MONDAY
FEBRUARY 12
2018

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Various Networks, 2:40 a.m. ET

NBCSN is all over the Olympics today, showing a few live, but mostly taped, events throughout most of the day and night. In fact, it’s easier to say when NBCSN is not televising coverage today: from 3-5 p.m. ET. Otherwise, it’s there, showing something. Over on CNBC, there’s only one scheduled event: delayed coverage of the mixed doubles semifinal in one of my favorite Winter Olympic sports, curling (pictured). Other coverage can be found, of course, on NBC’s Olympics website, as well on the network’s broadcast coverage today, which is detailed below.
 
  
 
 

NBC, 3:00 p.m. ET

Today’s NBC coverage (some of it Today’s NBC coverage) runs in the morning hours, then resumes in the afternoon from 3-5 p.m. ET, in prime time from 8-11:30 p.m. ET, and for a final burst from 12:05-2 a.m. ET, when all coverage will be live. In prime time, live coverage was scheduled to include the combined downhill run, and late night to feature – also live – the combined slalom gold medal final run in men’s alpine skiing. But wind gusts of 50 mph postponed the opening events in men’s downhill Sunday in Pyeongchang (pictured), so who knows what’s really going to be performed, much less televised, as scheduled?

 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Somewhere on our globe, there’s a fire raging closer to a mostly forgotten pocket of nuclear waste – and the fire, like the radioactive material, is underground. That’s surprising enough, but what’s really surprising is where that hidden ticking danger is located: suburban St. Louis. Starting in 1942, a processing plant in that city supplied some of the uranium for our country’s first atomic bombs, the ones that eventually ended WWII. But the radioactive waste from that processing that wasn’t shipped elsewhere ended up being buried in a local landfill – and now it’s like a time bomb with a lit fuse, on a very, very large and dangerous scale. Rebecca Camissa directs. For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Bob Fosse’s choreography for this 1972 film version of the famous musical, itself based on the semi-autobiographical prewar Berlin stories by Christopher Isherwood, is fabulous. Fosse’s work as film director, though, is even more superb, and he manages, in this version of the story, to make every musical number feel totally of the moment. Liza Minnelli became a star, and icon, as American-in-Germany lounge singer Sally Bowles, a hot mess of a central character, and Joel Grey earned just as many accolades as the seedy cabaret’s master of ceremonies. Michael York is the naïve visitor to Berlin who gets drawn into Sally’s web, and he’s good too – but watch not only how Fosse treats and photographs these three characters, but how he frames and propels each musical number. TCM’s “31 Days of Oscar” is saluting Best Director winners tonight in prime time, and leading off with Cabaret, and Fosse’s Oscar-winning triumph, is an excellent move. And it isn’t the film’s only Oscar, by the way. Cabaret earned eight in all, including Academy Awards for Minnelli, for Grey, and outstanding editing and cinematography – each of them richly deserved.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1634 Comments
 
 
HTD
Tammy, Lots of big words for someone who says nothing. Aspiring film critic or playwright?
Jan 22, 2019   |  Reply
 
Tammy
Dear HDTV,
Since the point was lost on you, let me reiterate.
Bond films turn his character into a hero, when he’s really just a jerk in a nice suit with a fancy car. And it started a whole trend of movies/tv about killer jerks. Today, as a side effect, some normal guys feel bad that they can’t live up to the “manly” image-and keep telling themselves that they are failures, inadequate and unloveable until they really believe it. Some turn bitter or mean and take it out on the world, especially online. I mainly took issue with lamenting a reality that never existed, Bond never was popular with everyone.
Better to focus on “the best a man can get” or MLK Jr.-- who asked people to take an honest look at themselves and to work to make life better for others. Or just being nice to strangers.
If you (or anyone) has something to say, I’d welcome any civil dialogue that doesn’t include personal attacks on me or this site. I have nothing but respect for DB and the staff.
Jan 22, 2019
 
 
Mac
HTD? Initials of a baseball player? Maybe,since this personal attack/insult seems to be coming from outta left field. Unwarranted,disrespectful and mean spirited.
HTD- Hearing? Tone Deaf
Jan 22, 2019
 
 
Tammy
Lol. Not anymore after your withering comment, Mr. Initials.
Jan 22, 2019
 
 
 
Bill
Instead of a rec for old nonsense like JAMES BOND TRIPLE FEATURE or that nonsense of a show where grade C celebs habitat and try to guess who is singing in a stupid costume look at something like RUMBLE on PBS tonight. There is even a review on the site. your rec of some of this reality TV crap is starting to show you are sleepwalking your choices.

You did a much better job at the Daily News and had to be ready for a morning edition instead of the random times your recs are posted. I believe the recs have been put in an assistant's hands, at least hope so from the quality of shows in the list.
Jan 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
MLK Day means interesting choices on TCM. Odd,no "Sounder"-it's on 1/28. Prime time presents Denzel Washington in the spotlight. 8PM-"Glory"-an obvious but always welcome view. 10PM-"Philadelphia" Dunno. Washington is indeed important to the story,but the story is AIDS and Tom Hanks is front and center throughout. 12:30AM- "A Soldier's Story"another fine choice concerning race and the military. But it is the 2:30AM feature of "Devil in a Blue Dress" that deserves the spotlight. Rarely shown and a box office failure,it is worth attention. Based on the first Easy Rawlins novel from Walter Mosley, concerns an unemployed blue collar worker turned detective in post-WWII Watts,it is fine noir. Bogey didn't have all the fun. This would have been a great film series,especially since the novels age Easy and an older Denzel would be interesting to watch.
Jan 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
BIANCULLI, at NO time has Bond been “seen by virtually everyone of adult age”. Not just the “20 dear-olds”, but many people PROUDLY avoid the entire franchise. One group off the top of my head----some slice of NPR listeners, maybe?
I am astounded that, as a critic, you could confuse a strong marketing campaign for a “cultural conversation”, unless you want to trace the apathetic killer genre and how it has impacted the societal violence of today vs a complex Hitchcockian hero (who hesitates to fire a gun)?
It is one thing to remark on the historical methods & habits of consuming media, and another to assume that viewers are/were EVER one cohesive unit. If you find a supposition shaky-year after year, maybe you should modify the assumption?
Especially on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (of Service), there are MANY other opportunities for a Millennial OR a Baby Boomer to seek “enlightenment”; focusing on a character in the media that has zero empathy is too easy the other days of the year.
Jan 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
PS There is something broken on your website. Every time someone posts a link in the "Website" box, it is rendered as a "Bad Request". The link I intended to post above was : https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service
Jan 21, 2019
Jan 21, 2019
 
 
Mac
While I've been posting MLK & Bond stuff,Tammy combined both ideas into a a coherent package which begs for added voices. Do NPR listeners avoid James Bond movies? Paging Ira Glass & "This American Life". I ignored Bond but consumed "Bullitt","Butch Cassidy","The French Connection" and lots more with stuff blowing up and bodies tossed about. As mentioned in my post below,it was Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner" that put things in perspective. While Bond ruled,here was a guy trying to get out of the spy business but the spy business was not about to let him get out. Who is the bad guy? Who was #1? The answer(?) proved unsettling and profound,yet "the finale" seemed hastily cobbled together just so McGoohan could get on with other roles. What did I learn:Trust no one,even yourself. You can be wrong as much as you are right. Paranoia strikes deep for a reason. Maybe the MacGuffin is the point of it all-or not. In any event,much more fun than a blowhard trying to rule the world.
Jan 21, 2019
 
 
PS There is something broken on your website. Every time someone posts a link in the "Website" box, it is rendered as a "Bad Request". The link I intended to post above was : https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service
Jan 21, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Modern times presents many choices and unexpected dilemmas. I have no interest in vampires,super heroes and loud movies with things blowin' up good,while relishing in TV & film I need discovering or rediscovering. In old days of commercial TV spooling movies of the 30s & '40s,it was light fare that captured me. Nowadays,and largely due to Eddie Muller's guidance on TCM,film noir interests me. I didn't understand spaghetti westerns until "Once Upon a Time In the West" 20 yeas ago-missed it in the theatres-a regret. I'm 67 yet have never sat through an entire official Bond movie. Bits & pieces,yes,but "The Ipcress File " and "The Prisoner" made Bond worthless. Also,kudos to Mad Magazine to filling me in on what I missed. Odd,I own the 1967 "Casino Royale",the "anti-Bond" Bond film for the music,but find the chaos and waste of millions of dollars fun. It would have never worked on a low budget.Many directors-no direction.Cowboys & Indians to the rescue-that was just what Bond needed.
Jan 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
I was fond of the original. It will be interesting to see how his version turns out. At the same time, it seems Spielberg has made "statement" films on several important topics, from Indiana Jones adventures (Lost Ark, etc.) to the Holocaust, and I wonder why other directors don't get to "go there." To be catty, now he gets to monopolize the immigrant experience, too?
Jan 15, 2019   |  Reply
 
