1. Fresh Air’s TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new series  Fargo, based on the 1996 Coen Brothers cult classic. Here’s what he says: 



When the news arrives that FX has a new series called Fargo, the expectation is that it will be either a sequel to, or expansion of, that 18-year-old movie. And certainly, the previews have done nothing to discourage that.

But no. The TV version of Fargo tells a completely different story, with completely different characters. Only the snow remains the same. Yet based on the first four episodes, this new Fargo is a worthy companion piece to the film. The Coen brothers are on board as two of the executive producers, so they clearly approve – though that’s pretty much the extent of their involvement. Instead, FX’s Fargo is written and concocted by Noah Hawley, whose previous credits include working on Bones, and not much else. This is his step up to the major leagues – and in his first at-bat in the bigs, he swings hard, and hits a home run.

His Fargo – this first season, anyway – is envisioned as a stand-alone 10-part story. If it continues to a Season 2, it will be with a completely different plot, characters, and cast. That’s the way True Detective launched itself this season on HBO, and you know how brilliantly that turned out. By designing TV shows this way – longer and deeper than a feature film but not running for years – networks can get A-list movie talent to commit, and writers can craft stories with the end in sight from the start.
FX’s Fargo benefits from that, greatly.

Hear the full review HERE. 



 

image via FX  View in High-Res

    Fresh Air’s TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new series  Fargo, based on the 1996 Coen Brothers cult classic. Here’s what he says: 

    When the news arrives that FX has a new series called Fargo, the expectation is that it will be either a sequel to, or expansion of, that 18-year-old movie. And certainly, the previews have done nothing to discourage that.

    But no. The TV version of Fargo tells a completely different story, with completely different characters. Only the snow remains the same. Yet based on the first four episodes, this new Fargo is a worthy companion piece to the film. The Coen brothers are on board as two of the executive producers, so they clearly approve – though that’s pretty much the extent of their involvement. Instead, FX’s Fargo is written and concocted by Noah Hawley, whose previous credits include working on Bones, and not much else. This is his step up to the major leagues – and in his first at-bat in the bigs, he swings hard, and hits a home run.

    His Fargo – this first season, anyway – is envisioned as a stand-alone 10-part story. If it continues to a Season 2, it will be with a completely different plot, characters, and cast. That’s the way True Detective launched itself this season on HBO, and you know how brilliantly that turned out. By designing TV shows this way – longer and deeper than a feature film but not running for years – networks can get A-list movie talent to commit, and writers can craft stories with the end in sight from the start.

    FX’s Fargo benefits from that, greatly.

    Hear the full review HERE.

     

    image via FX 

  2. fargo

    coen brothers

    tv

    review

    david bianculli

  1. This review discusses the plotline of Mad Men, up through the end of Season Six: 

Our TV critic David Bianculli was given the tricky task of reviewing the Season Seven opener of Mad Men, without giving too much away: 

When we last saw Jon Hamm as Madison Avenue advertising genius Don Draper, Draper had stripped off the façade he had worn as protection throughout the series. He confessed to his true past, as a boy raised in a whorehouse — not only to his children, but to his colleagues at work, during a pitch to an advertising client. Immediately, he lost his chance to move to the West Coast office his firm was opening — and there were bound to be other consequences. This final season, it appears, will be all about those consequences.
Don always has been resourceful, and resilient, and those traits are in full display in the season seven opener. His confession last season has altered him — in his behavior as well as his demeanor, he’s a noticeably changed man. You can tell that even from one of the few scenes from Mad Men that reveals no secrets about where the series is going — just that Don is going somewhere, on a plane.



Photo by Michael Yarish/AMC View in High-Res

    This review discusses the plotline of Mad Men, up through the end of Season Six: 

    Our TV critic David Bianculli was given the tricky task of reviewing the Season Seven opener of Mad Men, without giving too much away: 

    When we last saw Jon Hamm as Madison Avenue advertising genius Don Draper, Draper had stripped off the façade he had worn as protection throughout the series. He confessed to his true past, as a boy raised in a whorehouse — not only to his children, but to his colleagues at work, during a pitch to an advertising client. Immediately, he lost his chance to move to the West Coast office his firm was opening — and there were bound to be other consequences. This final season, it appears, will be all about those consequences.

