TUESDAY
MAY 14
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SPECIAL PREMIERE: Original Roman & Martin’s Laugh-In cast members Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi and Jo Anne Worley appear in this new celebratory special, honoring the fast-paced comedy sketch series that was among TV’s most popular shows of the early 1970s. Historically, Laugh-In borrowed from the rapid-fire joke style and sight-gag setups of Ernie Kovacs’ brilliant specials of the 1950s, and the prime-time topical comedy of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. But by firing at all targets simultaneously across the political and social spectrum, it offended, and pleased, everyone pretty much equally. This special is a bit late – the actual 50th anniversary of the Laugh-In series was in 2017 – and, built around a live salute held at a Los Angeles theater, with lots of younger performers paying homage to Laugh-In alongside the few participating veterans, it’s not written or performed sharply enough. It’s nice Netflix is paying attention to older TV shows. I just wish, in this case, they’d done a better job, in terms of both the history and the comedy.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE: Director Antoine Fuqua and writer Steven Leckart have crafted this two-part documentary biography of the former Cassius Clay. It’s a powerful study, and both parts are shown tonight, so settle in and watch with intrigue, to get more proof about how early, and how consistently, the man calling himself “the Greatest” was battling more than rival boxers in his pursuit of freedom, justice, equality and celebrity. What’s My Name? is better than most Ali documentaries at putting us in his frame of mind, and in the ring with him, to understand what was at stake in his many major bouts. But also, by showing footage from his days with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., this documentary shows us how willing he was, from the start, to fight fiercely for his beliefs outside the ring as well. Stay for the end, and you get the two best clips from Ali’s final years: His interview with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes, and his triumphant lighting of the Olympic torch in 1996. It’s worth noting that the producers of What’s My Name? include LeBron James, who, with this documentary and his talk series The Shop, has done a champion’s job of presenting TV shows for HBO that reveal the histories and intricacies of sports and race. For a full review, see Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes.

 
  
 
 

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Last night, for the first time, The Voice was granted access to the songs of The Beatles, and presented duet showcases in which its semifinalists teamed for such songs as “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude.” Tonight, the results of that battle – but I can reveal my results early. The Voice didn’t do the legacy of The Beatles any favors. The show should have let it be.

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

This sixth episode of Fosse/Verdon is called “All I Care About Is Love,” taking its title from a song from the Broadway musical Chicago. That musical, in which Bob Fosse fashioned a later-career showcase for Gwen Verdon, is the subject of tonight’s episode – and so is the physical stress Fosse put himself under at the time. The movie All That Jazz, directed by Fosse himself, covered this ground already. This time, though, it’s done without changing the names.

 
  
 
 

Sundance, 10:00 p.m. ET

Part 7. With nothing more than dialogue, and an occasional dash down the street or impulsive shove, Chris O’Dowd and Rosamund Pike have made their characters here come fully to life. They play a married couple, at this point living apart and seeing a therapist, trying to decide whether to heal or put an end to their marital relationship. This 10-part series is written by Nick Hornby and directed by Stephen Frears, who collaborated on the wonderful movie version of High Fidelity. And by now, I’m desperately rooting for the characters to work it out, because their conversations are more charming and witty than just about anything else on TV. In fact, I want a sequel series, please.

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1693 Comments
 
 
Larry Levinson
David's AITF preview ... Archie work on a loading dock, and only occasionally drove a cab on the side. See 'sent a crate to London, UK'
May 23, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
T
It’s funny that you leave out the main through-line of the Welles documentary. “The Eyes” refer literally to his rich oeuvre of visual works-sketches, paintings, character studies-artifacts which help draw out why his films were so visually striking. Instead of being capricious, it layers biography, history, still images and clips into a beautiful tapestry. It helps you see the legendary films with fresh eyes, which is more than any linear documentary.


Where is Mac? I hope he’s okay.
May 14, 2019   |  Reply
 
Angela
Good question! I hope he's OK too.
May 22, 2019
 
 
 
Scott
Rough blurb for Chernobyl today! It says to look at the Uncle Barky or Watchtower sub blogs for further review but I don't see it written about on either one. Am I overlooking it?
May 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
Scott
"
Pleasant viewing it’s not. But in terms of capturing a time and place, the five-part miniseries (Monday at 9 p.m. ET) succeeds on every level. Initial viewer resistance is understandable. This is a grim and unsparing dissection of the April 26, 1986 catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat. Never more so than when radiation-contaminated pets left behind in evacuated areas are hunted down, shot, and dumped into a mass grave during a heartrending Episode 4."
May 6, 2019
 
 
Scott
It's up now after my initial comment.
http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogPostDetails.aspx?postId=18170
May 6, 2019
 
 
 
JOEL
The odds you give on the Kentucky Derby don't look right to me. Game Winner can't lead the field at 8-1 odds when there are a couple of horses in the race with odds of 5-1. Right?
May 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
John Coleman
Parallax View was how long after RFK assassination?
May 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Keith Robin
I feel your pain because Last Week Tonight is at the top of my list of Sunday must-watch shows and I am always disappointed when I hear John Oliver and Bill Maher say "We're off next week...", which was the case last night. At least Game of Thrones (also at the top of my list) was extra long and somewhat filled the void left by LWTw/JO's mini hiatus.
Apr 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Casey
GLASS ONION
A glass onion is a coffin with a see-through lid. Because of this, it became a big part of the "Paul is Dead" hoax.

