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.

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10:07am

Tue December 20, 2011
Television

Bianculli Picks The Best (And Worst) TV Of 2011

Over the past few seasons, Breaking Bad's Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has changed from meek hero to forceful villain. TV critic David Bianculli says he isn't just breaking bad anymore — he's entirely broken.
Gregory Peters AMC

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."

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12:29pm

Thu December 1, 2011
Television

At Midseason, Serial Dramas Serve Up Some Big Twists

Showtime's Dexter, starring Michael C. Hall, just served up the biggest twist of the season to date.
Randy Tepper Showtime

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.

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4:01pm

Tue November 15, 2011
Television

Filmmaker Woody Allen Gets The 'Masters' Treatment

Woody Allen's career goes under the American Masters microscope on Sunday and Monday.
MGM/Brian Hamill PBS

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.

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11:16am

Fri October 28, 2011
Television

'Primetime' TV, Like You've Never Seen It Before

Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on The Office, is featured in the new PBS miniseries America in Primetime, which examines the archetypes on television today.

PBS

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.

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11:23am

Wed October 5, 2011
Television

'Breaking Bad,' 'Horror' Leave Viewers Wanting More

Originally published on Tue October 11, 2011 10:05 am

Over the past few seasons, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has changed from meek hero to forceful villain. TV critic David Bianculli says he isn't just breaking bad anymore...he's entirely broken.

Gregory Peters AMC

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.

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12:13pm

Tue May 31, 2011
Television

Fangtastic Voyage: 'True Blood' Vampires Live On

Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and Layfayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) return to the Louisiana bayou for True Blood's fourth season.
John P. Johnson HBO

[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.

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11:12am

Thu April 28, 2011
Television

Bullwinkle DVD: Take A Trip In The Wayback Machine

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.

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11:57am

Fri April 22, 2011
Television

This Weekend, HBO Has Something For Everyone

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.

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11:31am

Mon April 18, 2011
Television

Ernie Kovacs: The King Of Early Television Comedy

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.

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11:27am

Fri April 8, 2011
Television

'Upstairs, Downstairs' Returns To 165 Eaton Place

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.

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3:19pm

Tue March 22, 2011
Television

'Mildred Pierce': A Masterpiece Of Modern Film Noir

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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