    Don always has been resourceful, and resilient, and those traits are in full display in the season seven opener. His confession last season has altered him — in his behavior as well as his demeanor, he’s a noticeably changed man. You can tell that even from one of the few scenes from Mad Men that reveals no secrets about where the series is going — just that Don is going somewhere, on a plane.

    Photo by Michael Yarish/AMC

  2. mad men

    don draper

    matthew weiner

    1960s

    amc tv

    david bianculli

    review

    TV

  1. 
Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli reviews Parenthood: 

It’s not too late to dive into Parenthood for these last two shows of the season — or, after a taste, to do your homework, and start at the beginning, watching them on DVD or streaming video. Just don’t let it escape your notice. Family dramas always have been one of television’s most difficult genres to do properly, without getting too sweet, too overwrought, or much too predictable. Parenthood, like Friday Night Lights, is as good as the family drama genre gets.


image via NBC
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli reviews Parenthood

    It’s not too late to dive into Parenthood for these last two shows of the season — or, after a taste, to do your homework, and start at the beginning, watching them on DVD or streaming video. Just don’t let it escape your notice. Family dramas always have been one of television’s most difficult genres to do properly, without getting too sweet, too overwrought, or much too predictable. Parenthood, like Friday Night Lights, is as good as the family drama genre gets.

    image via NBC

  2. parenthood

    friday night lights

    ray romano

    family drama

    david bianculli

    review

  1. Our TV critic, David Bianculli, reviews the season openers of Game of Thrones, Veep, and the new series Silicon Valley:

    HBO presents three series Sunday night – the season premieres of Game of Thrones and Veep, and the start of a new comedy, Silicon Valley.  But whether they’re set in mythical kingdoms, Washington, D.C. or Northern California, these three very different shows have two things in common. One is that they’re all entertaining, with characters that get more interesting the more you watch them. The other is that, bottom line, they’re all about power struggles.

    Hear the full review here

    Bianculli is the founder and editor of tvworthwatching

  2. game of thrones

    veep

    silicon valley

    david bianculli

  1. Last Sunday on the CBS drama series The Good Wife, something major and unexpected happened. Our TV critic, David Bianculli, has a lot to say:

For the past few years, whenever I’ve been challenged to name a series on broadcast TV that’s the equal of shows produced for cable or streaming networks, my instant go-to example has been The Good Wife on CBS. And boy, did series creators Robert and Michelle King prove that this past weekend.


Listen to the full review.

View in High-Res

    Last Sunday on the CBS drama series The Good Wife, something major and unexpected happened. Our TV critic, David Bianculli, has a lot to say:

    For the past few years, whenever I’ve been challenged to name a series on broadcast TV that’s the equal of shows produced for cable or streaming networks, my instant go-to example has been The Good Wife on CBS. And boy, did series creators Robert and Michelle King prove that this past weekend.

    Listen to the full review.

  2. the good wife

    david bianculli

  1. Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli (of tvworthwatching) reviews the new HBO series Doll & Em, starring real life best friends Dolly Wells (left) and Emily Mortimer.
After a traumatic break up, Dolly leaves England for Los Angeles to serve as Emily’s personal assistant while she films a movie. The two must navigate the “fairly rigid Hollywood class system,” exposing vanity and insecurities along the way. Bianculli writes:

What weighs down this sitcom, especially at first, is its lack of subtlety. Plot points, like recurring jokes, are hammered home too hard and much too obviously. Even the closing theme song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” telegraphs that things will get worse before they get better.
Despite all that, though, if you stick with Doll & Em, eventually it will stick with you, too. And as the central dynamic shifts and the friendship unravels, you’ll care about both of them, and what happens next.


image via HBO View in High-Res

    Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli (of tvworthwatching) reviews the new HBO series Doll & Em, starring real life best friends Dolly Wells (left) and Emily Mortimer.

    After a traumatic break up, Dolly leaves England for Los Angeles to serve as Emily’s personal assistant while she films a movie. The two must navigate the “fairly rigid Hollywood class system,” exposing vanity and insecurities along the way. Bianculli writes:

    What weighs down this sitcom, especially at first, is its lack of subtlety. Plot points, like recurring jokes, are hammered home too hard and much too obviously. Even the closing theme song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?,” telegraphs that things will get worse before they get better.

