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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1210 Comments
 
 
Sean Dougherty
Why do you list movies that are on after this publishes? It seems mean. Midnight ET was 11.5 hours ago.
Aug 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
If you are referring to the TCM showing of His Girl Friday,that was on @ midnight Thurs.,going into Friday AM. Best Bets for 8/17 was published many hours before. True,sometimes the BBs are late(I'd like to see them up 6AM-8AM when I do my daily news read,but this one wasn't. And know that ,if indeed it is a TCM showing,the channel considers their day starting @ 6AM till 5:59AM the next day,so if they have a film scheduled @ 2AM Friday,TCM lists it as a Thurs. offering on their own schedule. And if one missed His Girl Friday,TCM shows this with some frequency-don't go to the commercial film sites like Movies-you will regret it. Also,ff TCM has a film scheduled,they can email you a few days before screening.
Aug 18, 2017
 
 
 
will forest
Why never any posts about Preacher? It's a great edgy show.
You seem to be so far away fro the type of TV i watch, that if you recommend it, I look for the reason why I should avoid it.
Aug 15, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Terry
I tried to watch the Thursday version of Weekend Update, but turned it off after two minutes because of the phony canned laughter. What a disappointment!
Aug 11, 2017   |  Reply
 
Mac
Evidently viewers who stayed were treated by Bill Hader skewing Antny(sic) Scaramucci. Yo,Mooch,we hardly knew #$%^& 'ya!. And were better for it. Cameos from the better cast members of yesterday(please,no Adam Sandler) might keep folks setting their DVRs &orfollowing You Tube for the good stuff.
Aug 13, 2017
 
 
Sue
They need canned laughter because it isn't funny hoping you will laugh along with the annoying sound of fake laughs.
Aug 11, 2017
 
 
 
Mac
Re:Glen Campbell's passing. I have met two singer/songwriters important to Campbell's success as a singer(this, after being a studio go-to-guitar wiz and touring Beach Boy): John Hartford (Gentle On my Mind) and Jim Webb (Wichita Lineman,Galveston,By The Time i Get To Phoenix-and those are just the hits). Both great performers in their own right,but both knew what Campbell brought to their art. Webb has heartfelt words about his friend on his Facebook page. Webb also performs regularly and sometimes has a "Glen Campbell Years" show with singing and stories from the era. Adios!
Aug 10, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Anne
Bummer, looks like XFinity does not get the AT&T Audience Network. I would have loved to watch Mr. Mercedes.
Aug 10, 2017   |  Reply
 
Angela
You and me both. I enjoyed the book a lot. I think Mr. Mercedes is only on Dish Network but am hoping it will air on cable in the not too distant future.
Aug 12, 2017
 
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
Wow. A Firesign Theater ref in your Room 104 review! But are you sure the name is not Regnad Kcin? Thanks for the flashback.
Aug 4, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Elton LeHew
Feed burner says I am already getting your feed, but I no longer am. Can you help me get back on? Thanks. Elton
Aug 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
EG
Hello Elton: We will look into it -- the feed burner service is a bit old and it might take a little work to update it.
Aug 10, 2017
 
 
 
Sarah
I am glad The Guest Book comes recommended because my dad who only watches three tv shows, heard a review of it earlier this week and really wants to check it out
Aug 3, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
Proof that my previous post was dead-on b***s accurate-David Bianculli: "...that’s only because I’m desperate, after six months, for a slow news week."
Aug 2, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
David B. says " Good thing it was a slow news week, so he’ll have an easy time easing his way back into the swing of things…", as he slowly removes his tongue from his cheek!
Jul 30, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
With DB's first in 10 years Best Bets recommendation(s) for last night, how could I not do MY best to watch all 4 of Hitchcock's best? So, I watched Vertigo, North by Northwest and half of Psycho but had to bite the bullet and and make myself go to bed before I could watch my very favorite, The Birds.

I still remember when I saw, The Birds as a 10 year old child. I was scared by it and mesmerized all at the same time. I normally didn't scare easy but Hitchcock got me good that night. And I haven't seen it since! How did they make the birds do what they did? I really need to see it again.
Jul 28, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Carrie
I like Hooten and the Lady. It is so old fashioned and cute. You seem to knock it every week as you recommend it.
Jul 27, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re:South Korean show named God's Gift:That phrase was used by my long-departed boss as a nickname for the mailman for our shopping center. He wore shorts as much as possible,was tanned and wore a pith helmet-always attracting the attention of the ladies on the route. We sometimes followed him when he entered another emporium,just to see the attention for him-rarely failed. The nickname was a shortened version of "God's Gift To Women". Next dull Summer day I'll tell you about Leafblower,Leafblower II(his replacement) and Those Two Cleaning Guys From the Multiplex Who Looked Like They Were Going to Steal Stuff But Who Proved To Be Nice Guys(well,one did).
Jul 25, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
This is a family-safe place,so I can't print the urban legend blooper of a TV showing of The Barefoot Contessa. The story has the announcer saying:"The next portion the film is sponsored by Bayer Aspirin. Stay tuned for tonight's feature:Ava Gardner in the Barea-- Contessa. Most bloopers have no real tape to authenticate;many that purport to be the real thing are recreations or possibly written after the fact. What actually exists is a 1955 Mad Magazine parody-The Barefoot Nocountessa. Mad icon Jack Davis gets credit for story and art. The movie poster tagline,"The Most Beautiful Animal", refers to Lassie. The parody stars Humphrey Yogurt,Ava Nother ,"plus a cast of plaster". Davis could draw a curvy creature like Gardner better than anyone on staff but lots of Bogey closeups add to the fun! Davis did lots of real movie posters:It's A Mad,Mad,Mad, World and The Russians are Coming!The Russians Are Coming are two standouts.
Jul 24, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Sat.7/22-TCM has a triple feature of Betty Davis films starting with the Essential All About Eve,with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey chiming in for what promises to be a bumpy ride,indeed. The next two films also showcase Davis in roles as an actress:The Star and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. I bring these to folks attention after the recent FX series surrounding the real backstory ill will between Davis & Joan Crawford when filming Baby Jane. What's all the hubbub,bub? It's on display tonight.
Jul 22, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Anytime Rear Window rears it pretty little head,it is time to look out for the real David Seville(Ross Bagdasarian) before he turned his rodent problem a profit when he found out the chimpunks living in his house could sing,Raymond Burr and even Frank Cady,before he opened up his general store in Hooterville as Sam Drucker in Petticoat Junction & Green Acres.
Jul 21, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Ed Q
Ditto on Friends from College. Perhaps it's just that the cast is incredible but I enjoyed the series. It's not always perfect and they're not always likable but it's pretty good tv during a summer lull
Jul 18, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Richard Lester's "Three Musketeers" is a wonderfully entertaining movie, but incomplete without it's somewhat darker sequel "The Four Musketeers" The fact that the cast thought they were filming one movie which turned out to be two movies led to several lawsuits. Whatever. The movies themselves are great fun.
Jul 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Joe in SF
If you’re going to start recommending movies based on candy bars, your 7/17 pick is a good one. Much better than any Kit Kat videos currently playing on YouTube.
Jul 17, 2017   |  Reply
 
 
Tom Cellupica
Correction: the Dali dream sequence is in Spellbound, not Notorious. In that one, the wine bottle sequence is classic.
Jul 14, 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 and his latest, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is now available at Amazon. The paperback version will be released fall, 2017.

 
 

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