DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

JIM DAVIS

Managing Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

GABRIELA TAMARIZ

Social Media Manager

Contributors

NOEL HOLSTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

ALEX STRACHAN

GERALD JORDAN

JONATHAN STORM

CANDACE KELLEY

MONIQUE NAZARETH

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WEDNESDAY
SEPTEMBER 2
2015

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

ESPN, 1:00 p.m. ET

At yesterday’s first-round play of U.S. Open tennis, the players weren’t the only ones serving up something new. ESPN commentator Pam Shriver interviewed U.S. player CoCo Vanderweghe about her match. What’s so unusual about that, you ask? The match wasn’t over, that’s what. It’s one thing to toss a fast question or two at a pro football coach as he runs off the field to rally his troops at halftime – but to interview a tennis player between sets? That’s not a new way to engage viewers and fans, or get inside the head of the athletes. That’s an unnecessary and distracting intrusion. Good thing it’s not mandatory, and don’t expect Serena Williams, playing her second match this afternoon, to play along. She’s focused on playing, period – which is just as it should be.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

Part 3 of 3. It’s been an interesting experiment, this idea of presenting live coverage of marine animals congregating at California’s Monterey Bay. And while some of the best images have been captured just before these live hours began (orcas!), or during the earlier daytime hours (great whites!), just the thought of seeing a humpback whale pod work its way through the water, photographed live from a helicopter overhead, is pretty amazing. And when nature in the bay doesn’t cooperate with the high-intensity demands of live television, this show can (and often does) cut to shots of otters being fed by park handlers. Cute is cute, which is why the Internet has thrived. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

Comedy Central, 10:00 p.m. ET

There are only three episodes left, so enjoy and value them. Among tonight’s sketches: imagining the sitcom-like home life of astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 adaptation of the William Makepeace Thackeray novel is one of the most beautiful movies ever filmed. Period. And some of its set pieces, such as the duel, are as shrewdly constructed as anything Kubrick ever filmed. This period movie, starring Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson, isn’t often mentioned among the top tier of Kubrick classics – but watch it tonight on TCM, without interruptions or edits and with the proper screen ratio, and you might agree with me that it should be.
 
  
 
 

USA, 10:00 p.m. ET

SEASON FINALE: This Season 1 finale was scheduled to be televised last Wednesday, but was postponed in the wake of the shootings last week, on live television, of a Virginia TV crew. Apparently, there’s a similar scene in the Mr. Robot season finale – and we’ll see for ourselves tonight, as this surprisingly good summer USA series winds up its surprise-packed inaugural year.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

VIDEO WORTH WATCHING

DISNEY VILLAINESSES BY WAY OF ‘CHICAGO’ – August 31 is the premiere of Todrick (10 p.m. ET), a new MTV series in which former American Idol contestant Todrick Hall, now going only by his first name, takes viewers behind the scenes of the makings of his notably popular YouTube music video mini-epics. It’s another example of “traditional” TV trying to cash in on the momentum generated by web videos, and that’s not necessarily a bad move. Take, for example, this Todrick video from 2013: Spell Block Tango, a takeoff on a song from the musical Chicago, in which a group of behind-bars lady killers – that is, killers who also are ladies – plead their cases in verse. Hall’s inspired idea was to use the same tune and staging, but with Disney villainesses as the women behind bars. It’s a great conceit (beating ABC’s own Once Upon a Time, which last season introduced several more Disney villainesses to its mix, to the punch by several years), and it’s staged and performed admirably and infectiously. Skip past the ad that precedes the music video, then sit back and enjoy one of Todrick’s greatest bits. – David Bianculli

 
 

TV WE'RE WATCHING

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


Boston EMS
ABC
Saturdays
10 PM ET

Dates
CW
Thursdays
9 PM ET

Drunk History
Comedy Central
Tuesdays
10:30 PM ET

Key and Peele
Comedy Central
Wednesdays
10 PM ET

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
HBO
Sundays
11 PM ET

Masters of Sex
Showtime
Sundays
10 PM ET

POV
PBS
Check Local Listings

Public Morals
TNT
Tuesdays
10 PM ET

Ray Donovan
Showtime
Sundays
9 PM ET

Welcome to Sweden
NBC
Sundays
8 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 LARRY SANDERS SHOW: THE COMPLETE SERIES – You aren’t going to find better deals than this newly repackaged release of Garry Shandling’s hilarious, impressively influential HBO comedy show. All 89 episodes, spread over nine discs, on sale for only $24.29 on Amazon. That’s crazy cheap. And this series, which ran on HBO from 1992-98, is crazy good. On camera, you get the lead troika of Shandling as neurotic TV talk host Larry Sanders, Rip Torn as his always-simmering producer, and Jeffrey Tambor as Larry’s neurotic TV sidekick. You also get an endless parade of great guest stars, from Carol Burnett and David Letterman to Sharon Stone and Jon Stewart. Series regulars, at various points in the series, include Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven and many others – and behind the scenes, Shandling’s writing and producing collaborators include Judd Apatow, Peter Tolan and Dennis Klein. All that, and there’s also a skewering of TV in general, and the talk-show world in particular, that is as observant and honest as it is biting and hysterical. “Hey, now!” What are you waiting for? – David Bianculli

 
 
DirecTV LLC NFL Ticket

This Day in TV History

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TV WWorth Buying
 TOP TVWW SPECIAL DEAL$

The Knick: Season 1

It’s seldom that a new DVD is released and TVWW immediately puts it up for recommendation. But in the case of Cinemax’s Season 1 of The Knick, it’s an easy choice. Director Steven Soderbergh’s examination of medical progress at the turn of the 20th century in New York City is as revelatory as it is gruesome. Not for the squeamish, The Knick (fictional Knickerbocker Hospital) shows the wretched trial and error that gave birth to modern surgery techniques, all through the brilliant and often brutal works of Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), who crashes his way through scientific breakthroughs and his own demonic cocaine addiction. The Knick is often an intense, unsettling experience. But with Soderbergh’s mashup of historical set pieces, modern camera work and pulsing electronic soundtrack, it’s one of television’s true works of art. At Amazon for $16.99 —Eric Gould



 
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