    Despite all that, though, if you stick with Doll & Em, eventually it will stick with you, too. And as the central dynamic shifts and the friendship unravels, you’ll care about both of them, and what happens next.

    image via HBO

  2. doll & em

    hbo

    emily mortimer

    dolly wells

    tvworthwatching

    david bianculli

  1. David Bianculli of tvworthwatching reviews the new NBC show Crisis:


Crisis pleasantly surprised me. It’s about a busload of high school kids – children of the very powerful, including the President,  in Washington, D.C. – whose field trip to New York gets detoured by kidnappers, who grab the kids and use them as leverage to get their parents to do their bidding.


 I know, this sounds so much like Hostages, it could almost be a rerun – except, this time around, the characters are painted with more depth, drama and surprises are a lot more plentiful, and Crisis starts out almost like a season of 24  — except without the ticking clock, and without Jack Bauer.
View in High-Res

    David Bianculli of tvworthwatching reviews the new NBC show Crisis:

    Crisis pleasantly surprised me. It’s about a busload of high school kids – children of the very powerful, including the President,  in Washington, D.C. – whose field trip to New York gets detoured by kidnappers, who grab the kids and use them as leverage to get their parents to do their bidding.

     I know, this sounds so much like Hostages, it could almost be a rerun – except, this time around, the characters are painted with more depth, drama and surprises are a lot more plentiful, and Crisis starts out almost like a season of 24  — except without the ticking clock, and without Jack Bauer.

  2. crisis

    nbc

    tv

    review

    david bianculli

    tvworthwatching

  1. David Bianculli directs your attention to a CBS documentary airing this Saturday  called The Whole Gritty City, and it follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans: 

48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City is a documentary in the Fred Wiseman mold. The film, by Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson, has no narration — it just focuses on a specific subject for a lengthy amount of time, and lets the cameras record whatever happens. And then, all that raw footage is edited. The only scene-setting comes courtesy of Wynton Marsalis, who appears at the beginning, and a few more spots during the program, to explain the concept, the context — and the stakes.
"New Orleans buries too many of its young," says Marsalis, who was born and raised in New Orleans.
The opening scene of The Whole Gritty City turns out to be a flash-forward. We see, and hear, a very large group of young people playing band instruments outdoors, as part of a funeral service. They’re playing, sometimes, with more volume and emotion than precision, a few of them wiping tears away as they blow their horns.



photo courtesy of CBS 48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City  View in High-Res

    David Bianculli directs your attention to a CBS documentary airing this Saturday called The Whole Gritty City, and it follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans:

    48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City is a documentary in the Fred Wiseman mold. The film, by Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson, has no narration — it just focuses on a specific subject for a lengthy amount of time, and lets the cameras record whatever happens. And then, all that raw footage is edited. The only scene-setting comes courtesy of Wynton Marsalis, who appears at the beginning, and a few more spots during the program, to explain the concept, the context — and the stakes.

    "New Orleans buries too many of its young," says Marsalis, who was born and raised in New Orleans.

    The opening scene of The Whole Gritty City turns out to be a flash-forward. We see, and hear, a very large group of young people playing band instruments outdoors, as part of a funeral service. They’re playing, sometimes, with more volume and emotion than precision, a few of them wiping tears away as they blow their horns.

    photo courtesy of CBS 48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City 

  2. fresh air

    david bianculli

    the whole gritty city

    documentary

    CBS

    new orleans

    marching band

    mardi gras

  1. David Bianculli on Sid Caesar, a pioneer of sketch comedy: 



Sid Caesar, who died Wednesday at age 91, was the driving engine behind NBC’s original “Saturday night live’’ – a show that had as great an impact on popular culture as the current SNL…

That series was Your Show of Shows, which ran on NBC from 1950-1954. It was broadcast in prime time, but other than that, everything about it sported the same template as Saturday Night Live, which would appear a TV generation later. Your Show of Shows, like the much later SNL, was 90 minutes long. It featured a guest host each week, and musical guests. And it was driven by a brilliant staff of performers and writers, the former led by Sid Caesar, with very able assistance from Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris.

