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

DAVID SICILIA

 
 
Enter your email address:
 
 
 
 
TUESDAY
SEPTEMBER 2
2014

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

ABC, Check local listings

The impact of national network broadcast news, in the digital age, has dwindled substantially in importance and reach – so much so that tonight’s latest changing of the guard, from ABC’s Diane Sawyer to former ABC weekend anchor David Muir, also comes with a reduction of power in the primary prime-time anchor seat. Before tonight, on broadcast TV, the evening news anchor was the one who led virtually all breaking news and election coverage – but under the Muir regime, those duties will go to Good Morning America and This Week host George Stephanopoulos, who’s been given the title of “chief anchor.” The move may require more teamwork and deference than ever before at ABC, but it’s also a shift aimed at a slightly younger demographic: Muir is 40, Stephanopoulos 53, and the departing Sawyer is 68 – three years older than Walter Cronkite was when CBS took away his chair and gave it to Dan Rather.

 
  
 
 

ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET

Of course this ABC special, because ABC is owned by Disney, is wholly and blatantly self-promotional as well as self-congratulatory. But so was Disneyland, the weekly series ABC launched 60 years ago, and that certainly was worth watching, and proved very, very durable as a pop-culture entity. So, I suspect, will Frozen, which, 50 years from now, is likely to have little girls singing along to “Let it Go” with their three-dimensional holographic Disney playmates.

 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

TCM has an especially rare double feature in prime time tonight. It would be noteworthy enough just to schedule 1927’s The Jazz Singer, the Warner Bros. movie credited with officially making the shift from silent to sound cinema. That movie, starring Al Jolson as a rabbi’s son who forsakes a career path as a cantor to pursue popular music stardom, is shown at 8 p.m. ET, and watching it is all but mandatory for cinephiles– as all my Rowan University Film History & Appreciation I students will learn very shortly.  But at 9:45 p.m. ET, TCM follows that with a Jazz Singer version I’ve never seen – a remake (pictured) from 1952, starring Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee. Can’t wait.

 
  
 
 

Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

SEASON PREMIERE: This series has proven to be one of cable’s most durable original series, surviving even a move from HBO to Showtime over the years. And the years go back to 1977, with tonight’s show launching the start of Season 25. And beginning tonight with “2014 Week 1,” it has to survive some even more drastic shifts: the move from Wednesdays to Tuesdays, and the loss of Cris Collinsworth, the most dynamic, outspoken and entertaining part of the show for many, many seasons. Both of these moves have to do with Showtime’s corporate sibling, CBS, launching its new sports franchise, Thursday Night Football. So NBC’s Sunday Night Football analyst Collinsworth and others are out, and CBS’s Greg Gumbel and others are in. But it’s also a move to employ younger players and ex-players, such as Brandon Marshall, to attract younger viewers, which has its merits – it’s just that someone as glib and perceptive as Collinsworth should always have a showcase like Inside the NFL.

 
  
 
 

Syfy, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight’s episode features a “Judge Match” – which sounds like a grudge match, and is, sort of. The special-effects makeup experts who, on other weeks, judge the efforts of contestants, this time team with them to compete against teams led by their rival judges. It’s not the sort of thing they’ve yet done on, say, Project Runway – but they should.

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

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

All the News That's Fit to Eat -- John Oliver may have taken a two-week break from his HBO series Last Week Tonight, but he can't seem to stay away from the news. Here he is as co-anchor of a "broadcast" with Cookie Monster and a few other familiar faces. If it's a taste of what to expect from Sesame Street's 45th season, then those of us who watch it with our young kids are in for a treat. -- Monique Nazareth


 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Drunk History
Comedy Central
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Happy Valley
Netflix
Streaming

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

Moyers & Company
PBS
Check Local Listings

POV
PBS
Mondays
10 PM ET
Check Local Listings

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 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

 
 
 
 
 

Dispatches from TVWW

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robin Williams: 1951-2014
By Bill Brioux
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$
'Breaking Bad' The Complete Series - DVD

Hollywood just sent Breaking Bad off on a proper note with a sweep through the Emmy Awards, rightfully sealing the show's legacy as one of the all-time greats. The Complete Series here has the same content as the collector’s item “money barrel” set released after the show's finale last fall – 21 discs, including the entire series and a jaw-dropping 50 hours of special extras, including extensive interviews with all the main actors, directors' commentary, how the cast thought the show would end, the making of some of the most memorable scenes, and much more. (The Blu-ray version is here for about $25 more.) Now 55 percent off at Amazon. –Eric Gould