SATURDAY
SEPTEMBER 21
2019

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

TCM, 5:45 p.m. ET

Harper Lee’s unforgettable novel about childhood, parenthood, bigotry and the law was made into this marvelous 1962 film – made even more unforgettable and marvelous by the performance of Gregory Peck as small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. This film always is worth watching – but even more so if you’ve seen Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant Broadway version of Lee’s story, starring Jeff Daniels as a more flawed, still evolving Atticus. I’ve seen the Broadway play three times, and consider it one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen on stage. But the ticket costs are way too high for me to see the play as often as I’ve watched this 1962 movie. And here comes the movie again…
 
  
 
 

FXX, 8:00 p.m. ET

Tomorrow night is the live Fox telecast of the prime-time Emmys. Tonight, sister cable network FXX presents taped coverage of last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards, which includes such categories as Outstanding Creative Archievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program. (The winner – well-deserved, by the way – is Netflix’s Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror.) The categories also include Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded), where, again, the winner was very well-deserved: CBS’s Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live from Liverpool.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

The first movie in this comedy franchise took everyone by surprise, especially by being much funnier and more original than expected. As with most sequels, this 2019 follow-up doesn’t deliver on either count nearly as much. But if you really enjoyed The Lego Movie, you’ll enjoy this one, too. Or this one, 2.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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1928 Comments
 
 
David Sicilia
Don't shave! The weirder the better. Next, Letterman? After that, ZZ Top? Let's see where this goes.
May 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
For those wanting to take part in the Carol Burnett marathon,go to shoutfactorytv.com and hit "TV",which will bring up slide selections. The Carol Burnett slide has a "more info" box to hit,which will take you to the marathon. Platforms include Shout's You Tube channel,Roku and lots of other places. Shout has recently announced a boatload of Johnny Carson Tonight Show episodes,sans musical moments. Hoping that Burnett's episodes have everything included.
May 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re: David's suggestion on his You Tube about to shear,or not to shear seems(at least for me)have no ability to add comments. My 2 cents- David lives in New Jersey-still a hot of new cases and deaths,just behind NY. Even the gov. is holding off for Stage 2 news in openings till Mon. My take on the beard-not until more testing and more accurate numbers.
Years ago,when preparing to open a store,I vowed to the boss not to shave till opening. Delays went over a month,largely due to custom fixtures coming from a hurricane town. I,too,had that "Tom Hanks Castaway" look that truly no one,including my future wife,who tolerated this as this store would be life changing. I cleaned up by opening-11/11/89. For the next decade,life changing events,indeed-may of them spectacular. A goal was set and I still remember that metamorphosis.
May 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/29-Watching 7:12AM CNN live feed,including the arrests by State Police of an on-scene reporting crew headed by a black reporter 1/2 hr. ago. My personal reason for watching is because of my son not only lives nearby the scene but worked for years at the nearby Hub Bike Co Op,just feet from the 3rd Precinct station. Meanwhile,MSNBC had live on-air coverage,including Ali Velshi. And Fox News online headlines Trump's Twitter blast,already flagged by Twitter for "glorifying violence." Who is in charge here?
May 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/28-TCM's month of Edward G. Robinson films ends tonight with a uncharacteristic portrayal of a loving father to Margret O'Brien in the small farming town,inhabited by Norwegian immigrants. Dalton Trumbo's last credited script before being blacklisted for Communist leaning writings. What is displayed here is the "we're in this together,good times and bad" idea that permeates everything today. Fairness,helping those in need-pretty radical,huh? Sappy? Yeah,but a tremendous payoff. The film was kinda hidden because of Trumbo's blacklisting,but shows up at TCM many times,sometimes at Christmas. O'Brien is still with us,just 83, and knows how important this role is to her filmography. A true weepy to clean out the tear ducts but not a false moment.
May 28, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Stephen Meskin
Barkskins looked good but ads on Nat. Geo ruined it and drove me away! Please warn us in future.
May 26, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
With David's Best TV for 5/25,the History Channel's Grant docs,this reminds me of a great James Thurber short story,or a casual as they have been called:If Grant Had Been Drinking At Appomattox. I think this showed up on the single season of My World & Welcome To It,a sit-com with William Windom portraying a Thurberesque character in 1969. Why this much-requested show never made it to video is a true crime. Lost in the ether? Destroyed? Windom won an Emmy and the show itself won for Best Comedy Series ,though cancelled. Windom would portray Thurber onstage for years afterwards in a one man show.
May 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
Tom Davis
I was lucky to watch the filming of 'My World & Welcome To It' back in 1969. My brother, Larry Hovis, was a regular on 'Hogans Heroes' and they were filmed on the same lot. I was bored so my brother pushed me over to the 'My World' set and was able to stand around for a few scenes. I loved James Thurber but I had to be dragged back to the 'Hogans' set by a friend. William Windom was very quiet and never complained about a few retakes he was making of a particular scene. My brother and I both believed 'My World' had the best writing.
May 30, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Is Disney just as lazy as CBS for recycling material to fill a dead Sat. night of TV? CBS continues with recycling Paramount blockbusters of relatively recent vintage on Sun. nights-5/24 it's Titanic,stretched from 3 1/4 hours to a 4 1/2 hour slot,with ads. Disney is airing their ESPN/Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan on ABC,censored,and in two hour blocks,which started last night and continues through 6/20. It goes behind the Netflix paywall in July. Verdict? Just as lazy,but at least more recent and at least no game show nonsense.
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mark H Flannery
The description for "Billions" is the same as that for "I Know This Much Is True"
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
"Labor of Love" is a lazy title for a show with a disappointing premise. Wouldn't it be better to call it "Crock of Love," "Steaming Pile of Love," or "Labor of Crock"?
May 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
I had no idea what Labor of Love was,so,after finding out(ties to the insipid Bachelor),I found that the first show pulled in less than a million folk,and an abysmal number for the desired demographic(source-The Hollywood Reporter).
May 24, 2020
 
