WEDNESDAY
MARCH 31
2021

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

I’m not likening the end of TVWW’s 14-year run to the end of life as we knew it… Where daily newspapers and magazines were once the nexus of TV criticism, it seems fair to say this is another reminder that a torch is passing...(continued)
 
  
 
 

I did not have a TV when I grew up. The family moved from city to city, country to country — a life on the road, constantly on the move. I have vague recollections of Doctor Who playing — in flickering black-and-white — in a tiny room in a tiny house during one early childhood memory, but I don't remember much about it, except that I'm pretty sure that incarnation of the Doctor was played by Jon Pertwee and I was terrified of the Daleks...(continued)
 
  
 
 

By now, way too many TV memories are taking up space in my mind.

They leave little room for anything else, except movie plots and Cubs' batting averages. But one vivid memory is basic – a show in which a man simply played records...(continued)
 
  
 
 

There has never been a showcase for smart television criticism quite like TVWW...I may never have to get used to a world without I Love Lucy, but I can't say the same about TVWW. I'm going to have to get used to that. Sort of...(continued)
 
  
 
 

For me, David Bianculli on "Best TV Tomorrow" was TV Worth Watching. 

It was fun streaming along, seeing if David knew what day it was, watching him build to a terrible pun. Every show ending with that Mickey Rooney grin. It was a minute or two with a friend, delivered every day to my inbox. For free!...(continued)

 

 

 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 
 
 
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2114 Comments
 
 
Mila
I still keep checking in from time to time hoping this was all some horrible mistake and David will be back telling me what to watch this evening. Good luck and Godspeed, my friend. My life is a little emptier without your daily recommendations.
Jul 14, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mary Hagan
We started watching a story of the end of a marriage and the decision to go to Europe with their teenage son as had been planned. Can’t find it again. It was not an American-made movie. Does that ring a distant bell. Just watched it last night.
Jun 22, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Stacey Elise Caplin
HELP. There was this phenome of a part fantasy part world building. I must have found it roughly three months ago. Not quite "cartoon" definitely not anime. Summation of what I have seen in the first episode a gifted girl heads out (obvi) to save her world. The production and dialogue far surpassed any T.V show (and so comforting) I have seen recently. I do not engage with cartoons. I am at a loss of where I even discovered it. I have spent time that I could have written the great American novel searching for this show. It is also perfect summer fare. Any help or suggestions on how to narrow my searches would be so appreciated. I do not even recall the network, I do vye for it toreturn into my life.
Jun 17, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mary B.
SNL skit showing "NYU" students doing a weak job interviewing "Roommates" wasn't their best. Maimed by overkill shot-taking, ham-handed and stuffed with race-baiting, straight-baiting ...
May 23, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Robert Prestifilippo
David, Enjoyed seeing you on CNN's "The Story of Late Night" this passed Sunday night. You looked healthy and your wisdom is always welcome. Hopefully, we'll get to see you in future episodes. With luck they won't be preempted by BREAKING NEWS, which occurred too often in the past.
May 4, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Bridget
For TCM fans who might have missed Mon 5/3/21 replay of Alec Baldwin's 2014 interview of Robert Osborne in honor of RO's birthday, they announced the launch of a new American Film Institute sub-site called The Robert Osborne Collection which has videos of RO's intro/outro comments about many classic films. I miss that guy almost as much as Bianculli, et al, and really appreciate the new resource.
Here is the press release: https://www.afi.com/press/american-film-institute-launches-the-osborne-collection-honoring-legendary-film-historian-and-tcm-host-robert-osborne/ (sorry, I dunno how to make a friendlier link in this setting), which has a link to this video of Ben Mankiewicz talking to The Hollywood Reporter about it: https://thrpresents.hollywoodreporter.com/the-osborne-collection/
Lastly, here is the actual Collection: https://www.afi.com/robert-osborne-collection/
May 4, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Sandra Dandrade
Thanks MAS.. Yes, we have heard only bad things about the original box set and.. I am sure that, since music was such a integral part of the show, licensing costs have been a major factor in why this great show has never been streamed. Watched 'The Wire' and 'Treme' recently and was reminded of how much we miss HLOTS. Hasn't David Simon & Co. produced so much brilliant TV these last two decades!!
Apr 23, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
MAS
About "Homicide: Life on the Street" I have the original box set of HLOTS, and the video transfer quality was so awful I could barely watch it 10 years ago on a 32" TV. I think it would literally be unwatchable on a modern TV, even with the best upscaling you can get on your disc player.

