Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

This new season of Ray Donovan is only a few episodes old, but already it’s working hard to make its mark. First it took one of the show’s central and most interesting characters and killed him off suddenly – and then, an episode or two later, brought that same character back from the apparent dead. So now what? Ray (Liev Scheiber) responded with what, for him, was a typical reaction: angrily punched the formerly “deceased” man squarely in the face. That’s how last week’s installment ended. Now, to see how this week’s episode begins…

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

It’s the first of December, and TCM is devoting each Sunday night to a pair of prime-time Christmas movies. Starting the whole month off is one of the absolute classics, based on the classic of all classic holiday stories, by Charles Dickens. This 1951 movie adaptation of A Christmas Carol stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, and features Michael Hordern as that perfectly miserable spectre, Jacob Marley (pictured).

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last week’s installment of Watchmen was amazing – a riveting, fluid, imaginative hour of shifting perspectives and somewhat lucid dreaming. Angela (Regina King), on a mental trip after taking some of the mind-altering drug Nostalgia, experienced some of the revealing, frightening memories of her mysterious grandfather – who resurfaced at episode’s end, but attached to some potentially dangerous allies. As has Angela, by the way, awakening from her dreamy drug coma to find herself in the care of the inscrutable, untrustworthy Lady Trieu (Hong Chau).

HBO, 10:30 p.m. ET

In tonight’s episode, the title character (played so winningly by Kathryn Hahn) gets distracted by a series of increasingly frank and sexy texts – which may or may not be coming from the former high-schooler who was tormented not so long ago by her bullying son.

Ovation, 10:00 p.m. ET

This long-running arts interview program, hosted for about a quarter-century by James Lipton, has moved from Bravo to Ovation, and Lipton, while remaining involved with the show, has turned over on-air duties to a series of guest hosts. Tonight, that guest host is Kelsey Grammer, and his guest is James Burrows, the best TV comedy director of a couple of television generations now. Not only did he direct Grammer in all of Frasier, and Cheers before that, but Burrows other prominent directorial credits include FriendsWill & Grace, and Taxi, and stretch all the way back to a few episodes of the original Mary Tyler Moore Show. A particular TV treat, of a conversation between two very talented friends. 