 
Mary B.
Could call it "Falling of Rock" or "Weakness of Premise." As Steve Ray Vaughn sang, "That's a cold shot.." a slap at women.
May 24, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
5/22-FX, now part of the Disney,premieres AKA Jane Roe @ 9PM. It proclaims deep investigation and interviews,with the headline bombshell from Jane Roe,aka Norma McCorvey ,reneges on her long about face against abortion. Her views renouncing abortion,after being the literal poster woman for abortion rights,a law and its Supreme Court rulings, which changed everything in the U.S. The conversion against abortion,she claimed late in life,were funded in the six figures,by pro-life money,including one religious guy interviewed who has since overturned his ideas. This supersedes any programming tonight. For both sides,ya gotta see what is here. Why this night,at the start of the Memorial Day weekend? Dunno. But thankful Disney didn't hide it behind a paywall and,since they took over FX & FXX,captioning has stabilized so many more can understand this important subject. In the recent past these channels were off limits,due to the folks @ Fox lazy work. Wow! I said something nice about Disney.
May 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
Please fix your listings for today
May 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Better Call Saul fans might want to look to the funny papers(available online via gocomics.com) for Ruben Bolling's scathing comic,Tom the Dancing Bug from 5/15/20. Taking the format of one of Saul's ads,it is headlined Better Buzz Barr,as in the AG William Barr as doing as much harm as Trump and McConnell. "You can smear Sessions,but you can't dis Barr! Call 1-855-LOWERTHEBARR".
May 21, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
5/19-TCM's daytime theme is madness and it includes 2 brilliant and disturbing British films from director Michael Powell. 1PM The Red Shoes- A young ballerina divided between not only two men- one a composer,the other a master of dance and the ballerina's passion for her own art. 6:15PM-Black Narcissus-A group of nuns working in the Himalayans. Two of the finest examples of color with cinematography by Jack Cardiff(never miss a Cardiff film). Sandwiched in-between-Lawrence Olivier's little effort-Hamlet-but I would still concentrate on the Powell films. Too intense? Try the Cartoon Network.
May 19, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Comedian Jim Gaffigan has been showing up on CBS Sunday Morning during quarantine from his Manhattan apartment. He is not alone-his wife,Jeannie,who had a brain tumor removed 3 yrs. ago,with complications after, is active in everything. Add all five kids-ages 8 thru 15. You Tube extras include a cooking series and a Q&A with the Qs from the kids and As from expert Andy Slavitt. Past episodes via You Tube. Nothing comedic that will spurt your coffee through your nose,but a family that truly loves each other in 2020, getting through Covid-19 while living in the U.S. epicenter-Manhattan.
May 16, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Seth Meyers 5/13-New best seller on the table-not yet a mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain-The Shorn Brads. Possible You Tube videos of Messrs. Pitt,Garrett,Bird & Paisley getting quarantine haircuts?
May 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I don't receive AXS but Dan Rather's interview with Ian Anderson has lit up a music forum I frequent. There are many Jethro Tull fans there and the obsessive nature of many audiophiles onboard bring about a load of comments,well beyond what you would consider merely "fans". Ian Anderson's COPD is incurable and could change things rapidly for the worse if left alone. The soundbite "can still run for the bus" is more than a cliche as Anderson evidently doesn't drive. His health is of great concern to fans and it is odd that the biggest Jethro Tull album is titled Aqualung. That album turns 50 next year.
May 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
Why go through the trouble of making a video for BEST BETS and not updating the site?
Not everyone wants to spend the time watching a video.
May 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A follow-up to the cable airings of Monk. The Sundance Channel put a Covid 19-themed spot with Mr. Monk in showing that he was just ahead of the game. Now Comcast's upcoming Peacock paychannel has begun teasers integrating Covid 19 with interviews. First up-hosted by Seth McFarlane,Tony Shalhoub in his Monk character and guest stars. Quite good! Peaccok is probably going to have Monk in its lineup,as Universal owns rights to the entire series(no Disney Touchstone as it started with USA) and the short is available at You Tube for free. Sad,CC only in Spanish.
May 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
News story: ViacomCBS plans to rebrand CBS All Access. Possible rename-Nyah,Nyah,Nyah,Nyah You Must Be This Rich To Come In.
Last summer CBS broadcast the first year of The Good Fight. Evidently they didn't see adequate numbers coming to the paysite because it seems nothing this summer. Sad. They haul out 5 Paramount films,all not available via paysites,but often viewed via cable with ads and toss them to broadcast to fill a gap on Sundays during sweeps. Add to that,this cheap stunt yielded at least passing numbers as per Hollywood Reporter. NBC's lineup of new scripted shows,Zoey & Good Girls,drew smaller numbers yet both are expected to do OK with delayed viewing. But CBS proved that rather than even giving some of their current scripted fare a needed extra slot(Bull,All Rise,SWAT,the FBI franchises),the cheapest proved the best $$$ results. This experiment will not end soon. Meanwhile,the All Access virtual episode,an innovative experiment serving as a first season finale,tanked.
May 7, 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.