THURSDAY
JULY 11
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

CW, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode finds a way for Liv (Rose McIver) to approach the latest murder case like an old-fashioned gumshoe – which means analogy-heavy narration and black-and-white photography. In other words, it’s a rare crossover subgenre: zombie noir.
 
  
 
 

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

This 1986 movie, directed by Rob Reiner, is another example of how the son of Carl Reiner has helmed, in many different genres, successful films (stylistically as well as financially) that show him to be a very gifted director. He’s perfect at being faithful to each film’s central conceit and flavor, and just as good working with actors, whether working on The Princess Bride, Misery, or This Is Spinal Tap! And with this coming-of-age period drama, based on a Stephen King story, Reiner does it again. Richard Dreyfuss plays the writer looking back on a pivotal event from his small-town youth in 1959, when he and his best friends went out in search of the rumored body of a missing, presumed-dead boy. And what a young cast: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell play the best friends, with Kiefer Sutherland as their chief tormenter.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1807 Comments
 
 
Mac
12/10-After the first two Pink Panther films get the prime-time shine,the other three follow overnight: 12:15AM-Return,2:30AM-Strikes Again and 4:30AM-Revenge. TCM getting lazy by repeating these just a few days ago(11/29)? Well,in these
crazed times,funny stupid is always welcome. Hopefully,bathroom breaks won't require 10-15 flushes each time. God save the Ti-D-Bol Commander-In-Chief! And please wash after every event. It's the American-Standard!
Dec 10, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Tom
"A lonely guy,exiled to a mike. Bitter,with some cause,to the end."

Mac, are you writing about yourself?
Dec 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
No,that's just Shep. I'm not lonely,just cranky. My ever lovin',as you may assume,puts up with lots. Three kids,all grown,doing good,in three different time zones. They all know that Dad was a Sesame Street fan before they were born. College prof was amazed I put together a paper as the show hit TV. I told him look at the bibliography-things were changing. My kids played with some of of my Street toys,esp an original Cookie Monster hand puppet that needed new eyes sewn,LPs and Golden Books. They played through Star Wars,Army guys,Playmobils,Legos and Barbies. I live near a remarkable record store. As my wife says,I don't drink,smoke or get violent-just a few bucks for used music. Little rock,lots of jazz,50s-60s pop,especially Sinatra. A book,"Living Poor,With Style",has been a guide post. In retirement,more so. Bitter? First voted 1971,pre-Nixon's Second Act. Sad to see we have learned little about honesty,honor and ethics,but I've missed few,if any,elections.
And you?
Dec 10, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Carol Spinney's passing as Sesame Street gets a Kennedy Honor and celebrates 50 years-sad. First episode,three minutes in,the first Muppet shown was Big Bird. It was through BB that kids could be a goof(Everyone Makes Mistakes),sometimes scared and often excited- a four year old. It was Spinney's heart & soul inside Big Bird that brought reality. Oscar-also Spinney-another side -arrogant,opinionated and sometimes right Orange at first-the Trump jokes would come later. Grump Tower.
Dec 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Carroll. Sorry.
Dec 9, 2019
 
 
 
Joe G
I highly recommend tracking down the equally great The Great Fourth of July and other disasters. It too is narrated by Shep.
Dec 9, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Caution-Amazon has some Shep stuff on DVD-R-on demand.The body of Shep on film is more miss than hit. Also,Shep in print, is just mediocre-at least Hugh Hefner printing them gave Shep some income but even that might have worked against his art and inflated his ego. Shep as storyteller-that's the best way. Stories about him hanging around radio station WOR hours before showtime and trying out material to anyone caught in a doorway. A lonely guy,exiled to a mike. Bitter,with some cause,to the end. But I love listening.
Dec 9, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
In recent years,TNT & TBS had A Christmas Story on both channels-I think delayed by an hour-from 8PM Christmas Eve till 8PM Christmas Day.Current online schedule does not include those days yet.
Of all the Christmas movies,this one is my favorite. I listened to lots of Jean Shepherd's monologues,including some that make up this film,and remember taking my first-born son to a second-run theatre,overjoyed with Shep's narration and how well the stories came to life,while showing real parent love(never a part of Shep's stories)from the actors. Add to that,outside of a broken lamp,the parents truly love each other as well,faults and all. It took a while,but the masses eventually discovered this little gem. House in the neighborhood has "the lamp" as their single holiday decoration. The true meaning of Christmas In America. Warning,A Christmas Story 2 is part of the AMC Networks line up. It belongs on Fox News as an example of The War on A Christmas Story-put it in Hannity's stocking.
Dec 8, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Matt Alpern
Matt If you have this streaming service (and want/need to avoid NBC's relentless commercial interruptions), "It's A Wonderful Life" is currently available on Amzon Prime. Both is black and white and color formats.
Dec 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Dave Brown
Might want to remove The Circus from TV We're Watching. It's on hiatus until Jan 26.
Dec 6, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
RandyR
No love for "Vikings"? Season 6 starts tonight. (IMDB: 8.6 out of 10)
Dec 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Denis Leary also stars in one of the best "Christmas" movies ever made, "The Ref" (1994). It also stars Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, Christine Baranski and Glynis Johns. I cannot recommend this hilarious movie enough. It's about a burglar who reluctantly ends up holding the world's most dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas Eve and ends up acting as their therapist.
Dec 4, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Phillip R. Crabb
Ah, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The 55th broadcast, and I was there for the first. Shows like this we talked about in school in the days leading up.

