FRIDAY
NOVEMBER 20
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET

MINISERIES PREMIERE: It’s getting tougher and tougher, these days, to determine with any authority what is a movie, a TV show, a series, and a miniseries. The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was designed as a six-part anthology Western miniseries, intended for television, and a premiere on Netflix. But before Netflix premiered it in 2018, all six episodes of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs were shown at the 2018 Venice International Film Festivalas a reassembled anthology film – where it won Best Screenplay. So all of a sudden, Buster Scruggs was released on Netflix that way, as a movie. And now we have another acclaimed artist, director Steve McQueen, pulling a similarly confusing trick. Small Axe was produced originally for the BBC and aired this past Monday, with five individual films presented as a film anthology series. Three of them were shown at the New York Film Festival in September, and now all of them are being streamed by Amazon Prime Video. The title comes from a Bob Marley song of the same name, quoting a proverb: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” But are we a movie, or a miniseries?
 
  
 
 

Hulu, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This reboot counts as an official revival of the 1993 animated TV series, with the same characters (Yakko, Wakko and Dot, as well as Pinky and the Brain), all voiced by the original voice actors. And yes, Steven Spielberg is involved, so bring decently high expectations.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: Last Sunday, John Oliver ended his Last Week Tonight with John Oliver HBO series by literally exploding 2020 (look it up on your Google machine). Five days later, another HBO current-events satirist, Bill Maher, ends his season tonight. Both series scheduled their finales presuming that the election would be decided. Well, that was optimistic. But for tonight, Maher has lined up a suitably strong guest list, including Alex Wagner from Showtime’s The Circus, historian Jon Meacham (pictured), and Prof. Michael Eric Dyson.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 2:00 a.m. ET

This 1988 comedy was co-written by Julie Brown, who co-stars – and captures the late 1980s better than most movies of that era. Better yet, it captures lots of young talent on the rise. Geena Davis stars as a California Valley Girl whose life is ripped asunder when a spaceship crash-lands in her swimming pool. Inside are three very colorful aliens – played by the equally colorful Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans, and Jim Carrey. This was one of my daughter Kristin’s favorite movies, and I’m guessing it still is.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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2024 Comments
 
 
Jay Gold
"The present-day composer refuses to die" was said by Zappa's boyhood idol, the composer Edgard Varèse. Zappa included the quote, with attribution to Varèse, on the jacket of Freak Out.
Nov 27, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
Could you all take a look at the title of Put a Ring On It?
The configuration on the On Demand title is
Put a
Ring on It..
so if you read the first line as one word, in Spanish, that is, possibly, "puta."?
If you wanted to play with the acronym, you could read "Ringo" into the jumble, too.. probably not intentional. But still.. might want to split the phrase differently.. or something.
Nov 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Reiny
Kind of kills the joke of the intentional repetition. Makes it look like sloppy copy editing. Which it is. :<)
Nov 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Randy R
Oooops. Duck Soup, 1933.
Nov 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Harry B Kidd
OOOPPPSSS - Duplicated the write up for Bananas and Duck Soup...
Nov 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George A.
Freaks is highly disturbing. I couldn’t sit through the whole thing.
Nov 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George A.
Freaks is highly disturbing. I couldn’t sit through the whole thing.
Nov 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Harry B Kidd
OOOOPPPPPSSSSS - pasted the wrong text in the Law & Order post...
Nov 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
Linda Donovan
We got it, but we always appreciate the help! Thanks!
Nov 12, 2020
 
 
 
Matthew Alpern
George A. Nice to have a different point of view posting here. Hope you vote today.. same goes for all. USA, and the entire world are, truly, holding their breath as we're 'rounding the corner' on this election cycle.
Nov 3, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George A.
Tonight’s guests include The Circus correspondent John Heilemann and former U.S. Senator (and Saturday Night Live writer-performer, and sexual predator) Al Franken.

I fixed the above for you. You’re welcome.
Oct 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Matthew Alpern
George A. Of course, you can vote for whoever or whatever you want. But, why would you want to?
Oct 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George A.
If I watch what I’m sure will be the wildly entertaining Every Vote Counts special, and then vote for the candidate that every single person appearing on the show wants to defeat, is that allowed? Just asking.
Oct 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ed
That would be MABEL'S strange predicament (not Martha's)
Oct 27, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Friday, 10/23: Eight choices tonight, none of them Bill Maher. Wouldn't you think Real Time would be appointment TV in the home stretch of this totally weird election campaign?

