THURSDAY
MAY 18
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

SiriusXM, 9:09 a.m. ET

CHANNEL PREMIERE: I know, I know. As channels go, this one is on radio, not TV – and only on satellite radio, at that. But this is the Beatles we’re talking about, so until I launch a sister website called Radio Worth Hearing (don’t hold your breath), I’m taking the time and space here to note the launch of the world’s first official Beatles 24-hour radio channel. It’s got special programs (including Chris Carter’s long-running FM radio staple “Breakfast with the Beatles”), vintage interview clips, rare outtakes, and lots more. The on-air promos have sounded terrific – and better than that, they’ve sounded smart. The ultimate number for a Sirius/XM channel devoted to the Beatles would, of course, be “number nine, number nine” – but that channel location already is taken by the decade-devoted channel ’90s on 9. So for The Beatles Channel, you have to tune your satellite radios to Channel 18. But numerology enthusiasts, such as Yoko Ono, will be happy to note the time this new channel is launching: 9:09 a.m. ET.  And if you don’t know the significance of “The One after 909,” or “number nine, number nine…,” then maybe this channel isn’t for you anyway. Or, come to think of it, maybe it’s for you most of all.

 
  
 
 

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: I don’t recommend watching this show, really, not any more. But I do marvel at both its impact and its longevity. With tonight’s episode, Grey’s Anatomy concludes Season 13, a truly impressive stretch. And it’s not just limping to the seasonal finish line – it’s sprinting there as ABC’s most popular drama series. That’s why so many of ABC’s dramas, for good or for ill, tend to be painted with the same Shonda Rhimes brush, whether they’re shows from that prolific producer or just shows striving to copy her feverish, popular program elements.

 
  
 
 

CW, 8:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: And here’s another series that’s not being recommended, really, but also is being noted for its durability. Supernatural, with tonight’s two-hour episode, concludes Season 12 – and that’s really an astounding achievement, when you consider that the network presenting it, the CW, is only 11 years old. (Nothing paranormal about that fact: Supernatural began on the WB, and was imported to its new home when the WB and UPN merged to form the CW.)
 
  
 
 

CNN, 10:00 p.m. ET

For two weeks running now, the scheduled episode of CNN’s Soundtracks – about the shooting of students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard in 1970, and the music it inspired, such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s searingly swift response, “Ohio” – has been pre-empted by breaking news emanating from the White House. And a betting man, or woman, would be wise to bet that tonight will make it three for three. But I’m setting my DVR anyway, in the fervent but most likely futile hope that, for one day at least, headlines will calm down a bit.

 
  
 
 

Starz!, 10:01 p.m. ET

Stanley Tucci co-directs (with Campbell Scott), co-writes (with Joseph Tropiano) and co-stars (with Tony Shalhoub) in this utterly captivating 1996 movie, about dissimilar brothers, both gifted cooks, teaming together to make a go of it with their proudly authentic Italian restaurant. The restaurant’s future all comes down to one super-important “big night,” and it’s as hilarious as it is touching, dramatic and intense. And the final scene, performed and shot in real time, is one that anyone who’s ever cooked in a kitchen – especially, but not exclusively, an Italian one – will absolutely adore. Co-stars include Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Liev Schreiber, Marc Anthony and Allison Janney. This movie is now 21 years old – but like the food it serves, couldn’t seem more fresh.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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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.