Fox, 8:00 p.m. ET

Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie, is all about the fashion – but Henson, as an actress, is all about the acting, too. That’s why she enjoys throwing herself to the other extreme, and revisiting, in flashbacks, Cookie’s anything but glamorous stint in prison – back when orange was the old orange.


CW, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: The Season 1 premiere of this series began with the discovery of a body, suggesting that this TV adaptation of the Archie comics franchise was going to go to darker places than Pop’s malt shop.  Season 2 of Riverdale, picking up tonight where last season’s cliffhanger ended, has Archie (KJ Apa) investigating the shooting of his own father (Luke Perry) – in, if memory serves, that very malt shop.


AT&T Audience Network, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: This could very well have been the series finale for this series, which heads tonight to a climax with killer Brady embarking on what may be a new murder spree – but AT&T has announced that this series has been renewed, meaning that Stephen King and producer David E. Kelley will continue to adapt his trilogy of tales next year.


PBS, 10:00 p.m. ET

This new edition of Frontline details how the Environmental Protection Agency has shifted agendas, from protecting the environment to – as recently as this week – scaling back its mandated protections. And, as this documentary shows, solving this particular mystery isn’t that tough: This particular caper was an inside job. Check local listings.


CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This is not a recommendation. Dynasty was a giant hit in the 1980s, ABC’s answer to CBS’s soap opera smash Dallas, that it’s not surprising that show was selected for a reboot. However, since this CW version is so squarely aimed at its young demographic, I’m not sure how much momentum will carry over. The new-generation, new-century approach is encapsulated by the fact that the character of Krystle, millionaire Blake Carrington’s young bride (played in the original by Linda Evans), is now spelled Cristal. Like the champagne. She’s played by Nathalie Kelley, seen here with Elizabeth Gillies from Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, who plays Blake’s daughter, Fallon. Blake is played by Grant Show from Melrose Place, but don’t look for the vixenish Sammy Jo, played in the original, in a star-making turn, by Heather Locklear. Sammy Jo is now a guy, played by Rafael de la Fuente. And Alexis, the scene-stealer played in the original by Joan Collins? That character showed up in Season 2 of the old Dynasty, and hasn’t been cast yet. I’d say I can hardly wait, but that’s not true. After seeing the premiere, I can wait just fine. While I’m watching other, much better shows.


USA, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Mr. Robot is back for Season 3. I’d remind you where it left off – but all these months later, I’m still not sure, and less sure of what is or isn’t real on this series. But I’ll be watching, to try and figure it out. Like Legion, this is a series told from the point of view of an entirely unreliable narrator. And it’s fascinating.

