WEDNESDAY
DECEMBER 6
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Comedy Central, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s new episode is called “Splatty Tomato,” and has the President scaring the children of South Park. It’s not that President but expect lots of topical comedy shots anyway.

 
  
 
 

Syfy, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: I’m a fan of Christopher Meloni’s, and I’m also a fan of Patton Oswalt’s. So the news that these two have combined for a weird new Syfy series, based on a graphic novel, sounded like a promising prospect. But based on the first two episodes of Happy!, this new series is an extremely acquired taste – and, I admit, one I have yet to acquire. Meloni plays an ex-cop turned hit man, in a seedy and deadly environment where a young girl is kidnapped by a killer Santa. She dispatches her imaginary friend, a cuddly flying little blue unicorn named Happy, to get help – and that help is in the form of Meloni, making for the most misfit buddy-cop duo since Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. But for starters, Happy! is much too intent on being weird for its own sake. It’s worth a try, in case it’s more to your tastes than mine – but with a loud warning shot attached. For full reviews, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower and Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes.
 
  
 
 

USA, 10:00 p.m. ET

This season began with more mysteries and questions than solutions. But now, as we’re slowly starting to get some clarification on some issues and plot lines, I’m not sure it’s all gelling the way it should.

 
  
 
 

TBS, 10:30 p.m. ET

What a week. Again. And this week, Samantha Bee is on duty, so she’ll be able to comment on it all.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
 Website (optional)
 
PGLDR
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 77  | Go to page: 
1525 Comments
 
 
Tammy
Someone was tired out by watching the Emmys last night: " a sizzling Lena Horne. (Armstrong sizzled too, but by blowing his horn; Horne did it by singing and dancing.)"-c'mon, there are multiple options for great puns. Only a small fraction of those are dirty.
Sep 18, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
Interesting de ja vu description of Better Call Saul
Sep 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
So many reason not to see or even consider the Emmys ,"so let's see what happens And who wins." Sorry,Emmys mean nothing if they aren't inclusive. Even with Che & Jost,pass. New SNL's soon. Emmys,Grammies,Oscars & Tonys- an EGOT is like the winner on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
Sep 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
Walter
Mac, T.V. is your life, what are you saying?
Sep 17, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
TCM is remembering Burt Reynolds with a Tribute airing 12/26. With that advanced time frame,they put together 6 decent titles. Well,maybe 5 and 1/2.
8PM-Smokey & the Bandit-In theaters now-really.
10PM-Deliverance-One scary masterpiece.
Midnight-The Longest Yard-The original, not the sad remake.
2:15AM-Hooper-A personal favorite.
4:15AM-Smokey II Well,indulge TCM.
No "Boogie Nights" but that might be a little beyond even TCM Underground.
Sep 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
As a fan since the premier of Season One, I could not agree with you more concerning NBC's last-minute effort to excite new viewers about "The Good Place"! If they really wanted to attract new viewers, they should have started rerunning both seasons weeks ago so the game of catch-up would have concluded as the third season premiered. Oh, I'm sorry, that sounds like something HBO and Showtime have been doing forever. It's great that Netflix has both seasons available to binge-watch, but not everyone has Netflix. And they wonder why network TV is less popular than cable and streaming.
Sep 13, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Adding on to DB's Best Bet for The Good Place today, Netflix has the entire Season 1 and Season 2 package, 26 episodes in all, available for streaming right now. Season 2 just came online a week or two ago. (Since the episodes, stripped of commercials, only run 20-21 minutes each, you can catch up on an entire season in about three hours of "couch potato" time. Which I did last week.) IMHO, this is a really smart comedy, with a lot of "low-and-inside" humor that requires you to pay attention.
Sep 13, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Near forgot that Sam Bee returned for what appears to be an energized show(titles,OK-new set,meh) for the mid-terms. Sam partnered with techies to create a humor-filled political-themed trivia app,awarding cash prizes,to invigorate the youngins' to learn,laugh,and,hopefully,register & vote. First game started as the show ended. Crashed due to heavy traffic. Rescheduled for tonight(11PM?). I don't app or social media,but I always vote,so they don't need me. I was one of the first bunch when the voting age dropped to 18,going on a streak of any Presidential nomination I voted for,lost,save 2012. A reminder that her show is rerun Sat. @11PM.
Sep 13, 2018   |  Reply
 
