SUNDAY
SEPTEMBER 13
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Decades, 12:00 a.m. ET

The N.Y.P.D. marathon, showcasing this 1967-69 ABC series, continues on Decades today. And though the transfers they’re televising are washy and hardly of the highest quality, this on-location New York half-hour police drama was a clear improvement over the average cop shows of that period. There are at least two episodes to catch today: At 9:30 a.m. ET, “Encounter on a Rooftop,” in which one of the series’ lead characters, a Black detective played by Robert Hooks, is shot by an eager, and bigoted, young white cop. Then, at 11 a.m. ET, there’s “Deadly Circle of Violence,” featuring the first screen appearances by both Al Pacino and Jill Clayburgh. Jack Warden, Robert Converse and Hooks co-star.
 
  
 
 

Various Networks, Check local listings

Thursday’s opening night game of the 2020 pro football season was an indication of things to come this year. The fans in attendance are capped at a small percentage of stadium capacity, the announcers work without having to deal with a lot of crowd noise, and the contact on the field – both the hard hits and the celebrations after a good play – leads invariably to thoughts of COVID-19 transmission. This is the first Sunday of this year’s NFL season, so see for yourself. Games played today include, on the national TV stage, the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals (4 p.m. ET, CBS), the Tampa Bay Bucs and New Orleans Saints (4 p.m. ET, Fox), and the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC). That Cowboys-Rams game, scheduled as the official unveiling of the Rams’ grand new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, could be postponed – because of dangerously poor air quality due to California’s oppressive, still-spreading wildfires.
 
  
 
 

CBS, 7:00 p.m. ET

Scott Pelley interviews Bob Woodward about Woodward’s latest book, and bombshell, in which he recorded President Donald Trump for nine hours of total interview sessions – and already has made headlines for some of the things Trump told him. It’s the second President for whom Woodward’s reporting has dealt with accusations and impeachment proceedings, smoking-gun audiotape recordings, and led to the key question, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” Pelley’s a very good interviewer, and 60 Minutes is a standard stop for Woodward when he’s releasing a new book – but I’d have loved the synergy, and the symmetry, if Woodward’s interviewer this time around would have been another 60 Minutes veteran correspondent, Lesley Stahl. That fateful day in 1972 when Woodward covered the original court appearance of the group that came to be known as the Watergate burglars, one of the only other reporters in the courtroom that day, covering as a young reporter for CBS, was… Lesley Stahl.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET

How widespread has the impact of the Bob Woodward interview tapes with President Donald Trump been this week? The reporters on The Circus will tell you, by tracking the reactions, inside and outside the Beltway.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Bizet’s opera Carmen comes to the big screen in this 1954 adaptation, which updates the setting to the lead-up to the Korean War – and adapts the sultry story by filling it with an all-Black cast. The offstage collaborators include an unlikely duo: director Otto Preminger and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote new lyrics to some of Bizet’s music. But on screen, wow: Dorothy Dandridge stars in the title role, as the siren who ensnares most of the men around her, including pilot-in-training Joe, played by Harry Belafonte. Both of the leading roles had their singing voices dubbed by others: LeVern Hutcherson subbed for Belafonte, who had an amazing singing voice but was dubbed anyway. And Dandridge, an accomplished singer and stage entretainer also, had her singing voice dubbed by someone whose own voice soon would become very famous in its own right: Marilyn Horne. On-screen co-stars in Carmen Jones include Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, and Brock Peters. One weird final note: In 2001, MTV presented its own updated version of Bizet’s opera, keeping the all-Black cast approach, but adapting it to rap music instead. Directed by Robert Townsend, it was called Carmen: A Hip Hopera, and starred, in the title role, Beyoncé. And her voice, for that production, was not dubbed.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

You know that saying about walking in another person’s shoes? Tonight, thanks to a magic spell, Ruby (Wunmi Wosaku) gets to do just that.
 
  
 
 

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

MINISERIES FINALE: This is the sixth and final episode of this crime story and character study, involving two couples (coincidentally, both pair a Black man with a white woman) – and each pair has an equal claim to the phrase in the title. One couple hunts people to kill; the other couple is hunting the killers. And tonight, the latter catches up to the former. But then what?
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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2012 Comments
 
 
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
 
 
 