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David Kirshenbaum
Re: the Cosmos Possible World broadcast tonight, my understanding (borne out by a look at the show’s Wikipedia page) is that these are not unaired episodes from season 1 (Cosmos), but rather the new season 2 follow-up (Possible Worlds), which already aired on NatGeo back in the spring, but is only making its way to the broadcast tv FOX network beginning tonight... ie, not starting w an episode 14, but just the original 13 episode that aired on basic cable back in the spring.
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while... still religiously watching the site and keeping up with it.
Say, have you given any thought (and I meant to ask you this last spring or summer) into offering your TV History and Appreciation course online? I bet there would be a lot of interest (I actually checked at one point to see if there was an easy way I could take it digitally at Rowan this fall!) - if it’s too much to do on your own, I’d think it’d be a natural for outlets like The Great Courses or Masterclass!
Sep 22, 2020   |  Reply
Thanks for the Decades notice.It took some investigating-CBSViacom is owner of the series and they co-own Decades.
I loved the show when first aired but much does not age well. The theme music blares with brass while Chicago PD in 2020 has no theme and music is synthesized. With only 22 min.,complicated stories of race,familial violence,etc.- ideas were jammed. L&O SVU has logged 478 44 min. episodes primarily centered on sexual assault. Unfair? Even SVU could use more time to tell stories.
Interesting actors beyond the headlines-Roy Scheider & Tony LoBianco-both French Connection stars-appear in the same episode. LoBianco appears 3 episodes later as a different guy. Donna McKechnie,7 years before A Chorus Line. Blythe Danner's first TV credit. John Cazale,Martin Sheen & Raul Julia together. Red Headed Pigeon,centering on a newly-minted undercover policewoman-imagine SVU's Olivia Benson dropping in on that one.
Now,how about Frank Converse's Coronet Blue? Pre-NYPD. 13 paranoid hours.
Sep 13, 2020   |  Reply
An interesting tidbit as the N.Y.P.D. marathon ends. Every episode that I viewed included a sitar & tabla as background music. After the Beatles' use of these instruments in 1966,the sitar became the hip,new sound heard on many hits of the time. The show created that similar vibe,though how the music was used seemed just tossed in for hipness. I saw no stories involving the Indian community,but the music was often showing up in police office scenes.
A scene featuring the future Clemenza character from the Godfather had me screaming:"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." at the TV.
Sep 14, 2020
Saying "And though the transfers they’re televising are washy and hardly of the highest quality..." is a true understatement. I have off-the-air VHS tape recordings at the 6-hour ELP (extended play) setting that look cleaner. But now I see where the creators of Police Squad and the spinoff movies got their idea for the opening sequences.
Sep 13, 2020
As David suggests the TCM airing of Casino Royale 9/11,news today of the passing of Diana Rigg,who,besides a multi-faceted career,was the only Bond girl to officially marry 007. For many,though,her stint as the sexy yet deadly Emma Peel in the British spy TV series,The Avengers. She worked till the end,with a few filmed performances scheduled into next year. RIP.
9/24 -as part of their doctor-themed movies,TCM schedules The Hospital,a 1971 black comedy starring George C. Scott and Ms. Rigg,written by Paddy Chayefsky,who won his 2nd Oscar.
Sep 10, 2020   |  Reply
TCM's Women Make Film doc,Part 1,was great! Hope that ideas like this slip through paywalls(Comcast puts TCM in a higher price bracket-ugh!) as this idea is no "old fart" rehash of old films(which I love)but a new world of unexplored films-images,sounds and ideas-curated with knowledgeable oversight. Not just for elitists-consider the doc a great clip show. Film,like any art,helps us grasp with misogyny,racism-in general, fear of the unknown and each other. Music did that for me early on. Hatred of race means no appreciation of Ellington or Sam Cooke. I can't imagine a world without them. They help me when down and bring joy when not. Per Harrison Ridley Jr.(RIP)-The Positive Music.
For the viewing masses,what is discussed Tues. on TCM will,at least,help you see the possible qualities of your next "blowed up good"film.
Re:My earlier post about Election Night & this series:There will be a lot of channel hopping Nov. 3rd. Possible no winner that night? I'm OK with that for a few days.
Sep 2, 2020   |  Reply
Henry Heinlein
You've got to check out the series "Earthflight". They follow migrating birds from all over the world. They do a different continent, each episode. Somehow the've attached camera's to the birds, or maybe using drones, for some of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen! On BBCA station, Saturday nights.
Aug 31, 2020   |  Reply
David's Khartoum pun reminded me of a similar offering via New York Magazine's Competition under Mary Ann Madden's watchful eye. Ms. Madden died 4 years ago and is missed. One idea was to put together a double bill for a movie marquee-e.g.- Heller In Pink Tights and Selected Shorts(Heller was a real 1960 Paramount feature). Khartoum with Cartoons. Triple Feature-Suddenly,Suddenly last Summer,Last Summer-all real films. These word games were extraordinary and often featured entries from Ms. Madden's friends-Stephen Sondheim(who recommended her for the job) and many fine NYC based writers-everyone wanted to show up. After her death,it was revealed that Ms. Madden often punched up weaker entries. Google Books has most New York Magazine issues online-Ms. Madden's games show up every other issue.
Aug 30, 2020   |  Reply
In this 1999 might need someone to check the facts.

Epix, 8:00 p.m. ET
In this 1999 drama, John Lithgow plays Fox News Channel founder Roger Ailes, who was accused of establishing and perpetuating a toxic atmosphere of sexual harassment at his workplace.
Aug 28, 2020   |  Reply
I couldn't agree more about Brooklyn Bridge. Pure joy. How come you're the only one pushing this? It seems to be NOWHERE else. Not even the Decades website (except daily schedule).

I saw from Google that Brooklyn Bridge was part of LAST YEAR's Fan-Tastic promotion on Decades. I never knew because we were without Decades for 18 months after our local CBS affiliate changed over to StartTV. But I'm surprised you missed it.