Frank Dracman
What?
Sep 13, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
A fun time-killer on You Tube is revisiting "Fall Preview" shows from the networks from decades past(going back to the '50s). Best parts,for me,are the shows that bombed,with proof. "Music Scene","The New People"-kinda like "Lost,1969,"Harold Robbins' 'The Survivors' "-awful. But,also "Marcus Welby","Brady Bunch", "Room 222" & "Love,American Style",as well as the Burt Bacharach theme for 'The ABC Movie of the Week",aka "Nikki",written for his troubled daughter.
Tonight,@10PM, "Brooklyn Nine Nine Presents NBC Fall 2018" A sitcom canceled by Fox,but owned by NBC's parent,explores what a night of Dick Wolf Chicago shows will look like,back-to-back-to-back. Also,"Manifest",kinda "Lost",but found 2018. BTW, new Brooklyn episodes don't show up till early 2019,after something on the schedule stumbles.
Sep 11, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Two oddities take up TCN's Sunday-a good scheduling time before TCM's Silent Sundays,\ since both are centered on silent films. 8PM-Dawson City:Frozen Time brings footage of presumed lost movies that were literally unearthed during excavation in 1975. Outside of water damage,much was preserved and there are bits and pieces of film long thought lost. Dawson City was the end of the line for these films' distribution,hence the title. Lots of surprises.
10:15PM-Fragments-more bits,more pieces of lost film,including an Oscar-winning performance, and a John Ford trailer from 1922. Not only footage of child star Baby Peggy,but an interview with her in 2010. Peggy,now Diana Serra Cary,is still with us and turns 99 next month. Baby Peggy was a child star along side Jackie Coogan(yes, Uncle Feater in TV's Addams Family) and Baby Marie. Baby Peggy starred in over 150 shorts and earned $1.5 million in movies alone. By the '30s-poor and just bit parts.
Sep 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
Tammy
I love every time a single film draws together connections and creates a further set of nodes along a giant web. Dawson literally offers a whole new sense of place. Klondike was an ice cream bar and a word that appeared next to "Gold Rush", but had never seemed any more concrete than Brigadoon, or a slightly fictional setting for a silent movie or comic book. But to learn it is more deeply connected to history through a brothel owned by Fred Trumpf (Donny's grandfather) & where theater owners Sid Grauman and Alexander Pantages got their start.
Also, wondering if Carl Barks is related to Ed Bark of Uncle Barky's Bytes on this very site?
Sep 10, 2018
 
 
Mac
I could watch that Dawson City doc at least once a year.
I'm a fan of the Uncle Scrooge comic books invented by Carl Barks.Scrooge made his fortune in Dawson City in "Back to The Klondike",one of the key Barks stories. Barks also created complex personalities for nephew Donald and his three nephews. Later,Don Rosa did a 12 part back story(and some side stories) that eventually centered on Scrooge finding Klondike gold and meeting up with Glittering Goldie O'Duck,his unrequited love,based on the real life Klondike Kate Rockwell. Both Barks and Rosa used real life events and geography(Barks often used the National Geographic for backgrounds)in their stories, making readers believe a universe populated with talking ducks,dogs and other animals was quite possible. Some of the animated DuckTales,both versions, use the comic book stories as touchstones for new adventures. For decades Disney cared little about Barks and hid credits from the comic books. Carl Barks-The Good Duck Artist.
Sep 10, 2018
 
 
Tammy
Thanks for pointing these out, Mac! Films from 2016 and 2010 had me curious. One of the most intriguing elements of Dawson, in addition to its miraculous origin story of accidental preservation, is the STYLE of the film. The story of the town and its boom and bust gold rush luck reveal elements nugget by nugget, with a non traditional and haunting score. 533 reels were found, revealing scenes from over 300 lost films, and and an amazing amount are featured. Even the bits which reveal decay or damage lend an otherworldly quality and their own sense of art and serendipity. I was riveted & transported. Does every generation see themselves and their version of reality depicted in their films?
Sep 10, 2018
 
 
 
Erin
Small correction: Jim Carrey had a prominent role on Fox's "In Living Color" in the 1990s for several years.
Sep 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
Tjogil
Haha - was about to angrily email DB about this
Sep 10, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Charlie Dent on Bill Maher. This guy was the House Rep for my area,till he left in May. Weird, as he has become a CNN go-to guy largely because he doesn't foam at the mouth. Politics Plus 2018-doesn't foam. Meanwhile,Charlie's district was changed over gerrymandering charges with voters now electing his replacement in the old district,serving till Jan. 2019,and electing a rep for the new district,serving till 2020. Got it? Good,'cause we don't. On the Reps side-Olympic Gold medalist. On the Dems- City controller. The city controller is getting outside big bucks;the Olympian, not so much,having just cleared sexual harassment charges. Soon,bigger money coming in on both sides. A big close race looed on national level.Paging Steve Kornacki!
Sep 7, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
Mr. President,wake up. Obama finished his speech. Oh,and wipe that drool from your red tie. What is that? Enomynous covfefe? Russian dressing? Diet Coke & KFC mixed with chocolate cake & ice cream? Mr. President,don't lick that tie! You don't know where it was last!
Sep 7, 2018
 
 
Walter
Zzzzzzzzzz
Sep 7, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Wonder if they got ahold of Sean Wyeth,believed to be the bastard son of Andy? has lived local(Lehigh Valley) for years. Story rings true.
Sep 7, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Tammy
Just before Mockingbird, at 8pm, there is another great Broadway/Hollywood piece, A Raisin in the Sun. A few nights ago, TCM showed an amazing silent film in prime time, 1920's Within Our Gates, known as the response to Birth of a Nation (1915), directed by Oscar Micheaux. It is the oldest known surviving film made by an African American director. Mark Twain wrote about race, TCM is talking about it and offering perspectives from people's own voices. The past isn't dead. it isn't even past.
Sep 6, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
If you love "It's The Great Pumpkin,Charlie Brown",know that the soundtrack has never been available and thought long lost. But 10/5 a CD & vinyl LP come out. While kinda short(around 20 min.) and including some sound effects that cannot be excised(but no voices nor narration),these versions of "Linus & Lucy" & "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" are part of your DNA if you've been a fan,like me,for over 50 years. In 1966 I put a battery operated tape machine under the TV & recorded the show on a noisy,speed varied 3" tape that was my only source for decades. Not a limited edition,but interest in this title,especially vinyl, could be high first time around,so pre-orders are being taken. This is what October sounds like if you have ever jumped into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker. Listen while enjoying a Coke and a pack of Raspberry Zingers.
Sep 5, 2018   |  Reply
 
a
Mac, Since I spent my childhood in northern Wisconsin I'm not sure where I got the Orange Crush love from but I've always had a fondness for the Deep South so maybe that's why. As to not being able to enjoy junk food anymore and other various "childhood" pursuits I like to say, I'm sure glad I did it when I could! :)
Sep 12, 2018
 
 
Mac
I used the Coke/Zingers reference as they were the original sponsors of the Peanuts specials. Their billboards bracketing the shows have been excised from both broadcast & home video.
Orange Crush &a Moon Pie? I am familiar with the RC Cola & Moon Pie song and its southern roots. An Orange Crush instead of an RC seems to bring it to the Deep,Deep South. My Philly roots would be a Frank's Black Cherry Wisniak & a pack of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets(in the original wax paper packaging,so as to lick the icing from the paper),but diabetes eliminates any of these wonderfully junkie choices.
Sep 6, 2018
 
