David Bianculli

The Rocky Horror Show began as a stage musical in London in the early 1970s, starring Tim Curry as the outrageously dressed outer-space alien Frank N. Furter, self-described as a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania." Richard O'Brien, the composer of the play and its music, played Frank's hunchbacked assistant, Riff Raff — and the two of them repeated their roles in a 1975 movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film flopped, originally, but got new life in midnight shows...

Remember that meteorite that smashed into Russia a few years ago, with enough people filming it as it came to Earth to cause a brief Internet sensation? Robert and Michelle King certainly do. The creators of The Good Wife use some of those images in the opening moments of their new CBS series, BrainDead, to set up a bizarre but very enjoyable hypothetical scenario. Here's the weird what-if: What if a meteorite like that one is recovered by Russians and forwarded to the United States for...

The original Roots miniseries, based on the 1976 Alex Haley novel tracing his own family tree from African tribal life to American slavery and freedom, was a phenomenon. ABC showed it over consecutive nights in January 1977, not because it was expected to earn huge ratings but because network executives were afraid it wouldn't. So they crammed the entire miniseries into an eight-day prime-time marathon, which aired, by coincidence, during a massive winter storm that snowed in much of the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBRYsAfchkY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ9mYsF3g00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nck6BZga7TQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqrvm2XDvpQ The late-night TV talk show wars aren't what they used to be. Success in that realm used to be measured by who got the most viewers after the late local news. For decades, it was NBC's The Tonight Show, whether hosted by Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson or, for most of his run, Jay Leno. But the current Tonight Show...

For years now, The Good Wife has been the best drama series on broadcast television, but it deserves even more praise than that. From the start, show creators Robert and Michelle King have had to deal with restrictive network standards, inconsistent scheduling, intrusive advertising breaks and a production order of 22 episodes per season — almost twice that of its cable and streaming competition. Yet, from start to finish, The Good Wife has been rewarding, surprising and delightfully...

When The X-Files appeared on TV in the 1990s, there really hadn't been anything quite like it on TV for a long time. The Twilight Zone, with its monsters and flying saucers and anything-goes mentality, was an obvious inspiration and precursor. But investigations of unusual or unearthly phenomena, dramatized in a weekly series in ways that could be scary or funny, or both? As TV shows go, that's about as rare a sighting as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. The closest thing to The X-Files,...

When it came to new programming, broadcast TV didn't impress critic David Bianculli much this year. But if you add in cable and streaming services, then the story changes. All told, cable and streaming made it "another great year for TV," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. The year was so good, in fact, Bianculli says he could have made a Top 20 or even a Top 30 list, but in keeping with tradition, he has narrowed it down to 10 — OK, fine, 11 — picks: 1. Better Call Saul (AMC)
"I...

A Very Murray Christmas is directed and co-written by Sofia Coppola, who also worked with Bill Murray on the movie Lost in Translation . In that film, Murray played an actor in Japan, reluctantly doing a series of commercials there, and not at all happy. In A Very Murray Christmas, Murray starts out in much the same mood — he's in his room at New York's Carlyle Hotel, killing time with old friend Paul Shaffer, who's noodling at the piano. Outside, a snowstorm is raging. Inside, Bill Murray is...

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/ . Transcript DAVE DAVIES, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our TV critic, David Bianculli, is very enthusiastic about two just-released DVD box sets of TV shows. One is season one of "Better Call Saul," the "Breaking Bad" prequel that premiered earlier this year. The other is a new compilation of an old show he's been waiting to see again since the '70s, "The Great American Dream Machine." Here's his review. DAVID...

For broadcast TV, this year's fall season has been decidedly, and disappointingly, below average, especially for drama series. But on streaming television, there's a new show — available on Amazon Prime Video in its first-season entirety on Friday — that's about to change all that. The show is called The Man in the High Castle. It's based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, the same writer whose stories inspired the movies Blade Runner and Total Recall, and it's excellent. The executive producers...

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/ . Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Despite the popularity of streaming services that make make many old episode of TV series available on-demand, DVD box sets continue to be released and embraced by serious fans and collectors, including our TV critic, David Bianculli. He's going to tell us about the four recent releases he most treasures - two just-completed TV series and two very vintage ones...

Supergirl, premiering Monday night on CBS, follows in the same path of other prime-time DC Comics superheroes established on the CW by Arrow and The Flash. And they're only part of a much wider trend, because superheroes are as popular, and profitable, on TV as they are in the movies. With Supergirl, Greg Berlanti and his Arrow and The Flash producing team are attempting to mount a modern, youth-appeal superhero series not for the CW but for older-skewing network CBS. The Superman family...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: Tonight, the TV drama series "Fargo" begins its second season on the FX Network. It has a new story and a new cast, but one familiar character is at its center. Our TV critic David Bianculli has a review. DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: Last season when it premiered, "Fargo," the TV series, had to overcome the misconception that it was a remake of "Fargo," the fabulous Coen brothers movie. Instead, this TV ...

One of the newest trends on TV — and one of the most intriguing — is the season-long anthology drama series. In the Golden Age of TV, back in the 1950s, anthology series presented a brand-new story and cast every week. A lonely butcher named Marty looking for love. Jurors arguing over a verdict in 12 Angry Men. Mannequins coming to life in The Twilight Zone. Then the anthology format all but vanished, except for the rare and noteworthy revival over the past few decades: HBO's Tales from the...

Copyright 2015 Fresh Air. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/ . Transcript TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Last night, seven weeks after Jon Stewart stepped down as the long-time host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," the new host stepped in, Trevor Noah, a 31-year-old biracial comedian from South Africa. Here's our TV critic David Bianculli with his first impressions of the new "Daily Show" era. (SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE DAILY SHOW") TREVOR NOAH: First of...

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