FRIDAY
JULY 31
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Disney+, 3:00 a.m. ET

SPECIAL PREMIERE: Beyoncé is the queen of sudden, unexpected drops of songs, albums, videos and movies – and here she comes again, slipping onto Disney Plus with an album, and an accompanying “video album,” inspired by a Disney musical, The Lion King. Beyoncé’s Black Is King takes the message and spirit of the young cub’s journey in The Lion King and reimagines it as a story for today’s youth – the future kings and queens “in search of their own crowns.”
 
  
 
 

Disney+, 3:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This new series aims to revive the spirit of the classic The Muppet Show series from the mid-Seventies: a frenetic stage manager (in this case Scooter) trying to herd cats (and pigs and chickens and other Muppet creatures) and put on a show. The show, this time, is streamed on the Internet, not staged in a theater, but there are spoofs of TV shows, special guest stars (RuPaul, Linda Cardellini, Danny Trejo), and appearances by such beloved Muppets as the Swedish Chef, Miss Piggy, and, yes, Statler and Waldorf. For my full review on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, listen to today’s show, or visit the Fresh Air website later this afternoon.
 
  
 
 

Movies On Demand, 3:00 a.m. ET

As part of this year-long salute to honor Bob Marley on what would have been his 75th birthday, Kevin Macdonald’s 2012 documentary Marley is being re-released, on both Movies on Demand and in some actual movie theaters. My advice: stay home and order it on TV, in the safety of your own home.
 
  
 
 

Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: Season 2 of this series has the supernaturally gifted siblings dealing with a new set of problems. Actually, an old set of problems, as they’ve found themselves transplanted back to Dallas in the 1960s.  When in the 1960s, exactly? Well, I haven’t peeked that far ahead – but if you’re traveling in time to Dallas in the Sixties, I’m guessing it’s at a time when one of the stops should logically be, say, Dealey Plaza.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

The PBS summer series “Broadway at Home” continues this week with a rebroadcast of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, a 2017 Great Performances telecast of the classic comedy farce. Kevin Kline is a riot, and obviously has a blast, playing a ham actor, and his co-stars include Kate Burton and Cobie Smulders. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE: Here’s a new documentary about the most successful female rock band of all time. (Take that, Runaways!) For a full review, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower. 
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES RETURN: Even though he wasn’t going anywhere, Bill Maher took the month of July off – until today, July 31, when he returns with a more Hollywood-centric lineup than usual. Kerry Washington and Jim Carrey lead tonight’s socially distanced guest lineup, with Maher presiding, as he has since the beginning of the pandemic, from his home.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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1971 Comments
 
 
Harry B Kidd
Just one persons opinion - it would be good to get some best bets that are on subscription services. There are still some of us who are on basic cable - in fact I know a number of people who have cut back to just BROADCAST.
Aug 6, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Assuming you mean "NOT on subscription services" ,things are only getting worse. Especially on premiere days of Fri.& Sun,those paywall selections really are the best things out there. Paywall with no later choice( edited cable,DVD,You Tube),once a minor inconvenience,now SOP.
Aug 6, 2020
 
 
 
Roseann Milano
Check your spelling of Dick in the headline.
Aug 4, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
David had Jorma Kaukonen's Quah album as a prop behind him while describing Best TV Tomorrow for 8/3. Google Jorma for more history.
Aug 4, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
Love your best TV Tomorrow. Yourvinal of Quah is in much better shape than mine. Are you aware the Jorma has been streaming a show every Saturday night at 8pm on his Fur Peace Ranch You Tube channel. He is up to Quarantine concert #17. He even had Jack there for three of those shows.
Aug 3, 2020   |  Reply
 
Neil
Any chance you can translate that into one of the western languages for the rest of us?
Aug 3, 2020
 
 
 
