Founder / Editor


Associate Editor


Assistant Editor











WATCH THIS: 15 more TV treats
September 21, 2009  | By Diane Werts

[UPDATED AGAIN: Upcoming shows brought to top.]


While Bianculli tracks the big-name shows coming up on the networks and cable, I prefer to travel the tube's backroads, seeking slightly more obscure stuff worth watching.

So I'll match him 15 for 15 with these (less obvious) September TV treats.

14. The Prisoner (premieres Friday, Sept. 25, 8-11 p.m. ET, IFC) -- Patrick McGoohan's classic '60s mystery refreshes our memories before AMC's November remake. Co-creator/director McGoohan made himself immortal playing a resigned spy imprisoned in a too-perfect Village patrolled by a nasty weather balloon. This cerebral (even hallucinatory) puzzle is beautifully produced, and distinctly one of a kind. At least until November. (You can also watch all 17 of McGoohan's Prisoner episodes online.)

15. The Joy Behar Show (premieres Sept. 28, nightly at 9 ET, HLN) -- Love her or hate her, the brassy comic/cohost of The View certainly provides a loud liberal counterpoint to high-volume right-wing talkers.



smithsonian studs terkel.jpg1. Soul of a People: Writing America's Story(Sunday, Sept. 6, 8-10 p.m. ET, Smithsonian) -- The Depression wasn't fun, but it did leave lasting value, as evidenced by this look at the controversial Federal Writers' Project, described as "America's first-ever self-portrait." Studs Terkel talks about his work chronicling American life alongside the likes of Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow and John Cheever. (Encores Sunday night at 1 a.m., Labor Day at noon and 6 p.m. ET.)

everybody hates chris nick nite.jpg2. Everybody Hates Chris (Monday, Sept. 7, 10 p.m.-6 a.m. ET; then nightly at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET, Nick at Nite) -- Chris Rock's charming and sharp childhood flashbacks -- which never lured the audience they deserved on UPN/CW -- find the perfect afterlife on a rejuvenating Nick at Nite.

3. King of the Hill (Sunday, Sept. 13, 8-9 p.m. ET, Fox) -- Mike Judge's longrunning animated family -- Texas propane dealer Hank Hill, savvy wife Peggy and awkward son Bobby -- says 'Bye, y'all' with two final fresh episodes.

drop dead diva abdul.jpg4. Drop Dead Diva(Sundays, Sept. 13 and 20, 9 p.m. ET, Lifetime) -- Whatever you think of this tale of a vapid model reincarnated as a plus-size attorney, these are must-see guest shots: Paula Abdul on Sept. 13, and Liza Minnelli, Delta Burke and Rosie O'Donnell Sept. 20.

5. Inside the Actors Studio (Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET, Bravo) -- This should be good. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane gets the James Lipton "grilling" in one of Bravo's few shows still worth watching.

vertigo tcm.jpg6. Bernard Herrmann/Alfred Hitchcock films (Tuesdays, Sept. 15 and Sept. 22, starting at 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies) -- TCM's monthlong Hermann tribute screens six memorable Hitchcock suspensers with memorable Herrmann scores. On Sept. 15: The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Vertigo. On Sept. 22: North by Northwest, Psycho and Marnie.

7. Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League (premieres Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET, Showtime) -- Run 'n' gun sports on a shoestring. It was nothing like today's corporate sports world when an upstart football league challenged the stodgy NFL starting in 1960. Joe Namath [photo at right], Al Davis, John Madden and other rebels figure in this lively underdog story spread across five Wednesday nights.

Joan_Allen_Okeeffe.jpg8. Georgia O'Keeffe(Saturday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. ET, Lifetime) -- Joan Allen plays the 20th century desert painter in a new biopic costarring Jeremy Irons as Alfred Stieglitz. Other screenings: Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. ET.

9. Holy Grail in America (Sunday, Sept. 20, 8-10 p.m. ET, History) -- Did the DaVinci Code's Knights Templar stash Christ's cup in the States? And did they do it a hundred years before Columbus? This special investigates.

brady-bunch-tv-land.jpg10. The Brady Bunch 40th anniversary marathon(Monday-Friday, Sept. 21-25, 7-9 p.m. ET, and Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 26-27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, TV Land) -- Sing along now: It's the story of an unavoidable sitcom about a blended family, a dog and a maid named Alice. (And, late in the series' run, some reeeeally bad man-perms.) Gorge yourself on the grooviness.

man on wire wtc.jpg11. Man on Wire (Monday, Sept. 21 at 8:25 p.m. ET, Sundance) --Amid its dysfunctional '70s depths, New York City found itself transfixed in wonder when French daredevil Phillippe Petit took an illegal wire-walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. James Marsh's documentary film about this guerrilla act captures both its intricate planning and its inspirational impact on a downtrodden city.

12. Brick City (Monday-Friday, Sept. 21-25, 10 p.m. ET, Sundance) -- Young-gun Newark mayor Cory Booker struggles to revitalize his blighted New Jersey metropolis by rallying police, gangs and everyday people, in this five-part documentary produced by Forest Whitaker.

13. Stephen Fry in America (Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. ET, HDNet) -- Hugh Laurie's old comedy partner (A Bit of Fry and Laurie) drives a London cab through all 50 states, discovering fascinating landmarks, customs and citizens.




