DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
To Quote Sam Malone, "Sorry. We're Closed"
March 31, 2021  | By David Bianculli  | 38 comments
 


After 14 years of operation, TV Worth Watching is shifting to an archival site, where reader's comments still will be welcome and monitored, and all previous blogs will be available to revisit – but without any new editorial content after April 1. No Fooling.

But several of us here at TVWW want to spend our last swings at bat by bidding you a fond farewell and saying a sincere thanks to you readers, whose knowledge and passion regarding quality TV rivals our own. What follows is mine. Please take the time, one last time, to read on…

I launched this TV Worth Watching website in 2007, within days after leaving my job as TV critic for The New York Daily News. (After 14 years there, I'd been hit by what I referred to as a "reverse Godfather": They made me an offer I couldn't accept.) Before that, I'd been a TV critic since 1975, working my way through daily newspapers in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. I cared about quality TV from the start – and while hating the bad stuff, which was plentiful, I took much more delight in discovering and championing the good.

My first book, Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously, came out in 1992, at a time when calling TV an art form was controversial and, to some, preposterous. Today, given the state of television vs. the movies or any other artistic medium, that argument isn't even worth the energy. It's a given. But back then, in that book, I interviewed the people whose work in TV I valued highly, to discuss with them the medium's strengths and triumphs. Included in that discussion, almost 30 years ago now, were such inarguably invaluable TV talents as David Attenborough, James L. Brooks, Ken Burns, Jim Burrows, Shelley Duvall, Don Hewitt, William Link, Lorne Michaels, Bill Moyers, Fred Rogers, and Kurt Vonnegut. What a group. What a discussion.

My most recent book, The Platinum Age of Television, was published in 2018, and in it I argued that TV had evolved to an even higher plane of artistry. And for that book, I profiled and interviewed more than 30 artists whose work, collectively covering the entire history of television, I considered among the very best. James L. Brooks, Ken Burns, and Jim Burrows made return appearances, and I was able to add such TV icons and auteurs as Judd Apatow, Steven Bochco, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, David Chase, Larry David, Tom Fontana, Vince Gilligan, Matt Groening, David E. Kelley, Norman Lear, David Milch, Carl Reiner, Thomas Schlamme, Garry Shandling, David Simon, Tom Smothers, Aaron Sorkin, Matt Weiner, and many others.

I list so many names because I know and trust you, the loyal TVWW reader, enough to know that most of those artists, and their work, will mean as much to you as to me. And in between those two books, I wrote another one, Dangerously Funny, on the history and impact of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and a "sequel" to Teleliteracy, and was invited by New York's apexart Gallery to be guest curator for an exhibition about the history of television. Steven Rand, who ran the gallery, encouraged me to make it a personal history as well – and that was the first time, after decades as a TV critic, that I began thinking about how my love for television had ended up enhancing my life.

Today, as I say goodbye to TV Worth Watching, I'm thinking about all that again.

The idea that, even in the early Internet days of 2007, the domain name "TV Worth Watching" hadn't been claimed yet shows you how we who loved quality TV were swimming upstream. But to me, the idea of a TV discussion site that was neither gossipy nor fanboy (or fangirl) in nature, but was intent on finding and discussing TV's best, seemed not only rare then but important. It still does today.

One of my great joys was finding kindred souls willing to play in the same sandbox. Some TVWW writers have been kind enough to write their own farewell columns, which you'll find elsewhere on this main page. I've read them all, and I hope you do too. David Hinckley, Alex Strachan, Mike Hughes, Ed Martin, Bill Brioux – I was proud to have them all on the site, and I loved each and every one of their goodbyes. It's heartening, as well as annoying, that their goodbye posts are better than mine. Brioux even said farewell by reviewing my performance on the Best TV Tomorrow videos, which seemed sadistically symmetrical, and, to me, hilarious. And most of the goodbye columns thanked you, the readers, which I'm about to get to also.

But first, after 14 years, a few true thanks are in order.

The first and biggest thanks go to Eric Gould, the only person to be with me on this TVWW journey the entire way. He designed the original website, redesigned it, oversaw the tech stuff for many years, and morphed into an excellent TV critic in his own right. All while maintaining his day job running an architecture firm in Boston – and successfully, at that.

