows have been canceled. Thoughts?
Aug 15, 2014   |  Reply
 
jan
At least they made it available on DVD, which I bought as soon as it came out. Wish they would do the same with Terriers, Knights of Prosperity, and Amigo. And I wish shows from other countries would get Region 1 DVDs. I loved Family Tree, and I had also hoped there would be more episodes.
Aug 17, 2014
 
 
 
JK
I hope you get a chance to see "Sensitive Skin" on HBO Canada with Kim Cattrall and Don McKellar. It's excellent!
Aug 14, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Susie Foster
Southcliffe, on Netflix is a UK CHannel 4 series of 4 episodes about the impact of a serial shooting on a small English town - very worthwhile watching!! gripping plot if a bit hard to follow the sequences, and Eddie Marsan aka Terry Donovan from Ray Donovan -
Aug 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Totally off topic, but tv related.
A few years ago the FCC passed regulations mandating that commercials had to be the "same average volume as the programs they accompany". For a while things actually got better, but now I'm noticing that no one seems to be paying any attention to that regulation and I'm once again having to reach for the volume control every time a commercial comes on. Has anyone else noticed this?
Aug 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
jan
Yes, I've noticed that, too; and I wondered about whatever happened to that regulation. Very frustrating.
Aug 6, 2014
 
 
 
Jay Gold
The Department of Redundancy Department actually is from the Firesign Theater album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers. As that Department will confirm, it's also from the Firesign Theater album Don't Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers.
Aug 5, 2014   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Jay -- We're both right. I'm a big Firesign fan myself ("I wonder where Ruth is?"), but the references on those LPs postdate, by close to a decade, the appearance of the Redundancy of Redundancy Department in a comic panel in Mad magazine -- a joke so buried you had to read it backwards, on the writing of a glass door in the background, to get the joke. Just like Firesign's "Regnad Kcin"...
Aug 5, 2014
 
 
 
Byron Tidwell
Echoing Barbara Leons comments, the commercial breaks during The Honorable Woman made this densely plotted show near impossible to follow. Any sense of building tension and rhythm was completely destroyed. Why do many viewers wait for the DVD or streaming release? Here is your answer.
Aug 4, 2014   |  Reply
 
Susie Foster
agree totally!!! I'm going to save it all up and zip through the commercials, they are so intrusive.
Aug 7, 2014
 
 
 
Barbara Leons
Because of the good reviews I watched The Honorable Woman on the Sundance channel tonight. It was good bust was interrupted by so many commercials that it was increasingly difficult to get involved in, much less follow. What should have been an hour show from 10 to 11 in fact ended at 11:15, apparently to get in more commercials. What is going on here?
Aug 1, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Mr. B, Ref you comments about Sharknado and Sharknado 2, evening more of a mystery to me than why there is even a sequel, is why is it going to be in theaters August 21st?????Who is going to pay $10 to $13 to see a movie that was available free on TV, and will undoubtedly be on dvd and bluray very soon thereafter (and for rental at under $2 a night????? I'm dumbfounded!
Jul 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Since we're remembering James Garner I would like to recommend one of his lesser known films, "Cash McCall" He plays a corporate raider - sort of a mid-2oth century Mitt Romney, but with personality. Some of the financial wheeling and dealing could be from last week's news. The film also stars the breathtakingly beautiful Natalie Wood.
Jul 28, 2014   |  Reply
 
George
I'll have to check that one out... I have fond memories of watching The Rockford Files made for TV movies with my dad... Also a movie, I think it was called "Tank".
Aug 15, 2014
 
 
 
John
You know maybe I'm a little weird or something but I already saw episode 3 of the Bridge before it aired tonight on the 23rd. It was a new episode. Am I missing something?
Jul 24, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
marlene
Surprised not to see a mention of the 1932 Maurice Pagnol film (and play) "Fanny" upon which the 1961 version and Umbrellas of Cherbourg are both based. It's part of his wonderful trilogy Marius/ Fanny/ Cesar. Chez Panisse is named after the "older gentleman".
Jul 16, 2014   |  Reply
 
