DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

Contributors

NOEL HOLSTON

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

JONATHAN STORM

DONNA J. PLESH

DAVID SICILIA

 
 
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MONDAY
MARCH 30
2015

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This intense thriller, released in March 1979, presented a story of a TV fluff feature reporter (Jane Fonda) and her more radicalized cameraman (Michael Dougas) doing a piece on state-of-the-art nuclear energy when a power-plant manager in California (Jack Lemmon) shifts from proud proponent to concerned canary in a radioactive coal mine. At the time, the movie went nuclear itself, due to an astounding and frightening coincidence: 12 days after the film’s release, an accident similar to the meltdown dramatized in its fictional story occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. Even divorced from those real-life headlines, though, The China Syndrome is frightening – and very intense, with all three leading actors turning in memorable performances.

 

 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

Part 1 of 3. Ken Burns presents this three-part, six-hour documentary, which is directed by Barak Goodman and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, who also appears in this PBS study. Edward Herrmann narrates, gently taking viewers on a tour that shows how the world has fought the war against cancer – on several fronts, and across many decades, sometimes with frustrating results. Mukherjee’s point is that we have to know how we’ve treated this disease over the years to understand what we’re doing wrong – and how, perhaps, to approach from other directions. Surprisingly, this first two-hour installment goes back centuries, then works its way back to relatively modern times – and WWI, and the popularization of cigarettes and the increase of lung cancer. The sequence on how scientists linked lung cancer to cigarettes, over the years, is especially fascinating. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

AMC, 10:00 p.m. ET

This is the penultimate episode of this fabulous first season of Better Call Saul, and an episode that, based on promos, may fracture the fraternal bonds between Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk, soon to take on the persona of Saul) and his older brother Chuck (Michael McKean). And while Jimmy may be fighting the acquisition of new partners, Mike (Jonathan Banks) reluctantly is seeking them out.

 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 10:00 p.m. ET

This could be the point, and certainly is perceived and promoted by its subject as such, where the 21-year-old misbehaving celebrity owns up to his bad-boy past, demonstrates a sense of humor while watching others joke about it, and moves on to a new, more mature phase of his life. Or, it could just be the latest in a series of stunningly stupid missteps and mistakes. Time will tell. Meanwhile, here’s this newest roast from Comedy Central. Kevin Hart hosts, and Will Ferrell is one of the roasters – in his Ron Burgandy character.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET

James L. Brooks, who already had generated one wonderful piece of pop-culture entertainment about TV newsrooms as co-executive producer of CBS’s The Mary Tyler Moore Show, provided another in this very funny, very smart 1987 movie. Albert Brooks (no relation) plays a talented but less than dynamic news correspondent, William Hurt plays the good-looking but vapid anchor rising quickly through the ranks, and Holly Hunter plays the TV news producer who deals with them both. It’s a delightful film, and, like Paddy Cheyefsky’s Network, also serves as a searing satire of the TV medium, written by someone who knew it well.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

AND JON MADE NOAH AND SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD – Umm...who? I'm sure that's what a lot of you said this morning when Trevor Noah was announced as Jon Stewart's replacement for The Daily Show. You probably quickly Googled his name and, if you're a Daily Show fan, said, "Oh, that guy! He's good!" He is good and no stranger to hosting; Tonight with Trevor Noah was a late night talk show in Noah's native country of South Africa. But for the uninitiated, or for those who need a refresher, here is one of Noah's Daily Show appearances. In this clip he addresses the U.S.'s desire to "hire" chess players to compete for America. The new Daily Show host believes Americans can't possibly want more. After all, as he says, we already have a bounty of Dakotas: "You've got...North, South, Fanning, Johnson. Leave some Dakota for the rest of us!" While I'll miss Jon Stewart, I'm looking forward to the Trevor Noah era. Yes, this guy is good. This guy is very good. -- Linda Donovan

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


American Crime
ABC
Thursdays
10 PM ET

The Americans
FX
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Battle Creek
CBS
Sundays
10 PM ET

Better Call Saul
AMC
Mondays
10 PM ET 

Bloodline
Netflix
Streaming

The Good Wife
CBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

Jane the Virgin
CW
Mondays
9 PM ET

Justified
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

The Walking Dead
AMC
Sundays
9 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.
 
 

OLIVE KITTERIDGE – Often releases awarded the TVWW Seal of Approval have been a part of TV history for a while. This particular treasure is quite new but we are featuring it because it deserves a spot in a solid home-video library. Frances McDormand stars in the title role, playing an acerbic, intelligent, often depressed woman over a period of decades. This four-part 2014 miniseries, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, features Richard Jenkins as Olive’s husband, and Bill Murray as an acquaintance she meets later in life. Lisa Cholodenko directs. – David Bianculli

 
 
The Walking Dead Official Store

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$

Carnivàle: Season 1

One of the recurrent references in the recent FXX series Man Seeking Woman was that the couple never finished binge-watching the 2003-05 HBO series Carnivàle.  Unsettling and unusual in its art direction  (think American Horror Story), the series set a Dust Bowl era traveling circus as the supernatural battleground between forces of good and evil. A rocking good way of exploring old-time American values, Carnivàle got five Emmys after its first season and had a great cast including Amy Madigan, Ralph Waite, Clancy Brown, Nick Stahl and Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks. One of the great cinematic TV efforts, the series got cut short after its second season. Season One and Two available at Amazon for $15 each. –Eric Gould