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It’s Official: There’s Too Much Great TV on Sundays
October 12, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 3 comments

The arrival tonight of Showtime’s The Affair, perhaps the year’s best new drama, is great news for fans of quality TV. But it’s one more hour of great TV, on a night with so many already…

Don’t get me wrong. I understand this is a “good news” problem. I also understand that, thanks to TV On Demand, DVRs and other time-shifting opportunities, thinking of “nights” and “schedules,” when it comes to watching television, is kind of old-fashioned.

But I also know, according to the Nielsen ratings, there are, literally, millions of people who, like myself, continue to watch television in real time. And who, when a favorite show is on the schedule, make an effort to be there to watch it as it unfurls, to enjoy it at the first opportunity.

Tonight (Oct. 12), because I’m a TV critic, I have a decided advantage. I’ve already seen the series premiere of Showtime’s The Affair, which begins at 10 p.m. ET. And loved it.

Similarly, I’ve seen, in advance, tonight’s Season 5 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead (left), a spectacularly exciting and dramatic hour of television. And, for that matter, tonight’s episode of Showtime’s Homeland, another hour of TV that’s really, really excellent.

Both of those shows – The Walking Dead and Homeland – are on at the same time: 9 p.m. ET. And it’s the same hour at which other drama shows on my weekly must-watch list – shows which I no longer have advance episodes on tap – are televised. Namely, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which last week served up yet another intensely memorable hour – and CBS’s The Good Wife, which last week presented an episode that knocked me out with its intelligence, ingenuity and unpredictability.

Without access to advance previews, that would be four of TV’s best shows – The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and Homeland – all competing for attention at the same hour of prime time. And since I’m a sports fan, let’s also add two events that, to enjoy them fully, have to be seen live, in real time: Fox Sports 1’s 8 p.m. ET of Game 2 of the National League Championship series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, and NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

And that’s not to mention 60 Minutes on CBS at 7 p.m. ET, or Fox’s The Simpsons at 8 p.m. ET, or TCM’s telecasts of Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity (right) at 5:15 p.m. ET and Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt at 8 ET. Oh, and Sundance Channel is showing Roman Polanski’s brilliant Chinatown at 10 p.m. ET.

That’s not a night’s worth of quality television. It’s closer to a week’s…

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Mark N
Dear David
Firstly, I continue to use your site to help, with my terrible TV addiction...and as noted....Sundays became very difficult...except for the unusual situation of my having 3 sources(antenna/Time-Warner cable AND satellite) I.d have difficulties...as it is...Monday is a busy catchup day. My point today is THANKS....I would have passed on The Affair due to other commitments and I do agree its one of this season most interesting and innovative shows(I have to say we have seen 2 sided visions of events before...i thought of Roshamon right away). Just wanted to give you a well earned slap on the back for the wonderfullness that is your site...I remain, your tv disciple.....Mark
Oct 28, 2014   |  Reply
This is a pet peeve of mine. I like all the same shows and would really like to also record Chinatown. Something's gotta give and I hope it's not going to be me. Also not everyone wants to pay for a DVR each month and don't have the "On Demand" option that also costs more. If someone doesn't have, "On Demand" than watching repeats is next to impossible for many shows. It's why I haven't watched WGN's show Manhattan yet. Many shows don't have repeats until after the entire series has aired.
I'd really like to cut my cable bill down, or cut the cord but this isn't helping me to do so. I wonder if that's why they schedule a show pile-up? I sure don't see why they couldn't do a better job of lining up these shows so we could be sure to enjoy watching all of them. Plus I'm recording both the originally aired episodes of, The Good Wife and the repeats with hopes of being able to watch one entire episode out of two due to the football season also causing DVR confusion.
Oct 12, 2014   |  Reply
Mark N
Angela...for decades I have kept DVD recorders OR oldschool VHS recorders to tape what's on when I'm watching....I feel like a cromagnon throwback,,....but i never pay for a DVR...to be fair....I have 3 sources...ANT/Sat/and cable...and this leads also to the dreaded MDT...Most Disposable Tape(program)
Oct 28, 2014
Yeas My DVR works overtime on Sundays, lucky for us networks like AMC, Showtime and HBO repeat the shows later in the night or week :)
Oct 12, 2014   |  Reply
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