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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.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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638 Comments
 
 
Keith Robin
Well, you obviously( have you ever recommended a repeat broadcast?) enjoyed the season finale of "Penny Dreadful" as much as I did! It was certainly everything I expected and more, except the loss of a character who was just starting to become more interesting. For a second, I thought about taking him to Dr. Frankenstein, but I was very satisfied with the conclusion. I anxiously await next season of this remarkable show...at least I don't have to wait too long for season two of "The Strain"!
Jul 6, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Wimbledon and the Women's World Cup are certainly 'TV Worth Watching', but once again you have failed to mention the equally exciting Tour de France, which started this year on July 4. Great competition and great scenery for three weeks.
Jul 5, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I saw the daily show live 10 years ago and love that Jon Stewart us just interviewing people he likes and no long goodbye (just some quick montages each week. As for Larry Wilmore his show has gotten so much better since it began.
Jul 2, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Martha
If you are looking for the David Attenborough/Obama interview On Demand it's listed under the show BBC Earth, at least on Comcast.
Jun 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Terry
I appreciate Jon Stewart, but don't watch him much because of the canned laughter, which I can't stand. Apparently there is a studio audience, but its reactions are overwhelmed by the recorded stuff.
Jun 29, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
Why is there so much good TV on Sunday nights?!
Jun 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
EG
Sarah - Larger advertising dollars are to be won since Sunday night commands a large share of viewers -- and those equal income. Networks and cable channels are competing for the biggest pieces of the pie. --EG
Jun 29, 2015
 
 
 
Jay
I let this go last week, but you need to correct the name of the co-start of The Brink. It is not Aziz Ansari but Aasif Mandvi.
Jun 28, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Gail
David, so glad you have Comedians in cars listed today.
It is possibly the richest time of my day when I watch it!
Jun 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dennis
I think David should host a night on TCM and pick his favorite movies and/or TV show episodes. Better would be a weekly spot where he talks about the history surrounding the movie being played as he did for "She". I found the entry very entertaining.
Jun 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Bob
I was surprised Mr. Robot didn't make your Best Bets today. Though the name of the show makes it sound so unappealing, I was struck by how many really good reviews it got. I haven't seen it yet, do you know something I should be aware of?
Jun 24, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
>> "Decades ago, [Bernie Sanders'] presence [on Bill Maher's show] would have invoked the Equal Time Rule, and Maher would have to interview everyone running for President this time, if they wanted to come on his show after Sanders’ appearance..." <<

Sorry, not true. The Equal Time Rule only applied to over-the-air broadcast TV and radio, which had to abide by the Communications Act and FCC regulation. HBO was never subject to any of these, being an opt-in pay service on a closed channel. This would have been true on his old ABC program Politically Incorrect (had that show been in production a few years earlier), but not Maher's current Real Time show on HBO.
Jun 19, 2015   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
I appreciate your comment, Neil. I worked in FCC Compliance in a former life so I should have caught the mistake; my apologies. The Equal Time rule is still in effect. An old FCC interpretation of what's called the Zapple Doctrine is the part that is no longer in play. You're correct that the rule applies to broadcast radio and television but it also applies to cable systems. I'm guessing, however, that many cable networks would trigger the rule themselves if they were ever in such a position. It's the safer option for them. (There was even concern about TNT running 'Law & Order' episodes with Fred Thompson when he became a qualified candidate for president in 2008.) If HBO were covered by Equal Time, they'd probably request a "bona fide news program" qualification for Maher's program...and no doubt receive it. Ironically, the qualification would exempt the show from the rule! Thank you again.
Jun 19, 2015
 
 
 
Neil
Folks, you changed the timing of the "carousel of stories" at the top of the landing page. It used to be about 5 seconds, not quite enough to read the thumbnails, but close. As of today it's 2 or 3 seconds, and much too fast to read before it rotates. Please unfix it.
Jun 18, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Dear Mr. Bianculli. Know you wrote a book entitled Dangerously Funny about the Smothers Brothers. I am trying to locate a video copy of the Honey House tour satire. Do you know the season and episode. Seems no longer available on Google search or Youtube. Any ideas?

Thank you,

Harold Reed,
305-865-2000
1111 Kane Concourse, Suite # 311
Bay Harbor Islands, FL 33154-2041
Jun 17, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Sorry about the multiple posts. I kept getting the message that my comment couldn't be sent, so I'd retype the verification word or my email or my name and try again.
Jun 17, 2015   |  Reply
 
EG
Jan - we're experiencing some technical problems with the comments area. Comments get posted but are disappearing until the page is refreshed. Things should be corrected shortly. Thank you for letting us know! --EG
Jun 17, 2015
 
 
 
jan
I'm so excited about seeing "Deutschland 83." Glad you are recommending it as some people are put off by subtitles, but I love them. I'd much rather see movies--or TV--in the original language.
Jun 17, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Deborah
Darn I want to like Proof because the subject matter interests me and TNT normally gives things a chance to catch on (unlike NBC-I am still wondering what "The Event" actually was) but you are probably right that it will be cancelled.
Jun 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
NJ
David, you missed the best bet today...Blackhawks wiining the Stanley Cup!
Jun 16, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sam Hat
Youtube comment regarding "Game of Thrones" recent scene where a little girl is burned to death at the stake:

"THIS... is why IS -- and most of the rest of the world -- hates the United States. Because THIS is what we consider... "entertainment." Murder. Torture. Rape. Disembowelment. Castration. And burning little girls to death at the stake.

And... if YOU watch this television program... for "fun"?

YOU. Are what is profoundly WRONG with this country.

And may God damn you to Hell for it."


I personally find it hard to disagree.

This program is torture-porn. And not much else.

Thanks for your time.
Jun 13, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Sarah
I just watched last night Wayward Pines and you were right about the "answers" I've never used your words even when I agree but unbelievable and disappointing are the only words to describe that dribble. I don't know what answers I wanted but that wasn't it.
Jun 12, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Gail
Why is Melissa Macarthy never mentioned for her best role in Gilmore Girls?
Everything she has done
since then pales in comparison.
Jun 8, 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.