Eric Bosse
Man I miss that box of ten good current shows on TV. I have found so many delights there. Any chance you'd ever bring it back? Want a volunteer to help keep it going? I'd be glad to help with weekly reminders or anything else.
Aug 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
John Oliver expected new show 8/2. Sean Hannity,via radio,let the masses know that Oliver is"not funny." As for Oliver's "knowledge of facts & truths",it is believed that Oliver has one of the best,if not best,research team for a talk show. Meanwhile,hope that Hannity finds chuckles galore on the weekend Fox News shows featuring Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters. I used to thinkl that Adam Sandler was the least funny living comic. Both are part of the weekday jokefest The Five and then the separate weekend shows. Oliver needs less than 30 minutes to pulverize both,as well as Hannity and the rest of Fox News.
Aug 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
mf
Thanks David for the extended clip from the Password episode of The Odd Couple at the end of your "Best TV Tomorrow" video today. Appreciate it especially since I don't have access to Decades. Very funny. Has everyone realized that you have these new fun nibbles after the credits? I hadn't. Thanks
Aug 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Dan
It is 11:30 am EST and you do not show todays picks.
Jul 31, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Just saw some pics from Ryan Murphy's Ratched,a sequel of sorts centering on the backstory of the demonic nurse from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest,via Netflix,9/18. Sarah Paulson,Murphy's go-to villain for American Horror Story is pictured(via HuffPost) in a late '40s outfit that evokes Bette Davis before donning
her nurse uniform. Paulson is so into the character,she calls her Mildred,not Nurse Ratched and attempts sympathy. Previews may be arriving for Bianculli & Co. for review. I despise Netflix,but this looks like the perfect Halloween story.
Jul 30, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Elise
The “Up” scene to which I am sure you are referring gets me too. Every. Time.
Jul 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
ThoroughbredOfSin
Every. Time. It's better than the rest of the movie. Some insurance company used the music to it ("Married Life"), and I had to mute it or end up in tears.
Jul 30, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Just found that local cable operator(we have a choice in the Lehigh Valley) will be airing local inter squad games of the Phillies which take place just a few miles away from where I type this. Cable company has a financial stake in the AAA minor league operation and have aired all home games.
Many games will take place same day/time as the MLB Phillies,so making call ups are just a 70 mi. ride to Philly and players will not involved with two games on the same day in different places. Minuses-no captioning and on air talent is abysmal(take a drink for every cliche and you will pass out by the 2nd inning). Not to miss a beat,the clubhouse is selling "taxi squad" shirts for $25.
Jul 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Jim
Thanks for the alert on “Foxy Brown,” on TMC, but you missed mentioning it’s lead-in, the classic “Big Doll House.” Both classics of the genre and a natural double feature during the golden age of drive-on movies.
Jul 25, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Sorry,David,not a fan of Camelot Sets are as 2 dimensional as Nero's acting. Back when released, I thought a remake could correct the many flaws. It will never happen. Meanwhile,I just received TCM's hardbound book about West Side Story. A movie filled with missteps(the firing of co-director Jerome Robbins,who basically created WWS on Broadway) ,vocal dubbing and a ballet excised,it still is my favorite movie adaptation. Tons of photos and decent writing. Released in anticipation of Spielberg's remake,which may get pushed into 2021 and possibly have its male lead recast due to problematic stories about sexual assault. Disney is now the force behind the film and have made swift,costly decisions in the #Me Too era.
Jul 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Re: Pro baseball-2020. Philly's opening day is Fri. 7/23,vs. Marlins,in Philly. All games on local TV,including 2 Fox & 2 ESPN. All are on radio,which is a plus and minus. Plus,because the radio crew does a better job. With no crowd,an empty stadium is not that big a deal,save that MLB will be the forced source for canned fan noise. Sad for this fan-impossible to get the radio feed(I could,and have,listened in a car). No internet radio unless you pony up for MLB.com,a confusing mess.
Anyhoo, non-diabetics-grab a bottle of Yoo-Hoo,a pack of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets and Cracker Jack and tune into the Nats/Yanks opener a little early tonight as Dr. Anthony Fauci,the MVP of the U.S., throws out the first pitch. Fauci,raised in Brooklyn,yet a Yankee fan,now roots for the World Champion Nationals. In typical Philly phasion,I'll be booing both and lovin' it!
Jul 23, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Oops-Fri. 7/24 for the Fightin' Phils.
Local Allentown,Pa. AAA minor league stadium will have the excess Phillies team members in practice,part of the expanded 60 man roster,but closed to the public. Sad,as I live just a few minutes from the facility. Also, nearby Reading,Pa. AA franchise shut down this year. The futures of many minor league operations are in peril. 2021 could see a vast thinning of the herd. Reading's operation with the Phillies is the longest affiliation(tie) of any minor league operation,from 1967. One of the best places to see pro ball,as I sat with a scout for a game and listened to his stories about other parks.
Jul 23, 2020
 
