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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1258 Comments
 
 
Angela
I just want to say, thank you to all who contribute to this wonderful and very helpful site. Kudos!
Oct 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
"I wouldn’t be surprised if the former presidential candidate gets preferential solo treatment, and gets to talk to Norton alone. Power, even when not fully realized in the electoral college, has its privileges." -- Why has Hillary Clinton concluded that she is necessary to our lives? For the love of God, woman, would you please exit the stage?
Oct 21, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Hillary indeed goes solo on the show. Exit the stage? When the DNC or folks running for office do not want her helping,then she might shrink away. But as long as Real News is labeled Fake by those in power,her voice is necessary. Look what happened when Obama returned to campaigning the other day:"Four more years!" We have not heard the last from them. Their kids will be part of the scene as well. For the love of(your deity here),please keep fighting the good fight. Let's start with gerrymandering,voter intimidation,with a goal of having all voters counted in every election by using 21st century technology instead of 18th century standards.
Oct 22, 2017
 
 
Angela
For better or worse, I don't imagine HRC's going anywhere anytime soon.
Oct 21, 2017
 
 
 
Brad
The George Michael: Freedom ‘documentary’ is a farce. Why? Having seen it on Channel 4 in the UK last week, I can tell you it's got real issues of honesty. For instance, (1) the complete omission of anything about Fadi Fawaz, Michael’s partner when he died, and Andrew Ridgeley, Michael's Wham! partner; (2) audio with Michael scattered with fake audio of a guy who sounds like him, but isn't (credits read, “Simon Rutter as George Michael.”) putting into doubt the accuracy of the quotes; and (3) a film produced by Sony Music, who Michael sued, can only be watered down to make Sony look better than they came out. As the Guardian reviewer put it, “(it’s) like seeing that a documentary on Brexit (that) has been funded by the European Union.” Want more reasons? Read The Guardian review at...https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/oct/16/george-michael-freedom-singer-stays-out-of-sight-in-tv-biography
Oct 21, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Game 7,ALCS. C.C. Sabathia,Yankees,vs. Charlie Morton,Astros. Game 3,same matchup,in NYC, was a big win for the Yankees. Verlander,who pitched Fri's Astros gem,is possibly available. Heck,everyone is available,including old popcorn vendors like me. Should be lots of scoring on both sides,for a change. Has Fox had only one post season game on the broadcast network? Even tonight, it is FS1 for baseball,while college football is on Fox. Kansas @TCU,while Michigan @ State Penn on ABC and NBC has USC @ Notre Dame,so a Simpsons marathon might fare better.
Oct 21, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Tonight's NLCS info needs the obvious caveat: game 6 & 7 will be played in L.A.-if necessary. We can only hope,if only to skunk a Dodgers-Yankees World Series that makes Fox go nuts with ratings-it will be like Hannity & Billo for a week. Last night's Cubby win and Joe Maddon's ejection for being right will certainly awake Chicago fans,but it is indeed "back against the wall". Meanwhile,The Daily Show is in Chicago this week and Ronny Chieng did a great segment on Chicago style deep dish pizza,how it sucks and how to get the best pizza in the Chicago area---where else,but the Cook County Prison.
Oct 19, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Lois
Also, sometimes the site posts stuff shown during the day, and by the time I can check the site (typically in the evening) it is too late to set a DVR. Posting the previous night would be a big help.
Oct 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
what no mention of ALCS Yankees game 5PM?
Oct 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
2017 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
TBS, 3:30 p.m. ET

2017 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Fox Sports 1, 8:00 p.m. ET

