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BEST BETS Update 10/29/16
November 4, 2016  | By David Bianculli  | 6 comments


TVWW Update – Once again, it’s David Bianculli, back in the saddle, serving up another dose of weekly Bianculli’s Best Bets, and happy to be doing so. (And very happy to be reconnecting with readers, too! Thanks for the kind words, for welcoming me back, and for being so properly appreciative of all the TVWW writers and editors who continue to keep things running around here.) On to another week of TV recommendations, highlighted by the deciding games of this year’s World Series, featuring the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians…

[For more on David's return to TVWW, read his current blog here.]

Saturday, October 29 – NBC’s Saturday Night Live is a rerun this week, a repeat of the season opener with guest host Margot Robbie, but Game 4 of The 2016 World Series, broadcast from Chicago’s Wrigley Field at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, is new, and live. BBC America has new stuff, too: episode two of Douglas Adams’ wonderfully weird Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency at 9 p.m. ET, and a fresh installment of my favorite talk show, The Graham Norton Show, at 10 p.m. ET, with guests Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Jude Law, and Catherine Tate – all on the same couch at the same time.

Sunday, October 30 – Game 5 of The 2016 World Series dominates the attention, even on a Sunday night, when the action begins on Fox at 8 p.m. ET. But there are lots of other attention-demanding alternatives, starting with the season’s second episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead at 9 p.m. ET, which continues the story line from the controversial, and excessively violent, season opener. Also at 9 p.m. ET, there’s a new episode of HBO’s Westworld, which gets better and more intriguing every week, and a new episode of Showtime’s Shameless, which has one of the best acting ensembles on TV right now. The lead characters of another Showtime series, Masters of Sex (10 p.m. ET), get to do double duty by going undercover, in disguise, at a rival sex-clinic operation. And after another exhaustingly headline-generating presidential campaign week, there’s another indispensible new episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver at 11 p.m. ET. Finally, at 8 p.m. ET on TCM, there’s a movie to watch with delight, or record and set aside as the world’s best Halloween treat: the brilliant 1974 Mel Brooks comedy, Young Frankenstein.

Monday, October 31 – On Halloween, predictably, there are a lot of horror movies and other spooky-themed treats and tricks. Of these, the best are TCM’s 6 p.m. ET showing of 1963’s The Haunting, a movie that works shockingly well at building and sustaining a haunted-house atmosphere; IFC’s 7:45 p.m. ET showing of The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s creepy 1980 version of the Stephen King novel; and, also on IFC, a midnight ET showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – the original 1975 cult film, not the very recent Fox TV remake. There’s also the premiere of a new IFC comedy horror series, Stan Against Evil, starring John C. McGinley from Scrubs, at 11 p.m. ET. But there are two non-Halloween-themed shows worth noting as well: a new edition of NBC’s The Voice at 8 p.m. ET, and a special edition of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee at 10:30 p.m. ET on TBS, featuring Bee interviewing President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, November 1 – If necessary, tonight is Game 6 of The 2016 World Series, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. That’s why there isn’t much competition elsewhere on the dial (or the cable box or satellite receiver) on this night and Wednesday. If this Series goes the distance, or close to it, audience levels will be huge. What else to look for, if you’re not into baseball? At 10 p.m. ET on FX, there’s the Season 1 finale of Atlanta. And at 11 p.m. ET on TBS, the host of Conan makes room for an old friend: Louis C.K., from the Apollo in New York.

Wednesday, November 2 – If there’s a Game 7 of The 2016 World Series, all eyes, or most of them, will be there. But there are options, if you look hard enough. FX’s American Horror Story and Sundance’s Rectify have new episodes at 10 p.m. ET on their respective networks, while WGN America’s Salem returns with its season premiere at 9 p.m. ET – a day or two late for Halloween, but still spooky. And starting today on Hulu, a new political special begins streaming, but one even the most tired political TV junkies may want to watch: Robert Smigel’s latest Insult Comic Dog “documentary,” Triumph’s Election Watch 2016: The Home Stretch.

Thursday, November 3 – Two of the week’s best sitcoms present new episodes tonight: CBS’s The Big Bang Theory at 8 p.m. ET, and NBC’s increasingly delightful The Good Place at 8:30 p.m. ET. But the evening’s most interesting TV offering of all may be the 1964 comedy shown at 8 p.m. ET by TCM, less than a week before Election Day. It’s called Kisses for My President, and stars Polly Bergen as the first woman elected President of the United States. Fred MacMurray co-stars as the First Husband. And if you don’t think it would be fun to look at a film, with that premise, that’s more than 50 years old, well then, you just don’t have much fun left in you, period. But in this political season, that’s understandable…

Friday, November 4 – There are new episodes of Fox’s The Exorcist at 9 p.m. ET, and of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher at 10 p.m. ET. But the biggest draws, for me, are three offerings premiering today on Netflix. There’s a nature documentary about elephant poaching, The Ivory Game; a new standup comedy special, Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60; and a new 10-part drama series, The Crown, written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and starring Claire Foy as young Queen Elizabeth II. John Lithgow co-stars as Winston Churchill.

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