Maybe THIS should be Spielberg's next movie! Anyone want to work on the pitch with me? ;)
Jan 17, 2019
 
 
Angela
"I’m eager for the remake of The Swamp to feature exploding melons!" <--This!!!
Jan 17, 2019
 
 
Mac
"Romeo & Juliet" concerned itself on two feuding Italian families. Shakespeare possibly saved his antisemitism for "The Merchant of Venice",featuring Shylock,a Jewish money lender. Shylock eventually converts to Christianity,then disappears. Is he just a plot device to be tossed when his purpose is over? Like all things Shakespeare,every detail has been examined by scholars since first written/performed.That's not a bad thing. Nor is a new version of "West Side Story" until the finished product shows up on the screen. As for other directors not allowed to "go there",an examination of modern storytelling probably shows otherwise. As for Spielberg,he could find funding for a history of paint drying,as long as John Williams does the music.
Jan 16, 2019
 
 
I’m fond of the original too. And as an immigrant daughter, I’m cynical about any mainstream appropriation of a rich culture translated into a blockbuster without actual investment back into the community. If Spielberg WEREN’T greedy, he could easily use the production of WSS to build a bridge (instead of a WALL) & use it to benefit the people whose story he is monopolizing.
Just from today’s panoply, Hamilton & Drunk History are examples of amazingly creative reinventions of stories & reinvesting into the future.(Meanwhile Drumpf is serving fast food in the White House & berating Democrats for seeing “some play”)
Straight remakes have always been cause for concern. Just getting WSS from Broadway to the big screen, and for getting Romeo and Juliet translated to NYC teen gangs-wasn’t the original version about the Italians and the Jews? Ask DB to ask his pal Sondheim. Roswell seems to be especially gratuitous. (I’m eager for the remake of The Swamp to feature exploding melons!)
Jan 15, 2019
 
 
 
Mary Bolduc
Somebody stop Spielberg from remaking "West Side Story." He's too greedy.
Jan 15, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
While an unusual comment for a TV forum,there certainly is a lot of films that are shown on TV,especially TCM,but from I've been reading about this new interpretation seems positive,primarily from a Vanity Fair story last Oct. While not usually a fan of remakes,this version wants to highlight more of the original Broadway production. Visually,topping the opening of the 1961 film will be difficult-it changed me from someone who liked film to someone who loved film. Reports that Spielberg has been wanting to remake WSS for decades while it took 15 years just to get rights. I hope it comes out great.
Jan 15, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
1/14-TCM is showing pre-code films till 8PM,so,if the kiddies are snowbound,let them see the bad guys doing mayhem and getting away with it. All from 75+ years ago,including "The Public Enemy"(5PM),with Jimmy Cagney having a difficult breakfast with Mae Clarke.
8PM-post pre-code films,a documentary comparing/contrasting James Stewart & Robert Mitchum onscreen and off.Reading the documentary's description,it sounds like a final exam question in film history. I'm not smart enough to do anything but watch. Followed by four films:a Stewart followed by a MItchum,then another round. I like both actors. I enjoy Stewart's root beer and use MItchum's deodorant daily. On a chilly Jan. night, TCM beats vampire/zombie stuff. I just can't sink my teeth into horror stuff like that after a day of non-fake news. Truth much scarier than fiction.
Jan 14, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Tammy-putting Twain & Thoreau in the same room as a a play has possibilities. But if it becomes a hit,I would avoid casting Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly in the film version. Their most recent opus is so bad Reilly was on NPR's "Fresh Air",1/15,with much discussion of his recent work,but nothing about the Sherlock Holmes film that recently stunk up the cineplexes just weeks ago.
Jan 16, 2019
 
 
Tammy
Your words are sobering for an aspiring playwright who is working on a magnum opus which brings together Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau. I have several parallel experiences and some great coincidences, but they didn’t even do a movie together!
Jan 16, 2019
 
 
Mac
Even with the passings of both actors a day apart and mention that their kids knew each other in school,there still seemed little to connect the two. Stewart was near 10 years older than Mitchum and had a list of prestigious roles before Mitchum's career even took off. They appeared together once,briefly,in a so-so remake of "The Big Sleep". I can look at film clips forever,and the nuggets of personal life were nice,but as a treatise,this seems like a c+ film school effort. It gave a platform for TCM to show a couple of films by both actors. I would have chosen "The Friends of Eddie Coyle"-MItchum,with Peter Boyle,gritty Boston.directed by Peter Yates- a perfect storm of '70s low lifes in the "French Connection"/"Godfather"-era. Maybe next Criterion sale...
Jan 15, 2019
 
