David Bianculli http://wlrn.org en 'The Strain' And 'Extant' Play On Fears Of Forces Out Of Our Control http://wlrn.org/post/strain-and-extant-play-fears-forces-out-our-control They say every generation gets the science fiction it deserves, built around its biggest and most primal fears. Well, maybe they don't say that — but they should. In the '50s, all those movies about mutant giant monsters going berserk were a way for us to channel our fears about the atomic bomb. In the same way, in that same decade, all those body-snatcher movies were about being unable to tell friend from foe, or trust even your closest loved ones — the perfect paranoid parable for the Communist witch-hunting era.<p>So what are we watching this decade, more than anything else? Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:37:00 +0000 David Bianculli 35269 at http://wlrn.org 'The Strain' And 'Extant' Play On Fears Of Forces Out Of Our Control A-List Celebrities Flock To Late-Night 'Graham Norton Show' http://wlrn.org/post/list-celebrities-flock-late-night-graham-norton-show Transcript <p>TERRY GROSS, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. Now that the late-night talk show wars have settled down again, our TV critic David Bianculli says there's a talk show we should be watching that's not broadcast by CBS, NBC or ABC or even Comedy Central. It's "The Graham Norton Show," imported by BBC America and shown on Saturday nights. Here's David's review.<p>DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: "The Graham Norton Show" has been around a long time, and so has Norton. But few people I know watch the show or even know about it. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:43:00 +0000 David Bianculli 34032 at http://wlrn.org HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Looks At The Early Days Of The AIDS Crisis http://wlrn.org/post/hbos-normal-heart-looks-early-days-aids-crisis Transcript <p>DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts. Almost 30 years later, the drama is both presented and viewed differently. Fri, 23 May 2014 16:38:00 +0000 David Bianculli 32845 at http://wlrn.org 'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety http://wlrn.org/post/maya-rudolph-show-and-what-itll-take-bring-back-variety On Monday night, NBC presented <em>The Maya Rudolph Show, </em>a one-hour prime-time variety special executive produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring many of their mutual <em>Saturday Night Live </em>cohorts, including Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. It also co-starred Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes and singer Janelle Monae. <em>The Maya Rudolph Show</em> was an intentional effort to bring back the old-school TV variety show, but with a new-school slant that bathed most of the show in a distancing self-awareness. Tue, 20 May 2014 17:01:00 +0000 David Bianculli 32637 at http://wlrn.org 'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety 'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful http://wlrn.org/post/penny-dreadful-wonderful-rosemarys-baby-dreadful Transcript <p>DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. This weekend two very different TV productions attempt to do much the same thing - revisit old works of literature in the horror and suspense genre and adapt them with new approaches for a new generation. Fri, 09 May 2014 16:11:00 +0000 David Bianculli 32073 at http://wlrn.org 'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After http://wlrn.org/post/hill-street-blues-created-two-eras-tv-drama-and-after It's very easy, and not at all inaccurate, to divide dramatic series television into two eras: before <em>Hill Street Blues</em> — which has just been released on DVD in its entirety for the first time --<em> </em>and after. Before NBC televised <em>Hill Street </em>in 1981, most continuing drama series were presented as stand-alone, interchangeable hours starring the same characters. Every week, TV detectives Joe Mannix or Theo Kojak or Tony Baretta would investigate a crime, catch the villains and wait for next week to do it again. Wed, 07 May 2014 17:37:00 +0000 David Bianculli 31961 at http://wlrn.org 'Hill Street Blues' Created Two Eras For TV Drama: Before And After FX's 'Fargo' Is Neither Remake Nor Sequel http://wlrn.org/post/fxs-fargo-neither-remake-nor-sequel Transcript <p>TERRY GROSS, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. The FX cable network premieres a new drama series tonight. It's called "Fargo" and has the same title as the 1996 Coen brothers movie. Our TV critic David Bianculli says it's a wonderful show in that same wacky spirit, but he says it's just as important to note what this new "Fargo" is not. It's not a remake, and it's not a sequel.<p>DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: The 1996 Coen brothers' "Fargo" film is a brilliant movie. Let's start there. If you've seen it, chances are you haven't forgotten it and smile a bit just at the mention of it. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:33:00 +0000 David Bianculli 30840 at http://wlrn.org Without Giving Too Much Away, Here's What We Can Say About 'Mad Men' http://wlrn.org/post/without-giving-too-much-away-heres-what-we-can-say-about-mad-men <em>This review discusses the plotline of </em>Mad Men<em>, up through the end of Season 6.