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12/13- TCM proved to have surprises as they celebrated the 2017 announcement of the National Film Registry selections for 2017. Leonard Maltin hosted and he is one of the folks who gets to narrow the list each year. A 2011 documentary,These Amazing Shadows,told the story of how films are picked ,filling up the screen with great clips,not all of them the obvious Citizen Kane,Gone with he Wind,etc. After that,one of the films chosen,Ace In The Hole:Billy Wilder's cynical take on media manipulation during headline stories. Wilder predicted Fox News in 1951 but the masses ignored him and the film failed.
Next up,a truly obscure film,Wanda,1970,directed by its star,Barbara Loden. Wanda is a woman with a troubled life. This film also foreshadows much of what is finally being discussed today:abuse,violence,wrong choices and hopelessness. The film,too,has a troubled history,just getting wide recognition this century. The rest of the evening was filled with other films new to the list.
Dec 14, 2017   |  Reply
Re:Pia Zadora-Maybe the awards were for her performance in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians,a film that,thankfully,came out as I was exiting kiddie films. A year or two before and I would have been in line for the 1PM Sat. matinee(an hour of color cartoons,possibly a Three Stooges short,a newsreel and tons of previews-all for thirty five cents,and fifteen cents for a small popcorn,with the promise of going to Confession @ 4PM,in readiness for the 9AM Sunday Mass,a suburban Philly Catholic kid ritual. All true in 1964.
And Pia's nomination reminds me of a comic bluegrass tune John Hartford sang about the awards. Best line:
"I'm gonna see you get that Golden Globes award for both of your...." Look up the rest. Sad,he ever got to perform this on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,though he was indeed singing about a good time. Bah,censors.
Dec 13, 2017   |  Reply
The Deer Hunter is long- I believe 3 plus hours long and I'm always emotionally drained by the end. But I first saw it in 1978 and it's still my favorite movie of all time and it's won a ton of awards. I hope anyone who hasn't seen it yet finds the time for it. You won't regret it. (If I had Cinemax I'd be watching it now.)
Dec 12, 2017   |  Reply
Would love to see you in a televised HHPA reunion performance, David!
Dec 10, 2017   |  Reply
Yea! Stephen Fry on Graham Norton. He's one of my favorites, so should be good.
Dec 9, 2017   |  Reply
A little surprised the season finale of The Orville tonight was not mentioned. With the done season and The Good Place on hiatus until January, Thursday nights won't be as much fun in December.
Dec 7, 2017   |  Reply
Meant, "With the season done..."
Dec 8, 2017
One interesting thing about the TCM Great American Songbook nights is that there will be a number of musicals that don't get a lot of exposure,even on TCM. This evening's offerings are great examples. For me,Betty Garrett's sublime interpretation of There's A Small Hotel from Words & Music is one highlight. TV fans know of Garrett as a comic personality on All In The Family & Laverne & Shirley but she had a great singing voice well suited for the innocent yet eager bride-to-be,a subject that rarely gets mention in the lyrics of millions of love songs.
Dec 7, 2017   |  Reply
Reiny in Berkeley
No sign of Lennon: The New York Years. Comcast is showing "Imagine" which is perfectly fine, but is hardly new.
Dec 6, 2017   |  Reply
George Ashur
I don't understand why this column pimps The Voice to the extent that it does, but largely ignores America's Got Talent every summer, a much more entertaining show.
Dec 5, 2017   |  Reply
George, I should check out America's Got Talent and I'm glad TVWW has "pimped" The Voice because now I'm hooked on it and it's everything they've said it is. Honestly, I feel like I need this show- because sometimes I need a nice show to watch. And I believe music to be healing so that's another plus.
Dec 12, 2017
Frank Dracman
When's the last time you saw ANYTHING cut and interrupted onHBO?
Dec 5, 2017   |  Reply
Wondering how much of the Carol Burnett clip show is what shows up on the infomercial for the mail order DVDs? It seems that the infomercial uses interview footage from previous Burnett clip shows. For those needing more Burnett,MeTV has the half hour versions edited for syndication, M-F,11PM(ET). While not a recommendation,Mama's Family,a spin off series based on Vicki Lawrence's irascible character from Burnett show sketches,is shown on MeTV earlier @ 9 PM. Once again,not a recommendation. There are lots of great sketches from Carol Burnett,but without Burnett & Harvey Korman involvement,I don't allow no Mama 'round here.
Dec 3, 2017   |  Reply
12/2-SNL's guest host, Saoirse(rhymes with inertia,as per Wiki-Sur Sha-use it in conversation and look brilliant) Ronan brings her American/Irish acting chops to live TV. Born in the Bronx,raised in Dublin. Pay attention. She is the Next Big Thing. Find the 2015 film,Brooklyn-luminous! Oh,and SNL features U2 for the music-now second biggest thing from Ireland. Well,maybe third,after a pint of Guinness.
Dec 2, 2017   |  Reply
The first airing of the Rockefeller Center tree lighting on Kate Smith's variety show is interesting in a personal way. I was incubating inside my Mom and made my first "airing" about three weeks later. Was Mom watching Kate? Dunno. The family had a TV then,which became a "second" TV in our basement years later. A tiny screen in a big wooden box,this would be the set that I watched Bandstand(pre-American) and Mickey Mouse Club(according to Mom,created just so she could be make dinner in peace). With a New York setting and Christmas singing,I believe Mom was watching. I hope I quieted down for her to enjoy the show. Also,with the ceremony on Kate Smith's show,here was a moment when a tradition started,not ended,with a fat lady singing. No real offensive to Ms. Smith. I'm a Philly boy,literally born there,raised in the West Philly 'burbs,and know importance of Kate Smith's recording of God Bless America in Flyers pro hockey lore. Like Rocky,there is a statue in Philly.
Nov 30, 2017   |  Reply
Viewers missing Matt Laurer at Rockefeller Center should at least take heart that doctors have ordered Mariah Carey to stay away from performing for a bit,so that is one last minute snafu that won't happen. Keith Olbermann used to have a little fun with the tree lighting and he just signed off of his Resistance videos,but somehow that ain't gonna happen,but it would be fun. Trump has already weighed in( pun intended)on not only Lauer,but his boss,Andy Lack,who has troubles of his own. Has Brain Williams served his time in Purgatory/MSNBC? Does Megyn Kelly have any credibility with Laurer's firing? She doesn't know how to do "light" and Savannah already has the female side of Today,so it has to be a male for balance. This might take a while as the candidate will have some serious vetting to do before a final decision is made. Remember,when the music stops,they have to sit on a chair and not on anyone's lap.
Nov 29, 2017   |  Reply
"Remember,when the music stops,they have to sit on a chair and not on anyone's lap."