 
Tammy
Stewart & Mitchum died a day apart! (Mystery solved) Although I think the best funeral combo was Tom Bosley/Howard Cunningham and Barbara Billingsley/June Cleaver. A bit of casting action going on in the next world. Look for an upcoming documentary about Sammy Davis Jr as the puppeteer and Jim Henson singing Candyman. Or not. Any other notable deaths occurring close together?
Jan 15, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
1/13- TCM scheduled this night of "women in sports" months ago,but it includes "A League Of Our Own",directed by Penny Marshall who died last month. Great story,great cast(including Tracy Reiner,Penny's kid),great music. Sure,Tom Hanks' quote:"There's no crying in baseball." is now iconic,but the whole story is fine(stay till the very end). Often shown on ad-filled cable,watching this ad-free as much of the country is covered in snow and pro football reigns,I long for baseball to return. Tomboy Marshall loved baseball as a kid and loved telling this story of the all women's pro league during WWII. The real life inspiration for the Geena Davis character said that playing baseball was like breathing. She died in 2013 @ 88. Maybelle Blair,another player,turns 92 this week. A 2017 news film has her batting at Fenway Park(with others) and in interview. She seems decades younger.
Jan 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Mary Kay Stearns died 11/17 but not publicly reported till this week. Mary Kay who? In 1947,Mary Kay and her real life husband,John had an early sitcom,"Mary Kay & Johnny",1947-1950 on DuMont,NBC,CBS & NBC again. Only one episode exists,archived,no You Tube. It was light,maybe too light, and cute,maybe too cute,but radio was filled with such stuff. A newly married couple doing newly married couple things.No "Alice! To the moon!". Interesting for two things:the couple slept in one bed(horrors!) and Mary Kay's real pregnancy was written into the show;the infant later appeared on camera. Before Lucy. Odd that the show came from NYC and when the Stearns went west(John went on to produce TV),Mary Kay never did any more acting. No known scandals. John died in 2001.
Jackson Upperco,a young guy immersed in TV studies,has an interesting blog, filled with trivia and opinion,including the episode.This guy loves sitcoms,especially multi cams. Worth a visit.
Jan 11, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM's "Sword & Sandal" month includes a rarely shown "Helen of Troy"(1956). Directed by Robert Wise,who seemed to hit any genre. A money loser,it just needs to be noted that this is one Warner film where the heroine would not always have Paris.
Later,12:15AM,Sergio Leone's directorial debut, Colossus of Rhodes(1961). No great reviews,but I never knew Leone did a Rhode trip movie. Filmed in SuperTotalscope-really. Hope the new LED TV that Santa brought you doesn't explode from the Totalscope being so Super. Sounds like it was the greatest ultimate film ratio ever presented. What could be more greatester or ultimater? Oh,yeah,SuperDuperTotalscope.
Jan 10, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" repeats show up on TBS. Odd that NBC/Comcast's USA,passed on this, but the company(who owns it) jumped at bringing new episodes to the mothership. Fox bounced B99 and the last two seasons saw viewer erosion. Now it has a nice slot,Thurs.,pre -"Good Place",though I would have reversed them. B99 is not a lead. Also,though it is probable Fox and TBS had some control,showing some "greatest hits" over the dead Christmas season might have been a way to bring in new viewers. NBC tried this with "The Good Place" before this season,but,as Mr. B pointed out,they screwed it up. Instead of sprinkling promos to fill unsold ads ,why not put a little space at the beginning of the repeats to introduce for context? An ancient idea? Perhaps,but it works for TCM.
Jan 10, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
1/9-TCM has films Elia Kazan directed. 8PM-"America America"(no comma)(1963)- Timely,and lengthy(3 hrs.) story of Kazan's family coming to the U.S. from Greece.
11PM-"A Face In the Crowd"-an often discussed movie around here with Andy Griffith as you never knew could exist. Pretty timely too. Watch it alongside "Network" and understand how some folks saw Trump & Fox on the horizon decades ago. Great supporting cast. Black & white-no color needed with these folks on the screen.
Jan 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
"Attenborough and the Sea Dragon"-Sounds like a Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoon. Paul Frees could voice Attenborough like Captain Wrongway Peachfuzz and Paul Winchell as Sea Dragon using his evil Dastardly voice,then an underwater creature sounding like Muttley for side-kick humor. June Foray- the mermaid they both need to rescue every week,while racing 20,000 leagues. H-B stalwart Don Messick narrates,of course.13 episodes by Sept.; repeats will be on Boomerang in 2050. Sponsored by Kellogg's-the best to you each morning and Sugar Sea Plankton. Free diver or submarine in every box.