OR

A large hand blown glass bottle used aboard ships to hold wine or brandy.
Apr 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Bob516
About the "Bonding" write-up. Is this some Zen koan, "so the entire thing can be consumed in less time than it takes to watch."
Apr 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
Are home invasions, like the ones linked to the Chicago PD case in which Hank's son is left for dead, prevalent today in Chicago? Kind of a reflection of the home invasions in the mid- to late-90s in Haltom City, near Fort Worth, which were linked to Asian gangs.
Apr 24, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Haskett
Once again broadcast TV is pretty much ignored. Madam Secretary belongs in the best bets, and in the Emmy nominations. Why does the Emmy group ignore shows like "Bul"l and "Black List"? Is it because they can't show nudity or swear? I'm far from a prude (I liked "Masters of sex) but I wonder why good shows on broadcast TV never get a nod. Perhaps they need to have seperate catagories for broadcast and cable/satellite. What's your take on why they are virtually ignored?
Apr 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
MAS
My Comcast schedule has "Killing Eve" on at 8pm Eastern on BBCA and repeated at 10:03.
Apr 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Frank Dracman
I guess you're REALLY anxious for the start of the last season of Game of Thrones because in your write-up for Saturday Night Live, you're eight days early. This is not a criticism,just an observation because I am (as I'm sure many others are as well) just as excited for April 14th to arrive!
Apr 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
In the listing for TV we’re watching it should be Santa CLARITA Diet, not Santa Clara. One is in Southern CA, and the other up here in Silicon Valley, where we have substantially fewer zombies, tho at least as many vampires.
Apr 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny in Berkeley
In the listing for TV we’re watching it should be Santa CLARITA Diet, not Santa Clara. One is in Southern CA, and the other up here in Silicon Valley, where we have substantially fewer zombies, tho at least as many vampires.
Apr 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Am I the only reader who finds it annoying that the previews at the top of the main (landing) page flip every 7 seconds? I'll be reading a blurb on a new entry and the tile will flip mid-sentence, and I'll have to cycle back to finish what I was reading. Anyone else find 7 seconds a bit too short for anything beyond a one-liner?
Apr 5, 2019   |  Reply
 
Angela
ps: I'm using Safari and I just tried it with Chrome and it also works there, too!
Apr 11, 2019
 
 
Angela
Neil, My mistake. When you hover your mouse pointer on the thumbnail in the correct place a black arrow pointing to the right will appear and that's when the tiles will freeze for as long as you keep your mouse pointer there. (I thought I wrote about the arrow before but apparently not). Try that and see if it doesn't work for you.
Apr 11, 2019
 
 
Neil
Angela, I use a Mac, but on mine hovering doesn't freeze the frames the way you say it does on yours. (I use Firefox, but just tried it with Safari just in case it's a browser disparity. No difference.) If that's a feature Eric intentionally built in, he should verify that it's consistent across all browsers and operating systems. Or else do the simple thing and change the delay to 10 seconds.
Apr 10, 2019
 
 
Angela
See the little thumbnail photos for each show on the left hand side of the page? At least on my Mac, if I take my mouse pointer and hover over any one of them the tiles don't flip! (It took me forever to learn that. :)
Apr 8, 2019
 
 
 
Bob516
I've been waiting for this day, and you did not disappoint. 'Tales of the Expected', brilliant!
Apr 1, 2019   |  Reply
 
Angela
Or they're just too gullible. (blushing)
Apr 3, 2019
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Bob: Thanks! You and I may be the last ones embracing this particular "April Fools" TVWW tradition -- but I'm stubbornly sticking it it. -DB
Apr 2, 2019
 
 
 
AR
Hey, the Women's NCAA Final Four today is so much better than the dunk fest by top men's teams. Where is that recommendation?
Mar 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Hark! The Dark Fox Fortnight of Fear is over. Pirro is on the schedule. Even after Hannity told Trump not to worry,the Fox News schedule,at least on my devices,didn't show a change. Hannity is like the weatherman predicting sunshine so you bring an umbrella. Miraculously,a few minutes after midnight this morn,the online schedule replaced the double shot of Watter's World with Justice with Judge Jeanine in her usual
9PM slot, balancing the world. Still nothing from the higher ups about the last 2 weeks. Summon the Catheter Cowboy that all is right in the land. But keep the paramedics nearby should Ms. Pirro go frothing in the Opening Statement. What revelations from the Barr Report has she gleaned over the vast 4 pages while America awaits the Mueller Report? Do I hear a My Pillow jingle? Someone has earned their angel wings.
Mar 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Don't forget that the final season of "Jane the Virgin" starts tonight--Wednesday, March 27--as well. It's over the top, but I love that show.
Mar 27, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TV Worth Avoiding-Dr. Pimple Popper has competition. Toe Bro-a podiatrist documenting ingrown toenails. Scheduled after the zit doc on a different network,so the viewer doesn't have to decide. As much as I hate any "unscripted" stuff,this is a new low. Well,outside of Sex Sent Me To the ER,Mama June and the Obese Hour. What next? Wreck-It Rectum? Where the Cologuard Box Roams? The Relux Reflects,starring Justin Burper?
3/1 comics-Doonesbury had Roland Hedley doing a Fox News documentary in search of Trump's brain,as Roland did for Reagan(twice)only ending where Trump makes all of his decisions-the gut. Not a pretty sight. Sigh.And April 1st is still days away.
Mar 27, 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.