SATURDAY
NOVEMBER 21
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

HBO, 8:00 p.m. ET

SPECIAL PREMIERE: This new TV version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book about race and racism expands the concept of the stage play, which employed several voices to read from, and bring to life, the vibrant viewpoints in Coates’ book. The play premiered at the Apollo Theater in Harlem – a perfect launching pad – and this new HBO version, potentially reaching millions on its HBO and HBO Max platforms, injects its Between the World and Me with even more star power. Phylicia Rashad, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Davis (yes, that Angela Davis) and Oprah Winfrey (yes, that Oprah Winfrey) are among the participants reciting Coates’ words and warnings.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Time machines are one of the most cherished tropes in the sci-fi genre – and though time machines to do not figure in either of the pivotal sci-fi films shown tonight as a double feature by TCM, they do allow us to take a time-machine trip of sorts. They allow us to watch, in sequence, futuristic films by two of their generation’s most innovative and influential filmmakers: Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas. So imagine you’ve just set your Wayback Machine, and start with 1968, when Kubrick befuddled and dazzled the world with his classic sci-fi trip, 2001: A Space Odyssey. When it premiered, and when I saw it that opening day, the actual year of 2001 was still 33 years in the future – a third of a generation away. One lengthy sequence involved a space shuttle to a lunar base, at a time when man landing on the moon was still a year away. And now, we’re close to 20 years removed from the actual 2001 – and so much of the science in the Arthur C. Clarke-Stanley Kubrick collaboration has held up amazingly well. 2001: A Space Odyssey made Kubrick a recognized and powerful auteur for the rest of his life – and with good reason. Watch from the start, with the lights off and the sound up, on as big a TV as you have. And then, after the climax, think and argue about it all over again.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:45 p.m. ET

In 1971, three years after Stanley Kubrick directed and co-wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, a young filmmaker named George Lucas directed and co-wrote his own sci-fi movie, called THX 1138. It’s about a repressive future where a man and woman decide to rebel, and the man is played by Robert Duvall, a year before Lucas’s filmmaking friend, Francis Ford Coppola, cast him in The Godfather. And two years after filming THX 1138, Lucas directed and co-wrote American Graffiti, which featured, in a small supporting role, another young actor, Harrison Ford. Then, four years after that, Lucas stunned the world in 1977 the way Kubrick had done in 1968, by releasing a little film then titled, simply, Star Wars. Watch the genesis of all that, and the links to Kubrick, tonight, as TCM presents THX.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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2043 Comments
 
 
Scott
Vladamir Horowitz's 86 Moscow Concert was on CBS Sunday Morning.

His interview with Mike Wallace for 60 MINUTES was in 1977.
Jan 22, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Well-stated write-up of the Inauguration coverage. Our National nightmare and embarrassment is over!
Jan 20, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
isn’t televised by one of the broadcast networks. Instead, you can watch it on ESPN, ESPN+

Don't forget ABC is still a Network.
Jan 10, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
kirk
Thank goodness Dickinson has come back! First season was brilliant!
Jan 8, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
jim
It's always fun to point out that Psycho actually takes place during the Christmas season.
Dec 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Day two with no advice? What will we do?!
Dec 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ken Rehfield
Are you on vacation David? Happy New Year
Dec 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ben Dover
Where are today's recommendations? I'm trying to plan my evening.
Dec 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Rob
Thanks for the tip on 1917. Been waiting for a long time for that to show up on a non-rental channel.
Dec 26, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Barry
Where’s Mac?
Dec 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Barry
Where’s Mac?
Dec 24, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
rocketx2
Where's the scorecard?
Dec 17, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ed S.
It's not politics, it's obvious failure on an epic scale, and delusion on the part of 70M Americans for not seeing this.
Dec 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ken
I was in Gainesville then too Dave. Tom Petty probably played in Dub’s, but maybe also at the Lamplighter, Trader Tom’s, Bilbo and Gandalf’s, the Long Branch Saloon, Cin City Lounge, the Keg or the Great Southern Music Hall. My memory's not that good.
Dec 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
George A.
“Another way is to import programming filmed in countries that have a better record of handling and containing the virus than the U.S. – which means just about anywhere.” — Just can’t help yourself, can you David? Why can’t we get TV reviews without you shoving your politics down our throats?

Aside from being factually untrue (all of Western Europe says hi), it’s also completely unconstructive, especially as it relates to reviewing this program.
Dec 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
jim
Look close. One of those men surrounding Marilyn during "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend" is George Chakiris who won an Oscar for playing Tony in West Side Story.
Dec 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Jan Grant
David, I’ve started watching your bit every day during Covid - yeah, months now. I can tell you that it’s a positive highlight to hear your voice and recommendation and frequent puns and such. Thank you for being a daily dose of reality ( I can see the strain in your face as these months go on) leading us to a TV diversion. Thank you.
Dec 5, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Ken Rehfield
David, you're a very punny person!
Dec 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Phillip R. Crabb
Well, my 57th year of watching Rudolph - now, with my first Grandchild. Glad it's on Network television still. Even with Year-Round streaming, it's important to watch this as family-viewing...in your Living Room, in season....

Thank you CBS.

Phillip R. Crabb
Franklin, NJ
Dec 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
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
 
 
 
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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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