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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1395 Comments
 
 
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
 
 
Mac
Thats 1.6 million You Tube hit,but you knew that.
Apr 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I have been an infrequent follower of SNL since mid-season 1976,so without seeing every bit,the 4/14 Lobster sketch just seemed to me everything great about SNL,outside of topical humor. I was expecting a cheesebooga or Samurai-style but rewarded with an overdue skewering to bloated Broadway of the '90s,including a plug for Tina Fey's Mean Girls-what Broadway should look like. Story is that the sketch has been incubating since 2010 from Mulaney & Yost. Another sketch from 4/14 was hidden since '09. What else is hiding in the drawer? Game show parodies are too easy. This is Emmy worthy with 1.6 You Tube hits in less than 24 hrs. Brilllianttt! On a personal note-on Sunday I ordered the broiled seafood combo in a diner and still paying the price. Where are my Tums?
Apr 17, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Another Mac comment-three on the same day-bad luck for you or me?
A sleepless night found a George Burns/Gracie Allen episode from 1953(evidently also on You Tube:"Gracie Takes Spanish Lessons". Another comic giant missing in 2018- the non-sequiturs of Gracie Allen. Deportation is a major plot line here,so,even with the non-PC antics of George,there are threads of modern times. Imagine an SNL sketch with ICE meeting Gracie. Trump vs. Gracie? Who need borders when the Blockhead- In- Chief meets Gracie's ideas of who should be in the country and how our tax dollars gives us rights to be deported. Hilarity ensues.
Apr 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Mulaney on SNL-even the teasers during the week have that dry Mulaney touch. Shirley Temple,straight up. joke would be lost on the WWE USA crowd. And Trump. Mission Accomplished,redux.
Apr 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re-TCM showing Lolita 4/14@ 3PM. I was just about to highlight that TCM seems to be slipping in some 'toons that they have rights to, on Sat. mornings,mixed with their serials and oddball two reelers. And then I noticed Lolita @ 3PM as extra goodies for the kiddies on a Spring afternoon. Another great film for the youngins' precedes- Anatomy Of A Murder,which started as I write this. That Lee Remick,she is such a role model for teens. You thought her baton twirling in A Face In The Crowd was inspiring? All kidding aside-six hours of classic black & white '50s-'60s films that are more than a little ambiguous about sin and consequences. If you missed them,TCM shows them often ,but the double-feature aspect is worthy of Essentials prime-time pairings.
Apr 14, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Linda Feeney
The last episode of Homeland (#9 ) was so ridiculous, unbelievable and insulting to our intelligence that the Useful Idiots are those of us watching.
Apr 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
Goeff Bal
Agree completely. Hospitals do not have security cams? A federal witness in protection with no guards in or by his room? Another TV show that lost its way and should have ended last season.
Apr 10, 2018
 
 
 
Mac
It's worth remembering Chuck McCann,a comic actor who died yesterday. Baby Boomers growing up around NYC saw Chuck supply hours of inventive fun on kiddie shows,many times along side puppets. Puppets were a low budget plus of live kiddie shows. Puppets drew the attention of kids and needed no animation to provide laughs. Rubber face Chuck was a natural foil for puppets. As a long time Laurel & Hardy fan,he impersonated Ollie many times,alongside even Stan Laurel himself and L&H superfan, Dick Van Dyke,and in lots of commercials. It is commercial work that most will remember Chuck. He was the voice for Sonny,who was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.Chuck surprised many a tenant opening up their medicine cabinet with a cheery,yet troubling,"Hi,guy!",on the other side,pushing deodorant. Once Groucho Marx once showed up on the other side of the cabinet. Chuck did lots of TV,many a voice on cartoons and a persaonal favorite St. Elsewhere episode,"Sweet Dreams",aka the ZZ Top episode.
Apr 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
Mac
That,too,Matt. A shame he was West Coast based later in his career as the Law & Order franchise was New York based. While hopefully not going against his kiddie performer persona(many "good guy" actors loved going against type on L&O,so.thankfully,no "evil clown" roles),Chuck could have fit in many L&O scenarios: crime victim,heartbroken dad,patsy in schemes devised by the bad guy,blue-color father of one of the cops or lawyers,etc. while adding pathos and NYC credibility.
Apr 9, 2018
 
 
Matt Alpern
And, Chuck McCann was superb in a very lovely movie version of "Heart is the Lonely Hunter."
Apr 9, 2018
 
 
 
Terry
I tried to watch Killing Eve, but bailed because of the obtrusive and extremely annoying music. The phrase Insulting My Intelligence came to mind.
Apr 9, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Leila
Give American Idol another chance. I herd none of the meaness from the judges oddly mentioned by one of your commentators. Unlike the last few seasons of American Idol, where they had Idol Bots, singers with great technical proficiency but not much heart or soul, the new reboot is all about heart and soul. Even formerly plastically emotionless Ryan Seacrest gets a chance to be heartful, and to hug contestants. Many of the top AI singers this tear are much more moving than most of The Voice singers, who are getiing a little Voice Bot-ty...None of the AI judges are as beautifully and deeply and pacefully centered as Alicia Keys, nor as entertaining as Kelly CLarkson, nor as verbally astute in their assessments, but they drawbetter contestnts, and share more moving stories about them....
Apr 7, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Scooter
Oops!! You've confused Tracy Morgan with Tracy Jordan!!
Apr 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
4/3-TCM fetes Michael Douglas with a lengthy interview with Ben Mankiewicz from last year's TCM Classic Film Festival @ 8PM with a repeat @11:30PM. In-between-two Douglas vehicles:China Syndrome @ 9:15PM and Romancing The Stone @ 12:45AM. Douglas co-produced both films,and though China Syndrome shows up often on TCM's schedule,Romancing The Stone is a rarity. More than a passing nod to Indiana Jones at least Danny DeVito is fun and features Kathleen Turner.
Apr 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
jan
FYI, "The Middle" takes place in Indiana, not Ohio. I love that show and am sorry this is its last season.
Apr 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
We know better, Jan, so thank you. We're sorry it's ending, too. David would like you and anyone else who read the error to know he spent three years working in Akron and conflated. And apologizes.
Apr 3, 2018
 
 
 
Bob516
I made the mistake of watching The Crossing as a preview on Hulu before any reviews came out. Big mistake. Agreed this series should not be recommended. Is it the nature of network television to take an interesting premise and ruin it with the rehashed plot lines? To bad, this idea had such potential.
Apr 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Jason Gacek
How did King in the Wilderness not get mention as a Best Bet? I know I'll be watching.
Apr 2, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
I'm on episode 6 and all I can say is, wow! Why isn't anyone talking about, Looming Tower? Maybe, it's exactly for the reasons talked about in Ed Bark's review.
Even before I read his article I was thinking about what to watch and I noticed how I almost subconsciously thought about watching something other than Looming Tower because it's so dark. And I like dark shows... It also feels very realistic. Which makes sense considering what it's about. But they've managed to figure out how to make it *feel* real. I'm not doing a very good job selling this series. Ah, well. I hope people give it a try. First the Hand Maiden and now this. Keep it up, Hulu.
Apr 2, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
Rendfeld
I'm surprised "Jesus Christ Superstar" wasn't a Best Bet. It was likely the best production of it since the 1970 LP.
Apr 2, 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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