That wasn’t Caesar’s only TV showcase series from the early days of television. Your Show of Shows had grown out of Admiral Broadway Revue the year before, which had been simulcast by NBC and DuMont the year before. And after the talent on Your Show of Shows opted to divide and conquer, Caesar went on to Caesar’s Hour, maintaining some of the Your Show of Show writers, and adding others – including Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen, just to name two.

And if you want to name the writers on Your Show of Shows, you can start with Caesar, Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon,  Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Max Liebman, and Mel Tolkin. Follow the resumes of all those writers, and you’ve got a legacy of 20th-century comedy every bit as impressive as that to spring from SNL or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

I teach Your Show of Shows in my TV History & Appreciation classes at New Jersey’s Rowan University – and every term, the comedy brilliance and antic energy of This Is Your Story (an extended spoof of the ambush biography show This Is Your Life) and the mostly wordless segment “The Clock” work as well as they must have in the early Fifties.

In 2001, Sid Caesar appeared during the Television Critics Association press tour to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was in his late 70s then, and looked frail as he waited his turn to take his tentative tiny steps to the podium. As soon as he started to talk, though, the showman in him shaved decades off his demeanor.

Instead of delivering the expected thank-you speech, Caesar launched into one of his patented nonsense-language riffs. The usually hard-to-please crowd of TCA TV critics howled with laughter, because we were not only familiar with, but weaned on, Caesar’s gift for gobbledygook. He finished doing his “speech,” in what sounded like almost passable German, to a loud ovation. Then he picked another language to skewer, and did it again. And again.

Then, after his real thank-you speech, Caesar received a standing ovation so long that he was able to negotiate his way down the steps from the stage and towards his front-row table – at which point, still relishing the spotlight, he mimed remembering one more thing, and worked his way back to the stage and the podium, just as slowly.

The laughter, and the applause, stayed with him all the way. It was a grand bit of live comedy, from a guy who first provided them more than 50 years earlier.

That same year, I interviewed Caesar about his guest appearance on ABC’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, an ABC improv series appearance perfectly suited to Caesar’s comedy skills – and taped, as it turned out, on his 79th birthday. I asked if he had been nervous, taking the stage in front of a live studio audience after so many years away.

“The nervousness I have now,” he said, “is, ‘Will they remember me? Will they know who I am?’”

Caesar said he told Carey, before the taping began, “These kids don’t know me. Two generations now, they never heard of me. Maybe their fathers, probably their grandfathers.”

Caesar then picked up the story of what happened next.

“Then when I get out there,” he told me, both astonished and proud, “I walk out onstage and get a 15-minute standing ovation. Really – I was so shocked. It was so nice. I looked around and said, ‘Who came in?’

“That really got me.”

That story really got me, too. There aren’t many TV icons from the salad days of television that were as original as Sid Caesar, as influential, or as monumentally talented. He was smart enough to surround himself with the best, on stage and off, and push them all, and himself, to do things on television that had never been done before, and seldom have been done as well since.

Sid Caesar will be missed.

He will not, however, be replaced.




photo of Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on Your Show of Shows. View in High-Res

    David Bianculli on Sid Caesar, a pioneer of sketch comedy:

    Sid Caesar, who died Wednesday at age 91, was the driving engine behind NBC’s original “Saturday night live’’ – a show that had as great an impact on popular culture as the current SNL…

    That series was Your Show of Shows, which ran on NBC from 1950-1954. It was broadcast in prime time, but other than that, everything about it sported the same template as Saturday Night Live, which would appear a TV generation later. Your Show of Shows, like the much later SNL, was 90 minutes long. It featured a guest host each week, and musical guests. And it was driven by a brilliant staff of performers and writers, the former led by Sid Caesar, with very able assistance from Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris.

    That wasn’t Caesar’s only TV showcase series from the early days of television. Your Show of Shows had grown out of Admiral Broadway Revue the year before, which had been simulcast by NBC and DuMont the year before. And after the talent on Your Show of Shows opted to divide and conquer, Caesar went on to Caesar’s Hour, maintaining some of the Your Show of Show writers, and adding others – including Larry Gelbart and Woody Allen, just to name two.