TV Worth Watching, as it expanded in those early years, went from a one-man writing operation (with me as that one man) to a platform presenting the work of several veteran television critics and reporters: Tom Brinkmoeller, Diane Werts, Ed Bark, Noel Holston, Gerald Jordan, Bill Brioux, and others. I had worked with them all side by side at the Television Critics Association press tours, admired what they wrote and how they handled themselves, and was honored that they all agreed to come aboard and play. Diane even took over managing editor duties for a few years, as well as columnist, and took over daily editing duties when they became too much for me.

After she left, a former TV reporting and editing colleague at the New York Daily News, Christy Slewinski, joined us, and she was the driving force that pushed us to the next level and a redesign and had grand visions for TVWW. But tragically, Christy died suddenly and way too young, and everyone at TVWW who knew her still thinks of her often.

But we kept going, and other talented contributors kept coming. After Christy, the only reason TVWW kept going, really, was Linda Donovan, who took over the editing reins, and has worked impossibly hard every day since, handling every blog entry, communicating with every writer, and keeping us all going, and keeping us all sane. She worked closely with Eric, who never once abandoned the many technical aspects of the website he constantly had to oversee, refresh, and repair. After all these years, and despite the pandemic, Eric and Linda are now engaged to be married. So, anytime I feel tempted to write off TVWW as a failure, I think of them as more than enough measure of success.

But in what it set out to do, TVWW has succeeded in every way but financially – and even that's not the reason we're turning the operation into an archival site. The real reason is a sudden health scare on my part, and though it's one I hope to recover from, it's serious enough for me to slow down substantially. Please understand: It's not you, it's me.

In fact, you make it hard to leave. So we're keeping the TV Worth Watching website open for reader comments, which we will continue to monitor. And anything written by any past or present contributor can be accessed by clicking on their bylines in the masthead.

In addition, one final "Best TV Tomorrow" video is available now for subscribers, where you can see and hear me say goodbye and thanks in a slightly looser way than I am here. After that, our "Best TV Tomorrow" producer and director, Larry Siegel, will begin offering his own TVWW-sponsored recommendations to the same mailing list recipients. So give him your support and a chance, and keep the dialogue going.

And thank you, Larry, for taking us in a new direction. You're a natural on camera and will do us proud.

Finally, a hearty thanks to you. I can say it now without sounding like I'm pandering: I love reading everything you've written to TVWW, and I still feel we collectively have gathered one of the smartest and most passionate readerships of any website about television. Period.

Whenever one of you thanked me for pointing out something in "Bianculli's Best Bets" that you loved but wouldn't have known about otherwise, it was the best reward I could imagine. And when I fell ill recently, and some of you began picking up the torch and recommending your own picks to your fellow TVWW readers, I couldn't have been happier or prouder.

I'll continue to serve as TV critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, so you can hear and read me there. And whenever one of our writers can steer you to a new venture, we'll provide links on the main page of the TV Worth Watching website.

But for now, thanks again for all your attention, affection, and support. And don't be disheartened. TV Worth Watching may be calling it a day – but Quality TV, in this new Platinum Age, isn't going anywhere…

 
 
 
 
 
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38 Comments
 
 
Paul Bobnak
Hi David,
Best wishes for your health, and thank you for your invaluable insights over the years. I hope your appearances with Glen & Ray on WIP can continue as well.
Apr 28, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mike
David,
A little late here but I wish you the best. I enjoyed the site and always enjoy your pieces on fresh air. And as a fellow Beatles fan I always appreciated when the Fab Four made its way into a review. Be well and hope to be reading and listening in the future.
Mike
Apr 13, 2021   |  Reply
 