Happy to see this year they waited until December to schedule.
Charlie Brown Christmas in the wings, the best ever...

Best of the Season, David...

Phil
Franklin (Sussex County) NJ
Dec 3, 2019   |  Reply
 
Phillip R. Crabb
Mac-As you point out, interesting these ads are still remembered today, surely to a point that they are preserved on YouTube retrospectives. Perhaps hard to remember any show where both the presentation and it's respective ads had such staying power to the point of discussion.

It was probably a couple years later that Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison cakes became the referential ads for these specials.

About this time of year was when each series broadcast their "Christmas" episode. Of course, Red Skelton comes to mind, but even the short-lived series like "Hank" had a Christmas show taped..

Great days in Television, the must be because, as you say, they still resonate.

Phil
Dec 5, 2019
 
 
Mac
Phil-That's probably a mixture of two limited-action ads and shows how these ads resonate decades later. The ads with the shaver as sled were for Norelco and featured Santa zooming through the snow like those heads would zoom through Dad's whiskers. But,yes,the Dennis the Menace Dad Elf did indeed appear in the GE spots,just handling G.E. stuff. And,only speculating,that might have been no accident for the appearance the Rudolph special aired on Sun. evening,as Dennis The Menace aired just one year before and was then in syndication. Kids gobbled up all of this in a time of limited sources for product. Animation of any kind was an expensive,yet effective,way to get attention.Fred & Barney sneaking a Winston,then later vitamins. Light up,kids. And don't forget the drugs.The locally famous Hamm's Bear beer ads. Drink up,kids. And remember the dweeb who put a little dab of grease in his hair and the ladies dropped everything to touch him. Disturbing,mesmerizing,entertaining. Repeat.
Dec 4, 2019
 
 
Phillip R. Crabb
Mac,
I remember those commercials, especially the Rudolph elf (the one that looked like Dennis The Menace's Father) riding the cordless triple-head electric shave through the snow.

Thanks for the tip on YouTube.
Time travel....

Phil
Dec 4, 2019
 
 
Mac
If only the animated,singing commercials for GE appliances were included. A YouTube clip is copyrighted Rankin/Bass Productions;a big deal because thoughts were that GE held this material somewhere in a vault they had no idea about. Arthur Rankin Jr. & Rankin/Bass historian,Rick Goldscmidt have done outstanding restoration. Some stuff GE was peddling in 1964:mixers,vacuums,cordless electric knives,clocks,hair dryers,toaster ovens,can opener/knife sharpener,electric blankets,coffee makers,electric toothbrushes,skillets,irons and shoe polishers.All US made.The General Electric Fantasy Hour.NBC's promo lists 12/4 for the premiere,but it was Sun. 12/6/64,preempting,The GE College Bowl and Meet The Press-a 90 min. slot.
The 12/2 CBS airing was the last broadcast version for the season. ABC Freeform has 6 additional airings-a first.
Dec 3, 2019
 