    And if you want to name the writers on Your Show of Shows, you can start with Caesar, Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon,  Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Max Liebman, and Mel Tolkin. Follow the resumes of all those writers, and you’ve got a legacy of 20th-century comedy every bit as impressive as that to spring from SNL or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

    I teach Your Show of Shows in my TV History & Appreciation classes at New Jersey’s Rowan University – and every term, the comedy brilliance and antic energy of This Is Your Story (an extended spoof of the ambush biography show This Is Your Life) and the mostly wordless segment “The Clock” work as well as they must have in the early Fifties.

    In 2001, Sid Caesar appeared during the Television Critics Association press tour to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was in his late 70s then, and looked frail as he waited his turn to take his tentative tiny steps to the podium. As soon as he started to talk, though, the showman in him shaved decades off his demeanor.

    Instead of delivering the expected thank-you speech, Caesar launched into one of his patented nonsense-language riffs. The usually hard-to-please crowd of TCA TV critics howled with laughter, because we were not only familiar with, but weaned on, Caesar’s gift for gobbledygook. He finished doing his “speech,” in what sounded like almost passable German, to a loud ovation. Then he picked another language to skewer, and did it again. And again.

    Then, after his real thank-you speech, Caesar received a standing ovation so long that he was able to negotiate his way down the steps from the stage and towards his front-row table – at which point, still relishing the spotlight, he mimed remembering one more thing, and worked his way back to the stage and the podium, just as slowly.

    The laughter, and the applause, stayed with him all the way. It was a grand bit of live comedy, from a guy who first provided them more than 50 years earlier.

    That same year, I interviewed Caesar about his guest appearance on ABC’s Whose Line Is It Anyway?, an ABC improv series appearance perfectly suited to Caesar’s comedy skills – and taped, as it turned out, on his 79th birthday. I asked if he had been nervous, taking the stage in front of a live studio audience after so many years away.

    “The nervousness I have now,” he said, “is, ‘Will they remember me? Will they know who I am?’”

    Caesar said he told Carey, before the taping began, “These kids don’t know me. Two generations now, they never heard of me. Maybe their fathers, probably their grandfathers.”

    Caesar then picked up the story of what happened next.

    “Then when I get out there,” he told me, both astonished and proud, “I walk out onstage and get a 15-minute standing ovation. Really – I was so shocked. It was so nice. I looked around and said, ‘Who came in?’

    “That really got me.”

    That story really got me, too. There aren’t many TV icons from the salad days of television that were as original as Sid Caesar, as influential, or as monumentally talented. He was smart enough to surround himself with the best, on stage and off, and push them all, and himself, to do things on television that had never been done before, and seldom have been done as well since.

    Sid Caesar will be missed.

    He will not, however, be replaced.

    photo of Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on Your Show of Shows.

  2. sid caesar

    your show of shows

    SNL

    david bianculli

    tv history

  1. Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli reviews two new miniseries, HBO’s True Detective and IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon:


The Spoils Of Babylon isn’t a drama, and isn’t even must-see — but it’s fun. Starting Thursday on IFC, it’s a multi-part production from Will Ferrell’s outlet with a very meta concept.
It pretends to be a lost period miniseries from a previous era — the era of such overblown, decade-spanning romances as The Thorn Birds — and stars Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins, Jessica Alba and others, with a theme song sung by Steve Lawrence.
It’s acted, staged, written and directed like an intentionally bad Ed Wood movie. And for this pretend “lost masterpiece” unveiling, each episode is introduced by its alleged auteur, played by Will Ferrell in all-out Orson Welles-gone-to-seed mode. The costumes and tacky direction made me laugh — and so did Ferrell as writer-director-producer Eric Jonrosh, whose intros are filmed at an old-school Hollywood restaurant.



photo of Tobey Maguire and Kristen Wiig in The Spoils of Babylon via the New York Post View in High-Res

    Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli reviews two new miniseries, HBO’s True Detective and IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon:

    The Spoils Of Babylon isn’t a drama, and isn’t even must-see — but it’s fun. Starting Thursday on IFC, it’s a multi-part production from Will Ferrell’s outlet with a very meta concept.

    It pretends to be a lost period miniseries from a previous era — the era of such overblown, decade-spanning romances as The Thorn Birds — and stars Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins, Jessica Alba and others, with a theme song sung by Steve Lawrence.

    It’s acted, staged, written and directed like an intentionally bad Ed Wood movie. And for this pretend “lost masterpiece” unveiling, each episode is introduced by its alleged auteur, played by Will Ferrell in all-out Orson Welles-gone-to-seed mode. The costumes and tacky direction made me laugh — and so did Ferrell as writer-director-producer Eric Jonrosh, whose intros are filmed at an old-school Hollywood restaurant.

    photo of Tobey Maguire and Kristen Wiig in The Spoils of Babylon via the New York Post

  2. fresh air

    David Bianculli

    the spoils of babylon

    true detective

  1. Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli shares his thoughts on the return of Downton Abbey and the secret to its improbable success:

As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television. When the whole of the TV universe is fragmenting, that isn’t just impressive. It’s almost impossible. But here we are.
And having seen the first seven hours of the new season, I think I know why. Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, has crafted characters so well-rounded, so complicated and so interesting that we’re drawn to them no matter what the circumstances. The casting is first-rate — in many instances, perfect. The scenery and set design is beautiful to behold. And the many subplots are both rapidly paced and firmly telegraphed. When new characters or conflicts are introduced, their trajectory seems obvious – yet every so often, Fellowes throws in a twist so unexpected, and often so unsettling, that characters as well as relationships can change dramatically from one episode to another.


Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) via The Columbus Dispatch View in High-Res

    Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli shares his thoughts on the return of Downton Abbey and the secret to its improbable success:

    As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television. When the whole of the TV universe is fragmenting, that isn’t just impressive. It’s almost impossible. But here we are.

    And having seen the first seven hours of the new season, I think I know why. Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, has crafted characters so well-rounded, so complicated and so interesting that we’re drawn to them no matter what the circumstances. The casting is first-rate — in many instances, perfect. The scenery and set design is beautiful to behold. And the many subplots are both rapidly paced and firmly telegraphed. When new characters or conflicts are introduced, their trajectory seems obvious – yet every so often, Fellowes throws in a twist so unexpected, and often so unsettling, that characters as well as relationships can change dramatically from one episode to another.

    Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) via The Columbus Dispatch

  2. fresh air

    david bianculli

    downton abbey

    julian fellowes

    masterpiece

  1. Our TV critic David Bianculli says 2013 was a good year for TV, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cards, the American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women’s federal prison. 

Both of those shows made Bianculli’s Top 10 Shows for 2013.  See what else made the list.
This year, Netflix was also mostly responsible for what has come to be known as binge watching.Bianculli has reservations about it and shares his thoughts with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross: 

"It denies the chance for people to have a communal experience. I think Arrested Development (also produced by Netflix) would have gotten so much more press had it been shown one episode a week. It’s sort of like everybody wants to get the maximum output right away and there’s no thought of long-range planning, so whatever big hit they get for the first big week, that’s all they’re interested in.
… Netflix also still is very protective of its numbers, so we don’t really know how many people are watching, how many people see the first episode binge immediately and go back. But I want to praise Netflix for going to quality programmers, coming up with quality programs. I just would beg them to release one or two a week, double it if you have to, but keep that sense of anticipation coming.”


You can listen to the rest of their discussion on the year in television here. 

    Our TV critic David Bianculli says 2013 was a good year for TV, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cardsthe American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women’s federal prison. 

    Both of those shows made Bianculli’s Top 10 Shows for 2013.  See what else made the list.

    This year, Netflix was also mostly responsible for what has come to be known as binge watching.Bianculli has reservations about it and shares his thoughts with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross

    "It denies the chance for people to have a communal experience. I think Arrested Development (also produced by Netflix) would have gotten so much more press had it been shown one episode a week. It’s sort of like everybody wants to get the maximum output right away and there’s no thought of long-range planning, so whatever big hit they get for the first big week, that’s all they’re interested in.

    … Netflix also still is very protective of its numbers, so we don’t really know how many people are watching, how many people see the first episode binge immediately and go back. But I want to praise Netflix for going to quality programmers, coming up with quality programs. I just would beg them to release one or two a week, double it if you have to, but keep that sense of anticipation coming.”

    You can listen to the rest of their discussion on the year in television here. 