Interesting, guess you mean a sexual harasser's lap?
Nov 30, 2017
Still found a way to mess up Matt's name-Lauer. This will be on the final. Olbermann-easy. Lauer-difficult. Hey,I don't do morning talk shows. After recovering from a heart operation and GMA forced in most doctor offices,watching any of that is off limits. NPR's Morning Edition,then the BBC World service or sleep.
Nov 29, 2017
The Rankin/Bass Rudolph story isn't so bad,as Santa legends go. The idea of "misfit" is a potent idea and one that many kids could relate to in 1964(yes,myself included,as I entered my teen years). When things sag,another song or subplot shows up to entertain. Every character in the show is unusual,save for the elves,who kinda look like NY businessmen.
It should be noted that the show existed to sell stuff.The original sponsor,GE's home appliance division,made tons of products: vacuum cleaners,hair dryers,electric knives,coffee makers and more. The ads featured the elves and have been recently restored,though in living black and white and are on You Tube.
In reality,all that stuff was made at GE's massive Appliance Park in Ky. which has its own zip code. At one time,23,000 folks(many unionized) worked there. Today around 4,000,still unionized,making washers,dryers,water heaters,etc. GE sold the appliance division to the Chinese Qingdao Haier in 2016.
Nov 28, 2017   |  Reply
Phillip R. Crabb
Hello David,

Well, here we are again. Classic Christmas show all available on DVD but still compel family viewing on regular broadcast. As even with Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and especially with Charlie Brown Christmas the reminiscence and message continue to put these on the radar even 50 years later.

But, yet again, both are being broadcast before any semblance of Christmas spirit has had any chance to percolate. It's NOVEMBER for crying out loud. These are classic shows, still with significant viewership, and nobody has the common sense in the scheduling office to schedule in some proximity to the holiday they represent?