</em><p>Matthew Weiner's <em>Mad Men </em> begins its seventh season Sunday on AMC. Every season, as this outstanding period drama has made its way through the 1960s, Weiner has been increasingly insistent about the things he doesn't want critics to reveal in advance. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:28:00 +0000 David Bianculli 30653 at http://wlrn.org Without Giving Too Much Away, Here's What We Can Say About 'Mad Men' 'Parenthood' Is Hard, But NBC Gets This Family Drama Right http://wlrn.org/post/parenthood-hard-nbc-gets-family-drama-right During a <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/03/28/295742261/the-good-wife-delivers-a-game-changing-stunner">recent <em>Fresh Air </em>review</a> of the CBS series <em>The Good Wife, </em>I referred to it as one of my "go-to" shows whenever anyone asks me to name a drama series on broadcast TV that's as good as the ones on cable these days. Ever since, I've wanted to give equal time to my <em>other </em>go-to choice. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:06:00 +0000 David Bianculli 30466 at http://wlrn.org 'Parenthood' Is Hard, But NBC Gets This Family Drama Right HBO Fills Sunday Night Lineup With Entertaining Power Struggles http://wlrn.org/post/hbo-fills-sunday-night-lineup-entertaining-power-struggles Transcript <p>TERRY GROSS, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. This Sunday HBO presents the season premiers of two returning series - "Game of Thrones" and "VEEP" - and launches a new series, a Mike Judge comedy called "Silicon Valley." Our TV critic David Bianculli has seen them all.<p>DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: HBO presents three series Sunday night: the season premiers 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. Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:28:00 +0000 David Bianculli 30251 at http://wlrn.org 'The Good Wife' Delivers A Game-Changing Stunner http://wlrn.org/post/good-wife-delivers-game-changing-stunner Transcript <p>DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST: <p>This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Last Sunday, on the CBS drama series "The Good Wife," something major and unexpected happened. If you don't yet know what occurred, and don't wish to, now is the time to stop listening for a few minutes. 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. Fri, 28 Mar 2014 15:11:00 +0000 David Bianculli 29941 at http://wlrn.org When Your Best Friend Is A Star — And You're Her Minion http://wlrn.org/post/when-your-best-friend-star-and-youre-her-minion HBO has done very well in the past with comedy series that explore and expose the inner workings of show business, from Garry Shandling in <em>The Larry Sanders Show </em>to Ricky Gervais in <em>Extras. </em>Wednesday night, the network presents its newest entry in that self-obsessed Hollywood genre: <em>Doll & Em, </em>a British comedy series that's a vanity production in the most literal sense of the word.<p>It stars Emily Mortimer, the lead actress from HBO's <em>The Newsroom, </em>as an exaggerated version of herself. Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:48:00 +0000 David Bianculli 29474 at http://wlrn.org When Your Best Friend Is A Star — And You're Her Minion NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip http://wlrn.org/post/nbc-hostage-drama-crisis-takes-viewers-rare-tv-trip When I slipped in the preview DVD to watch the opening episodes of NBC's new drama series <em>Crisis, </em>which premieres Sunday, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much. Oh, there was some anticipation in seeing Gillian Anderson of <em>The X-Files </em>in a series lead again; but I wasn't sure whether we'd be getting the demand-your-attention actress from such marvelous British imports as <em>Great Expectations </em>and <em>Bleak House, </em>or the underused supporting actress from NBC's <em>Hannibal. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 18:06:00 +0000 David Bianculli 29231 at http://wlrn.org NBC Hostage Drama 'Crisis' Takes Viewers On A Rare TV Trip With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show' http://wlrn.org/post/humor-and-nod-history-fallon-takes-over-tonight-show Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it <em>is </em>fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.<p>Jimmy Fallon, at age 39, fits into it very well. For one thing, he <em>knows </em>the history. He also appreciates it ... Tue, 18 Feb 2014 20:03:00 +0000 David Bianculli 28118 at http://wlrn.org With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show' In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots http://wlrn.org/post/whole-gritty-city-marching-bands-vie-coveted-mardi-gras-spots There are times when television really does try to put its best foot forward — promoting a new fall season, for example. But it's an almost twisted rule of TV that sometimes, the better a television offering is, the more likely it is to be shown when even the network <em>presenting </em>it doesn't think many people will be watching.<p>That's why CBS, each year, televises <em>The Kennedy Center Honors </em>during the dead week between Christmas and New Year's. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 18:51:00 +0000 David Bianculli 27876 at http://wlrn.org In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots