THURSDAY
JANUARY 19
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: In case you haven’t watched any of the previous seasons of this program, know two things. One, that it covers team play of various countries working their way to the Olympic games. Two, that curling is one of the most oddly soothing and hypnotically addicting competition events on television – right up there with darts and putting sheepdogs through their paces, but you have to watch British TV to see that stuff most of the time. This coverage of curling, that strange hybrid of shuffleboard and bowling on ice, became an Olympic sport in 1998, which is when David Letterman started making fun of it, and I started watching it in earnest, courtesy of Olympic coverage from Canada’s CBC. Tonight. For the season opener, men’s curling teams compete, representing the U.S. and China.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: The final two episodes of this season’s The Good Place are presented tonight – each with a cliffhanger that makes you wonder where the story, with Kristen Bell’s Eleanor trying to stay in a heavenly afterlife to which she’s been sent mistakenly, possibly will go next. After the first episode, at 8 p.m. ET, is over, you have to wait only a few minutes, and wade through a few commercials, to learn the answer. But after the 8:30 p.m. ET season finale is over, the questions linger. Questions like, will there be a season two? The show has lost almost half its audience since premiering last fall – but as an extended miniseries-type comedy, it’s been very satisfying. Creatively, it’s earned a renewal. But how much of a premium does NBC put on creativity right now?

 
  
 
 

CBS, 9:01 p.m. ET

It’s no secret that Mom star Anna Faris has slept with the guest star of tonight’s episode, or that it’s how he got the role. But there’s no scandal or shame involved. The guest star in question is Chris Pratt – and he’s not only the former co-star of Parks and Recreation, and the breakout movie star of Guardians of the Galaxy, but he’s the husband of Anna Faris. And tonight, on Mom, he plays the new boyfriend of Faris’ Christy. But don’t expect the romance to last. His career’s too hot for that. I’m referring, to be clear, to their Mom roles, not their relationship in real life. On the real-world front, I wish them nothing but good tidings.

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Zach Galifianakis plays two roles on Baskets, which returns on FX tonight to begin its second season. Yet the actor getting the most attention last year was Louie Anderson, who won an Emmy for playing the role of a mom. Specifically, the mother of the twins played by Galifianakis. Both comic actors are doing something truly special here, and delicately subtle. Baskets has been described as a “slapstick drama,” and that’s pretty damned close. Watch it and see… For full reviews, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower and Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes.
 
  
 
 

Spike, 10:00 p.m. ET

I don’t normally steer readers in the direction of this show, but tonight’s Lip Sync Battle features a duel that’s truly worth checking out, if only because it seems too entirely improbable. The battle is between two former network late-night talk-show hosts, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson, both of whom have a little more time on their hands than they used to. But the musical selections performed in competition here are both telling and jarring: Leno, for example, dons a leather jacket to swagger his way through Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz.”

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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2128 Comments
 
 
Ben Dover
Kellby,

Please, don't quit your day job! LOL!
May 11, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
kellby kitson
hi my name is kellby kitson and I have a tv show idea called the wizard of pause cause zone, and it's about wondering if your own world is going to end or not?. and structure like the movie the wizard of oz, but it's like goosebumps meets are you afraid of the dark? and makes stranger things.
May 10, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
kellby kitson
hi my name is kellby kitson and I have a idea for entertainment,

-Facebook explains it all- what it means is everything that's going on and your trying to make a point of a whole situation this represents everything in common, and Facebook is just an example.

-in my life- this is for music and maybe film but I think everything artist should use this topic to create songs eventually and for more detail look at a song from Scarface called on my block.
May 5, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Please, please, please come back David. We need show recommendations, not bendera bendera bendera bendera bendera drivel!
May 4, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
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Apr 22, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Please come back Dave. I enjoy your occasional segments on Fresh Air, but I miss your daily guidance
Feb 17, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Leila L'Abate
Deeply enjoying "Sense8." I faithfully watched almost every show in Bianculli's Best Bets, but somehow missed this treasure.

One cannot stress the word "ambitious" enough, with 8 different casts in eight different countries, beautiful cinematography, flooded with light in some scenes, dimmed in darkness in others. Beautifully wide outside vistas and claustrophobic insides...Very colorful world-wide every-episode opening montage that tells us "mind the gap," and "kindness is sexy" painted on signs, telling us two major themes...The characters and this series end up trying to make a difference in the world, speaking and showing us against its greed, wealthy entitlement, narrow-mindedness and cruelty, and sticking up for kindness, care, LGBTQ, poor folks, and diverse folks...

The writing brims with as many ideas as the Matrix movies, and with many societal, mystical, and political ideas that never feel too heavy-handed, but personal...

Mind this show!
Jan 27, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
karyatechno
https://www.karyatechno.com/website-sebagai-aset-digital-bagi-pelaku-umkm/
Jan 18, 2022   |  Reply
 
 
Phillip R. Crabb
Dave, I wish you were still here…

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is being broadcast tonight…the Monday BEFORE Thanksgiving. How many times over the years have we lamented over the complete lack of timing for these multi-generational Christmas classics….

Someone is in charge, once again, who has no sense of tradition. They have mailed it in.

Oh, the humanity…

Phil
Franklin, NJ
Nov 23, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
bharatkhabar
Thank you so much for sharing such a informative and useful blog post. I hope that you and your family will good. I really appreciate you
and your blog post. I like your informative blog. And I wish that you will be sharing this such as informative and motivational blog
as in future

Thank you
Sep 27, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
I have a deal for you David: come back to maintaining this site, but only update with a few recommendations, once per week. In exchange for doing this I promise to never criticize any of your choices. :-)
Aug 17, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Sandra Dandrade
David:
If you are out there.. how are you feeling? Your many fans (myself and my hubby included) miss you and are concerned about you.. Saludos
Aug 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Bridget
Reply to Mary Hagen's 6/22/21 post: That show was "Us" - originally broadcast as 4 pts on BBC, aired as 2 pts on PBS in June. Rather sweet story of the end of a marriage ... many of us might NOT relate to sweetness in those circumstances, but I enjoyed a look at how other people break up. :)
Jul 31, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Me too Mila!

Please come back David, we miss and need you!
Jul 29, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mila
I still keep checking in from time to time hoping this was all some horrible mistake and David will be back telling me what to watch this evening. Good luck and Godspeed, my friend. My life is a little emptier without your daily recommendations.
Jul 14, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Hagan
We started watching a story of the end of a marriage and the decision to go to Europe with their teenage son as had been planned. Can’t find it again. It was not an American-made movie. Does that ring a distant bell. Just watched it last night.
Jun 22, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Stacey Elise Caplin
HELP. There was this phenome of a part fantasy part world building. I must have found it roughly three months ago. Not quite "cartoon" definitely not anime. Summation of what I have seen in the first episode a gifted girl heads out (obvi) to save her world. The production and dialogue far surpassed any T.V show (and so comforting) I have seen recently. I do not engage with cartoons. I am at a loss of where I even discovered it. I have spent time that I could have written the great American novel searching for this show. It is also perfect summer fare. Any help or suggestions on how to narrow my searches would be so appreciated. I do not even recall the network, I do vye for it toreturn into my life.
Jun 17, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
SNL skit showing "NYU" students doing a weak job interviewing "Roommates" wasn't their best. Maimed by overkill shot-taking, ham-handed and stuffed with race-baiting, straight-baiting ...
May 23, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
David, Enjoyed seeing you on CNN's "The Story of Late Night" this passed Sunday night. You looked healthy and your wisdom is always welcome. Hopefully, we'll get to see you in future episodes. With luck they won't be preempted by BREAKING NEWS, which occurred too often in the past.
May 4, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Bridget
For TCM fans who might have missed Mon 5/3/21 replay of Alec Baldwin's 2014 interview of Robert Osborne in honor of RO's birthday, they announced the launch of a new American Film Institute sub-site called The Robert Osborne Collection which has videos of RO's intro/outro comments about many classic films. I miss that guy almost as much as Bianculli, et al, and really appreciate the new resource.
Here is the press release: https://www.afi.com/press/american-film-institute-launches-the-osborne-collection-honoring-legendary-film-historian-and-tcm-host-robert-osborne/ (sorry, I dunno how to make a friendlier link in this setting), which has a link to this video of Ben Mankiewicz talking to The Hollywood Reporter about it: https://thrpresents.hollywoodreporter.com/the-osborne-collection/
Lastly, here is the actual Collection: https://www.afi.com/robert-osborne-collection/
May 4, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

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's also an author and teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University. His 2009 Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', has been purchased for film rights. His latest, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV.