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SUNDAY
MARCH 19
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Various Networks, 12:00 p.m. ET

So here we go… Today’s games begin at noon ET, with CBS coverage of the Midwest’s Michigan (seeded No. 7) vs. Louisville (No. 2), who thus far have advanced against lower-seeded teams. Next, at 2:40 p.m. ET, is the South’s No. 2 seed, Kentucky, facing No. 10 Wichita State, one of only a handful of double-digit seeds to make it into the second round. The CBS coverage continues at 5:15 p.m. ET with the Midwest’s No. 1 seed, Kansas, battling No. 9 Michigan State – and then, the action spreads to other networks. South’s No. 1 seed, North Carolina, faces Arkansas at 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT. Midwest’s No. 3 seed, Oregon, faces No. 11-seeded Rhode Island at 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS. The East’s No. 3 seed, Baylor, faces another No. 11 seed, USC, at 7:45 p.m. ET on truTV.  The East’s No. 2 seed, Duke, battles No. 7 seed South Carolina at 8:40 p.m,. ET on TNT. And I think that’s it. Good luck finding the games (I hope this helps) – and if you’re rooting for your home team, good luck there, too.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 1of The Circus was subtitled Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth. For Season 2, the subtitle is slightly different, for the focus is on governance, not campaigning. But the behind-the-scenes political insights and coverage by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and co-creator Mark McKinnon are just as valuable – and these Circus animals are now attempting to offer same-week coverage of the President Donald Trump administration, with a news cycle that, if anything, is even more hectic and complicated. Fasten your seat belts… It’s Washington, D.C., in mid-March 2017, and The Circus is in town.

 
  
 
 

AMC, 9:00 p.m. ET

There was, indeed, a sudden death on The Walking Dead last week, after a relative though short-lived lull. What was less surprising than who died was the manner of death, and the person doing the killing – but that all sets up tonight’s escalation of tensions, when the Saviors pay a surprise visit to the Hilltop.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is episode 5, and things are getting more and more roiled up, like the seaside surf this miniseries keeps returning to as a mood-setter. And nothing in Big Little Lies is more frothy or intense than the troubled marriage between Celeste and Perry, played by Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s Homeland ended with gunplay, and with one character dead and another very nearly killed. And that only adds to the paranoia of the surviving characters, who seem poised in this episode to reunite and to band together – but against whom?

 
  
 
 

ABC, 10:00 p.m. ET

American Crime continues with the second episode of its third season, once again telling an extended, separate story, and once again allowing many of its recurring players, including the very talented Felicity Huffman (pictured), to take on different looks, roles, and attitudes. This season, she’s a blonde – but I’m not expecting that to mean that, as the vintage hair-color TV ad used to claim, she’s about to have more fun.

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are terrific as, respectively, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in tonight’s Episode 3 of Feud: Bette and Joan, which delves in deeply into the on-set battles between the two actresses during the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? And what happens tonight is that those fights become physical as well as psychological. For a great feature on this miniseries' opening graphics title sequence, see Eric Gould's current Video Worth Watching.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 11:00 p.m. ET

For a political fix, and perspective, tonight, start on Showtime with The Circus, and end on HBO with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Both shows are likely to teach you something – and both shows, I suspect, are well aware of both the importance and unpredictability of their current subjects.

 
  
 
 

MGM HD, 12:25 a.m. ET

In this 1988 psychological vampire black comedy, Nicolas Cage gives a bravely larger-than-life, larger-than-death performance as a man who comes to believe he’s been stalked, and eventually turned, by a seductive female vampire. Like Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which rewarded fans with deep knowledge of the horror films he was spoofing, Vampire’s Kiss alludes, visually and comically, to many previous films in the genre, starting with the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu. This is the film where Cage commits to his craft by eating a live cockroach on camera, which I’ve never forgotten. But most of all, I’ve never forgotten the performance by Jennifer Beals as the “is-she-or-isn’t-she?” vampire dominating Cage’s imagination. As the embodiment of both his fears and desires, she’s equally spellbinding.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1105 Comments
 
 
Ken
Thanks for your thoughts Dave... makes sense. Honored you remember me and my know I've been following you for years and years! And as a fellow UF alumnus, go Gators tonite! Ken
Mar 24, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
Dave, why do you always put the basketball games in your Best Bets? Any fan of college BB already knows this and others could care less.
Mar 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
As wonderful as the BBC's Planet Earth II has livened Sat. nights,I just researched the ongoing story about Great Britain's naming contest for their Antarctic research vessel. Internet jokesters won the numbers with naming it Boaty McBoatface but the ship was officially named for naturalist Sir David Attenborough,superb narrator for the Planet Earth series. Meanwhile, an online petition raised over 2,000 signatures requesting Sir David to change his name to Sir Boaty McBoatface. Add to the story,there will be an actual Boaty McBoatface on the ship. You can look it up,but you can't make it up.
On this Pi Day(no pie for this diabetic),3/14,while Blizzard Stella(paging Marlon Brando) is burying my area with an 18 hr. snowstorm,this makes perfect sense.
Mar 14, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
Madeleine's constantly absent husband is Sam Loomis. That was the name of Marion Crane's lover in Psycho. He and Marion's sister Lila show up at the Bates Motel investigating Marion's disappearance.
Mar 14, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Many, many thanks for the heads up regarding the Cream concert on AXS-TV. As a long-time fan, it is one more nugget for my cache of "golden" treasures from the artists that have become lifetime favorites!
Mar 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Here, here!
Mar 12, 2017
 
 
 
Robert Steinberg
I was at your lecture last evening and wanted to thank you for an illuminating event.. You didn't pick the obvious /low hanging fruit and gave one much to mull over.. I have enjoyed and used your recommendations for a long while and wanted to thank you for shining a bright light on our pop culture. Rob
Mar 10, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Jimmy Stewart was not in "North by Northwest." Perhaps you meant "Rear Window"?
Mar 10, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Sue
Thanks Zeke. Maybe someday Angela as a "woman" will come around and see what the word rape represents and realize it shouldn't be used in a joking manner. David posted that it was a mistake to post "rape" as a joke.
Mar 6, 2017   |  Reply
 
Casey
As a “person” I find your admonition to Angela (of all people) for holding a less rigid attitude than yours to the term “rape” to be, um, “disappointing”. Add to this sludge in your cold coffee the suggestion that Angela might have several cats with whom she may enjoy dining. This is outrageous and “beyond the pale”. The “cat lady” meme has died a miserable but oh, so deserved, death at the hands of, among others, the “cat men and women of Earth”, a proud, feisty lot who rule, RULE the internet. So stand down, “Sue”. And, before you find some charming way to call me a “dog”, be aware that, among us cat people, dogs come in a close second. Very close. Tread carefully.
Mar 7, 2017
 
 
 
Michele
Guess you aren't a fan of DC Legends of Tomorrow, or you would be aware that every episode of this show provides sly comedy when you least expect it.
Mar 5, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Zeke
To Sue; re language of rape.
I also was startled at the use of the verb. A better one could be used.
With overuse, casual use, it can become normalized... and it needs to carry the emotional freight it deserves. Out of respect, not out of PC.
It is also shameful the way showers in Men's prisons have become a punchline.
Mar 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
I meant at *first* through clumsy attempts at humor. Then with ease we are able to discuss problems more meaningfully.
Mar 8, 2017
 
 
Angela
I believe what becomes normalized is our ability to speak about difficult topics without fear of reproach. And through dialog is how we solve problems. Not by covering over problems too long shrouded in secrecy due to fear or by making problems almost taboo to discuss. I'm also guessing that abuse in men's showers hasn't become more prevalent because of jokes about it but rather the problem has been there all along and we seek to solve through our often clumsy but, oh so human attempts at humor.
Mar 8, 2017
 
 
 
SharonGS
As the college basketball regular season ends, today (Saturday) is a fan's paradise, and Carolina-Duke is in prime time.
Mar 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
Cluelessly, the broadcast networks are stingy with their encore showings of new programming. People interested in "When We Rise" were probably rapt by nightly coverage of the ongoing political travesty, driving down the ratings for this interesting miniseries. Hope it is handed off to Netflix (at LEAST) or presented again in gulps less demanding of time and/or during calmer times so that it can get the attention it deserves.
Mar 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Note that Ring Lardner Sr. was a noted humorist,including a baseball book from 1916,You Know Me Al. The film Eight Men Out includes the director,John Sayles, portraying Lardner Sr. as one sports writer already onto the Chicago White Sox players throwing the World Series.
Mar 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
While TCM winds down the Oscar films, note of a little seen French musical,The Young Girls Of Rochefort at 12:AM. Jacques Demy re-teams with Michel LeGrand and Catherine Deneuve to make another all-singing,all-dancing,colorful musical after the success of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. American guest stars inlcude Gene Kelly,George Chakaris and Grover Dale,along with Deneuve's sister, Francoise Dorleac(she died before the film's premiere). While La La Land still has audience and critical praises,here is a '60s film that really loves the film musical. Not for all tastes(nothing offensive,just some unusual sights and the Americans dubbed in French) it is energy filled with real outdoor scenes and LeGrand's music an important co-star.
Mar 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Preview: In the something to look forward to category: The first season three episode of "Broadchurch" just ran on ITV (and got 7.5m UK viewers)!
Feb 28, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Big "like" !
Mar 1, 2017
 
 
 
Sue
Angela,
Discuss it with your guests during your big night having dinner with your cats.
Feb 27, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
2/25 showing of Planet Earth 2 on BBCA was bookended by two episodes(last,followed by first) of their 2013 Africa series and did not repeat PL2's episode one. Not a complaint-they were excellent and I hadn't seen these before!
Feb 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
I wonder how many people hesitated to watch Planet Earth 2 like me for fear there would be too much talk about environmental problems? Especially now that our admin seems to be hell bent on hastening the demise of the planet that is trying to save our very lives. (Non withstanding Obama's approving the XL Keystone pipeline not to be confused with the DPAL pipeline) Turns out there's little talk about it, yet. And it's as stunning as David says in his reviews. This is one show that would be mind blowing to see in a theater.
Feb 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
My program guide shows the IFC Independent Spirit Awards will be broadcast live on IFC at 5pm EST, as well as again at 10pm. I don't guarantee the information, but I've set my dvr for 5, so I guess we'll see!
Feb 25, 2017   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Looks like you're right, Keith. They changed plans, apparently. Thank you!
Feb 25, 2017
 
 
 
Keith Robin
Egg on my face update: "SS-GB" based on a novel by Len Deighton (apologies to British TV).
Feb 24, 2017   |  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. His next, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is coming this fall, 2016.

 
 

Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for under $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post