 
 
mf
Joan Hackett instead of Suzanne Pleshette? Or working from memory? S.P. would be nice paired with Garner. Anyway thanks for the Sheriff recommendation - nice to see Rockford-in-the-West!
Jul 20, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Hackett-Support Your Local Sheriff as Prudence,Pleshette-Support Your Local Gunfighter.as Patience. Both 90 min.-the perfect length for comedy. Often shown back to back. While Sheriff is the better film,you could do worse by spending 3 hrs. on a Sun, afternoon if both are scheduled. Maybe not the belly laughs as Blazing Saddles, but these films were not designed for raunchy satire as much as gently poking fun at cowboy tropes. The more Westerns you have seen,the more laughs.
Jul 21, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Notice the operations not showing the 30 Rock special include Sinclair,notorious for right-wing crap disguised as news fodder on local news programs. These segments must be run or else. So while there are enough ads on all NBC shows about Peacock and streaming(New Amsterdam,I'm pointing a middle finger at you) denying this one hour in the middle of summer doldrums-a summer filled with more repeats than usual due to the pandemic-is indeed stoopid. Weds. on NBC are all repeats;the rest of tonight's offerings are repeats-not necessarily a bad thing as the less faux sports, amateur hour singers & dancers,and Ellen's mindless games,the better. Another paywall,that's all.
Meanwhile,TCM on cable to the rescue with The More The Merrier-Joel McRea,Jean Arthur(an Oscar nom) & Charles Coburn(an Oscar win) with cramped living quarters in D.C. during WWII create a truly sparkling comedy. Even Cary Grant could not pull off a '60s remake-Walk,Don't Run.
Jul 16, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Neil
Nothing against Psycho, an indisputably great film, but what does it say about the state of the television industry that a 57 year old movie is the one and only Best Bet available tonight? Well, at least there's a consolation prize: the late-night guys should be returning tonight with new shows (or so I think).
Jul 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Even after an evening of great TCM- Dr. Strangelove,The Mouse That Roared and an interesting noir, I woke felling kinda low. Rotten,scary Friday news headlines with little decent commentary-all the late night comics on vacation-I needed a fix. Head over to Shout! Factory to watch Excavating the 2000 Year Old Man-a 44 min. documentary about Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks with TV & audio clips,famous fans-uplifting. That laughter best medicine thing-it still works in these dark days. Carl & Mel-your magic worked once again. The best straight man,the lunatic genius:"Keep a smile on your face.Stay outta a Ferrari or any small Italian car and eat a nectarine-its the best fruit ever made!" Not captioned, so my wife has to hear all of this nonsense the rest of the day from an aging white guy from the Philly 'burbs. True love! Have pity for her.
Jul 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
Matt Alpern
Thanks, Mac. Your posting brought a smile to this aging white guy
from Queens, NY. Wonder how Mel is doing after the loss of his close
friend for the last 70 years (70 years!).
Matt A.
Jul 13, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Get your blue books out-summer school in session.
As Trump's approval numbers sink-55.9 disapprove(source-fivethirtyeight.com),the most since Jan. 2018,Tucker Carlson's ratings hits record 4.3 million viewers,while FoxNews hits highest numbers since launch (Deadline)? Scuttle about Carlson for Prez 2024? I understand that both these guys are white,rich,privileged,well schooled,have tons of white supremacist fans and have been long time TV hosts. Tucker & Crew puts up 5 planned hrs. per week,including scary eyebrows,while Trump,when abandoning a Teleprompter, creates instant bat guano,deep fried in a failing fractured presidency. One going up,the other down. Why? Discuss.
Jul 5, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Besides all of the bright moments of 1776,just the beginning of Sit Down,John hooked me with rhyming "It's hot as hell in PhilaDELphia". Not unlike the weather these past few days. Add to the heat,horses in the street,poor sanitary conditions,it was indeed hellish.1793 saw a yellow fever plague(mosquitoes) wipe out 10% of Philly's population in 4 months,including most of Dolley(Dorthea) Payne Todd's family. A few years later, Dolley married James Madison and was First Lady,1809-1817. Dolley's house, when living in Philly and married to Quaker lawyer John Todd,has been restored(a onetime hoagie shop in the '50s) and is one of the best hidden tourist treasures in the city.
Jul 4, 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.