  2. 2013

    Television

    Tv worth watching

    Fresh Air

    David Bianculli

    Netflix

    binge watching

  1. David Bianculli on the most exciting recent TV offerings on DVD —- 

"The best — and biggest, and most recent — of the bunch is Breaking Bad: The Complete Series. Vince Gilligan’s AMC drama, starring Bryan Cranston as a high school teacher turned criminal mastermind, arguably is the best TV series ever made — so getting or giving it in one gulp is about as good as it gets. Especially with Sony Picture Television’s mammoth set providing so many extras, including a documentary on the final season which, among other things, allows us to peek in as Cranston hosts his co-star, Aaron Paul, and the two of them read the show’s final script for the first time.”


Looking for a show to dive into over the vacation period?Check out the rest of Bianculli’s recommendations here. View in High-Res

    David Bianculli on the most exciting recent TV offerings on DVD —- 

    "The best — and biggest, and most recent — of the bunch is Breaking Bad: The Complete Series. Vince Gilligan’s AMC drama, starring Bryan Cranston as a high school teacher turned criminal mastermind, arguably is the best TV series ever made — so getting or giving it in one gulp is about as good as it gets. Especially with Sony Picture Television’s mammoth set providing so many extras, including a documentary on the final season which, among other things, allows us to peek in as Cranston hosts his co-star, Aaron Paul, and the two of them read the show’s final script for the first time.”

    Looking for a show to dive into over the vacation period?Check out the rest of Bianculli’s recommendations here.

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  1. Today Fresh Air’s TV critic David Bianculli talks about the media coverage for the Kennedy assassination:

    It wasn’t just one of the most important moments of TV history. It was the most important moment. More than the moon landing in 1969. More than 9/11 in 2001.  More than anything, period.

    In 1993 Terry Gross spoke to Walter Cronkite about this iconic moment in broadcasting history:

    Terry Gross: When you went on to say that Kennedy was dead, your eyes teared and that’s something we’ve seen replayed so many times, on every anniversary of the death, and it’s become one of these historic moments of broadcasting. Were you concerned about getting emotional on the air? Did you try to be as emotionless and stoic as possible, and were you concerned when you realized that your eye was tearing?

    Walter Cronkite: Well, I wasn’t concerned about my eye tearing, I was concerned about my voice choking and not being able to speak. That concerned me quite a lot. The tearing didn’t matter, I certainly, didn’t really think about it except the concern that I wouldn’t be able to get the words out.

    TG: How close did you come to not being able to get them out?

    WC: Pretty close, I think. I remember a moment of real terror that I was going to choke up and fall apart, as it were.

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  1. This isn’t a Halloween trick, just a TV treat: On Halloween night, at 9 p.m. ET, Sundance Channel presents the premiere of an eight-part miniseries that’s unusual and intelligent and interesting enough to deserve notice – even if it is subtitled, slow-moving and very, very subtle in revealing its secrets.
It’s called The Returned, and it’s an eight-part 2012 French miniseries shown on Canal Plus as Les Revenants. Sundance is showing it in prime time, subtitled, and Halloween is the perfect night to unveil it, for reasons I’m reluctant to reveal.
I’m reluctant because this is the type of moody, creepy, cerebral drama that is best enjoyed by those who come to it knowing as little as possible about what they’re about to say. So all I want to do, here, is to steer you in its direction. Every episode of The Returned haunted me long after I saw it – and I expect, and hope, it provides you with the same singular, lasting experience. It premieres Thursday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. ET on Sundance Channel.
        —  Fresh Air TV critic, David Bianculli View in High-Res


    This isn’t a Halloween trick, just a TV treat: On Halloween night, at 9 p.m. ET, Sundance Channel presents the premiere of an eight-part miniseries that’s unusual and intelligent and interesting enough to deserve notice – even if it is subtitled, slow-moving and very, very subtle in revealing its secrets.


    It’s called The Returned, and it’s an eight-part 2012 French miniseries shown on Canal Plus as Les Revenants. Sundance is showing it in prime time, subtitled, and Halloween is the perfect night to unveil it, for reasons I’m reluctant to reveal.


    I’m reluctant because this is the type of moody, creepy, cerebral drama that is best enjoyed by those who come to it knowing as little as possible about what they’re about to say. So all I want to do, here, is to steer you in its direction. Every episode of The Returned haunted me long after I saw it – and I expect, and hope, it provides you with the same singular, lasting experience. It premieres Thursday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. ET on Sundance Channel.


           — Fresh Air TV critic, David Bianculli

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