WEDNESDAY
FEBRUARY 12
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

I’m very excited about this because I have a closer than usual link to what might be called Wild Florida, the topic of tonight’s new Nature installment. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, right next to the Florida Everglades. One of my early jobs as a young adult was as a night watchman at a 300-acre park and bird sanctuary in North Miami. Wild Florida. Then, during a swamp-draining draught of 1974, I was part of the United States Geological Survey crew assigned to map the Everglades from ground (or sea) level. Very Wild Florida. Check local listings.
 
 
  
 
 

ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET

This long-running series, now in Season 11 and beginning its final quintet of new episodes, may or may not get the final send-off it deserves. But I hope it does, because Modern Family not only influenced society with its positive portrayal of a gay couple, but presented so many delightful performances, from its young actors as well as its established pros.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
LVWVC
Type in the verification word shown on the image.
 
 
 Page: 1 of 98  | Go to page: 
1950 Comments
 
 
Mac
David's TCM double bill for 6/29 actually encompasses a 5 film celebration of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen,born 6/29/1920. Along with George Pal,Saturday Matinees were elevated with the work of Harryhausen. These guys fed into the imagination of many a kid holding on to their box of Raisinets(for me,root beer barrel hard candy). Mighty Joe Young,Mysterious Island and the original Clash Of the Titans take over the night. Pal gave Ray early work on Puppetoons and along with writer Ray Bradbury & Forest Ackerman(Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine)-all friends-my childhood was enriched by guys who took their craft seriously by scaring the bejeesus out of kids in the theatre. A perfect summer night for fantasy & adventure!
Jun 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
After watching Don't Look Back,head over to You Tube for Weird Al Yankovic's take on the Subterranean video-Bob-the lyrics are made up of palindromes and shown on the cue cards. After a few times to catch all the card jokes,concentrate on the two guys in the background. In the original,they are Allen Ginsberg & Bob Neuwirth. Here,they are parodied by Al's longtime band member,Bermuda Schwartz, and Bob Levey,who directed some Weird Al videos. Best Weird Al? Yes! And it only took almost 40 years to make it.
Jun 27, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM's 6/26 daytime (6AM-8PM) celebrates Peter Lorre. The lineup is not chronological,so what is considered Lorre's first star turn and director Fritz Lang's masterpiece,M,(1931)about a serial killer stalking children. Not for the kiddies! Before M,The Maltese Falcon-the Bogie classic oft seen on TCM;in fact,scheduled as an Essential 7/16 @ 8PM(repeat 12/5). Before that,2PM,Scent of Mystery(1960),originally made to showcase Smell-O-Vision-really. And Smell-O-Vision had competition from Aromarama. There is a fun story about it all on TCM's website. A shame- no Pepe LePew cartoon before the movie. Stinks.
Jun 26, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Leila L'Abate
Thank you for all all of you do, while undoubtedly not-so-well paid...What's happened to "TV We're Watching?" I noticed it hadn't changed in quite a while, so maybe David has lost love of it, and doesn't have time for it, with teaching classes and daily emails of faves....But a head's up on its actual demise, even though it was already in rigor mortis, would have been nice...
Jun 26, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
I never paid full attention to Seth Meyers,including his SNL days. So when I say this,I need those Meyers fans to follow up on my saying since he was "locked in the attic",complete with occasional hornets resembling giggling children,and toddler firemen,that these "Closer Look" segments concerning these screwy times are Emmy worthy? And keep another one on hand for writer/segment guest Amber Ruffin retelling her personal lifelong battles with racism. Take a bow,Ms Ruffin for your courage and articulation. And check out the book selection on the 6/24 segment-I can't read the title of the blue book and could use some help.
Jun 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
jan
I absolutely agree. His is one of the better late night shows; it always has been, but especially since he's been relegated to the attic. Also, I have a new appreciation for his band: they are much more appealing now that I see them individually. He's really done a great job.
Jun 29, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
One more once,as Basie said.The TCM jazz films for 6/22 includes a documentary on Thelonious Monk. If anything,watch the beginning with Monk dancing & playing piano in performance. Many a fan trying to understand Monk will agree that his dance is the perfect reaction to the music. He returns to his piano improvising before he sits on the bench. Stay to watch his hands. Thanks to Clint Eastwood funding,it is available to study and rejoice-there will never be another Monk.