 
Mac
Late to the Last Waltz. Since disappearing last Oct.,I've lurked but didn't get the sad news till 4/3. 2021 was supposed to be better and in many ways it has. We just got Pfizer shot 1 Thurs. But since Jan.,we lost a wonderful sister-in-law, partially due to Trump & DeSantis with lying bad/no decisions. The 1/6 Capitol takeover attempt saddened me,especially after my wife & I had a great visit to D.C. with a funny incident involving the Statue of Freedom,which is on top of the Capitol Dome.The Capitol as a target is disturbing. Then we are getting evicted,as our building is being raped and everyone tossed via gentrification and the new place will be double 2019's rent.
But TV and a thoughtful discussion of TV has gotten me through the days. TVWW was a daily dose along with online reading the news and the funnies.
David-hope for health and sorry I never got you to sign on of your books. Cherry Hill and WHYY are better because of you. Say Hi to Terry Gross.Keep punning and love. Mac
Apr 3, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Mac -- Thanks for being such an important and entertaining part of the TVWW family all these years. Sorry about your loss, but happy about your vaccine. Really sorry about your eviction, too. My own problems this year have me thinking back to my end-of-year on-air conversation with Terry Gross, when I told her I couldn't wait for the calendar to turn to 2021. "What makes you think next year will be any better?" she asked, which horrified me. Turns out, in many ways, she was right. But I'm determined to fight through it, which is why the website is another 2021 casualty. But thanks for everything. Let's work on getting you a signed book. -DB
Apr 4, 2021
 
 
Mac
AGGH! Forgot the limits of "Reply". Linda Donovan & Eric Gould-a happy life forever;sorry we couldn't give you both a $9.99 toaster-the perfect wedding gift! Harry & Megan-as a country we should have sent a few pallets to them. No returns! Wedding advice-Don't register at Ollie's Bargain Outlets! Good stuff cheap but you two deserve the best!
Apr 3, 2021
 
 
 
Deborah Bernstein
Dear David - I followed you here from the NY Daily News. I always turned to your column first. Your TWWW email is the first email I open every morning. I will miss you. I wish good health and thank you for all your recommendations!
Apr 2, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Deborah -- Thank you so very, very much. That means you had to have been reading me for 15 years, minimum. I'm grateful, and a little humbled, really. Thanks again. -DB
Apr 3, 2021
 
 
 
Christina Keogh
I’ll always think of you as a Philly guy because I first got to know you on WHYY with Terry Gross. TVWW has been my go to forever and you steered me and my husband to so many great shows - Deadwood, Breaking Bad, Justified to name a few. Best wishes for good health. We will miss you.
Apr 2, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Christina -- I'm impressed. Those are three of my very favorite shows, If they're yours, too, I'm very happy to have led you their way. Thanks for the long-time reading... and listening. -DB
Apr 3, 2021
 
 
 
Amy McCloskey
Hi David - Thank you for everything, but I'm SO sad to see you and my daily TVWW fix disappear from my inbox! I'm among the many who followed you from the Daily News, feeling that they'd lost something essential when you left. One could say they never really regained it. So I was truly grateful to continue finding your guidance online. Yours is one of the few newsletters I opened religiously, and though I didn't always agree with some of the reviews, your site pointed out many wonderful shows I'd otherwise have missed. I honestly don't know what we're all going to do without you.

I'm exceedingly hopeful your health issues take a turn for the better. SOMEone needs to carry the torch of TV Worth Watching, and your take has always been singularly Worth Reading. Thank you for your work over the years. It has been much appreciated. Please do take care, and I know we all hope to see you back.
Apr 2, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Amy -- What a lovely note. I'm truly touched that you found me after the Daily News, and stayed with me throughout. If you find my Platinum Age of Television book somewhere, you'll find, among other things, a basic compendium of what I consider hundreds of the best TV ever made. Might be something in there to lead to some new binge viewing. Meanwhile, thanks again for the very, very kind words. -DB
Apr 2, 2021
 
 
 
Mark Miller
David, thank you for everything. If your health scare has anything to do with your heart and your weight, I strongly recommend a vegan diet, exercise walking, and yoga. Meditation is great, too. Grateful for all you've given us.
Apr 2, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear David -- It does indeed, and I'm going to try to try. I have another friend who's pushing me strongly towards vegan. I'm already doing exercise walking, if you can call my pace either exercise or walking. But yoga? Doubtful. But I'll try to get better, and healthier. Promise. Thanks again. -DB
Apr 2, 2021
 
 
 
