TUESDAY
MARCH 24
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

ESPN, 7:00 p.m. ET

The 2019 multi-part documentary about O.J. Simpson, and about the public’s reaction to his athletic feats, his stardom, his infamy and the verdict in his murder trial, is repeated this week in prime time on ESPN. It’s absolutely worth seeing, and says things about athletic stardom and race relations that definitely add something to the overall picture. Tonight, Parts 2 and 3 are shown back-to-back.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Last year, when this documentary was released, and streamed on Amazon, I reviewed it for Fresh Air – and was both excited and embarrassed to learn so much about a pioneering filmmaker of the silent era about whom I was virtually ignorant. It was a feeling amplified by the fact that this French film director, who was there in Paris to witness the very first public motion picture showing by the Lumiere brothers, ended up moving to America and making some of her later movies right in my current home state of New Jersey. (The two-word banner hung in her New Jersey movie studio was an ever-present reminder to her actors, and provides this documentary’s main title: “Be Natural.”) Jodie Foster narrates.
 
  
 
 

NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: And for another season, this is it for This Is Us. Tonight is the show’s Season 4 finale – and if you’re not expecting an emotional climax, you haven’t been watching.
 
  
 
 

NBC, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This new series is made in the spirit of This Is Us, and hopes to capture and please the same audience. So if you like Us, try this. For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower
 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

Here’s precisely what makes TCM such a treasure. It’s not only devoting prime time to a documentary about an important yet largely forgotten female filmmaker of the silent era, but follows that inspiring documentary with a sampling of several of Alice Guy-Blache’s short films. The perfect pairing – and believe me, after you watch Be Natural, you’ll be thrilled by the opportunity to watch some of her films intact – begins at 10 p.m. ET with 1912’s Falling Leaves, based on a story by O. Henry. (It’s about a woman trying to save her ill sister from dying of the then-prevalent plague, so don’t settle in expecting total escapism.) After that, a mere 15 minutes later, comes 1916’s The Ocean Waif, about an abused woman in love with a famous writer. And after that, at 11 p.m. ET, comes 1906’s ambitious The Birth, The Life, and The Death of Christ (pictured) – a silent movie made a full 10 years before D.W. Griffith covered some of the same ground in his 1916 epic, Intolerance.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1888 Comments
 
 
Mac
Head's up-Shoutfactorytv.com is the streaming tons of Johnny Carson episodes.I'm led to believe that these are not duplicated on AntennaTV and will show up,not only on Shout's website,but many apps(I don't app). Some drawbacks-no music,not CCd(though the trailer is CCd) and they group the shows by category:currently Animal Antics,Best of Carson and Best of George Carlin for 24 episodes. These are not clip shows and include monologues and other guests that were part of the original broadcast.The price is right-free. Those who bemoan 2020 late-night TV for mean-spirited political humor should visit Carson,especially during the Reagan years. Monologues are always driven by headlines-a tradition spanning centuries.
Apr 9, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
ThoroughbredOfSin
Modern Family was great for its first few seasons, but it has been extremely one-note for a while. Their opulent behaviors in the guise of middle-class/upper middle-class careers was particularly difficult in the past few years. I've continued to watch because there are occasional inspired episodes. But when I found myself laughing more at dramas, it was clear it was past its prime.
Apr 8, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Okay, semi-serious question for DB: did you ever actually review Schitt's Creek on Fresh Air, in all the years of its run? If so, how'd you get the title past the NPR "Broadcast Standards" people?
Apr 7, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Rachel
I am reading this on April 4th, and was just hitting "previous" and reading all of the reviews so I was COMPLETELY fooled by this until the very end. HAHAHAHAHA. Thanks, Mr. Bianculli. You're a funny guy. :)
Apr 4, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
As promised-4/2 TCM is the first night of Thurs. NYC In The '70s. Timing is everything,huh? 6PM-Panic in Needle Park-early Al Pacino. 10PM-The Taking of Pelham,One,Two,Three-the real one with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw(sorry Denzel),but the entire cast contributes. Look for Jerry Stiller & Doris Roberts against typecast. Great theme from David Shire. After midnight,Klute, Fingers and Report to the Commissioner. Up all night!
Apr 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Wondering about the blowback from referring to Rachel as "left of center." I think you're accurate,but...don't ask Hannity. Rachel often starts with a far out subject(no,not just from left field). Her staff helps connect the dots with something called research and not hunches; the result often leads to a "Whaa?" moment. She informed me about the Trump/Kushner connection with Deutsche Bank and Russia a while back-such a murky subject that it may never be completely told. Suicides and prisons are just the headlines.
Apr 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Lynne Landrey
I came to Rowan's FinaleFest a year and a half ago specifically to revisit St. Elsewhere and Newhart. I was the one unashamedly laughing too loudly at every corny in-joke hidden in St. E's last hurrah. Any time there's a reference to this seminal show, it makes me smile, even if to no one but myself. I'm no fool and my name's not April. Thanks for brightening up today!
Apr 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Lynne: Thanks for brightening up my day too! -DB
Apr 2, 2020
 