Jun 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
TCM's jazz entries for 6/22 has many riches. One is One- Mickey One,that is,starring Warren Beatty,directed by Arthur Penn.1965,black & white,new wave influenced,it is an imperfect yet fascinating "Whah?". Beatty,an unfunny stand-up comic,chases demons-some real,some imagined and sometimes,even the imagined ones, face-to-face. The "jazz" is Stan Getz,improvising over a string-filled score by Eddie Sauter-the two had collaborated in 1961 on an album of this kind of material,Focus(a classic). Frustrating to watch the first six times or so,it may never make sense but you may want to see it one more time. The next Beatty/Penn project-Bonnie & Clyde.
Jun 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Was hoping that the Perry Mason origin story would start when he worked in Bedrock as Perry Masonite,aka Perry Masonry. A Better Call Saul style would be fantastic.
Jun 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
David's video recommendation for the Sat./Sun. tribute to Nat Hiken on Decades Channel-Tonight 8PM-Car 54-Boom,Boom,Boom. Ya gotta see this one.Comic/game host Jan Murray guests.
The Phil Silvers shows include a wondrous Fred Gwynne turn,The Eating Contest. His nickname-The Stomach. Joe E. Brown was in lots of those shows. 11AM.
BTW,Fred Gwynne authored a few children's books that are also an adventure for grown ups. He was a WWII Navy vet,a Harvard grad,artist,cartoonist and singer.
Jun 20, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Alec
Um, the Rosenbergs were guilty.
Jun 19, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Fri. Juneteenth-Only David's video about Roy Cohn is up,so I'm wondering about a 2011 doc up on Sundance(and evidently viewed earlier this month):The Black Power Mixtape-1967-1975. 8PM & 10:50PM. Put together from Swedish video from the era and put together by Swedes. Angela Davis,Stokely Carmichael,Bobby Seale in film footage that never made it to Swedish TV first time around and narrated by lots of voices,including Philly's Quest Love of the Roots. Sounds fascinating-hoping for the best! Almost 10 years in the can with footage 50 years ago. What has changed? What have we learned?
Jun 19, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A shame that TCM's Jazz movies put one of the most influential music in post-WWII films by scheduling Black Orpheus @ 3AM(actually Fri.). It has been a past Essential and i was able to score a Criterion version when the local Blockbusters bellied up. Evidently rarely rented,the copy is near mint. Also one of the most colorful films of post-WWII.This film was how many first heard music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa,and their themes became cornerstones for the bossa nova sound. Jobim,especially,ranks with Gershwin. These themes have been recorded numerous times. One interesting version is attached to the soundtrack CD-a medley of those themes by guitarist Bola Sete at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Sete's album of the concert has also been released with additional music from Sete's set. Another version of the themes came from Vince Guaraldi(Charile Brown music)-Though they are not together on these records,Sete & Guaraldi recorded together on 3 LPS- muy sympatico!
Jun 18, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
The Recorder doc has me anxiously awaiting, not for the national stories that will be included but the local(Philly) stuff archived yet probably outside the scope of the doc. Even the local feeds of Nightline,via WPVI 6, would have local spots and promos. At 90 min.,what they can show is the equivalent of less than one VHS tape. I've already found some of Ms. Stokes' donated tapes on the Internet Archive-free and ready 24/7. I've found episodes of Input,from WCAU 10,dating back to 1968 with Marion,then known as Marion Metelits and the first episode,9/29/68,is as relevant as today's headlines. How far have we come?
Jun 15, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
FYI-The Doc is available for free(no paywall) and well CCd till 7/14.Highly recommended. There is indeed more to Marion's life-what happened from 1959 to her first TV appearances,c.1968,where she seems to be fully formed as an activist and when she met future husband,John Stokes. There is a play/film inside this part of her life.
On a side note,the public service show,Input,used Mason Williams' Classical Gas as theme. Pretty hip,since the hit single came out in April 1968 and the show started that Nov. In 1969,Betty Hughes,wife of then New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes,hosted a daily daytime talk show aimed at housewives,and also taped at Philly's WCAU. The show used Mason Williams' follow-up(and originally the B-side of CS)as the theme.
Jun 16, 2020
 
