DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

KARLE DUNBAR

Social Media Manager

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

CANDACE KELLEY

TOM BRINKMOELLER

MONIQUE NAZARETH

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

DAVID SICILIA

NOEL HOLSTON

JONATHAN STORM

 
 
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SecondSpin.com
 
WEDNESDAY
MARCH 29
2017

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Hulu, 12:00 a.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: This new series, set in London in the late 1700s, tells of a scrappy, social-climbing madam, played by Samantha Morton, whose two daughters represent different strata on the 18th century flesh-trade scale. One is played by Jessica Brown-Findlay (pictured), who recently played Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey. The premiere episode sets up two competing houses of ill repute and a lot of political, sexual and financial intrigue – similar to the dynamics laid out, so to speak, in HBO’s Deadwood. And here, though it takes a while, the characters get fleshed out in more ways than one – and Morton’s performance is worth watching just to hear her occasionally cockney cackle, more of a bray than a laugh, and nailing her character completely without saying a word. For full reviews, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower and Ed Bark's Uncle Barky Bytes
 
  
 
 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Remember the premiere episode of Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, when the cable news anchor played by Jeff Daniels was asked why the U.S. was the greatest country in the world? Rather than embrace the question’s jingoistic premise, he instead rattled off a barrage of statistics placing our country much lower, by comparison with many other countries, to everything from universal health care to infant mortality. “I don’t know what… you’re talking about?” he retorted vehemently. “Yosemite?” Well, tonight’s Nature episode at least makes a good case for that – by showing the history, and the beauty, of one of our nation’s most majestic national parks. Check local listings.

 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: It’s not fair to describe too much of what has happened in this series thus far, leading up to tonight’s season finale – because its twists, turns and shifting perspectives makes the protagonist of Mr. Robot look like a reliable narrator of his own story. Just ride with tonight’s episode… and then absorb, dissect, and question.

 
  
 
 

TV Land, 10:00 p.m. ET

SERIES PREMIERE: Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are behind this new series, which presents lesser-known comedian friends of that famous married couple, portraying… lesser-known comedian friends of that famous married couple. Rachel Ramras, Hugh Davidson, and Larry Dorf  -- all playing exaggerated versions of themselves, as friends of McCarthy’s who are trying to rope her into collaborating with her on a Hollywood project. Good luck with that… even though, in the real world, they’ve already succeeded. For full reviews, see Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes

 
  
 
 

TBS, 10:30 p.m. ET

Uncle Sam has been so wild and crazy lately, that Aunt Sam ought to really enjoy herself tonight. Or, at least, really work herself into an impressive frenzy…

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Playful Innuendo – Shout Factory has released the complete DVD collection of the Paul Reubens 1986-91 CBS series Pee-Wee’s Playhouse that, as we all know, was just as much for the grownups as it was for kids. The jokes were usually down-the-middle for the young audience, but once in a while veered mildly into adult territory. Since she was the only woman around, they were usually aimed at Miss Yvonne (Lynne Marie Stewart) who, always in a pastel party dress and bouffant, played the ironic bits well. (Her coin operated horsey ride is at 3:30.) There are two Playhouse innuendo reels, with part 2, here. –Eric Gould
 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

  
   Visit TV We're Watching for these and other shows on
our DVRs right now...


American
Crime
ABC
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Americans
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Bates Motel
A&E
Mondays
9 PM ET

The Circus: Inside the Biggest Story on Earth
Showtime
8 PM ET

Feud: Bette and Joan
FX
Sundays
10 PM ET

Girls
HBO
Sundays
10 PM ET

HUMANS
AMC
Mondays
10 PM ET

Last Week Tonight
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Legion
FX
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Striking Out
Acorn.tv
Streaming
 
 

BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!


FRESH AIR FAVES

Audio of Bianculli's favorite 'Fresh Air' reports, and the stories behind them...


FAVES FROM
"THE MORGUE"

Bianculli's favorite newspaper articles, and the stories behind them...


EXTRAS & FEEDBACK

Share your favorite TV in-jokes and first TV loves...
 
 
 

Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20.

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series

Paul Reuben’s revived his TV character for last year’s comedy feature Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday and now, there is a new DVD version of his 1986-91 CBS series that was must-see Saturday morning viewing not only for kids, but adults alike. The Emmy-winning playhouse was a surreal mash-up artwork by Wayne White, music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh and a cast of puppets and characters that included Laurence Fishburne, Phil Hartman and S. Epatha Merkerson (yes, that's Law and Order's Police Lieutenant Anita Van Buren...) The madcap series always finished with a moral message for the younger audience. This re-mastered HD collection includes all 45 episodes, plus featurettes on the design and writing of the show, cast interviews, all on 8 discs. It’s available at Amazon for $26. (And see TVWW's review of the Wayne White documentary, Beauty is Embarrassing, here.) –Eric Gould