 
Angela
Or maybe a Orange Crush and a Moon Pie, and I love this, "This is what October sounds like if you have ever jumped into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker."
Sep 5, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Fun fact:Dean Martin's "Ain't That A Kick In The Head",never charted and music maven Bob Furmanek suggests many radio stations found the lyrics "too suggestive" and refused airplay.This was 1960. Furmanek and his brother Ron were the first to discover a stereo version...in 1989. This info from the Capitol CD:Dean Martin-Collector's Series. Folks finding any of these late '80s-early '90s Capitol Collector Series CDs-do not pass up! Well written notes and probably at least one surprise in every entry. The Sinatra entry is essential! The Martin CD, has only 3 stereo cuts because they were the only ones recorded in stereo. For decades,folks picking up Martin Capitol hit collections after mono was eliminated(around 1968)only heard rechanneled phony stereo versions. Some think these sound like the artist was "singing in the bathtub".
Sep 5, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
JP
It sounds like a nit pick, but wouldn’t the Ruth Bader Ginsburg be RBG?
Sep 4, 2018   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Oops. Typo. Thank you, JP.
Sep 4, 2018
 
 
 
Angela
Speaking of Clancy, for one of the best spy series to ever grace your screen (in my humble opinion) please see, The Bureau, found on Sundance and Amazon. It's a clever character study wrapped up in a fascinating spy story with really cool technology I had no idea existed. Edge of your seat tension but not really an action series per se. That's the best I can describe it.
Sep 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Tammy
Again, TCM breaks my heart. Are they trying the anointers of “modern classics”? Are they trying to sneak in/transition into more modern fare? To what end? They excel at creating a dialogue between the past & present by bringing in modern performers as guest programmers & narrators. By showing recent films AT ALL, they become just another cable channel.
Also, this is the official "transition" day for DECADES-whose programming had brought Ed Sullivan and Laugh In back into circulation. Writing as someone who was not alive during initial broadcast, Decades seemed like a gift. Replacing it will be programming solely devoted to the female detective genre (?) which is more a mashup of Law & Order and female viewership numbers. Algorithms don't take into account one thing that keeps viewers coming back, a sustained curiosity factor. This programming is only serving comfort food, which will only comfort the executives for the upcoming fiscal quarter, not the long term.
Sep 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
The Decades/Start TV channel gets more confusing around here. Indeed 9/3 saw the Start TV schedule on the cable position for Decades. 9/5-back to Decades.Today-Decades. Getting in contact with the cable system is worthless;there is still a closed caption scrw up with the Fx & FXx channels:sometimes we can read the CC,sometimes not.Finger pointing on both sides. Result-these channels are unreliable and,as such, are as worthless as the many QVC shills, religious channels and unwanted sports channels that make up my cable bill. We are not in a position to cut cable,but,recently I was in their office to pay a bill and saw a newly disgruntled customer returning stuff in a paper bag. I envied the guy and said so for all to hear.
Sep 6, 2018
 
 
Mac
CBS/Weigel is indeed replacing Decades with Start TV and yes,the emphasis is on procedural crime centered on female heroes. Medium,The Closer,Cold Case & The Division make up about half of the scheduled day. Weekends change little. Hints that "The Good Wife" may show up at some time. Hope. Branded as "Start TV",this means nothing(the all track & field channel,horseracing?)so if this venture does not succeed,they won't have to change the name. Lessons learned from WE,Spike not to brand yourself into a corner. Local cable is still listing "Decades" for the next two weeks,at least,but it indeed "Decades" flipped to "Start TV" today. Catheter Cowboy ads are still in place.
Sep 3, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
9/3 TCM has a treat but poor scheduling choice. While folks are squeezing the last seconds of summer,there is a George Clooney tribute tonight,all premieres,I think. All from the 21st Century. Really. TCM.
8PM & 11:30PM-AF Tribute to Clooney. Lots of clips,lots of bon mots and great formal wear.
9PM-O,Brother,Where Art Thou?The most popular of Coen Bros. movies and a modern masterpiece. My DVD is fullscreen,so watching this in widescreen is a must. Hopefully,TCM shows this another time,possibly alongside the music documentary,Down From the Mountain,with performances from many of the soundtrack stars. A potential Sun. night double bill. Soundtrack sales brought about a surge of interest in Americana/bluegrass/old timey music.
1AM-Up In The Air-Jason Reitman's(Ivan's kid)take on modern business and modern love. Anna Kendrick steals the film.
Sep 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
9/1 brings back TCM's regular schedule,and Noir Alley Sat. @ midnight & Sun.@10AM. Host Eddie Muller's intros are informative and entertaining. I love the spot where Eddie pours his lukewarm Sat. night alkyhol into his Sun. morning coffee cup-pure noir! And,of course, filmed in black and white. This evening's selection,"The Locket",is a great way to welcome back Eddie. Got flashbacks? Want some more? Odd,possibly the best noir of them all,Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" is on @ noon,sandwiched between TCM Sat. matinee fare of cowboys & sci-fi. Enjoy, kiddies- ask Mom & Dad what the father from "The Shaggy Dog" is up to. Can Moochie help Good 'Ol Dad again?
BTW,DI shows up on Noir Alley 12/30,kicking off New Year's Eve-that's a belated Christmas present worth unwrapping.
Sep 1, 2018   |  Reply
 
Tammy
I actually don't begrudge Warner/AT&T trying to make money-in fact, I'm tremendously disappointed that they do so without TRULY knowing their audience or their unique value proposition. TCM is perfectly situated to help deepen its audiences' curiosity and knowledge. Not just in its programming, but in the commentaries that point to other movies and performers. They have access to almost 100 years of film in their wheelhouse but oddly enough, they aren't thinking big. The photos/clips that accompany Muller's commentaries are fascinating, he offers a full perspective into a film and more: historical context as well as background on actors/writers/directors. Free tshirts or a wine subscription are mere concessions (pun intended) to what they think movie-goers want (and are willing to pay for).
Sep 2, 2018
 
 
Mac
Tammy,your points all hold value. If Eddie would take the gas off the pedal a bit,he would fit the TV screen. Hot/cool personas go back to the early days of TV when Perry Como outpaced Frank Sinatra for the small screen. The sweater was accepted while the tuxedo had difficulty getting into the living room.
And ,agreed, Ben does his Ben-stuff just fine. Rather than a Robert Osborne wanna be,he brings a perspective of a man of the world with a Hollywood pedigree.
As for Alicia and Dave-it may take time for acceptance. Like good talk show hosts,it may take years for them to gain hearts.
Meanwhile, Warner(in effect,AT&T),tries to monetize a channel with no ads,no interruptions by looking for every quarter under the sofa.The wine,tours,Backlot and Filmstruck are great choices if you got the dough.
Sep 2, 2018
 
 
Tammy
Agreed, Muller is probably VERY affable in person. I just feel like he is trying too hard to establish a "character". Which is, granted, a subtle and difficult nuance for a TV personality. Ben Mankiewicz literally just did a riff on what the HR department of a pirate ship would sound like-idiosyncratic and HYSTERICAL asides within a commentary. The other 2 hosts have yet to even consider personality OR how to craft an intriguing introduction (they have literally talked me OUT of watching movies). Muller is just a bad actor, trying to turn up the volume on his "personality" without any self awareness of his own schtick. Like a B-movie star, he hits his marks, reads his lines and isn't even aware that he's giving a one note performance.
Sep 2, 2018
 
 
Mac
My oldest got to see Muller at a couple of noir festivals in Portland,Or.. He said that Eddie was even entertaining on dull subjects(to him) like the inside scoops concerning studios. Me,I eat that kind of stuff right up. Studio heads with grudges punishing stars,companies needing a low-budget hit to pay for big budget screw ups-what fun! For me,he comes across as a guy I could sit at a bar and listen all night over a few brews,knowing that Eddie's taste goes far beyond beer and those chilled,err,shilled wines. I would try a bottle of the Marx Bros. wine,but knowing if it was labeled "Imported from Italy",it would only be Chico cheating me for a cheap muscatel. Probably made with grapes stomped by a barefoot Harpo(as he made lemonade in "Duck Soup" while Groucho dropped some cigar ash in for color.
Sep 1, 2018
 
 
Tammy
I REALLY love Noir, and I'm happier than I should be at the prospect of it returning to its regular weekend spot on TCM. But there is something smarmy about Eddie Muller, like he is one of the characters in a badly plotted detective story. He spouts exposition that I actually AM interested in, except I just can't get over his delivery. Plus the fact he shows up with the Darlingtons, shilling wine. If I were stuck in a movie with him, I wouldn't trust him with a plug nickle.
Sep 1, 2018
 
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 77  | Go to page: 
 
 

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.