Mac
10/13-Conflicting info,fueled by Fox & MLB,that the Braves-Dodgers game will not be broadcast on the Fox network tonight but hidden on of their awful sports channels via cable,FX1. Sad,also,because TBS has the superior pre-game/post-game crew,as well as the better game announcing crew. My info via awfulannouncing.com. The NLCS continues on FX1 for the duration,with a simulcast Fox/FS1 for the sat. game,if needed.
Oct 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Sorry for confusing the confusion. They call it FS1
Oct 13, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Re:10/12-13 TCM's Women Make Film. 10/13,2:30AM -First Love-Laurie Partridge (Susan Dey)& The Greatest American Hero(William Katt) getting it on-really. Directed by Joan Darling. She also directed the famous Mary Tyler Moore episode,Chuckles Bites the Dust. Really.
A better choice for a 1977 feature directed by a woman would be Between The Lines,about a Boston alternative newspaper with a cast of future stars,then unknown. John Heard is in both films,released about 6 months apart.
Oct 13, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
10/10 SNL-a comment on the cold open: Maya's Kamala Philly voice was imperfect,but fun. Wawa sells cheesesteaks and hoagies,but AFAIK,no cheesesteak hoagies. However,they do exist at other shops:usually lettuce,tomato,onions & oregano to the cheesesteak,hopefully in a fresh Amaroso roll(Wawa's are parbaked). Maya's: "Go Wiggles!" for the NFL team-I prefer "Iggles." Tina Fey's influence,(Tina a Philly 'burb kid-Uppah Dahby)no doubt.
Oct 12, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Colbert had a new show Fri. 10/2-a surprise since Fris. are usually repeat nights on the Mon.-Fri. talk shows. The monologue from 3 days ago seems like it was taped in 2019 but could still bring a few chuckles as well as reiterating that Colbert respects the office but little respect for the person- man- woman- camera- TV- currently holding it. Much available on You Tube.
Oct 5, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Angela-want more topical TV humor? Parts of the newly launched Amber Ruffin and Larry Wilmore shows on Peacock show up on You Tube. While both are trying to find their sea legs solo,they both are well written. These kinds of talk shows need some time to find out what works best. Both are pretty cheap to produce,so I think Comcast will give them time to ferment. Wilmore was just brutal on the "undecided voter". Welcome back!
Oct 14, 2020
 
 
Angela
Stephen Colbert's monologs on YT have kept me going through the pandemic. Seth Meyer's monolog every weeknight is also required viewing for me. Got to find a way to laugh more than ever now even if it's very, very dark humor!
Oct 10, 2020
 
 
 
wwwparker
"Last week’s episode, a full-hour flashback set in Korea"

That was two weeks ago.
Oct 5, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
It is 1:00 pm eastern time, maybe you can update Best Bets? Good gawd man you can post the utube video a day before but posting it in words takes this much time.
Oct 2, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Dan
It is 11:23 am Eastern time and you are NOT showing todays picks 10/1/20
Please get it together.
Oct 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Heads up for yet another news show. Shep Smith started a centered news program on CNBC,7PM EST. Civil,a throw back to truth first with NBC commentators Steve Kornaki at the numbers' board and NBC historian Michael Bleschloss and it was great to see these experts on hand. I liked it.
Oct 1, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
I know everyone's worried about the election and covid, but for a moment, didn't Miley Cyrus' stunt performance of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" nearly qualify as a third crisis?
Sep 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
 
Bill
"that will haunt my granddaughter into her retirement"

Mac, I'm sure your Grandparents said the same thing when you were born, why would you bring a kid into this world, it is a terrible place now. As things change they stay the same.
Sep 29, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
My Pop's folks were gone well before I arrived. A hard-R voter,I wonder what he would think. My Mom's parents too involved with life to ever think about politics. Whenever visiting,a cowboy show on TV. These days-we're headed backwards,throwing away hard-earned advances. Advances awaiting to be righted into the deep 2000s. This grandkid(not a biological one but much loved) has an RVG tee shirt,a Johnny Cash tee,and aware of tomorrow. 2022-she can vote. But a stacked-deck she had no say about,will hover over her rights as a woman throughout the decade. Sad.
Oct 1, 2020
 
 
 
Neil
>>This is Season 32 of The Simpsons, which began when Ronald Reagan still was in the White House.<<

Wouldn't that put Season One in 1989? That's consistent with what I remember. Unless the premiere episode aired before 1/20/89 (which would make this new season #33), wouldn't that make it the George H.W. Bush presidency?
Sep 27, 2020   |  Reply
 
Mac
Possible explanation-The first Simpson's animation began on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987.
Sep 28, 2020
 
 
 
Mac
Ending a crummy week that saw Supreme Court events that will haunt my granddaughter into her retirement,a bright spot is that Comedy Central will rerun Schitt's Creek 10/2-no need to search for Pop TV and no paywall. Why not some more? I know-money. Meanwhile,most content manufacturers don't give a creek about the rest of us.
Sep 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.