SATURDAY
FEBRUARY 9
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

Morgan Neville’s wonderful, inspirational and almost certainly tear-inducing documentary on Fred Rogers, the disarmingly honest and empathic host of PBS’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, comes to TV tonight after a heartwarmingly successful run in theaters. Its TV debut is significant, too, because of its inclusiveness: It premieres on the premium service HBO, which will continue to show it at other times this month, but for this first-night TV premiere, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is simulcast on the PBS series Independent Lens. Considering Rogers’ long and constant commitment to public television (he not only appeared on public TV before it became PBS, but almost single-handedly secured the funding to continue it), the documentary’s availability on public TV is symbolic as well as perfect. When you watch this program tonight – and you must – I predict its messages, of civility and inclusion and empathy – not only will make you think, but will make you weep. One word of warning, however: I’m in here somewhere, briefly, providing a TV historian’s perspective on the impact and importance of Fred Rogers. But watch it anyway, please. And record it, because you’ll want to see it more than once, all the way to the emotional closing credits. Beautifully done, Mr. Neville.
 
  
 
 

BBC America, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is such an enjoyable new nature documentary series, in part because it’s such an inspired hybrid of the old and new. Its storytelling approach, singling out one family of creatures (tonight: painted wolves) and following them like a drama, goes all the way back to the early Walt Disney and Wild Kingdom nature shorts. Yet the technological tools it uses, capturing the sound and sight of these animals, day and night, over a period of years, provide breathtakingly modern new perspectives. And of course, there’s the host, Sir David Attenborough, the world’s best at presenting nature on television. And when I say “world’s best,” I really do mean that literally.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

Tonight’s guest host, on this new installment, is Halsey. The musical guest also is Halsey, which means she’s pulling double duty – and following in the footsteps of such SNL host-and-musical-performers as Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Donald Glover, and the first-ever “I’ll-do-both” host/musician, Desi Arnaz. (Technically, the musical guest for that 1976 episode was his son, Desi Arnaz Jr., but the elder Arnaz returned to his bandleading roots to perform, among other songs, his classic “Babalu.”

 
  
 
 
 
 
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1666 Comments
 
 
Mac
Fox News preempted Sat. 3/16 Jeanine Pirro show with little response from the higher ups,sighting "internal scheduling matters". After Pirro's 3/9 remarks concerning Minnesota Democrat Ihan Omar,which Fox News condemned and led to at least 4 advertisers pulling out what has been a cable news ratings leader. Variety reported around 4PM and some online schedules caught the change. Many news sources didn't kick in till after the fact,with MSNBC & CNN live broadcasts missing the story. Hopefully Monday will bring some clarification as to either a temporary or long term punishment. The online Fox schedule for 3/23 already lists no Pirro.with the show that filled in last night,a repeat of the pretaped Scandalous,but that could be a mistake.
Mar 17, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
St. Patty's Day brings an all day,all Irish bunch of films on TCM,with the 8PM slot for another airing of A Quiet Man,John Ford's fantasy of love and lust in a small Irish town.
If you have access via DVD or non-broadcast services,I''ll suggest Brooklyn(2015), another Irish fairy tale (and America). Starring Saiorse Ronan. Luminous.
Mar 17, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
This just in. As AMC showed The Godfather II,Frank Cali,head of the NY Gambino family,was assassinated outside his home. Nothing this big for the Gambinos in over 30 years. No reports of anyone named Paulie,Rocco,Frankie Five Angels or Fredo involved. Also no Don Jr. nor Eric,but if Johnny Ola shows up at your door,run.
Mar 14, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Hey DB, if you're recounting reclusive cartoonists, don't forget Berkeley Breathed, creator/cartoonist behind Bloom County and Opus the Penguin (and Bill the Cat - Ack! Ack!). He does drawings that appear on his Facebook page, but has also been out of the daily/weekly strip business for many years.
Mar 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Breathed's continuing opus with Opus can also be found via gocomics.com. They list the new ones as Bloom County 2018(?),while older Breathed material is simply under Bloom County. Go Comics,from Andrews McMeel Universal, can email favorites or use the "updated today" feature at the website. Tons of comics,including political 'toons of many sides. Other cartoons with a pedigree that update few times include Doonesbury,Foxtrot and Tom the Dancing Bug. Ruben Bolling's Tom is a throwback to the comics of alternative newspapers(think Matt Groening's Life In Hell) with a decidedly '60s hippie vibe while satirizing current events and mimicking many styles. Scratch your head or spit your coffee out,Tom is worth your attention,as well as his daily Super-Fun-Pak Comix.
Other worthy strips : Lio,Non Sequitur,9 Chickweed Lane and Pearls Before Swine. Comics are alive & kinda well.
Mar 14, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Bob Saget's new show premiered on the same day that Lori Loughlin was indicted on a college entrance exam cheating scandal. Karma? Meanwhile,John Stamos is scheduled for a Beach Boy show next week in Texas. I use the term "Beach Boy"as when folks pony up dough thinking they will see The Beach Boys,they only get one-Mike Love. Maybe 1.5 as Bruce Johnston is there and has put in 45+ years touring,but is considered a hired worker. Folks going to see Brian Wilson get two-Wilson & Al Jardine.
Mar 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
David Goeller
TV Worth Spoiling. That's TVWW too often. There was no need to tell Shameless fans that Fiona was leaving the series. For me, Shameless was an automatic watch, so I didn't read the TVWW blurb. It's likely some other fans who did had their Season 9 finale ending ruined.
Mar 12, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Just a little online checking that Emmy Rossum announced last August that she was leaving. Source-New York Magazine's Vulture,Aug. 30,even including a confirmation from Showtime same day. So an open secret for over six months. Fans of a show should watch carefully about stories and/or clickbait. Unless those Sister Wives gang up on the Husband-that I would watch even knowing the outcome. Especially if Mitt Romney would make a cameo.
Mar 12, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Dick Gautier was the original Conrad Birdie in the Broadway cast of "Bye,Bye Birdie". While he never achieved superstar status,he did have a few moments in the sun. Dick Gautier was Hymie The Robot in "Get Smart". Memorable but he was only in six episodes. Gautier later starred in Mel Brooks' first attempt at spoofing Robin Hood,the short-lived TV series "When Things Were Rotten". Lots of cartoon voice work.
Mar 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
David Goeller
Your TVWW pick - I Am the Night - was good but far from great. Want a better Black Dahlia spinoff? True Confessions, the 1981 flick with DeNiro, Duvall and a cast of top supporting actors grooving on a script by Joan Didion & John Gregory Dunne.
Mar 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
2/2 SNL indeed had the either the crown or crapper show of the season with what will be termed The Bathroom Bodega sketch as a companion to last April's Diner Lobster;another John Mulaney musical and yet,to keep the spoilers away,you just gotta see it. You will never see a Virgin Mary votive candle in the same light again.
Mar 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Angela
First time I saw Hugo. Your description for it was perfect.
Mar 2, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Tammy
Granted, I generally am against TCM airing ANY movie that was made after 1990. But a "20100 Martin Scorsese movie" is just ridiculous. Can't the director stick to his own millennia? ;)
Mar 1, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
2001:A Space Odyssey
2010:Te Year We Make Contact
20100:Bryce Harper Retires:The Final Bobblehead
Mar 1, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
House Oversight Committee Hearing-I'm listening via NPR but C-SPAN would be my choice to view,bouncing around cable TV when the questions go on hold. Started with the leaked opening statement that I've been reading,via Poliitico,since early AM. Riveting.
Feb 27, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Last Sept. there was notice of a new digital subchannel from Weigel (MeTV,H&I,Decades,Movies!),Start TV,affiliated with CBS. Much confusion on our local cable setup as Start was to replace Decades till it didn't. Now both show up on our system,along with Escape,from Katz/Scrippts. Start & Escape are showing shows of recent past. Start includes The Closer,The Good Wife and Cold Case. Escape has Boston Legal,Without A Trace & Law & Order and edited movies. Both have lots of ads for lawyers involved in asbestos poisoning while the catheter cowboy seems to have ridden into the sunset after John Oliver gave him a new role instructing Trump on science. Lots of Medicare scams but some interesting TV for free. And you can't have too many channels showing Law & Order.
Feb 26, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Ooops. Scripps. Got the two "p"s,still threw in an extra "t" for no reason. I'm the product of a drug store family and "script" is an everyday word.
Feb 27, 2019
 