And by the by, DB had The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror listed last Sunday, but game 7 of the NLCS (or was it the ALCS? - who even remembers 5 long days ago) pre-empted it here on the West Coast. I assume it never ran in the eastern time zones either. So when's it getting rescheduled? Can't be this Sunday, that's undoubtedly the World Series, unless the game's rained out. Hey, I know, what's more appropriate that right on Election Day! Treehouse of Horror indeed!
Oct 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Phillip R. Crabb
So, "Charlie Brown Christmas" won't be on broadcast TV for the first time ever this year. Apple TV will have a two-day window to watch it in December.

Truly, nothing is sacred. Now, this year is officially a disaster...
Oct 20, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
TBS apparently was not expecting a 7th game as they have Avengers Infinity Wars scheduled.
Oct 18, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Like the Spanish Inquisition,nobody expects these things,but Plan B must always be ready. Needing anything past Game 4 or rain delays and cancellations. When I was a kid,Philly TV slotted Rainout Theatre and too many times the film was The Babe Ruth Story,starring William Bendix. Leonard Maltin's quick take:"Perfectly dreadful." Having abandoned comic books(save Disney Ducks) and movies based on caped crusaders,I'd pass on Avengers Anything,but at least it isn't The Babe Ruth Story.
Oct 18, 2020
 
 
 
Mary B.
About a movie that may end up on TV:
I'm guessing that French people would be offended by the scene in which French friends of "Emily in Paris" insult Chicago pizza as terrible competition for quiche (oh, Lord, that conversation would never happen) and then talk about how fat Americans are (very old idea, unlikely cheap shot and too clumsy.) Maybe the scene is supposed to be comic, spoofy?
Oct 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
10/16-ABC's Biden Town Hall seems to be scheduled for 90 minutes plus 1/2 analysis-8-10PM. NBC's Trump Town Hall is for an hour on NBC,CNBC & MSNBC. Meanwhile,as noted, Fox as the Braves-Dodgers NLCS @ 8PM. No word if Amy Coney Barrett will throw out the first pitch,as she is easily the Dodger Of The Week.
Oct 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Tons of criticism towards Comcast for scheduling Trump's Town Hall,many "A" list actors,writers,producers-many of them involved with Comcast/NBCUniversal shows & movies. Labeling the company "Concast",someone not on that list criticized Trump's Town Hall in advance with this quote: "It's NBC,the worst. Home of Sleepy-Eyed Chuck Todd and some others".? The critic also said that the company was setting Trump up. Well,that would be Donald John Trump,Sr.
Another quote:"I can't remember the last time I was shocked by an NBC programming decision." -Conan O'Brien.
Variety/Hollywood Reporter source.
Oct 15, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
This 2020 NLCS is indeed screwy to follow. While sources had 10/15 game just on FS1,evidently it will be simulcast on the Fox broadcasting network,as DB notes. Fri. 10/16 looks like the NLCS will only be on FS1 @ 9PM,while Fox broadcasts their usual WWE Smackdown. The Fri NLCS. Game 5 could move to 8PM if the ALCS ends. Sat.,10/17 has Game 6 of the NLCS @4:30 on FS1 (7PM if no ALCS),while Fox has NASCAR on my local listings. And the MLB wonders why 2020 post season ratings are in the toilet.
Oct 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re:Video for 10/14-After watching I had the urge for a bowl of shredded wheat. A wiki check(not chex) reveals that it took a Supreme Court decision(Kellogg vs. National Biscuit Company,1938) to rule the food a generic description so the masses could enjoy a less expensive bale of hay(as my Pop called it) for breakfast.
Supreme Court-in the news. How would Amy Coney Barrett rule on shredded wheat? Didn't she marry Sheldon Cooper? Would Boofer Kavanaugh like beer on his shredded wheat? Beer is often wheat-based and he likes beer,at least in 2018. Would Clarence Thomas ask a question? Justice Barrett looks more like a Sacramental Wine consumer,as long as straight males allow it. Imagine her downing a tall, cool glass after a hard day of making poor folks lives more miserable and not confusing one of her 7 kids by calling one Sleepy. Joe Biden might respond.
Oct 14, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
When they go low,I go lower! Less than three weeks to Election Day. Mail-in ballot already delivered here one day late. Trumpian. If DB wants to jettison any of my remarks and/or ban me from the site,that is his right. It is his site. I apologize to no one. As an ex-Roman Catholic(this after a priest tried to kiss me as an adult), making fun of Barrett is my prerogative and right under First Amendment. Her addition to the Supreme Court will be hurtful for generations. All I have are mean words with no power. She has Mitchypoo The Turtle and Lindseed Grahamcrakercrust,both liars,
Oct 14, 2020
 
 
George A.
Offensive and repugnant, even by your low standards, Mac.
Oct 14, 2020
 
 
 
 
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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.