SharonGS
Thank you, Marlene, for mentioning Pagnol. I'm sure Robert Osborne will mention him as well. Pagnol's films are well worth watching.
Jul 16, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Hoping to catch The Divide on one of the probable repeats.Had to check if I'm still paying for this channel.Trailer showing up on other channels didn't look too compelling,but reviews are encouraging.And Stephen Bochco's Murder In The First let me down.Hoping the Philly vibe comes through more than the Geico Gecko dancing in front of Geno's.
Jul 16, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Thank you for highlighting the Tour de France. The prime-time show is a recap; live coverage is in the mornings with repeats overnight. Café au lait, croissants, and the Tour are a nice start to the morning.
Jul 8, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
I have seen no publicity about this, and it didn't get a mention on your site, but the second season of the wonderful "Last Tango in Halifax" just started on at least some PBS stations. The series features complex but realistic relationships, lovely scenery, and wonderful acting.

Also, the Tour de France starts Saturday: exciting racing and amazing images.
Jul 3, 2014   |  Reply
 
Linda D.
We at TVWW agree with you, SharonGS. We've been touting the beauty of "Last Tango in Halifax" since the beginning (see: http://tvworthwatching.com/post/Last-Tango-In-Halifax-December-December-ROmance-Charms.aspx) and continue to report about it on the site (http://tvworthwatching.com/post/PBSUpStreams-Ahead-More-Sherlock-Ken-Burns-and-Downton-Abbey.aspx). Just not today. But it is certainly TV Worth Watching.
Jul 3, 2014
 
 
 
Keith Robin
David, I was thrilled to read that you feel the same way about '$' that I do, and have, since first seeing it in the '70's! Thank you for the heads up...I always seem to miss its broadcasts and they are usually on one time only. Now, at last, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be able to record it in hi-def (no bluray available) on my dvr! In addition to the great music, there are also some solid performances from the cast that includes Robert Webber, Scott Brady, and the delightful Gert Frobe. It was wonderful to see him in a comedic role after his portrayal of one of the best Bond villains, Auric Goldfinger. I saw this movie for the first time when I returned to the US after a three-year tour of duty in West Berlin. I had been to Frankfurt several times, so it was great to "revisit" again so soon! Finally, I can't help but chuckle every time I hear a particular German word when spoken by Mr. Kessel (Frobe): "kaugummi"*! I laugh just thinking about it.

*chewing gum
Jun 30, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Speaking on Sunday aft. before first ep of "The Leftovers", I choose to doubt these guys would do a "Lost" number. My wish is for an existential adventure where god is simply not an option, fairytales don't come true, and animals get half a break.
Jun 29, 2014   |  Reply
 
Casey
Graham, it's like they knew what we wanted and did precisely the opposite. Well, if it bombs, maybe they'll try our recipe.
Jul 1, 2014
 
 
Graham
I agree, but having just watched it looks like we're out of luck on every count.
Jun 30, 2014
 
 
 
Mac
Interesting that the 1938 edition is the only one of the four Big Broadcast films have been tranferred to VHS or DVD.Stayed for the televised 1937 edition and was entertained completely.Finished off the evening with an episode of Burns & Allen.What a lost treasure is Gracie Allen.
Jun 29, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Mark
I have access to Dish and DirecTV in San Francisco. Neither one has the GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: "LA BOHEME" either tonight or in the future. DirecTV shows it on the national feed tonight but I'm unable to get it due to having access to local PBS station(s!). Why do you do this PBS?!
Jun 27, 2014   |  Reply
 
jim
The problem isn't with PBS. It's your local PBS station that determines when and whether to broadcast this program. I just did a little googling to see when it would be broadcast in the SF area and came up with the following info:
KQED Life: Mon, Jun 30, 2014 -- 7:00pm
KQED Life: Tue, Jul 1, 2014 -- 1:00am
Jun 27, 2014
 
 
 
David
PENNY DREADFUL was INCREDIBLE last night! Eva Green freaked me out, she is an amazing actress. The show just keeps getting better, it's like "True Blood" with class and decent writing.
Jun 23, 2014   |  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.