Check your times.
Oct 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
Keith Robin
The actual cablecast times according to MLB.com are:
HOU@NYY [ALCS]
Game 4
Today
5:00 pm ET
FS1
LAD@CHC [NLCS]
Game 3
Today
9:00 pm ET
TBS
Oct 17, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
Who knew that the best post season announcing would be on MLB Network. Bob Costas & Jim(Kitty) Kaat-65 & 78 yrs. old. They understand baseball on TV. Lots of pictures,not lots of words. Sad that Ernie Johnson isn't involved more for MLB on TBS. At least Pedro Martinez shows up in the studio panel. Those fortunate to get ESPN Radio get Dan Schulman & Aaron Boone for the NLCS-now that's talkin' baseball. Yankee fans still get the laughable John Sterling & Suzyn Waldman who ruin your entire season on radio.
Oct 16, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
10/11-TCM DVR alert! Tonight and 10/12-George Pal. Creator of some of the best animated shorts-Puppetoons-pioneering stop-action with wooden parts,sometimes 5,000 per 7 min. short. The Puppetoon Movie(10:00PM),is a celebration of those shorts,some made as commercials for European movie houses to sell radios-but as dazzling as any animation you've seen. His John Henry and Tubby the Tuba are classic! But the evening begins with The Fantasy Worlds of George Pal(10PM),a 1985 overview primarily of his live action productions,many of which show up these nights,including his masterpiece,The Time Machine,1960,@1:15AM.
Without George Pal,no Star Wars,no Indiana Jones,no Speedy Alka Seltzer,no Pillsbury Doughboy(honest). Gumby introduces-honest. The Puppetoon Movie gets a second showing Thurs./Fri. @4:30 AM. Blu-ray and DVD packages of the movie have lots of extra material,including early Dr. Seuss.
Oct 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
Keith Robin
Thanks, Mac. I've been a big fan of George Pal's work since I was a youngster.
Oct 11, 2017
 
 
 
There hasn't been a new entry in the "Shows We're Watching" in a long time. What gives? Nothing new worth seeing?
Oct 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Sandra Henry
Caught your interview with Terry and wanted to tell you that I, also, was blown away by Death of a Salesman aired on TV years ago. I don't watch much TV any more but do collect choice mini-series on DVD.
Oct 6, 2017   |  Reply
 
Matt Alpern
Yes, I was too young to see the original production.. but have never forgotten
seeing "Death of a Salesmen" on broadcast television in the 1960's.
Oct 7, 2017
 
 
 
Tom
Guess it's being skipped this year.....
Oct 6, 2017   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Apologies, Tom. We decided to approach the 2017 fall season exclusively through reviews this year. Judging from your comment, perhaps we made a mistake. Thank you for asking...
Oct 11, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
I was in a record store the other day and while the store was playing Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits,a true radio/records guy proclaimed Paul Simon's solo output amounted to nothing. I had to walk to another part of the store. Start with the first solo single,Mother and Child Reunion and there is nothing but adventures in listening. Graceland?The most important U.S. LP in the '80s. The styles new for most ears,the great musicians,the videos,the tour(chronicled on video),the politics-it is the '80s. Simon has trucked his catalog from Columbia to Warner Bros. and back to Columbia. One of the most re-released albums in modern times,there are CDs that contain bonus tracks as well as vinyl reissues and a box set with CDs,DVD and vinyl combined. Simon created a World Music section in stores with this release.
Oct 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
>>"This 1979 Woody Allen movie may be most remembered, and perhaps uncomfortably, as a love letter to May-December romances, with Allen portraying a New Yorker pursuing a high-school girl played by Mariel Hemingway."<<

Ya know, Woody was born at the end of 1935, and so was 43 (maybe 44) when Manhattan came out. And a year or two younger when it was being filmed. As one sexagenarian to another, DB, this was a May-August relationship at best. I'd like to think that October is the new December. (Otherwise, WHYY ain't letting a Decemberist like you spray spittle anywhere near those expensive Neumann mics they use.)
Oct 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
Former co-founder? Did Kurt Anderson somehow unfound Spy magazine?
Sep 29, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Redford & Fonda go way back 51 years to 1966's The Chase,a Marlon Brando vehicle. Next up,just months later,Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park. Redford starred in the Broadway production in 1963,directed by Mike Nichols. Elizabeth Ashley was the female lead onstage and Natalie Wood was supposed to star in the film(after two Redford/Wood movies). Barefoot proved to be a smash for Simon and he wrote the screenplay. This is one of those '60s colorful New York comedies that show up often on TCM's Sun. afternoons. Like The Odd Couple,great Neil Hefti music and a TV version(this one failed).
Sep 29, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Jjoek1
Agree completely that The Orville feels more like the original Star Trek, and is more enjoyable than Star Trek: Discovery. Hope this show continues to go where it seems to be going.
Sep 28, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Inside the NFL tonight could indeed be interesting. Basically a mouthpiece of the league.Since Roger Goodell was given feint praise by John Oliver by stating that Trump "lost the moral high ground to Roger F***ing Goodell,something is horribly wrong."
Sep 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Curtis
Groat cakes again? Heavy on the thirty weight, Mom!
Sep 25, 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.