Shirley Ehrlich
I clicked on this site every single day for your 14 years in the business. Thanks to Tv worth watching, I am always ahead of the game and have earned the status of tv aficionado from my friends. Hope you feel better soon. We’ll miss this blog and so happy to still hear from you on Fresh Air. Will definitely give your successor a chance! Thanks!
Apr 2, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Shirley -- Wow. Thanks for reading TVWW for as long as I was writing here. I think that's even more impressive, what you did, than what I did. Brava! -DB
Apr 2, 2021
 
 
 
Srewolf
With this change, do you have any recommendations for where we can find tv critics worth following? Most of us don't have the advantage of advanced previews, as well as extensive background knowledge that you have. A few websites I've looked just have lots of flashing trash, rather than thoughtful curated recommendations. I've already found https://www.npr.org/sections/tvreviews , but those are too infrequent, and don't tend to highlight things like the treasures on TCM. Maybe someday you could write a column somewhere to guide us in finding a daily short list of tv worth watching -- Help!

Enjoy the next phase of your life! Very sorry to see these daily recommendations cease, but things change and life goes on, and you probably have lots of other things you are looking forward to.
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
My first recommendations are right here on this site. The writers who posted farewell columns in the last Best Bets? Check out their personal web pages, if they have some, or just search their names. You'll find them, if you DO find them, to be astoundingly prolific, informative and entertaining. I always have. And remember to follow the new video recommendations from Larry Siegel as well. I'll be on Fresh Air... but for a while, the idea for me is to have LESS to look forward to, at least in terms of daily deadlines. Thanks for the good wishes! -DB
Apr 2, 2021
 
 
 
Jerry Ezekiel
Hi Dave,

You may or may not remember me. Banff Television Festival. You were one of our all-time favorite jurors for a number of years. Fondest memories of all that, and warmest regards to you from your many friends and admirers in Canada. We'll continue to follow you on NPR.

Be well, my friend!
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Jerry -- I may or may not remember you???!!! Are you kidding?? You're the FIRST thing I remember, and cherish, about my jury days at BANFF. You were the perfect host, a great guy overall, and unfailingly polite and nice even by Canadian standards. Now that I have a way of reaching out to you again, I will. So retreat to your Canadian bunker if you don't want to get back in touch. Meanwhile, thanks for writing... and for everything else. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Sally Woo
Thank you for all you've done, David! I miss the days when you, Eric Mink, and David Hinckley were in the NY Daily News, and all of you have made me appreciate quality TV. I may have fallen behind on TVWW, and watched Best TV Tomorrow only now and then (and is it possible that there's too much TV?!), but even listening to you on Fresh Air has been a nice way to try to keep up with what's out there, when life has been getting to me. Thank you again and I hope we will all stay tuned to whatever is next! Best wishes and take care!
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Sally -- Wow. Thanks for reading and watching and listening for so long. It's amazing to me that you've done some of each, and for so many years. Thanks!! -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Michelle
David! Thank you so much for all your hard work maintaining the website and posting your videos. Those videos were the highlight of my days in the shut-downs. I loved learning what good shows were on, and which were your favorite, but really enjoyed learning which classic movies were on
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Michelle -- I'm glad you liked the website and the videos, and didn't mind how often I mentioned old movies. Four years ago, when I was in the hospital for a month during my previous round-robin of near-death experiences, one of most uncomfortable aspects of that experience was the array of tubes stuck into me almost everywhere I had an orifice. One of the other most uncomfortable aspects? That the cable TV in my hospital room didn't have TCM. Sigh. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Susan Halliday
David, you have been my TV credit for as long as I can remember. From our youngest days when you would talk of your crush on Natasha, to our days of imitating Get Smart and other great comedies of our past, I have trusted your TV wisdom and respected your opinions. I know you have to take a slower approach to life, but I am quite sure that your commentaries will make their way to your loyal fans. Sending positive and healing thoughts your way.
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Hey Sue! (My kids make fun of me, all the time, because I've kept in touch with so many of my friends from Nova High School in Fort Lauderdale, some 50 years ago now. But it was a great school, experimental and radical, and the students were true individuals. And my friendship with Sue predates even high school. When she talks about my crush on Natasha, she means Fatale, Boris' partner in crime on the animated Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.) Thanks. And you started talking your health seriously long before I did, so I'll start relying on you as a good example. Thanks for checking in. Talk soon. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Scott Atkinson
Many thanks, David. I have been an avid reader for many years. I hope all of the best health for you.
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Scott -- Thanks so very much. I'm trying not to die. As are we all, I guess. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Jayson Stark
Hey David! All I want is for you to be happy and healthy. But I’ll admit that I’ve been reading you - and counting on your TV wisdom for so long - that I don’t know how I can train myself not to visit this site every day. Thanks for being the best TV critic ever, my friend. Be well. And I’ll look and listen for you on Fresh Air.
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
Mac
Jason Stark-Only Tom Boswell writes better baseball,just marginally. And ,unlike Bianculli's oeuvre,I do have a book Mr. Stark wrote and autographed. a treasure. His weekly separate American/National columns in The Inky were the best thing about Tuesdays,better than the rest of the paper,which was,at that time,a pretty good read. Bad puns,ongoing jokes and insights into the best pro sport-baseball. And a Homer with Phillies stuff-my one son and I enjoyed the ride. We saw it on the paper,not the radio.
Apr 3, 2021
 