Gregory Kibitz said:

Some pretty good picks, Diane.

[Thanks! See my comments inserted beneath a couple of them below. DW]

Already have one of them punched into the DVR, Georgia O'Keeffe - Joan Allen was on Conan or something a week or so ago and, being a man, I generally don't watch much Lifetime - so I would be in the dark otherwise - but I do find the odd good flick on there from time to time - but no time for yet another cheating husband or teen pregnancy movie, that is for sure - If wanted more of that I'd just watch Oprah or Soap Operas, and I don't watch Oprah or Soap Operas! I make fun of Oprah and Soap Operas!.

Now a few more items to add:

The Prisoner - Old and New, esp. Old - I so hate watching them on the PC as I have been. The AMC On-Demand player is very choppy in full screen, at least on my PC and I have a 3 Meg DSL and I have no problems with any other On-Demand players (FOX, YouTube, et. al.).

Man on Wire - Been wanting to see that since Petit was on Colbert. Looks to be very, very cool!

Inside the Actors Studio - Can't wait to see MacFarlane in that setting. Never miss an episode or a MacFarlane Interview! I hope he does all the Family Guy Voices like in the Hulu commercial (and none of that American Dad stuff I don't like). And it would be cool if they had the other voices/actors there too, kinda like for the Simpsons episode. BTW, didn't have Bravo on my cable until like 2002, so missed so many of the first 50 or so early classics with all the super greats and so I wish they would re-air them all someday, esp since Lipton rarely ever brings anyone back a second time unless they really break out anew. But I guess you gotta pay tuition or dues into SAG to gain access to the archives.

[Re Seth MacFarlane, I've now seen portions of his Lipton interview. He does do Stewie and other characters -- always weird to watch his face doing their voices! -- and he does have other voice actors with him. I'm not sure how much of the humor Lipton really gets.]

Everybody Hates Chris - I so wish that show had been on a regular network (not the CW or UP or whatever it is and/or was) and not always up against so much else I liked. Maybe now I can make it fit in as I've only seen maybe 2 or 3 of them and just to hear Chris talk is more than enough to make for great TVWW. I so miss his HBO talk show. That was the bomb!

Hitchcock on TCM - I've already seen all but like 5 of his films (what few remain are mostly of the very-obscure, hardly-ever-air variety). And I've seen most for the best ones (we all know which ones they are) quite repeatedly, though many were actually still 1st timers in just on the last few years (like Vertigo - so odd some of the knowledge holes we have). So I will probably skip this as my focus will surely be elsewhere. But what I really want to see someday is a re-airing of the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series. I watched that religiously as a kid (right along with The Prisoner and Twilight Zone) and now, about 40 years later, I so want to see them all again, as I cannot remember a single one of them.

[Alfred Hitchcock Presents has its first 3 seasons out on DVD. You can also watch episodes free at Hulu -- http://www.hulu.com/alfred-hitchcock-presents -- or download them for 99 cents each from iTunes or Amazon.]

Brady Bunch Marathon - Probably won't watch as I saw every episode at least 4 or 5 times as a kid, but I may check in form time to time just to reminisce. I will admit that I just watched The Very Brady Sequel not but three nights ago. Had never seen it (just the 1st one) and I hate to judge film by only its hype (or lack thereof). And, honestly, I quite liked it. Just the right mix of taking me back and then also making fun of it all at the same time. I so hate when the modern sequels are too different or overly parodied or just plain don't get what the original was all about (as in I so hated the Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible Movies - so not TVWW and surely not buying a movie ticket for).

And that may be far too much to tackle anew based on all my other TVWW demands (and movies and life and work and exercise and hobbies and leisure and...) If only I could jack this stuff directly in my brain kinda Matrix like. Then I would not have to limit myself. But that is science fantasy and this is more or less objective reality so surely I won't even be able to watch and/or enjoy all of this. So it goes.

And when I waste all this extra time composing huge comments to obscure (but oh so good) blogs, that lack of time problem only get doubly worse!

[Hate that you're further behind after this long comment, but loved reading it! Thanks, DW]

Gregory Kibitz said:

Reading my own late night comments above, I must comment:

Boy, don't I ramble on about nothing and then even less than that! LOL

Found the Hitchcock on Hulu. The tip is very much appreciated. Now if only I could find the time to get past simply setting an explorer bar favorite for it. 150+ half hour episodes of Presents alone, and I can't seem to find time for a single one of them! And now the Fall Broadcast TV season has begun anew, so that's only going to get even worse!

Watching MacFarlane on IAS in about half an hour (got the 1st new Jeopardy on pause so gotta crank that out first!). I'm sure it will be awesome!

Thanks again!

Gregg B said:

I would like to point out that Adult Swim will be repeating the original British "The Office" every Friday at Midnight.

Thanks for all the tips, Diane, as I would have definitely missed Inside the Actors Studio with the Family Guy cast as I never watch Bravo. It was hilarious, and yes, James Lipton got all the jokes and played an excellent straight man. Just hearing the pretentious music introducing each clip had me laughing.

Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 Name (required)
 Email (required) (will not be published)
Type in the verification word shown on the image.