 
 
jim
If anyone hasn't seen the silent version of Ben-Hur I highly recommend it. The chariot race is the equal of the 1959 version and the battle at sea may actually be even better than the one in the '59 version. It's also a pre-code film so you may be surprised by the very muscular naked man chained to the wall in one scene. I've gone full circle on the '59 version. I loved it as a kid when it first came out. Hated it as a young adult when I found it ridiculous and cliched and now I love it again in part because of the very things I once disliked about it.
Dec 2, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
T-giving TV-down memory lane. Remember when CBS had a parade round up? it included Philadelphia's Gimbel's,NYC's Macy's,Detroit's Hudson & Toronto's Eaton Santa Claus parade( that one taped). Captain Kangaroo & Co. hosted the first ones, I think following the Captain's regular gig,so it was a long day for the crew but lots of toy ads. Thanks to tvparty.com for jogging my memory and noting that the first Jubilee(as CBS titled this) was 60 years ago. Philly had hours of their parade on Ch. 6(who still broadcast a parade and now own the rights(Disney) and NBC had the Macy's parade (still do,sharing with CBS). All to keep the kiddies from going nuts before company came.
No sign of a War on Thanksgiving here,though the President seems to have no love for the homeless. I wonder if he knows that many are wounded veterans(some on the inside,some on the outside,some both). No pardons,no medals,no Navy SEAL pins for those forgotten.
Nov 28, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
11/26-TCM's Bette Davis tribute to Bette Davis ends with another 24 hours of possibly the greatest film star of all time. Sad,but one of the best,All About Eve,is buried @ 8AM and the spooky ones are in prime time. Eve is next scheduled 1/19/20 @8PM,so it gets the primetime slot it deserves. It shows up often for a reason.
Nov 26, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Proof how buoyant Dolly Parton's career has been(sorry),when nobody wanted her making records and country radio eating their young,she made a series of bluegrass records(most via Sugar hill Records) that are excellent and edgy. Sad,with Linda Ronstadt not able to perform anymore,there will be no more Trio material from Dolly,Linda and Emmylou Harris.
Nov 26, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
jan
I just found out last week that The Jim Jefferies show has been cancelled. I actually really liked that show, and I wanted to write to Comedy Central to complain, but I can't seem to find out how to contact them. Does anyone know? Thanks in advance.
Nov 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
The Jeffries ting is a done deal,save results that Comcast likes. NBC has to get edgier to compete with Amazon,Netflix,etc. FX & FXx-now under Disney. How extreme are they gonna go? Well,Hulu,which,once again,is Disney. The entire FX/FXx catalog goes to Hulu in a few months and at least four new series are now headed for "Fx on Hulu"(as Disney calls it). While some idiots talk of a physical border wall,here is a wall much more effective.
Nov 29, 2019
 
 
jan
Thanks for the info, Mac. I can't imagine how Jeffries will transfer to network TV, though. He's kind of "no holds barred" on the Comedy Central show. I really liked his other show--also not on network TV--FX maybe? I'm still not sure about the NBC thing, although I hope he gets more recognition.
Nov 28, 2019
 
 
Mac
Mr. Jeffries is jumping from Viacom to NBC to co-write and star in a three camera comedy. With NBC needing new comedy fodder to replace The Good Place,Will & Grace(Sean Hayes is part of the production team for this new sitcom), and Perfect Harmony bombing. Must See TV on NBC is pretty much Must Ignore TV. No date is set,but with such an early announcement,I don't think you'll see this till fall 2020,just weeks before the election,which may interfere with getting a foothold with an audience. Add to that Thurs. NFL would take a good size of his fan base. But Jeffries is certainly ready for his big time network close up and NBC is desperate for a Thursday night hit.
Nov 26, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
I didn't know about the connection between The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger till a few years ago. Both created by Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. Britt Reid's father was Dan Reid Jr.,the nephew of John Reid,aka The Lone Ranger. So much for secret identities.Dan was featured lots in the radio serials and a few TV episodes. Fun fact-Dan Reid Jr. was voiced on the radio series by James Lipton-yes,that James LIpton from the Actors Studio show,recently retired but still with us at 94.
Nov 25, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Sorry if deja-vu attacks again. Whenever Richard Lester is mentioned, I think of his beginnings on City Line Ave.,Phila. Pa.,directing a live-action western from the backlot of WCAU-TV. I was a toddler when this happened,so,though I was aware of TV and watching this station,I have no recollection of it. But the idea of trucks zooming on the main road and airplanes flying overhead while,rain,snow or shine,the back was supposed to be a 19th century Montana town, just fascinates me. Add to the fun,future horror movie host,John Zacherle,was part of the crew.Wiki says he portrayed an undertaker at least once on the cowboy show. A few years later,ghoul make up and bad jokes,he became a area star first in Philly(as Roland)and later NYC. I did see a couple of those. That's a story I would love to see filmed.
Nov 22, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
Full circle for Phiily fans. As UHF stations gave viewers more choices in the '60s,Joe Zwislak got permission from Zacherle to portray a similar Roland character as Dr. Shock- bad jokes,puns and B horror movies. Dr. Shock brought onboard his real-life daughter,Doreen,named Bubbles Booth after sponsor Booth's soda. There was nothing scary about Bubbles-she was there primarily to let kiddies know it was all in fun. Dr. Shock adored Bubbles. Sad,Dr. Shock died at 42 of a heart attack.
WNEP,Scranton Pa.,had yet another horror movie host-Uncle Ted. While NE Pa fans loved Ted,his TV time is more well-known for a WNEP reporter hired to write jokes for Ted-Bill O'Reilly. Even back then, Billo was scummy-stories abound of his lying and mean-spirited practical jokes.
Nov 25, 2019
 