 
 
linda walker
april fools, was just going to say WHAT.... but see others got it before me.
LOL, LOL,LOL
Need some jokes about now,,,day 12 of quarantine
Apr 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Linda: Oh, thanks so much. If my list made you LOL, your reply made me SAL. Smile A Lot. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Jennifer Mitchell
OK...ya got me GOOOOD! I was manically trying to find "Dispatches from St. Elsewhere" on my guide, and after much fruitless searching and confusion, finally decided to check the date to be sure it was really tonight! Then....I saw the date. Score one for you!
Apr 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Jennifer: It makes me so happy that you wrote -- and that you bit. For me and this annual TVWW tradition, it's my home run. Thanks! No hard feelings, I hope. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Edward Hot Dog Siteman
You got me! I looked up the first 3 shows to set for record :) Hook, line and sinker
Apr 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Ed: The first three??? Oh, I love you. Thanks for making my day. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
4/1-No joke. TCM celebrates the 100th birthday of actor Toshiro Mifune with an all day(already started till 6AM Thurs.) celebration. 8PM is The Seven Samurai(1954). English speaking audiences had a big screen western based on this story as The Magnificent Seven. TCM is showing the complete 208 version, probably from the Criterion Collection. Just think,TCM had Citizen Kane on Sunday and Seven Samurai tonight. 4/2 has some goodies as well.
Apr 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
A tip of the face mask to John Krasinski's DUI YouTube video-Some Good News. I usually barf at goody-two shoes only positive stories a la Paul Harvey. This is 16 min. of upbeat stories John asked for via Facebook-all true and at least one pulling at your heart. Like apiece of chocolate candy with a gooey surprise(no crunchy frog),Steve Carell guests,thanks to his wife with a phone,and they reminisce on The Office turning 15. Like the late-night shows using their kid's artwork usually reserved for the fridge,John's kids,too,add a touch of sorely needed humanity. There might be a 2nd show. Let's hope!
Mar 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Now 11 mil. There is a Twitter account-@johnkrasinski#SomeGoodNews (I don't Twit,so I hope that is all one needs). Folks are hoping another episode drops Sunday,but no official word that I can find.
Apr 2, 2020
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Mac: Great call. The editors at TVWW circulated that Good News video to each other the day it dropped. Definitely TV Worth Watching. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Heads-up-TCM is replacing the in-person April Film Festival with a cable version,featuring not only films but interviews from the festival's vault,which started in 2010. It starts Thurs. 4/16 @ 8PM and continues non-stop till Sun. 4/19@ 6AM. Details @ tcm.com. Sun. @ 8PM includes films slated for this year's event,minus scheduled stage guests. Past interviews scheduled for airing include Peter O'Toole,Kim Novak,Eva Marie Saint,Luise Rainer,Faye Dunaway and Norman Lloyd. Special mention of Lloyd;his interview was taped in 2015,as he turned 100. He's still with us @ 105 and attended the 2017 World Series. Why is that notable? He saw the 1926 WS @ 11 years old(Source-Wiki).
Mar 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
Loved your T Shirt (and suggestion) for Saturday's best TV today. Jorma Kaukonen's Quah spent a great deal of time on my turntable. Glad to see you are fan if not the album at least his ex wife's artwork. Stay safe and healthy.
Mar 28, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Found an LP of Quah earlier this year,as it was being played in my favorite record store(now closed due to virus,but online sales,which they avoided in the past). A buck. A few weeks later,the CD showed up in the 3 buck bin. This came out as my music buying was dramatically reduced while raising a family. I moved to the Lehigh Valley,Pa. in '73 and Philly FM stations were hit & miss,blocked by a mountain. I still found lots of bargains in Woolworth cutout bins(Todd Rundgren's Runt-not a pirate copy and Good News,the first LP from Michael Bacon-Kevin's older brother. I still have both).The LV had a hippy-dippy station on AM,strange in the day. Billy Joel was popular with Captain Jack(thanks,Philly) and Nils Lofgren played a theatre show for a buck(they sold a t-shirt as the ticket). A trade off living in a small town waiting for the next issue of Rolling Stone magazine,back when it mattered. And now,back to the virus.
Apr 2, 2020
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Robert: WOW!!! I didn't expect ANYONE to recognize the Quah shirt!!! You know how OLD that shirt is? (You probably do.) Yes, Quah is a great album, Kaukonen is a great guitarist -- and one of my many proud moments as a father was when my son, Mark, learned how to play acoustic guitar using the Kaukonen method. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Matt Alpern
Hi Mac: Actually, Billy Wilder.. also the subject of many TCM tributes (deservedly so).. was the author or co-author of many brilliant last lines.. think Stalag 17, Sunset Boulevard, and.. well, you name so more!
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Sorry for the Dept. of Redundancy Dept. appearance in that reply.
Mar 29, 2020
 
