David Bianculli

David Bianculli is a guest host and TV critic on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A contributor to the show since its inception, he has been a TV critic since 1975.

From 1993 to 2007, Bianculli was a TV critic for the New York Daily News.

Bianculli has written three books: Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2009),  Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously (1992), and Dictionary of Teleliteracy (1996).

An associate professor of TV and film at Rowan University in New Jersey, Bianculli is also the founder and editor of the online magazine, TVWorthWatching.com.

It isn't a long shot that David Milch's newest series for HBO, called Luck, will be on par with his HBO series Deadwood. It's a sure thing. HBO sent out all nine episodes of the show's first season for preview, so there's no guesswork here.

The new Fox series Touch stars Kiefer Sutherland as a father — a widower — raising a withdrawn preteen son with behavioral problems.

But it doesn't begin with Sutherland.

It begins, instead, with the son — Jake, played by David Mazouz — providing the narration that opens the series. By the time the opening narration is over, you already know you're watching something a little different.

Let's begin with Justified – because, frankly, that's the one that's got me the most excited.

It's one of my favorite TV moments of this year. On Tuesday, the night of the New Hampshire primary, Stephen Colbert had Bill Moyers as his special guest on The Colbert Report. Moyers was there to publicize his return from retirement and the launch of his new TV series, Moyers & Company. Colbert booked him to help him do just that — but as his on-screen persona Stephen Colbert, the pontificating political conservative, he was there to throw good-natured verbal punches.

There are three new hosts of CBS This Morning, which was unveiled yesterday. One is Erica Hill, a holdover from The Early Show, the previous program in the early-morning time slot. Another is Gayle King, still best known as Oprah Winfrey's best friend, who's here to handle most of the entertainment interviews. And the third, the pivot point, is Charlie Rose, brought over from PBS to give this new show an injection of instant respectability and seriousness.

The New Year brings with it new TV programming, and this Sunday is an especially busy one for television. Two new series premiere, while one miniseries and several other series return.

But because it's a new year, let's start with the new shows.

Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli liked so many shows this year that he says he couldn't pick just 10 favorites. Instead, he split his favorites into several lists, including best documentaries and best scripted comedies/dramas.

Bianculli also highlights some of the worst shows to hit TV screens this year — including not one but two shows featuring Snooki.

Despite his Snooki misgivings, Bianculli says it was a banner year for TV.

"There is more good television on a weekly basis than there has ever been," Bianculli says. "I am absolutely certain of it."

By now, I hope my position on spoiler alerts is firmly established. My feeling is that once something has been televised, it's fair game for discussion. I feel it's the responsibility of the person who's delaying his or her enjoyment of a TV show to avoid mentions of it, rather than putting the onus on critics. And believe me, I know that's not always easy. I have to do some time-shifting myself — there are so many good shows presented on Sundays this season that it sometimes takes me the whole week to catch up on the episodes I've recorded.

Woody Allen: A Documentary is the result, though not the culmination, of three very long and distinguished careers.

First, there's Robert Weide, the writer-director whose examination of Allen's life and art follows similar — and similarly impressive — documentaries on the Marx Brothers, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.

Almost every time TV takes a look at itself, and tries to explore or explain what it does as a medium, the result is a major disappointment — at least to me. I want TV to take itself seriously, but it almost never does. Every show about TV is either one of those dumb "Top 100" lists that networks like E! and VH1 crank out every month, or it's a show that's built entirely around the guests it can book, the clips it can afford, and the shows on its own network it want to promote.

If you don't want to hear details, especially about last night's season finale of Breaking Bad, turn away from this website now. But I consider it fair game to talk in detail about TV shows once they've been televised — especially if they're doing interesting enough work to be saluted for it.

[Note: If the previous paragraph didn't convince you, maybe this will: There are many, many spoilers for Breaking Bad ahead. Proceed at your own risk.]

I was blown away by the season ender of Breaking Bad.

[Spoiler Alert: This review touches on some details from season three of True Blood.]

This week HBO releases season three of True Blood on DVD — 12 episodes bringing us up to speed on Sookie Stackhouse, the psychic southern waitress; on Bill Compton and Eric Northman, the two vampires in love with her; and on all the other far-from-normal residents of and around their bayou town. And in a few weeks, on June 26, HBO launches season four of True Blood, which doubles down on its paranormal plot lines.

A recent DVD boxed set from Classic Media presents, for the first time, the complete adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle and Friends – hundreds of installments of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle the Moose, as well as Fractured Fairy Tales, Dudley Do-Right and Mr. Peabody, the genius dog with a pet boy named Sherman. These prime-time TV cartoons go back about 50 years – and TV critic, David Bianculli, says that while watching them all over again, so did he.

Coupled with last week's Game of Thrones premiere, this weekend's HBO lineup really demonstrates the wide range of programming this premium TV service is capable of providing. On Friday, there's a new special, called Talking Funny, in which four top comics spend an hour sitting around and talking comedy.

On Saturday, there's a new made-for-TV movie, called Cinema Verite, which recreates the making of the landmark 1973 PBS documentary series, An American Family, which essentially marked the birth of reality television.

From 1950 until he died in an auto accident in 1962, Ernie Kovacs created some of the most inventive and unusual television ever made. A new Shout Factor DVD boxed set collects more than 13 hours of the TV pioneer's best and rarest programs. Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli, who also teaches television history at Rowan University, couldn't be more thrilled.

To me, the only depressing thing about the return of Upstairs, Downstairs — which ran on what was then called Masterpiece Theatre from 1974 to 1977 — is that I reviewed it the first time around. How time flies when you watch too much TV. But I loved it then, and in this new, surprisingly fresh yet faithful sequel, I love it now.

At the start of the fall TV season, HBO gave us the best new series of the year with Boardwalk Empire, which was set in the Prohibition era in Atlantic City, N.J. This Sunday, HBO launches an ambitious, impressive five-hour miniseries — and as with Boardwalk Empire, it's set during the Depression.

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