Back the, the holiday shows would build up in frequency the week before Christmas. Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Grinch....Bob Hope Special, Red Skelton Special. Now they just throw them out there without any apparent thought at all, and dilute classics like Charlie Brown Christmas with related holiday 'spinoffs'. Let's light the Rockfeller Ctr Tree first!
Nov 28, 2017   |  Reply
These shows are aired to sell stuff. When CBC was first aired,Coke was the advertiser. Coke is has prided itself on the slogan:"Thirst knows no season", so conning folks into drinking a cold beverage while temperatures plummet meant that the show could air anytime. It worked. Just ask Don Draper-he wanted to buy the world one. Today ads for gift giving dominate the air and showing them during the diminished effect of Nov. sweeps helps future ad rates. The idea of "last minute gifts" has also changed. Brick and mortar stores have to get bucks in the register as early as possible. Once cyber business goes on overdrive,all they have left is Dec. 26 clearance and gift cards. Throw in a couple of warm Winters, with little need for bundle up clothing, and folks who do all shopping online and you can see why the local mall is passe. Linus may be right but that message is surrounded by the poison that depressed good 'ol Charlie Brown decades ago.
Nov 30, 2017
Whatever happened to Laurel & Hardy's 'Babes in Toyland' and original 'King Kong' on Thanksgiving? (I could be wrong but I also remember 'Mighty Joe Young' & 'Cricket In Times Square')
Nov 24, 2017   |  Reply
I guess I missed it yesterday....just assumed it wasn't showing anywhere.
Nov 24, 2017
L&H's March of the Wooden Soldiers(probably the Babes In Toyland that you are thinking about) was on T-giving Day twice where it usually spools-NYC's WPIX,11, and will show up again 12/25 on WPIX.
Nov 24, 2017
Remember when CBS showed multiple municipal Thanksgiving parades? Online research shows that the parades were originally Gimbel's from Philly,Macy's in NYC,Hudson's in Detroit and Eaton's Santa Claus Parade from Toronto(evidently that one was taped). Captain Kangaroo & his friends hosted. Loads of toy ads.
A favorite part of jJan Shepherd's A Christmas Story is the arrival of Santa after the town's parade with all of the confusion,happiness and drama surrounding kid-dom in the U.S.
Nov 23, 2017   |  Reply
Oops. Sorry about the sloppy editing,Jean. RIP.Though your life was full of sadness,you brought much humor and insight with your monologues.
Nov 23, 2017
Mary Bolduc
Trying to list ways in which Charles Manson-led killings were uniquely Californian. So far I have:
Formed cult
Attacked famous people, or the "Beautiful People"
Inspired by, and inspired, media
Nov 20, 2017   |  Reply
Just an added note about the passing of Manson. One important takeaway is that Manson was a wily manipulator,with hopes that the murder spree would set off a race war. Jump to 2017-manipulation(aka Fake news),race baiting,anti-Muslim hatred(also a Manson fear from his prison days). As the song goes:"when will we ever learn?
Nov 24, 2017
Angela Siegfried
To Tom: Mac? At first I thought you were referring to Mary. Makes more sense to me. I mean, why dwell on the Charles Manson murders, anyway? Not that I know much about them. And granted, it seems Hollywood is as much being dwelled on as is Charles Manson but, either way. It's like a, reason to be angry list. Oh, and Mary? I apologize if I'm off way off base here. I'm sure I missed something.

I originally came here to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving so, Happy Thanksgiving!

ps: Mac, thanks so much for this quote, "Few stories,outside of "fables", involve lions or tigers or bears manipulating other animals to do the dirty work." I don't know why but sometimes I just need to hear, it's all going to be ok. :) Too much attempted visionary thinking I suppose.
Nov 23, 2017
Mac, are you always angry?
Nov 21, 2017
Uniquely Californian? Check out Boston's Mel Lyman's cult from around the same time. So,uniquely American? Cults are everywhere. I'll grant you Manson indeed craved evil on some name folk for attention,but he basically only knew Beach Boys Dennis,Carl & Brian Wilson, and Doris Day's son,Terry Melcher,hardly A-list celebrities. Biggest media inspiration? The Beatles' White Album. How about uniquely human? Few stories,outside of "fables", involve lions or tigers or bears manipulating other animals to do the dirty work. Let's get the BBC Natural History folk to explore it all in an 8 part series. David Attenborough's narration is preferred.
Nov 21, 2017
Is there a mention here of the final season of Longmire dropping tonight on Netflix?
Nov 17, 2017   |  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.