 
Mac
Billy Wilder-favorite director. Jack Lemmon-favorite actor. Perfect storm-both in a film,though a couple of their projects missed the mark. TCM is overdue to schedule the lengthy Billy Wilder Speaks documentary,Billy Wilder Speaks,originally shown on the network in 2006.
Mar 29, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Just an FYI,that TCM clip of Tony Curtis talking about Cary Grant may have been recently aired(it comes up often when promoting Some Like It Hot) is many years old as Curtis passed in 2010. BTW,as TCM finds many ways to air Some Like It Hot,tonight's reason is because Joe E. Brown is the Star of the Month. He may be billed under the stars like Monroe,Lemmon and Curtis,but he gets one of the greatest lines in Hollywood history as the last line of the movie. Never seen this classic? I won't spoil it by revealing the line,but know that it is right up there with Estelle Reiner's line in When Harry Met Sally. Maybe surpassing it. Brown was a durable box office money maker from the beginning of talkies and made dozens of films(30 are on TCM this month and that's only about half of his output),yet that line surpassed decades of work.
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Kudos for both Mr. Bianculli for the heads-up and TCM for the night of Alice Guy-Blache. They repeated the doc @ midnight and following it up with 3 more films. Between the passing of Robert Osborne and AT&T gobbling up TCM,there was speculation about TCM's future. Outside of Comcast's forcing folks to pony up extra cash to enjoy TCM,many of their changes have been pretty good. Alicia Malone hosted the Guy-Blache evening,setting just the right tone. She showed up last weekend to co-host Noir Alley-Elevator to the Gallows-with Eddie Muller-a fine pairing. Oh,to highlight a quote from TCM's online intro to Noir Alley(via The Asphalt Jungle):"If you want Fresh Air,don't look for it in this town." Don't tell Terry Gross.
Mar 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Mac: Good Terry Gross joke! And what a great night of TV from TCM. The Guy-Blache doc and films were a perfect evening, advancing the history of silent films. To everyone who can't or won't get TCM because of its corporate packaging with other networks, that forced salesmanship is a sin. But TCM itself is a TV miracle. -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
In 2016 I spent some rime & money at a Ollie' Bargain Outlet with some Black Friday specials.Besides a coffee maker for $4(Walgreens overstock)I picked up a few original DVD sets before Mill Creek got them. Friday Night Lights,Rockford Files(including the movies);later, 2 ESPN 30 For 30 boxes and Parenthood,all under $25. The coffee maker just lasted a year(nor a bad deal,as it made a full pot every day) and FNL & Rockford remained sealed. Sad but Ollies no longer gets DVDs. TV sets ready for consumption,besides films picked up used or in dollar stores. and just fixed up the VHS player. We just watched the 2 Grumpy Old Men films and,while not the finest Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau films,they ain't Odd Couple II. Bogey & Bacall scheduled this week. 3/24 Steve McQueen films,daytime on TCM-Soldier In The Rain @7:30AM. Stay safe and engaged with stuff.
Mar 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Barry
Please credit co-plotter/artist John Byrne alongside Chris Claremont for “The Dark Phoenix Saga” from Marvel Comics. ‘Nuff said!
Mar 22, 2020   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Barry: I should have. I'm glad you did! -DB
Apr 1, 2020
 
 
 
Abbie
I have HULU streaming and recently noticed they have seasons 1-7 of Homeland available. Since I've never subscribed to Starz I'm looking forward to checking out this series.
Mar 17, 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.