Jan 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
Mr. B: 20,000 leagues under the sea is approx 60,000 miles! This is clearly a measurement of distance traveled while under water, not the depth to which they dive. I’m pretty sure there is no ocean that is 60,000 miles deep!R
Jan 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
When I was a kid,baseball's National League consisted of just 8 teams;notorious cellar dwellers were the Chicago Cubs or my beloved Philadelphia Phillies. Whenever Disney mentioned "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"(movie,Disneyland TV tours,comic books,a View-Master slide set I owned,book-what book?), that "leagues under the sea" phrase had me thinking of how bad these teams had sunk. Sciences were never my strong suit. Still is today,as I rely to the kindness of real scientists(thanks,Reiny in Berkeley:I too thought it meant depth). Since those dark days of the '50s,'60s & '70s, both the Cubbies and the Phillies have occasionally been World Series champs. Pitchers & catchers report in five weeks.
Jan 9, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
If Trump's broadcast goes too long(rebuttal, lie detector,analysis),here are some alternatives to fill your 9-10PM TV appetite(scheduled hour had a new "FBI", w. Hannity also scheduled):
TCM-Andy Hardy's Private Secretary
Comedy Central- Drunk History
Disney Jr.-Muppet Babies
NBC Sports-Flyers/Capitals. Gritty appearance?
Grit-Rage At Dawn w.-All rise- RANDOLPH SCOTT!
Decades-Dick Cavett-1970 w Janis Joplin,who would be dead 3 months later.
Up TV-Home Improvement w Tim Allen.See,fair & balanced.
Oxygen-Killer Couples. Ugh!
Movies! G.I. Blues,w. Elvis. Today is his birthday-1935.
Inspiration-Walker,Texas Ranger-Fill in your favorite Chuck Norris joke.His solution for The Wall payment via Ted Cruz. It's :"Tonto-sized."
E!-Big Daddy-Adam Sandler. No Don. Jr.,Eric or Ivanka,but potty humor with a little kid.
Lifetime Movies-Psycho Prom Queen. Aka "Mean Queen". No knowledge if singer Julie Brown makes a cameo or has a gun.
Info via Tivo and my cable operator. Online info ends 1/16. Sad.
Jan 8, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Not a big football fan here,but overnight ratings for yesterday's Iggles vs. Da Bears have Philadelphia market with a 44.6/66 rating,meaning 66% of all TVs turned on in that market at that time were watching. Rating higher than Chicago by a point and a half.This topped even last year's Iggles NFC division playoff win. Other tidbits,affirmed by NBC:highest rated Wild Card game on the network since 2006. Best Wild Card rating for NBC in 25 years(they had no NFL presence 1997-2006). This Sun.'s Iggles/Saints match up-Saints blasted Philly 47-8 just a few weeks ago(11/18). Iggles are obvious underdogs(they like that) but a different team so expect no blowout,with revenge the motivator. No matter what,lots of TVs will be tuned to it and possibly lots of grease needed on lampost poles,courtesy of the Crisco Cop brigade. Iggles radio voice,Merrill Reese(since '77),if available,is the way to listen. See it best on the radio.
Jan 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Even if the boss highlights the TCM night of Laurel & Hardy shorts and time is limited,don't miss the first one @8:"The Music Box". Keep reminding yourself of an old ad slogan:the gentleman of moving men. The best 30 min. you'll waste all day.
Jan 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
How important were the Golden Globes? The Fiji Water Girl,who appeared in many shots of the stars,taking dead aim at the camera and letting the viewer know she was part of the festivities. Stole the show. It is termed "photobombing" for unhip folks like me. It worked as I blew through lots of photos including the model and her bottles while ignoring lots of "stars". Is "artesian" French for "tap"? Bottled water is a big no-no in this house. Fiji Waters has a pretty disturbing history including giving away filters for the poor folks of Fiji who lack clean water as their water supply is stolen. Around here(Lehigh Valley,Pa.),Nestle & Niagara(private label bottler) rake in outrageous profits by bottling local tap water. Nestle has a history of using waters from California drought areas while locals(including Native American reservations) are paid off.
Jan 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
Bright pink dress, I was objecting to. Not plausible.
Jan 7, 2019   |  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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