DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

JIM DAVIS

Managing Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

Contributors

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ALEX STRACHAN

JONATHAN STORM

GERALD JORDAN

DAVID SICILIA

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

CANDACE KELLEY

 
 
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THURSDAY
FEBRUARY 11
2016

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Fox, 8:00 p.m. ET

Some of the contestants are voted out in tonight’s show – but others get the benefit of the experience of some previous Idol survivors, as previous contestants show up to mentor the new folks. And sing with them, too, as part of this final-season stroll down Idol memory lane. Note that, for this final season, interactive home voting has been removed from the equation for this Top 24 elimination round. Idol wants to do everything it can to stack the deck with someone worthy of bookending the Kelly Clarkson-launching opening season – and if that means cutting viewers out of the mix for another week or two, that’s show biz.

 
  
 
 

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Let this serve as notice that all three ABC Thursday dramas are making their midseason returns tonight: Grey’s Anatomy at 8 p.m. ET, Scandal at 9 ET, and How to Get Away with Murder at 10 ET. But I point out Grey’s Anatomy, in particular, because this is an unusually dramatic episode even for this show – and because it marks the TV directorial debut of Denzel Washington. It’s a fitting debut, too, because his career was launched on a TV medical show, way back in the early 1980s, when he played a Boston medical resident on NBC’s St. Elsewhere.

 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

This latest Democratic presidential debate, the last one scheduled for the month of February, is the second one in which Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debate one another solely. After last week’s debate, Sanders won the New Hampshire primary – and this debate, live from Milwaukee, comes as a prelude to Tuesday’s Nevada Democratic caucus and the perhaps pivotal South Carolina primary on Feb. 27. Tonight’s debate is hosted by PBS NewsHour in partnership with Facebook, and will be simulcast on CNN. NewsHour co-anchors and managing editors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderate.
 
  
 
 

FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode is titled “Easter in Bakersfield,” and Baskets (Zach Galifianakis) celebrates the holiday with a family Easter brunch – though, with his family, and his demeanor, “celebrate” is far from the right word. At a family celebration, most of the family isn’t driven from the table. Louie Anderson, as Baskets’ mother, is a standout here.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

This 1933 musical is a staple of my Film Appreciation class at Rowan University – and every year, it bowls over some of my students because of its Depression-era cynicism, humor and, with its stunning between-the-wars climax, topicality. And Ginger Rogers singing the opening number, “We’re in the Money,” in Pig Latin – well, that throws them, too. The Busby Berkeley numbers, especially the finale, are the real reason to watch, but the comedy’s very strong, too. Joan Blondell (pictured), Ruby Keeler co-star.

 
  
 
 
 
 
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VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

GIVE ME ONE MINUTE TO PROVE WHY EVEN BABIES SHOULD WATCH TV – When my daughter, Kristin, was very young, one of the first (and then only) things we let her watch on TV was PBS’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, because it was so positive, safe, and lovingly interactive. A generation later, Kristin is married, and she and her husband, Roland Ochoa, have a baby girl of their own, named Reina. Without any input or advice from me, when Kristin set out to choose Reina’s first regular viewing TV experience, she selected Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the new animated reincarnation of Fred Rogers’ characters and vision. And after just a few days, Reina became so enamored of Daniel that Kristin and Roland recorded her watching the opening of his show. Reina is only six months old here, but watch as she watches, as the theme song plays – and wait for the moment when Daniel Tiger emerges from the trolley, gets his close-up, and addresses the viewer directly. Is there such a thing as Tigermania? And is there any way this type of TV interaction, even at this young age, can be anything but good? New episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood roll out on PBS Feb. 15-18.David Bianculli

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


American Crime
ABC
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

American Crime Story
FX
Tuesdays
10 PM ET 

Baskets
FX
Thursdays
10 PM ET

Billions
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET

The Circus
Showtime
Sundays
8 PM ET

Downton Abbey
PBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Good Wife
CBS
Sundays
9 PM ET

The Grinder
Fox
Tuesdays
8:30 PM ET

Man Seeking Woman
FXX
Wednesdays
10:30 PM ET

Mercy Street
PBS
Sundays
10 PM ET
Check Local Listings


 
 

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.
 
 

FREAKS AND GEEKS: THE COMPLETE SERIES – This is a TV comedy series about high school, putting it in the same continuum as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Gidget, Square Pegs, My So-Called Life and The Wonder Years. It lasted only one season, but it’s a very important part of that continuum, and this Shout! Factory release more than does Freaks and Geeks justice. All 18 episodes of the series are collected here, unedited, including the groundbreaking episode in which Seth Rogen, as high-schooler Ken, copes with a surprising secret about his new girlfriend. This 1999-2000 series was created by Paul Feig, with Judd Apatow as one of its writer-producers, and the comedy lineage, especially to today’s Apatow movie hits, is strong. Cast members include Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel and stars Linda Cardellini and John Francis Daley, who play brother and sister, navigating their way through high school. It’s an excellent series with a heart, and even more fun to watch to see Franco and company at such a young age. It’s due in March 2016 on Blu-ray, but for now, this is a great price for the DVD set.David Bianculli

 
 
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This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$

Sherlock Limited Edition Gift Set

This is the three-season collection of the modern reboot of Sherlock with the Internet and cell phones as the sleuthing tools of the day. This BBC series has been one of the most popular of recent US imports and it’s easy to understand why: from the bold reworking of the original stories to solid performances by Martin Freeman (Fargo) as Dr. Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, the new Sherlock is a must-see for loyal fans of the original works. Includes both Blu-ray/DVD discs, gag reel, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes, Holmes and Watson busts, and more. Now 55% off at Amazon. –Eric Gould

 
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