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I'm Back... And I'm Not Dead Yet
October 21, 2016  | By David Bianculli  | 52 comments

[Originally posted 10/19/16]

Dear, dear TVWW readers: I’m back, I’m recovering, and, to quote Monty Python, I’m not dead yet. (See The Holy Grail... below.) Thanks for your patience, and your loyalty, while I’ve been healing, glacially but gratefully…

What happened to me, in the most general of terms, was a sudden and potentially fatal triple whammy: an intestinal blockage brought about by scar tissue from a previous operation, an inflamed gallbladder, and a free-range gallstone that eventually perched dangerously close to the passage to my liver. All in all, a solid month in the hospital recovering from one operation, then returning a few weeks later for additional “procedures.”

But I made it, thanks to a persistent and caring medical team, and inspirational visits and help from my kids and friends. I’ve currently worked myself back to about 60 percent of my normal energy level – enough to have resumed teaching full time, to have completed the recording of my forthcoming audiobook (205,000 words, 550-plus pages, in nine days in front of the microphone), and, just this week, to return to NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

My “comeback” Fresh Air piece will run Thursday, Oct. 20, as a dual review of Fox’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show and season three of Black Mirror, the anthology series now on Netflix. But since much of the country is in a national fundraiser, you may have to go to the Fresh Air website starting late Thursday afternoon to hear it. Regardless, I’m back, and so happy to be there. I got enough hugs to hold me for the rest of the month.

So I’m alive, I’m slowly returning to Fresh Air (I’ll start guest hosting again in November), and I’m gearing up for publicity regarding the Nov. 15 publication of my new book, The Platinum Age of Television, which I’m truly excited about. More on that in the coming weeks…

But with my teaching, Fresh Air, and the book work, what’s still missing is… TV Worth Watching. Since I was hospitalized in mid-July, this entire ship has been steered and run by Eric Gould, who stepped up big time, and Linda Donovan, who did whatever posting and editing Eric didn’t. Our writers, especially David Hinckley, Ed Bark, and Alex Strachan, held the fort (I know, a second ago it was a ship). And they, along with Ed Martin, Tom Brinkmoeller, Bill Brioux and Gerald Jordan, as well as Eric and Linda, helped out tremendously by contributing to the TVWW Fall Preview package, which is still in effect.

Thanks to you all, you fabulous friends. And thanks, too, to Gaby Tamariz and our new social media person, Karle Dunbar, who now will have to deal with me as well. Poor woman. And thanks to Dave Sicilia, not for writing, but for taking the huge step of driving up from Maryland to visit me in the hospital. I barely remember it (the pain meds were that good), but it meant a lot. And one final dose of extra special thanks: Eric even chipped in with the complicated but much-appreciated task of providing weekly Best Bets in my absence (and a particular note of gratitude, as well, to so many of you who enthusiastically offered your daily Best Bets).

For the next week or two, I intend to follow Eric's example, and begin to post a weekly Best Bets each Sunday, until I get just a little stronger, and clear a bit more non-teaching, non-sleeping time.

But by November, I hope to be back in the swing of things, and I hope you’ll stick around to watch us regroup and regrow. I’ve been gone from TVWW for three full months, and for most of that time did no writing whatsoever. The last time I spent a month or more without writing anything, I was 15. So I’m refreshed, and I’m not only ready to begin writing for you guys again, and sharing my opinion, and hearing from you all – I’m honored by the opportunity.

Thanks for all the support you gave everyone else at TVWW during my absence. And thanks, too, for still being here to welcome me back with a hug, even if it’s only a virtual one…