 
 
JOEL
Re: Drunk History. Try "femmes fatales".
Feb 26, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Hats off to John Oliver for saving me from wading through piles of Oscar rubbish and finally get to some real stuff. Psychics,Dr. Oz(Scumbag Extraordinaire),Dr. Phil,Montel Williams(winner of the Art Linkletter Lifetime Liar Award) and Matt Lauer-all bad folks,all predators and all media demons.
Feb 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
BF-Before Fellini-TCM schedules "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness"(1958) @ 3:15PM. I vividly remember watching this in a second-run theatre with my Mom. I think she just wanted to see it and,at 7, I was the accompanying patsy to give her an excuse to get out of the house. Most theatre movies for kids were under 2hrs.-this one clocks in at 156 min. Also it was th first time we entered midway in the showing. I understood nothing about this,but it was indeed sprawling,and I remember the scene where we came in,so that meant leaving. The star,Ingrid Bergman,wearing a bamboo domed hat. Lots of kids singing "This old man,he played one...". It wasn't till decades later, while watching a preview on TV,that the title and some scenes(everyone was climbing hills) rushed back in my memory. It was the era of David Lean and Cinemascope epics.
Feb 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Why not watch SURVIVOR and record THE MASKED SINGER which gives you the option and the pleasure of deleting THE MASKED SINGER without watching that dredge of a show. Really, THE MASKED SINGER is a top recommended show?
Feb 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM Oscar fete had "The Nun's Story" on Sun.,"High Noon" on Mon. and tonght,@10PM,"A Mn For All seasons",all helmed by Fred Zinnemann. All share a moral dilemma,and,if you include the Quaker subplot in "High Noon",all are religious dilemmas. I remember my folks taking us to see "Seasons" and thinking I'd be bored,as old British history was not "Bullitt". I was not bored. The players and the dialogue are just great. First a radio play,then TV,to the stage in 1960,this film in 1966 and a TV remake in 1988. The story of a man standing up to the powerful needs to be heard today.
Feb 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Today's blurb on "I Am The Night" has "Fauna (India Eisley) not only getting closer to the secrets buried in and before her past, but getting invited, in her present day of 1965, to a Los Angeles high-society event billed as a 'happening.' ” Having lived through 1965, I'm reasonably sure that "Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll came a year or two later. In '65, it was more like Civil Rights, Voting Rights and the major escalation of the Vietnam War (with the repercussions starting a bit later).
Feb 18, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Staying with TCM tonight? John Ford'a "A Quiet Man" follows. Disney's "Darby O'Gill" may be considered Irish fantasy,but a small village with Catholics & Protestants with no conflict,including the clergy,is possibly further out there than Leprechans. But delightful! Missing it tonight? Next showing-3/17,St. Patty's Day,possibly the best time to view John Ford's land of love and mischief.
Both movies are shown tonight as they both lost the 1952 Best Picture Oscar to "The Greatest Show On Earth", a circus extravaganza. Really. Another loser(not even nominated):"Singin' In the Rain".
Feb 18, 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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