Interesting article in NYTimes this week (paywall) https://tinyurl.com/2jwse257 about how shows that used a lot of popular music for sountracks couldn't afford lifetime rights so pre-streaming era they opted for a 5-year term and now some shows are streaming but the soundtrack has changed. As soon as I read this I wondered if that's why HLOTS has never been available to stream.
Apr 22, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Pam
David, one of the first things I would read on my computer each morning was TVWW's Best Bets. I often forwarded the reviews to friends. I hope you continue to do TV reviews on Fresh Air. Having a podcast would also be great. Some of the many shows that TVWW recommended that I enjoyed are Glee, The Leftovers, The Handmaid's Tale, Ally McBeal, This is Us, and Route 66, which I enjoyed as a child.

I have a special interest in your success because we were both at University of Florida at the same time. I may have read your TV reviews in the Gainesville Sun. I hope you take time to rest and enjoy the things you are fond of. One of your replies mentioned your diet. I have adapted to diet changes over the years. Almost all of the food I stopped eating, I have lost the desire to eat. I hope you have the same success and your health continues to improve.
Apr 20, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ken Rehfield
Hi David. Sure miss your daily recommendations. Would you happen to have a recommendation for another site that would do what you have been doing each day? It wouldn't be as good as you (I've been following you since your Daily News days) but at least I would get some guidance for TVWW.
Apr 16, 2021   |  Reply
 
Randy R
I have been wondering the same thing.
Apr 16, 2021
 
 
 
Ed
Hello David,
Always loved your reviews. Sad that the site had ended but like all good things...Any recommendations for online tv reviews not named RT and IMBD? Asking for a friend. Anyway good luck and hope to hear you on FA.
Edwin
Apr 13, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ed
Hello David,
Always loved your reviews. Sad that the site had ended but like all good things...Any recommendations for online tv reviews not named RT and IMBD? Asking for a friend. Anyway good luck and hope to hear you on FA.
Edwin
Apr 13, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Andrew
I just wanted to say Hi. I had finished reading Platinum Age of Television for the second time, and decided to expand on some of it, first took the 18 categories and added a sixth TV show to make the genres a little more updated. I also added more genres to include, game shows, reality tv, news, sports, talk shows anthology series, late night and more each with six entries that I feel added to evolutionary of television. Lastly, I took all the tv shows and using the classic bracket tournament system, and trying rank the best show out of all of them. The point is, I couldn't do this without your book and your insights to television lore.
Apr 13, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Ed
How many of this community still check this site every day (like I do) to see if David has changed his mind about stepping back from it? ??
Apr 13, 2021   |  Reply
 
Carrie
I check it still almost every day. It is a long standing habit. I do not think he realized how many people loved this site.
Apr 13, 2021
 
 
 
Sandra Dandrade
Thanks David and Mac! Yes, David, you are immortalized as the cold case Frank solved upon his return from his massive stroke. And, mac.. you have been missed. The rights do seem to be a muddle.. think that Fontana/Levinson were, essentially, bought out by NBC Network after season 2 (or 3) as a condition for the show to continue. Good to hear from you both!
Apr 12, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Sandra Dandrade
David: If you are still out there.. you are missed. Perhaps you or someone else can answer a question.. with the incredible proliferation of streaming channels, why still no 'Homicide: Life on the Street?' A great and honorable series and the first masterwork from David Simon. Would love to see it again. Thanks
Apr 5, 2021   |  Reply
 
