DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

Contributors

DONNA J. PLESH

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

MONIQUE NAZARETH

JONATHAN STORM

P.J. BEDNARSKI

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SUNDAY
SEPTEMBER 14
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

MINISERIES PREMIERE: Ken Burns, writer Geoffrey C. Ward and the rest of Burns’ eager and talented collaborators present what emerges, ultimately, as the finest Ken Burns epic to date: a joint biography of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The voices of those formidable historical figures are provided, respectively, by Paul Giamatti, Edward Herrmann and Meryl Streep, with narration by Peter Coyote and on-camera observations by, among others, Ward himself. Tonight’s Part 1, while we hear all three Roosevelt voices, focuses on Teddy, who takes tonight’s entire program to ascend to the U.S. Presidency. Watch this entire series, which unspools on PBS in two-hour chunks over seven consecutive nights – and record it, because you’ll want to see it again and again. For my full review, see Bianculli’s Blog. And to hear my review on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which includes audio samples from several episodes, visit the Fresh Air website. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET

The San Francisco 49ers won its first game of the season with ease, having its way both offensively and defensively against the Dallas Cowboys. The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, lost its first game the hard way – in overtime, against the Buffalo Bills. Tonight the 49ers and Bears play each other, with San Francisco enjoying home-field advantage.

 
  
 
 

ABC, 9:00 p.m. ET

Once called a pageant, and now renamed to reflect not just something less superficial but also something intended to last past the calendar year, tonight’s live TV special is titled The 2015 Miss America Competition. It’s still, in essence, the same beauties on parade event that began in Atlantic City in 1921, the year of Prohibition and the initial setting of Boardwalk Empire. The Miss America pageant, now on ABC, may have lost some of its luster of late – but hey, so has Atlantic City. Yet as cultural artifacts go, this particular event has enough history to warrant a peek.

 
  
 
 

HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Speaking of Boardwalk Empire, this show’s final season has Nucky (Steve Buscemi) planning for the repeal of Prohibition, and planning to go legit in the liquor distribution business. But that doesn’t come easily, and there are factions out to remove Nucky from the equation entirely. Yet just as transition doesn’t come easily, Nucky doesn’t go easily. Nor does Chalky, another Boardwalk Empire character with a keenly honed knack for survival.

 
  
 
 

BBC America, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tomorrow, on Sept. 15, HRH Prince Henry of Wales – that’s Prince Harry to you, and to me, and almost everybody else – turns 30 years old. (Older brother, Prince William, is 32, making these siblings the exact ages of my own son and daughter, respectively. Never realized that before.) Tonight’s BBC America special looks at Prince Harry’s life to date – which gives the network one more chance to court Anglophiles by replaying footage from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, the boys’ parents.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET

After all this time, last week’s episode ended with Masters (Michael Sheen) confessing to Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), in the privacy of their hotel room, that he had a sexual problem. Maybe this week’s episode will begin with him telling her what it is… as the plot, like their relationship and their affair, continues to thicken.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

Joan Rivers 1933 - 2014 -- It seemed Joan Rivers would go on forever making fun of fashion, celebrities, aging, plastic surgery and herself but, sadly, she passed away today (9/4). She was a pioneer for women in comedy who, at the age of 81, was still going strong onstage as well as on the small screen, thanks in large part to the E! network’s Fashion Police. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, released a statement saying: “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.” In that spirit, we’d like to share a commentary about aging that CBS Sunday Morning had the comedian offer in 2002. It’s Joan Rivers at her best. (Please note: Because this was a commentary about aging, Ms. Rivers mentioned certain subjects, such as funerals, for example, that some may deem as inappropriate to find humor in at this time. We at TVWW felt she'd want the clip to run anyway -- especially now.) -- Monique Nazareth

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Boardwalk Empire
HBO
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Chair
Starz
Saturdays
11 PM ET 

The Honorable Woman
Sundance
Thursdays
10 PM ET

The Intruders
BBC America
Saturdays
10 PM ET

The Knick
Cinemax
Fridays
10 PM ET

Manhattan
WGN America
Sundays
10 PM ET

POV
PBS
Mondays
10 PM ET
Check Local Listings

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Real Time with Bill Maher
HBO
Fridays
10 PM ET

The Strain
FX
Sundays
10 PM ET


 
 

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...

TV JUKEBOX

A new edition of Bianculli's favorite TV themes, coming soon!
 
 
 

From TV Worth Watching
TOP PICKS FOR YOUR HOME LIBRARY

The TVWW Seal of Approval is an honor we save for TV’s very best – our picks for a truly teleliterate home video library.
 
 

THE AVENGERS: THE COMPLETE EMMA PEEL MEGASET – I usually prefer to bestow a Seal of Approval upon a complete series DVD set, but The Avengers – the Sixties TV spy series, not the current series of Marvel Comics superhero movies – encompassed so many different casts and tones, it was more like Doctor Who. First came the 1961 season teaming Patrick Macnee as dapper British spy John Steed with Ian Hendry, then the 1962-64 episodes featuring Honor Blackman as Cathy Gale. Those are good, but Steed’s next partner, Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, was the perfect Sixties TV heroine. After Rigg left, Linda Thorson, as Tara King, became Steed’s final sleuthing partner in the original series, and was quite likable (the inferior The New Avengers followed a decade later), but the 1965-68 Rigg episodes were the series’ best. They’re also the ones first imported to the U.S., by ABC in prime time, when color TV was still a novelty and Rigg’s wild jumpsuits and pop fashions really stood out. So did the show’s wit, its playful lampooning of the secret-agent genre, and its sparkling sexual tension between Mrs. Peel and Mr. Steed. This Emma Peel Megaset contains all the Diana Rigg episodes, which are, indeed, the best of the best. – David Biancull

 
 

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
'Prohibition'

Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts, is premiering on PBS this week, so Amazon is offering deep discounts on the Ken Burns catalog. A recent favorite, Prohibition, by Burns and Lynn Novick, took a fascinating look at a time when alcohol was outlawed and an attempt was made to legislate morality. The three-hour documentary, as with Baseball, Jazz (up to 70% off) and others, is full of fascinating historical footage of times long gone and events and figures who helped form the society we know today. Prohibition is loaded with extras, including special segments on saloon culture, medicinal alcohol and much more. –Eric Gould