David Bianculli first appeared on National Public Radio's Fresh Air in 1985, when it was a local radio show on WHYY-FM in Philadelphia. One of his TV reviews appeared on the first daily national edition in 1987, and he's been the show's TV critic ever since. In recent years, he also has served as guest host, filling in for Terry Gross. Over the decades, these are some of his very favorite reports.

2012
May
9
 
 
After supplying reviews for two years on the local version of Fresh Air in Philadelphia, this was my first TV review for the nationally broadcast NPR version – included as part of the opening-day broadcast. On May 11, 2012, NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross celebrates its 25th anniversary...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2007
Nov
5
 
 
But there's another reason I'm so proud of this review, and it's a long, behind-the-scenes story - two stories, actually. One fascinating element of the David Lynch-directed dream sequence was the odd way the "Man from Another Place," as the dancing midget was billed in the credits, spoke in Cooper's dream. The midget, like the Laura Palmer look-alike played by Sheryl Lee, seemed to be speaking a type of broken English...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2007
Jun
1
 
 
My favorite report ever. Fresh Air executive producer Danny Miller, all-around great guy, acknowledged and indulged my passion for everything Beatles by asking me to put together a tribute keyed to the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The idea was to do a track-by-track sampling of the best cover versions of songs from that album, and all I had to do was winnow through my embarrassingly anal Beatles covers collection...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2001
Sep
20
 
 
There are old newspaper clips on this site, as well as these old radio reports. Sometimes, though, you can hear things in the voice that you just can't get from the printed page. This Fresh Air report, broadcast nine days after 9/11, is my best example of that. At that moment, I was emotionally raw - not only from watching nonstop coverage of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath for so long, but by personal stuff that had hit me just as hard...
 
 
 
  
 
 
1998
Mar
19
 
 
Chris Spurgeon, who worked at WHYY in those days, was a cutting-edge collector and purveyor of all things that really popped in popular culture. One day, he lent me some VHS bootleg tapes of episodes of an imported Japanese cooking show called Iron Chef. Some were translated, others weren't, but all of them were mesmerizing...
 
 
 
  
 
 
1990
Sep
21
 
 
I'm proud of this because, without any inkling of how popular, influential or resonant this documentary series would become - and without knowing that Ken Burns was about to become a household word - this review nailed what was best about The Civil War. Namely, historian Shelby Foote, filmmaker Burns' graceful visual approach, the poetry of the storytelling, and one soldier's unforgettable letter home in particular.
 
 
 
  
 
 
1987
Dec
28
 
 
Dennis Potter, who wrote the British miniseries The Singing Detective, called it "a drama with music." At the time, I called it the best drama ever written expressly for television - and 20 years later, that assessment still holds true. Getting a chance to steer people towards something this brilliant, then and now, is the biggest joy of being a critic...
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
New From TVWW

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
James Garner: 1928-2014
By David Bianculli
 
 
 
 
Immigration Collection