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Apr 28, 2022   |  Reply
meredith kornfeld
Dear David: I have been a fan since you declared-years ago-that for your money, St. Elsewhere was the greatest show in the history of television (at the time of that writing). I am loving your new book. I just have one tiny complaint. The Muppet Show, which is in my opinion, the greatest, most anarchical variety show in the history of television, deserved a full entry instead of a couple of sentences. Other than that, it is perfect.
Mar 28, 2017   |  Reply
Lori E Gold
So happy to hear you are hale and hearty. Enjoyed your year end debriefing on Fresh Air. Go get 'em in 2017 -- which, I have to hope, is a much better year all around, for everyone.
Dec 22, 2016   |  Reply
Belated wishes from a fan. You won the battle -- and imagine how many of us are thrilled. Wishing you all the best and then some. Thank you for all your insight and inspiration.
Dec 9, 2016   |  Reply
Joan Masover
Biiig hug, welcome back, and not dead :) I had one of those scar-tissue intestinal blockages 40 years ago, and remember how much it hurt when I laughed, and how the NG tube hurt more then my gut..
By now you should be able to enjoy all the comedy you like, so laugh out loud! It promotes healing
Nov 14, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Joan, Obviously, smiling promotes healing, too -- because what you wrote made me grin widely, and now I feel even better.
Nov 15, 2016
Curt Block
David..So glad to know you are back where you belong. Looking forward
to reading those columns with your special perspective. More later.
Nov 2, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Curt, Hi! More later indeed. (To share a perspective with all you readers: Curt Block, who wrote to say hello here, was one of the guys in charge of NBC network publicity when I joined the TCA press tour in 1977. And we've stayed in touch, on and off, ever since. Thanks for everything, Mr. Block...
Nov 13, 2016
Sally W.
Welcome back, David! Glad to hear that you're on the mend. So take it easy - but keep it going however you can! There's so much tv out there and I can't keep up. I'm amazed how you and your colleagues pull it off, but you're professionals! Virtual hug. Sally
Oct 31, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Sally, It took a while to reply to your nice note - but that reflects the accuracy of your observation. I don't know how we pull it off, either - but most of the credit is due to the other writers and editors. Virtual hugs to all, and to you, too!
Nov 13, 2016
Ed Q.
David, it is wonderful to have you back and working again. Since you're a fellow Gator you might get this reference but I needed you back to health and working again. I couldn't lose you and Billy Donovan so close together. Happy Holidays, welcome back, and Go Gators.
Oct 26, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Ed, Got it! Thanks...
Oct 29, 2016
David, Hooray! You are back and on the mend. So glad.
Oct 24, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Jane, Hi! SO good to hear from you. Yeah, I'm getting better all the time. (To quote the Beatles, it couldn't get much worse.) And, to quote Cream, I'm so glad, too.
Oct 29, 2016
My thoughts on your return are found in the Best Bets feedback section,as during the week,I sometimes breeze by the headlines and head straight to the daily briefings,especially since this is such a demanding time in my work and much online time is spent catching up on deep political analysis-a job that one scribe from Canada who follows politics wrote that the sidejob of keeping up with finding the truth this cycle is a neverending battle-paging Super Fact Checker!
And yes,I too,was fooled by the photo for this story. By breezing past it-was that William Shatner hovering over a grave site? Next this place will tell me about Ice-T showing up at a kiddie lemonade stand.
So David,your Sunday updates are now part of my routine of coffee,some Sinatra,finding a new Doonesbury and Foxtrot(two great Sunday-only comic strips),a couple of animation fansites and Politico. Later some Philly NPR(Fresh Air's base).
I think I'll go for the audiobook version of that new tome. I know-buy both!
Oct 23, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Mac, I've been likened to several less than thin celebrities over the years: George Wendt, Richard Dreyfuss, and now, thanks to you, William Shatner. Thank for giving me even greater impetus to stick to my new healthy diet... And seriously, thanks for being such a long-standing TVWW reader and commenter. Your presence has long been noted, and appreciated.
Oct 29, 2016
J.M. Vargas
Yay, Dave's alive and writing again. Take your time recovering, we'll all be waiting for you to get back to full strength. That's the beauty of having such a strong bench of writers like Hinckley, Bark, Gould, Strachan, etc. While TVWW took a hit and kept on trucking, and things can only get back to as good as they were or better with you back at the helm. Welcome back, David. :-)
Oct 23, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear J.M., Yeah, I've got a great pack or writers and editors around here. I'm like a sled dog who's jumped up on the sled for bit, and been pulled around the Iditarod by my fellow pups. Thanks for the welcome back...
Oct 29, 2016
Michael F
Dear David, I am so pleased to read of your recovery and eventual return to Fresh Air and TVWW. While your talented colleagues held the fort down with grace and wit your presence was certainly missed. Don't push it but please get back to 100% soon.
Oct 23, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Michael, I think I'm at 75 percent and counting. Thanks for rooting for me, and for sticking around.
Oct 29, 2016
Mark Twain, 'eh? Great photo. Welcome more than half way back to the land of the living, David! We've sure missed you.
I'm amazed at what you've accomplished at only 60%. Please continue to do whatever it is you're doing to get well 'cause it's working. Oh, and thanks for getting that book out, audio no less (!) in time for Christmas gift giving.
Oct 22, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Angela, Thanks for the good wishes. Mostly, I'm sleeping more. Six hours a night minimum now, and often closer to eight. And I can see why that's caught on with other people... As for the audiobook, YES! That, and the actual hardcover, are indeed great holiday gifts, if I do say so myself. And I just did...
Oct 29, 2016
I've been a fan since you recommended Wiseguy while at the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1987. Can't figure what to watch without you
Oct 21, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Steve, Wow. You deserve some sort of retirement pin or something, having read me for that long. (Send in your home address, and I'll try, sooner or later, to send you a little TV token or something.) And you, especially, have to get my book when it comes out: In the Crime chapter, there's a sizable discussion of Wiseguy, along with a new interview I did with its most memorable guest-star villain, Kevin Spacey...
Oct 22, 2016
Christine Lovell
Here comes one more (((hug))) and wishes for your continuing recovery. I was so delighted to hear your voice on Fresh Air last night - just a bit too late to save me from several disappointing minutes of Rocky Horror Show.
Oct 21, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Christine, Thanks for the hug. When I go to Fresh Air, they give me hugs for completing every show and recorded piece, like a trained seal receiving fish for good behavior. And it works. As for Rocky Horror, I was in the critical minority, because I enjoyed the remake on its own terms. Maybe I lost my touch during my time off...
Oct 22, 2016
Have to say it was difficult getting by these past few months without your stellar recommendations and TV guidance. Your site is truly one of a kind. So happy to hear that you are on the mend and feeling better. After a grueling back surgery eight years ago, I remember how much these surgeries can take a toll on the body. Wishing you continued good health now and in the future.
Oct 21, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Steven, Thanks so much for appreciating the site, and the guidance. Being away gave me a renewed appreciation for what we've accomplished here -- and one of the biggest accomplishments is gathering a community of similarly tasteful and intelligent TV viewers. And if there's a more polite and respectful collection of readers and posters on the web, I haven't found it. I hope your back is mended perfectly...
Oct 22, 2016
What a huge week for the world of television, featuring not one, but two returns of the walking dead!
Oct 21, 2016   |  Reply
David Bianculli
Dear Matthew, Ha! You made me laugh out loud with that one. Through this ordeal, I'd never thought of myself as a "walker" - but when I was doing rehab in the hospital, dragging around my IV pole and trying to complete one lap around the corridor, it certainly would have been an apt comparison. I just have to remember to avoid people with baseball bats. But how can I do that during the World Series?
Oct 22, 2016
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