THURSDAY
APRIL 20
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Encore, 7:59 p.m. ET

It’s been 20 years since Howard Stern starred, quite effectively, as a younger version of himself in this 1997 biographical film comedy, based on his bestseller. Betty Thomas directs the movie, and Mary McCormack stars as his wife Alison, whose loving relationship with shock-jock radio personality Stern forms the core of the film. In real life, they divorced in 2001. In Private Parts, the scene-stealer, in addition to Stern himself, is Paul Giamatti, in an early breakout role as WNBC radio executive Kenny, whose clashes with Stern are hilarious.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

SERIES RETURN: After a hiatus, and a time-slot grab by inferior spinoff Blacklist: The Redemption, the original article, starring James Spader, returns – with a doubleheader. For a feature story, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.
 
  
 
 

CNN, 10:00 p.m. ET

DOCUMENTARY SERIES PREMIERE: This new series aims to trace and point out some of the connections between music and real life – singling out some of the songs that reflected or propelled the events of the time. The topic for this opening hour is Martin Luther King, Jr., from the rise of the civil rights movement to King’s assassination and beyond. In that context, Soundtracks makes room for everything from James Brown’s “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” And I’m hoping, at some point, it also makes room for Dion’s quiet, moving 1968 anthem “Abraham, Martin and John,” which also managed to allude to the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Bobby Kennedy.

 
  
 
 

Starz!, 10:51 p.m. ET

With this week’s first taste of Season 3 of FX’s Fargo, Noah Hawley has now made three delectable variations on the Coen Brothers’ original theme. But tonight on Starz, you can revisit their 1996 original, starring Frances McDormand as a Minnesota police chief investigating a particularly bizarre and brutal murder case. Hawley’s TV miniseries versions of Fargo have been superb… but the original film, co-starring William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, was utterly flawless.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1175 Comments
 
 
Angela
Just a heads up! Season 3 of The Bureau is airing on Sundance Now. Last I checked you can watch season 1 and 2 for free. Is it worth watching? Oh, ya! As long as you like high tech international spy thrillers with lots of character depth. It is in French with subtitles. Sundance is parsing out new episodes one each week like Hulu does.
Jun 27, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Tim Allen and Kevin James are two TV stars of recent vintage to be reincarnated as copies of their former personas. These things rarely end up better than the original,which may be one reason why the current trend is just to restart the original and bring as much of the first cast back as possible. But it would make an interesting study:Is there a Godfather II in TVLand where the second foray bettered the first? James Garner's Maverick persona translated into repeated variations(including revisiting Maverick in series reboots and a theatrical film) and many compared better to the original Warner series. Was this due to Warner's cookie-cutter approach to TV drama in the '50s or Garner putting a better show on as he controlled production? Compare & contrast. Open your blue books now. Ink only,cursive hand writing. Double space. Additional blue books are available from your proctor. No talking. Arms within desks. Spit out that gum now,mister! Did you bring enough for everyone?
Jun 26, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Thinking about stars or shows that fared better later,one must include the 2010-2015 version of Parenthood. While the movie was OK and did great box office,the six season run of Parenthood Re-imagined took the timewith bright folks behind the scenes and a cast that excelled from infancy( Nora's real life twin actresses)to Craig T. Nelson as a Boomer hippie/vet in late life. Thanks to Bianculli here for his constant recommendations,I didn't get to watch this when first aired due to my job,but my wife & I have been enjoying the DVD set. We are midway through and trying not to binge to keep it going in place of the vapid network Summer fills of talent shows,game shows and faux reality stuff. I never saw the 1990 TV version,which,one would think,should find some space on a Comcast network while re-spooling the 2010 show. 115 episodes. Comcast is finally fessing up to "cord cutters" fleeing their outrageous,monopolized cable bills. Maybe a cheap but effective alternative to Law & Order.
Jun 27, 2017
 
 
 
George Ashur
"The rest of Nobody Speaks asks if wealthy people using their influence and resources to shut down media voices of which they disapprove is a good thing. The question should be rhetorical – but in this day and age, it’s not." -- Do you call the libelous Gawker a "media voice"? How about the video of Erin Andrews naked in her hotel room? Should we also champion our rights to see that video under the guise of a "media voice"?

Can you say "right to privacy"?
Jun 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Matthew Alperin
We've really gotten into "Better Call Saul." It's terrific. Was wondering if
there has ever been a prequel to an outstanding series that is both as
excellent as BCS and as critically acclaimed. Kudos to Gilligan and Gould
and the amazing cast headed by Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea
Seehorn and, of course, Michael McKean.
Jun 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Matthew Alperin
Ay caramba! Have mercy..
Jun 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
6/23/17 Great British Baking Show allows David to make half-baked bread puns and his rye sense of humor. Instead of loafing on a beautiful day and stopping to smell the Wonderous flours,he goes against the grain, and stays out of the w(heat) to make some dough. My Mom told me I'd better butter up the bread punner while buttering up the bread pan. She was well bread and ingrained this in my head. I was a kneady child,yet I still come off a little sour,dough. I don't give a crepe. I'm leaven while I'm on a roll.I can barley wheat to see what others bring to the table.
Jun 23, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
"And the antics of these improve" I trust the work of the comics of WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? have improved over the years, but I imagine that was not the point you were making.
Jun 19, 2017   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
Damn autocorrect. Fixed and thanks for the chuckle, Bob.
Jun 19, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
6/18-What? No mention of Megyn Kelly & Alec Jones? Maybe not the best TV can offer,but a story in the making of how NOT to do TV news. I won't be watching in real time,but I will catch up. Jones makes Rush look like Bill Buckley. Meanwhile,Huff Post has footage of Kelly's unaired last question to Putin from that wiffle ball game,and you can imagine the "Make Russia Great Again" cap Putin seems to be wearing while answering. The Donald likes his hat ,too. MAGA!
Jun 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Two notes on 6/17 BBB's,after the fact:
Alec & Dave didn't hang around after The Big Sleep-this was standard procedure when Bob Osborne hosted,so Ben Mankiewicz did the intros for the next phase of the evening. Next week,Tina Fey & Baldwin intro Rear Window.
Though I missed it,the MSNBC Watergate doc seems to be one from 2013,available online and credited to Discovery Communications,with Andy Lack,exec producer. The network was touting it as if this was a new effort. Lack now runs NBC News and MSNBC,so it figures. Can't wait to miss Sunday's Alex Jones fiasco on NBC with Andy's new star,Megyn Kelly,who is proving to carry her own baggage from Fox. When will we ever learn.
Jun 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
I just saw the online doc,All The President's Men Revisited,and it is indeed riveting. Tears still flow when the truth from Deep Throat,and who he really was,steers the Post reporters in the right direction. No Deep Throat-no Nixon resignation.(There is a bio film about Mark Felt, the real Deep Throat,coming out this Sept.). NBC/MSNBC folks-Tom Brokaw,Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe show up. John Dean and Jill Wine-Banks are interviewed;both were part of the real story.Both show up these days on MSNBC for background on Trump misdeeds. Add to that,Fred Thompson,then a Republican Senator from Tennesee,is part of the real story,too. Trump just named the future Nashville Federal Courthouse after Thompson. Folks also know that Thompson was a regular on Law & Order,in effect, employed by NBC/Universal,now owned by Comcast.
Jun 18, 2017
 
 
 
Kenneth
Oh god s1e1 of the ranch was unwatchable within the first three minutes. First time I've seen a recommendation on here that I couldn't get with
Jun 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
We agree, Kenneth, and we think if you look closely, you'll realize David wasn't exactly recommending it.
Jun 17, 2017
 
 
 
Angela
Here's a PBS show with a novel look at the opioid epidemic in America with the focus on how it affects patients with pain. http://www.pbs.org/video/2365977432/#_=_
Jun 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Just an FYI that the link I posted above must be copied and pasted in a web browser to work but it is a valid link.
Jun 13, 2017
 
 
 
Angela
Another show to watch, Hell on Earth on the National Geographic channel. The reporter wrote, ISIS is extremely smart and appealing to people—and if the world has any chance of defeating it, we have to understand why.
Jun 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Joe is SF
Don't forget that a new season of Face Off starts tonight on SyFy. That's the special effects make-up competition show. Very creative.
Jun 13, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mike Bal
Danger UXB starts on Acorn TV June 12. WWII Brit bomb disposal unit at work.
Jun 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
Thanks to Mike's heads up about Danger UXB last night I watched the first episode on YouTube. That said, it will look and sound *much* better on the Acorn web site. And because Danger UXB is such an excellent show I would want to see it in the best possible format.
Jun 14, 2017
 
 
Angela
FWIW, it's also on YouTube for free. I didn't check if all episodes are there but Netflix DVD option's missing the first episode so I checked and found it and 2 on YouTube.
Jun 13, 2017
 
 
 
Mary Bolduc
I meant ideally, nothing about those "reality" "dating" shows would be considered news.
Jun 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Bolduc
Don't like admitting I ever pay attention to "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" shows, which should not exist or not be filmed at all... nor do I want to consider anything related "breaking" "news" ... but, um, why is Bach. in Paradise cast being flown to Houston? Is it part of a publicity stunt to promote Houston? Is show based there?
Jun 12, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
Is the point moot, since Gal Godot was NOT on the show? The Graham Norton Show is recorded and aired on BBC UK a week before it's on BBC America; she wasn't on it then. I thought perhaps they edited in a new segment with her, but it was the same show.
Jun 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
George Ashur
"The other is a brand new icon: Gal Gadot (pictured), whose movie Wonder Woman just opened with a big enough box office to signal a welcome shift in big-budget superhero movies." -- A little soon to be declaring her an icon, don't you think?

More to the point, what do you mean by "a welcome shift"? From Marvel to DC? Please elaborate, David.
Jun 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
Mac,
Not quite gutted...it's got to get through the Senate, as does the AHCA. I've heard the chances aren't quite as good there (let's hope). And I hope you agree the Comey testimony IS important. You obviously watched "The Last Word", didn't you? Laurence Tribe(and kudos once again to Lawrence O'Donnell for letting his guests not just comment, but to expound!) said "...this is deadly serious!"
Jun 9, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Sorry,no time left for Hannity,though I'm hoping Newshounds("we watch Fox so you don't have to")will provide some soundbites. Rachel shined! Got to the meat of the issue-the obstruction. Trump's idiot lawyer was like Better Call Saul reversing the address digits-his time frame of events was wrong!
Special mention to O'Donnell for giving Peter O'Toole "the Last Word". Let's hope Alec Baldwin does a double feature on TCM's Essentials with O'Toole as Henry II in Becket & The Lion In Winter. Compare & contrast that,folks! Blue book,blue ink,cursive,single space-use the covers if you need more room,but keep the BS to 1 cu.ft.,please!
Meanwhile,Dodd-Franks is gutted while all of us are paying attention to Comey.
Jun 9, 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 $20. (Paperback will be available September 5th, here.)

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