Mac
Homocide,kinda complete, was released twice on DVD via A&E Networks and,in their infinite cheapness,decided closed captioning was not necessary. Now Shout! Factory has a newer version(2017?) but I have no info about captioning. I do know that Shout! has often avoided the captioning process for many of their physical DVD sets. The Sgout! version is supposed to have the Homicide TV movie ,the Law & Order cross overs(these never show up on L& O cable versions) and the excellent documentary of how they filmed one of the saddest episodes, The Subway(PBS broadcast this along with the episode years ago). There is certainly something screwy about the rights of Homicide. Wiki lists NBCUniversal as rights holder,which might mean it may show up on Comcast's Peacock paywall. Why is this the ugly stepchild of greedy Comcast? Possibly because of the many cooks involved on the series productions. Beware after-market used versions unless the seller give info.
Apr 11, 2021
 
 
David Bianculli
Dear Sandy -- Yes, I'm still out here. Here's my recommendation regarding Homicide: Life on the Street... Pop for the complete series DVD box set. You can pick it up fairly cheaply, and even more so on Ebay... and everyone should keep a DVD player around, and DVDs, because I refuse to trust streaming services, or the Cloud, to keep things reliably, because they don't. If they had called the Cloud something like the Vault, I might have been less wary. Oh, and if you get the Homicide box set and watch the extras, I'm leading one of the roundtable panel discussions with Tom Fontana and company. -DB
Apr 11, 2021
 
 
 
Simon in Japan
Hi David, thank you so much for your years of quality critique and recommendations.
I found you through Fresh Air and used your top 10 list to decide my DVD rentals.
Since then with netflicks and other online platforms I have still checked in to see what was worth dedicating time to. I skipped breaking Bad but through Better call Saul your recommendation I went back and watched it. Fargo the series was another recommendation I was grateful to get but your best was "Justified". I keep waiting for the prequel or sequel but maybe it's best they stopped while things were fresh and well written. Hello "The Blacklist ".
Take care and all the best.
Regards
Simon
Apr 5, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Simon in Japan -- Hi, way over there! Glad I had a hand in helping you find such great shows. You're absolutely right about The Blacklist. Black Hole is more like it. Thanks for the kind words. -DB
Apr 11, 2021
 
 
 
sitary
Si, mas. Thanks!
Apr 5, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
MAS
If people are still lurking here there some interesting stuff tonight (Sunday,4/4) Please check your local listings, especially for PBS, these are Eastern times.
My Grandparent's War with Helena Bonham Carter, PBS 8pm
A new Masterpiece, Atlantic Crossing on PBS, 9pm
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is back and now on Sundays for reasons unknown. NBC, 9pm
The Walking Dead season finale, AMC, 9pm
Gangs of London, new show on AMC, 10:14pm. Looks like it has potential.
City on a Hill (S2, E2) is back on Showtime for a second season, 10pm
John Oliver is new tonight, HBO, 11pm
Apr 4, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Stacy
Thank you so much for the last few years since I discovered TWW. I would have missed so much fantastic tv: Bloodlands, City on the Hill, great movies, etc. Am I correct that you did not want this? This will not only hurt the audience, but the shows as well, because we’ll probably miss half of them because we don’t hear of them. How about a podcast? I look forward to your book and will miss you. Thank you!
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Stacv -- Thanks for taking the time to write. It makes me feel good, and a little less useless, whenever any reader lets me know what specific shows he or she watched because of a recommendation from TVWW. I appreciate it. And a podcast? That's one of the things I've decided not to pursue for now, as yet another effort to save energy and get healthier. But I was a guest on one I really liked last month, when I spent an hour talking music on television with Tom Honan on his podcast. You can find it by going to recordstoreradio.biz and searching for Bianculli. Best part: a snippet of Robert Downey Jr. and Sting singing a duet on "Ally McBeal." -DB
Apr 2, 2021
 
 
 
 
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David Bianculli

Founder / Editor

David Bianculli has been a TV critic since 1975, including a 14-year stint at the New York Daily News, and sees no reason to stop now. Currently, he's TV critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and is an occasional substitute host for that show. He's also an author and teaches TV and film history at New Jersey's Rowan University. His 2009 Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', has been purchased for film rights. His latest, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific, is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV.