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.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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1722 Comments
 
 
MAS
For everyone looking in vain for Season 2 of "Trapped" rejoice -- it's now on Amazon Prime.
Jul 13, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Kathy Ingrao
I don't want to watch Years and Years - I'm living it! Woe is me.
Jul 8, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
MAS
Hank, in spite of the fact that he was unknowingly after Walter White, was a relatively sympathetic character. When he was shot and severely injured and when he was dealing with his wingnut wife we felt sorry for the guy. Mary Louise is just plain creepy. And I know we're going to find something out about her other son's death that makes her seem even creepier. I don't see any connection between the two characters.
Jul 7, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
The Tour de France starts today and takes place all month. Today and tomorrow the race is in Belgium to honor Eddy Merckx, who first raced the Tour in 1969.
Jul 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
scott
I do think 1939 was a great year for movies (although a good case could be made for 1927 with Sunrise, Metropolis, The General, and Duck Soup) and some recently argued for 1999 (with Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, American Beauty, Galaxy Quest. The Thin Red Line and Fight Club). Of course, Casablanca was released in 1942 and was popularized by being shown finals week at Harvard and later rerun many times on network television
Jul 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
GreyWolf
I can't be first who caught error so glaring it seems intentional to have Casablanca as a 1939 film. Test to see if anybody is rally reading?
Jul 5, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Manoa Kahuna
Please try to mention the details of not only when a show will air but where. I'd never heard of the Simple Heist and you didn't tell me where to find it. Thank you.
Jul 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
-and don't forget Lang's seldom seen "Girl In The Moon" from which we got The Countdown"!
Jul 2, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Thurs. July 4- The annual Capitol Fourth concert on PBS will take place @8-9:30PM. John Stamos hosts.Highlights include Carole King with the Broadway cast of her "Beautiful" show,featuring Vanessa Carlton(great chops!). Vanessa Williams. Also a tribute of Sesame Street's 50th anniversary featuring Muppet cast members.
Trump's Salute to America goes 6:30-7:30PM-PBS has emphasized that A Capitol Fourth is not affiliated with Trump's salute. D.C. Fireworks(9:07-9:27) relocated to West Potomac Park,closing regular park activities form now to 7/6 and the Arlington Memorial Bridge will be shutdown. Who pays for Trump's show? Dunno,since he still owes the D.C. government $20 million from the 2017 inauguration. 50% chance of showers/thunderstorms all day.
TCM-8PM- Yankee Doodle Dandy,10:15-1776,1:15AM-Music Man.
Jun 29, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Ooops. The money alleged that the Inauguration Committee owes is $7 million. Still,imagine having a New Years Eve party to ring in 2017 and the caterer let you slide 2 1/2 years to finish paying for it. Then you want them to do a cookout today.
Jul 4, 2019
 
 
Mac
Stories abound with confusing information about the viewing of military might scheduled for Trump's Parade. After all of his demands of flyovers,fireworks and a speech from Fearless Leader,the quantity and quality of
ground firepower may differ from the original idea. Trump orders of multiple armored vehicles boasted "brand new Sherman tanks",which may prove difficult as the Sherman was been replaced in the 1950s. He requested new Shermans,but as per the D.C. City council tweet:"Tanks,but no tanks."
Jul 2, 2019
 
 
 
Cathy B.
Very much enjoyed the visuals of “Yellowstone Live” but I did not care for the commentary by Josh Elliott and Jenna Wolfe. I was tempted to turn the sound off. Seems like they would be better suited to hosting a cheesy game show. The final scene of the first episode was heartbreaking when a bear cub was swept away by the current and attacked and killed by a male bear.
Jun 24, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Leila L'Abate
Sarah Shahi has already gotten the starring tv role she deserves at least twice, in "Reverie,"way back in 2018, which was reviewed here on this site. And more entertainingly, in "Fairly Legal," in 2011-2012.I've seen women listed as writing for this site, but have never seen any reviews by them. Several shows raved about here would probably not be favorites of most warm-hearted estrogen-based life forms, and quite a few shows you completely ignore would captivate them...SO please more gender variety! THANK YOU!

AND, Netflix has just picked up all 5 seasons of the much-beloved in English subtitles, historical Turkish drama "Dirilis Ertugrul," translated as"Resurrection Ertugrul," So please review it. At least 6 Facebook fan pages are devoted just to the English version of it. Folks around the world passionately love it for its very beloved cast, great scripts, devout but canny characters, as well as colorful, sometimes over-the top villains, and brilliantly choreographed fights
Jun 24, 2019   |  Reply
 
Sue
Don't forget the short lived "Life" with Damion Lewis.
Jun 24, 2019
 
 
 
Leila L'Abate
Sarah Shahi has already gotten the starring tv role she deserves at least twice, in "Reverie,"way back in 2018, which was reviewed here on this site. And more entertainingly, in "Fairly Legal," in 2011-2012.I've seen women listed as writing for this site, but have never seen any reviews by them. Several shows raved about here would probably not be favorites of most warm-hearted estrogen-based life forms, and quite a few shows you completely ignore would captivate them...SO please more gender variety! THANK YOU!

AND, Netflix has just picked up all 5 seasons of the much-beloved in English subtitles, historical Turkish drama "Dirilis Ertugrul," translated as"Resurrection Ertugrul," So please review it. At least 6 Facebook fan pages are devoted just to the English version of it. Folks around the world passionately love it for its very beloved cast, great scripts, devout but canny characters, as well as colorful, sometimes over-the top villains, and brilliantly choreographed fights
Jun 24, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Stick around after Dog Day Afternoon for the 1973 Al Pacino/Gene Hackman Scarecrow. Two drifters agree on a business model but make a few stops along the way, The early days of HBO filled their schedule with then-recent Warner Bros. box office bombs and this one spooled almost daily with a pair of A-list actors. Hackman called this "a mixture of Midnight Cowboy and Of Mice & Men"(from the TCM website and Roger Ebert's take as well) so expect sadness added to sadness. Folks listen to the blues to cleanse the soul. This film is a slow moving tsunami for the soul.
Jun 22, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A major reason to comment less frequently is that I don't participate in subscriber channels-Netflix,Amazon Prime,HBO etc. Don't .Won't Ain't. A financial wall tougher than anything Gen. Bonespurs attempts. And PBS adds to the crime with their Passport paywall,keeping the Public out of the vault.
So I had to smile at a recent story of the Foundation For A Christian Civilization calling for Netflix to cancel the Good Omen series and getting 20,000 petitioners to protest. Trouble is,the series comes from Amazon Prime and not Netflix. Wrong pew,wrong church. So much for Return to Order. It isn't Satan winning,it is stoopid.
Jun 20, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
SharonGS
Thank you for finally mentioning the Women’s World Cup. Folks should realize, however, that there are many exciting games involving teams other than the U.S. Check it out, people! It’s on Monday-Thursday this week; knock-out rounds start next Saturday
Jun 16, 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.