 
Mac
Marion was born 11/25/29, one month after Black Friday,the start of the Great Depression. She died on the day of the Sandy Hook shooting,12/14/12.
Jun 15, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Anybody watch the Dave Chappelle special? It dropped by surprise Fri. and is available not only on Netflix,but on You Tube for free? The laughs are few,as they should be. Titled 8:46,possibly the first of many books,shows, & columns with that title. As raw as ever and not only going after Don Lemon but Laura Ingraham & Candice Owens get really scorched. It is less than 1/2 hour but will rattle you,as it should.
Jun 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Leila L'Abate
America's Got Talent has some really moving segments this year, from a man falsely incarcerated for 37-years, who the audience palpably falls in love with, to a choir of homeless people, to a trio who wishes to uplift us, and does...Close your eyes for the contortionists, (no plot twists, just twisting bodies) and enjoy the rest....And Simon is, almost, cuddly, now...He'd say, "watch this."
Jun 11, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Vince Everett
Re: today’s Agents of Shield Best Bet ...”post WWII 1930s”
Someone has their timelines jumbled
Jun 10, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Yes, I did. I was very tired when I wrote that pre. I mean, that post... -DB
Jun 17, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Continuing story about the police and TV. 6/5,A&E stopped new episodes of LivePD,"out of respect for the families of George Floyd". It is the highest rated cable show Fri. & Sat. and just last month A&E along with distributor Sony,ordered 160 episodes to the 296 aired since 2016.
Meanwhile,Paramount has taken Cops off of its schedule as well as their website. They(CBSViacom) have the rights to over 1000 episodes from the beginning and they are dormant for the immediate future.
Jun 9, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
...and as of 6/10,A&E has canned Live PD completely,but no decision on one spinoff,Live Rescue. Host Dan Abrams,who also chief legal analyst for ABC,had repeatedly gave out opinions that the show would resume in a short while,was"shocked & beyond disappointed." To quote Teddy Pendergrass;"Wake up everybody!" The axing of Live PD & Cops are among the hottest entertainment news stories outside of worthless gossip.
Jun 11, 2020
 
 
 
Brandt
Can we get a copy of the article how to avoid bad TV by looking for 10 advance warning signs?
Jun 8, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Brandt: I'll dig around for it. But be patient. It's long pre-Internet, so I'll have to find the actual clip. -DB
Jun 17, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
6/8-Hey,I'm finally aware that it is June! If you're interested in John Oliver's stamps via photostamp.com,hurry. The system shuts down 6/10 due to USPS ending the agreement. Because Mr.Oliver announced a later end,the Last Week Tonight stamps are extended to 6/15. I bought mine just last Mon. and had them by Sat. Real stamps,not a joke like John's "I voted" stickers. I plan on keeping a set of the four images and using the rest for "special" bills or vote by mail. $14- free freight for a sheet of 20; 55 cent first class stamps-$11 of postage for $14 and it is for a good cause(USPS). USPS,another under valued everyday responder that Trumps wants to dismantle to keep folks from voting safely. I don't have to wear my Pogo comic strip t-shirt at the polling place. Why Pogo?-"We have met the enemy... and he is us!"-Walt Kelly,Pogo's creator,1953.
Jun 8, 2020   |  Reply
 
jan
I already bought some and love them. Now I'm thinking of buying some more--very quickly, I might add. Like you, I saved one of each, and I'm using the others selectively.
Jun 9, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
5/7-Re:Love,American Style-Burt Reynolds and Elizabeth Ashley would appear in the '90s CBS sit-com,Evening Shade.
Jun 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
 
 Page: 1 of 98  | Go to page: 
 
 

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.