 
Matt Alpern
Mac:
Remember Zacherle very well from childhood days.. his show was hysterical. Zacherle's show was on WPIX (Channel 11), along with Officer Joe Bolton. Sonny Fox was on the old Channel 5 in NYC. Diver Dan and AquaBoy.. not sure. BTW.. Zacherle went on to a very successful career in NYC radio.. first on WABC-FM, and then, WPLJ-FM, when call letters were changed and the station went to a "progressive rock" format. John was also a very nice man (met him several times over the years). Matt
Nov 23, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
USA Network is the spot for Law & Order:SVU repeats. They often have a theme marathon on Suns. like episodes with award winning actors before they got big. 11/24 features episodes surrounding the fictitious Hudson University,the school even Betsy Devos wouldn't want you to go unless they bribed her. Rape,sexual assaults-110%,including profs,coaches and cleaning staff. Fun fact:the fictitious Hudson U. has been around before L&O,including Batman's Robin alma mater and the medical school for Bill Cosby's Dr. Cliff Huxtable(training grounds?)-this from scountingny.com. A favorite episode,@4PM,Gray, has a bit part with Aria Alpert. Aria's parents are Herb Alpert & Brasil '66 singer Lani Hall. Aria looks just like her mom, but has pretty much retired from film acting as this 2010 episode is her most recent Imdb. entry. Meanwhile, Herb(@ 84)& Lani still record and tour-recommended if they are in your area-currently @ Cafe Carlyle,NYC(pricey yet near sold out) till 11/30.
Nov 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
What was that excrescence about a half-hour ago on Turner Classic Movies about a naive American woman named "Benny Ford" with a bad haircut wandering alone in Mexico and practicing to become a bullfighter? The guide said "Cool Hand Luke" was supposed to be on.. Even in the '50s or '60s, doubtful U.S. women would travel alone like that. Loopy idea.
Nov 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
Mac
It was the short, Beauty And The Bull(1954),which was scheduled after Luke @ 7:40PM(this from TCM's full schedule). True story of Bette Ford,who went in the ring 200 times,killed lots of bulls and was befriended by Ernest Hemingway. Her resume included modeling before and,after hanging up the red cape, did extensive one-shot acting chores with two Emmy noms. Still with us at 92. Along the way,she married a much younger guy,a wise move as my wife will tell you when I'm on my meds.
Nov 21, 2019
 
 
 
Mac
Movies! is part of our overpriced cable set up(and it isn't Comcast) but to be avoided unless they are showing something unusual. System co-owned by Fox(not Disney)and Weigel. Weigel is involved with lots of retro channels. Problem with Weigel is how they toss ads with little human involvement,clip and speed up all of their fare and accept ads from many unsavory folks trying to empty old folks' wallets. "Arsenic" runs two hours-Movies! schedules it for 2 1/2 hrs. Filmed in 1941-released 1944. As great as this film is,know that TCM schedules it Wed. 12/11 @ 1:30PM,-uncut and free of Joe Namath annoying interruptions. TCM's daytime theme(6AM-8PM) for 12/11- comedic films centered about aunts.
Nov 19, 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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