I'm seeing Brooklyn Bridge stretched to minimize borders from the Fox affiliate that's airing it. I don't know if that's true everywhere, but it is aggravating. I'm missing the top and bottom and the lower res is even more distorted. In fact, it's not much better than the YouTube versions that someone posted a few years back. (And yes, I tried all the adjustments my setup allows. It must be broadcast that way.)
Aug 27, 2020   |  Reply
I need to be the contrarian here. I watched some episodes when it was in first-run, way back when. And I tried watching a couple of this week's reruns. But I can't get into it, It just comes across to me as ersatz and saccharin. But unlike David, I was born in the Bronx, had relatives in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn that we visited all the time, came of age just outside Queens, went to college in Brooklyn, within walking distance of the Brooklyn Bridge, for four years (commuting by subway, bus and railroad), and married a Brooklyn chick. So I have spent a lot of time experiencing the real Brooklyn. "Brooklyn Bridge" ain't it. I do love the sweet Art Garfunkel theme song though, always been one of my favorites from his solo years.
Aug 27, 2020
Last night’s opening of the Democratic Convention was mostly on tape??????

Various Networks, Check local listings
Last night’s opening of the Democratic Convention was mostly on tape,
Aug 25, 2020   |  Reply
Have you given up on updating Best Bets?
Aug 25, 2020   |  Reply
During the RNC,I'm hoping to see a mashup ad of Jerry Falwell Jr. watching the Liberty Limu Emu & Doug "solving crime while letting folks know about insurance savings"-at least that is how Liberty University might describe it. Falwell is an early Trumper and represents Evangelicals. Liberty.Liberty. Liberty. Liberty. Liberty. Another day,another embarrassment.
Aug 25, 2020   |  Reply
George A.
Brooklyn Bridge also has a very nice theme song, sung by Art Garfunkel.
Aug 24, 2020   |  Reply
John Oliver surprised many with his 8/16 show centered on juries,which,besides facts and questions raised,centered on the "whiteness" of juries. It took the premise of the CBS show,Bull, and tore it to shreds. Bull is based on the early days of Dr.Phil, and Oliver killed Bull while never mentioning the subject and Dr. Bullsh...err Phil.
Oliver's show was initially made to investigate-not current headlines,but oft- ignored subjects that affect us all. If Oliver ignores the conventions,we would all be a bit smarter about the Nov. decision.
Sadly/happily,last week's convention viewer numbers is a confusing soup of how many saw what when as well as who was watching and what parts were watched. MSNBC viewers who ignored the convention wraparounds missed 3 competent broadcasters,all women,doing just fine till Brian Williams showed up as a literal anchor,weighing it down. Rachel,Joy & Nicolle-take a bow!
Aug 23, 2020   |  Reply
Susan Spragg
Best TV Tomorrow video for August 22 was blocked, saying it contains content from Warner Bros Entertainment on copyright grounds. Try again, please?
Aug 22, 2020   |  Reply
I wish I knew how to send this in without posting it. Mario Cuomo is an earlier governor of New York. The current one is Andrew.
Aug 18, 2020   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Thank you, Robert. We discovered it (and, more importantly, fixed it!), but we appreciate your help...and your help in trying to keep us from embarrassing ourselves.
Aug 18, 2020
Kathy Ingrao
What happened to What We're Watching Now? I enjoyed that feature.
Aug 17, 2020   |  Reply
Early head's up. TCM often uses Sept. as "back-to-school", exploring film history. This year is quite ambitious:Woman Make Film. It runs Tuesdays from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1. Alicia Malone and Jacqueline Stewart(Silent Sundays) are hosting. If you haven't experienced Prof.Stewart,she is as smart as they come. Each Tues. starts with a 75 min. history lesson,a feature,then the lesson is repeated. The rest of Tues.,into Wed. midday,more films. They boast 120 years,100 directors from 6 continents and tons of films you probably have never seen,sprinkled with some acclaimed mainstream picks. The schedule is up,so get those blue books out,double space,sharpen those #2 pencils and no talking. Something to look forward to past the political hoopla. Heck,Election Night is one of those Tues.(11/3) and titles that night include Outrage & Born In Flames. 11/10-The Day I'll Never Forget,The Night of Truth,Crime Thief and The Hurt Locker.
Aug 17, 2020   |  Reply
Daryl Hannah was Hanks' costar in "Splash", but she was not in "Big".
Aug 13, 2020   |  Reply
You beat me to the punch, Jim. That was Elizabeth Perkins.
Aug 13, 2020
Vince Everett
Do you dictate your Best Bet selections ti Siri ? That might explain how Matthew Rhys becomes Matthew Rees
Aug 11, 2020   |  Reply
Linda Donovan
Um, yep. Sure. That was it. Thanks, Vince...
Aug 11, 2020

Tomorrow's Best Bets are up as they could be all the time like the video. Entering the computer age as we speak.
Aug 9, 2020   |  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.