 
David Bianculli
JASON!!! Hello, my friend! (Jason and I worked side by side at the Philadelphia Inquirer, which means we go back to the mid-80s. Of course, he was on the sports section, which is where all the glamour was.) I didn't know you were lurking here! What a compliment. Hope you're well... and understand that it's hard for me to make this move in the hopes of getting Weller. Great to hear from you. Stay well. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Amy H
David - Like many others, I’ve been reading your work since the New York Daily News. Thanks for all the excellent recommendations, especially the imports which I would not have found on my own. Thanks for the many quality hours of TV WORTH WATCHING. Going to your site every day will be a hard habit to break. All the best to you and thanks to the wonderful team here.
Apr 1, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Amy -- You've been a charter member of this site, I'm pretty sure, and I'm so glad we helped find you some TV treasures. Thanks for taking the time to write. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Elise
Oh no, David.... My heart is breaking. I hope you are on the road to recovery. None of us has a guarantee for tomorrow, so I respect your decision and understand completely. My television viewing will be much less well informed in your absence.

It’s been real. It’s been fun. It’s been real fun.

All my best and warmest wishes for a fulfilling ride into the sunset.

????
Mar 31, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Elise -- Consider yourself safely, remotely, electronically hugged -- if that's okay to suggest these days. No need straining your heart on our behalf. But I'm glad TVWW meant something to you, and I hope you keep listening to me on Fresh Air. And if I live that long, please, please, buy my next book. Soon as I write it... -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
bob korp
David - Thanks for this service and I will miss it. As the years go by I find much in popular culture no longer suits me, but you helped me find the programs that did, like the live production by the Smash/Bombshell cast. I wish you health & happiness.
Mar 31, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Bob -- Much appreciated. And I, too, loved that unexpected, very obscure "Bombshell" production. I still wish they'd produce and mount that on Broadway. Hell, these days, I wish they'd produce and mount ANYTHING on Broadway... -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Elaine Reis
Thank you, David. You Yvette enriched our lives.
Mar 31, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Elaine -- I appreciate your sentiment, even if it's a bit cryptic. Either your automatic spellcheck betrayed you, as it so often betrays me, or you may be offering to hook me up with a woman named Yvette. Either way, thanks. -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
Carol Dresner
Floored and saddened....have subscribed for a long, albeit how long anybody’s guess. Because of your succinct and enjoyable snippets on Fresh Air I sought out tvworthwatching. So many links to shows i’d never have found on my own, The Gloaming, the most recent example. And we don’t even watch a whole lot of tv.
Thank you and all the writers for your insights knowledge.

Happy the end is not clouded as Garrison Keillor’s daily poem segment on NPR was when it abruptly ended.
Mar 31, 2021   |  Reply
 
David Bianculli
Dear Carol -- You HAVE been around at TVWW a long time, and we all appreciate it. Thanks for the thanks, and for trusting us all this time. And if I leave Fresh Air, it'll be their decision, not mine. So I hope to be around for a while. Around there, at least... -DB
Apr 1, 2021
 
 
 
 
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