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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1411 Comments
 
 
Bryan Simpson
Real Time is a brain dead debate. I can't watch anymore after the absurd discussion between Maher and Bari Weiss over the Palestinians. You need to rethink how much you really agree with someone like Maher and still think of yourself as someone who cares about oppressed minorities. And this isn't the only idiotic stance by him, anti-vaxer among many others. It would be alright if you were rightwing, but I know you are not. Maher is a putz, he doesn't deserve any thinking person's respect.
May 19, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Been waiting for months for Bombshell. Local cheapo PBS outlet fills the night up with Antiques Roadshow,while,thankfully, our cable set up includes Philly's WHYY,which has Bombshell tonight.
The Royal Wedding nonsense is filling up so much of the schedule this week,there is need of a guide.Folks like me need to know when to go into the computer room while my ever lovin' gets her Royal fix. For me, Royal is a brand of Jello and,once upon a time,a good typewriter. Today,a baseball team in decline. Time to spool Monty Python & the Holy Grail to revisit Dennis' idea of "strange women lying in ponds,distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government." And then there's Chief Bone Spurs and the Chicken Hawks,featuring John Bolton on the brushes...
May 18, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I hope that someone will tell us what other networks are keeping and/or adding: TBS, FX, FXX, CW. Also, what about HBO, SHO, and STARZ? I was kind of surprised to find out how few regular network shows I watched. And, apropos of nothing, I'm conflicted about "Rise" not being renewed. I didn't think I was going to like it, but then I found I did and watched the entire season. So, on the one hand, I wish it had been renewed. On the other hand, the season seemed like a one season show to me, and the ending certainly could be the end of everything. I'm not sure what they would do with a second season that would be as satisfying. I do think that American shows, especially, often need to quit while they're ahead instead of driving a premise into the ground. (I'm talking about you, "Walking Dead," "Dexter," etc.--both of which I stopped watching long before the official end.)
May 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
The network upfront lineups involve broadcast fare:ABC,CBS,NBC,Fox and CW. Uncle Barky has covered each,as well as a wrap around. These showcases are termed "upfronts" with hopes that ad buyers will put some money "upfront" ahead of airing. Premium channels have no ads,(I'm assuming,since I don't participate) so no ad buyers. And why do new shows premiere in the fall? That goes back to the days when new cars came out. Shows like Bonanza thrived on expensive color ads for new Chevys,as well as ads for high ticket items in time for Christmas gift giving. Dad had to start putting money aside for these big purchases.
Cable follows a different schedule,with original scripted shows faring better during the summer.Expert writers like Ed Bark and others here get invited to those announcements and report when they happen.
May 18, 2018
 
 
 
Danny Miz
Tonight is the first game of the Western Conference finals. Not Eastern.
May 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Elizabeth L'Abate
Was not able to access any older Bullwinkle and Rocky on Amazon Prime? Links? Thanks!
May 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
Angela
Elizabeth, On Amazon search for, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends season 1. (1960).
May 14, 2018
 
 
 
Bill
when a man about to be killed by Eve begged for his life by saying he had children, Eve replied by asking what she would want with his children.

Thought Eve was the good guy (gal)
May 13, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Today, Saturday, at 3 p.m. Logo shows the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. The music is less interesting than the spectacle—the contest this year is in Lisbon—and the politics of voting. This is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
May 12, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re:Rocky & Bullwinkle. How could Amazon mess this up? Two Russian spies(one female) with a Nazi boss? Capt. Wrongway Peachfuzz at the helm? Moon Men-Jr. & Eric? Where Colbert's Cartoon President failed,here is fertile soil just waiting to be tilled properly.
I've stated before-the joy of Rocky was laughing as a kid,laughing as a teen,laughing as a parent and still laughing at cultural references,bad puns and pure looniness. Wossamatta U!
May 12, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
Angela-Like the great Warner Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, R&B were made for the folks behind the scenes. For R&B,that meant for Jay Ward & Bill Scott to laugh. That Ponsonby Britt listed as exec producer? Yeah. Add to that,the amazing voice cast including Scott and(all on this itty-bitty card): June Foray,Edward Everett Horton,William Conrad,Paul Frees,Walter Tetley,Charlie Ruggles & Hans Conried. Here's hoping Amazon also gets Hoppity Hooper & George of The Jungle,along with Superchicken &Tom Slick. And how about those cereal commercials?
May 15, 2018
 
 
Angela
Yep! Thanks to David's Best Bets I watched my first Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon since I was a young child. The show is a riot! It's so very clever that I sometimes have to remind myself it's meant for children...Or is it? ;)
May 13, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
If watching those Tarzan movies co-starring Maureen O'Sullivan,know that Maureen's grandkid,Ronan Farrow,was,once again,in the news by reporting the news,this time the resignation of the N.Y. Attorney General. Jane Mayer & Farrow wrote the New Yorker magazine expose, posting online @6:47PM. @ 9PM, Rachel Maddow followed up the story on her show,interviewing Ms. Mayer. N.Y. Gov. Cuomo called for the resignation of the A.G. midway.The A.G. resigned by the end of the hour. Like a scripted episode of Law & Order:SVU,complete with twist. All that was missing was "Ca-chung" and the Dick Wolf credit.
May 8, 2018   |  Reply
 
Angela
I didn't realize the New York AG had resigned until I read your post. Man, that didn't take long, did it? I was a bit saddened when I first read the news if only because I only just discovered some of the great things he seemed to be doing for women and the "little people" thanks to Net Neutrality and his law suit against the FCC.

I'm all for due process of the law but when the allegations are from decades past and or women are too afraid to go to the police, and who can blame them, especially when it's the AG, whom we're told had said, "I am the law!." we already know what the outcome will be.

Our legal system must change in order for sexual abuse and harassment to become less prevalent. Because without that avenue available to people the only other option is the court of public opinion. But, I guess change had to start somewhere. I'm thankful for at least that.
May 12, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
Re:5/6 John Oliver Show. The short time off for John & staff was well spent,especially buying URLs with relations(pun intended)to Rudy Giuliani. Almost worth adding HBO to my already outrageous cable bill.
May 8, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Are you sure about A Shot in the Dark being produced before The Pink Panther because that's not a story I've ever heard before and according to the TCM website "When A Shot in the Dark went into production in late 1963, The Pink Panther was in post-production. Sellers was unhappy with the script for A Shot in the Dark and his character, so United Artists brought in his Pink Panther director, Blake Edwards. It was Edwards who had the brainstorm of putting Inspector Clouseau into the mix. " I've seen both movies many times and the TCM timeline makes more sense. The Clouseau seems more developed at the beginning of Shot than at the beginning of Panther. Quite possibly I'm wrong, but I would be interested in knowing the source of your info.
May 5, 2018   |  Reply
 
jim
Also, according to both TCM and the occasionally reliable Wikipedia, Peter Ustinov was originally cast as Clouseau in Panther and Sellers was cast when Ustinov withdrew from the project.
May 6, 2018
 
 
 
mac
Found a blank name tag from Giant Supermarkets abandoned in a different store. Took it home. Top of the tag says:My Giant(insert name). Yes,I filled in Andre.
May 4, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Those Robert Osborne shows on TCM are interesting. The only cringe-worthy moments are the appearances of Bob's longtime friend,actor Robert Wagner. Wagner is currently considered a "person of interest" in the death of actress Natalie Wood.Wagner & Wood married twice and Wagner was the last to see her alive. His refusal to talk to officals clouds the investigation.
May 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM in May gives primetime space for series movies-low-budget, usually black & white films with a recurring character, most clocking in under two hours.The B movies were the lesser part of a double feature bill. In the era of Marvel/DC/Star Wars epics sucking up so many theater dollars,know that franchise films are nothing new and kept many a production company afloat or helped the majors recoup revenues from big budget bombs. From 8PM Tues. and continuing all day Wed.(into Thurs. till 6AM),over 160 films, featuring Blondie,Maisie,Andy Hardy,etc.Highlights(?)-from Tues. 5/8 @ 8PM till Thurs.@8PM,48 hours of African adventures,most shot in Hollywood backlots, with Tarzan,Jungle Jim(many starring Olympian Johnny Weissmuller)and Bomba Boy(starring Johnny Sheffield,who was Boy in lots of those Tarzan flicks). That's a lotta loincloth, and safari I'm concerned,so many jungle helmets pith me off.
May 1, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
That Simpson's episode featured a recipe for what Indiewire headlined "the best apple pie recipe in history",credited in the end titles to public radio chef Evan Kleiman. My middle kid,all grown up and an adventurous foodie,loves all things pie. And he loves the movie Pi. Was not born Mar. 14. Always a birthday pie instead of a cake. Recipe calls for three different types of apples,forbidding Macintosh. Bon appetit, but don't use the Bass-O-Matic,Julia!
Apr 30, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
So how many contributors here will weigh in, now that Bill Cosby has finally been convicted? I spent some time scrolling his work at Imdb. Earliest national appearance I can find:Nov. 1,1963 on ABC's Hootenanny. Almost 55 years,where TV was definitely his medium. He may hold a record for the number of series he was the star-sit coms,dramas,variety shows,game shows,talk shows,(both as guest and guest host),documentaries,animation,children education(including Picture Pages,not in his resume)with the kids stuff parallel with his association with Hugh Hefner's Playboy. Not only did he save NBC in the '80s,there was speculation about involvement in network ownership. Outside TV;records of both stand up and singing,personal appearances,films,educator,moralist and book writing. Has there been an entertainer in so many endeavors? Bing Crosby? Not even close. Finally-convicted felon.
Apr 27, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Jane Barlow
Have been watching Legion from the start...and last week's episode lacked
surprise, entertainment, and gosh David, was not that great. I loved last year's
first season. Still waiting to be wowed. I have read comics since 1955( the DC
Universe).My favorite films of last year were Deadpool and Hardcore Henry. Loved
Mr. Robot on TV. Legion is sinking fast. That cheesy curving hall is too boring.I built a fire in my woodstove during my 2nd viewing of last week and found myself watching the fire more than the TV. Waiting for tonight, hoping for the best!
Apr 25, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
4/24-TCM Primetime salutes screenwriter I.A. L.Diamond,best known for director Billy Wilder's co-writer on truly funny films with underlying dark themes. 8PM is The Apartment-a perfect storm of love & adultery in 1960's MadMen New York. Jack Lemmon plays the low level schlub working in a skyscraper where he sees his unrequited love everyday,elevator operator Shirley McClaine. Add to Jack's troubles -he lets the biggie execs use his apartment for their extramarital trysts.The biggest exec is slimy Fred MacMurray(this, during Fred's goodie two shoes My Three Sons/Shaggy Dog era). Diamond & Wilder create the storm around this triangle,winning Best Screenplay. Five Oscars total including Best Film and Director Wilder.Later a Neil Simon/Burt Bacharach/Hal David Broadway musical,Promises,Promises,with Jerry Orbach in Lemmon's role. Sean Hayes & Kristin Chenoweth starred in the 2010 revival. Shut up and deal.
Apr 24, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
4/17- Keep your dial(Grandpa-where's the "dial" on this remote? set on TCM after Casablanca for :10PM :Mildred Pierce-Joan Crawford.Midnight:Yankee Doodle Dandy-James Cagney.2:15AM: Life With Father-William Powell. 4:30AM :The Sea Wolf-Edward G. Robinson. All great! Different genres. All directed by Michael Curtiz from 1941-47.
Apr 18, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Annie
Why does no one seem to be watching Legion except you and my family? It is the most amazing show on television in this timeline and many others. Please keep spreading the word!
Apr 17, 2018   |  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.

 
 
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