Daily Best Bets

Best-bets for Oct. 19: “Voice” begins, football doubles, Derek dances

1) “The Voice” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., NBC. Yes, there is a real TV season trickling in. And now we have one of the ratings leaders, starting with two nights and four hours of auditions. Blake Shelton will be there, as usual; he’s already had seven winners in 18 seasons. But Kelly Clarkson (shown here) has had three winners just five seasons. The others are John Legend (one win in three seasons) and Gwen Stefani, Shelton’s life partner, with no wins in four seasons. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 18: Bueller, baseball, but no Bart

1) “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986), 8 p.m., CBS. Maybe this is the time to settle back with a fun film. CBS — which has temporarily revived its Sunday-night movies — has this popular tale, with Matthew Broderick (shown here) giving himself a personal vacation. Freeform has its usual lighe Halloween films and TNT has two 2018 films — “Oceean’s 8” at 5:30 p.m. and “Crazy Rich Asians” at 8; both have so-so stories, redeemed by a bright, breezy look and feel.  Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 17: “SNL” laughter or holiday screams

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. For the third straight week, the show has a skilled comedy pro as host. The season opened with comics who sometimes act (Chris Rock and Bill Burr) and great results. Now comes Issa Rae, who received Emmy nominations this year for both a comedy series (“Insecure”) and a sketch show (“The Black Lady Sketch Show”). It’s her first time at “SNL”; Justin Bieber (shown here) has his fourth time as music guest; in one, he doubled as host Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 16: Great music, un-great show

1) “Great Performances: Grammy Salute to Legends,” 9 p.m., PBS. Most music shows have beautifully adjusted to the pandemic … but not this one. It does have a few good moments – from Sam Moore, Yola and Brandi Carlile – and one great one – a Roberta Flack tribute, gorgeously sung by Cynthia Erivo (shown here in a previous performance) and Leslie Odom, Jr. Then things fall apart — badly written film tributes, so-so introductions and endless acceptance speeches … including separate ones from every member of Chicago. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 15: a town hall … or maybe two

1) Town hall, 8 p.m. ET, ABC, with news follow-up at 9:30 ET. This was supposed to be the big one – the second debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden; then it fell apart. When Trump was infectious with COVID, the debate commission said this round would have to be done from separate locations. He said he wouldn’t do it… Biden promptly scheduled this town hall … and the commission dumped the debate. Biden’s event — moderated by George Stephanopoulos (shown here) matches Trump’s town hall with ABC last month; Biden also had an NBC town hall on Oct. 5 … and Trump (see next paragraph) has tried to set up a similar one for tonight. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 14: Long-delayed awards and “Race”

1) “Billboard Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. Delayed a half-year by COVID, the awards arrive with lots of big names. Kelly Clarkson (the host), Garth Brooks (who’s shown here and will get the Icon Award) and Post Malone (leading with 16 nominations) will perform. So will BTS, Sia, Alicia Keys, Luke Combs and key collaborations – Deja Cat with Tyga, Khalid with Swae Lee and Kane Brown. Songs will range from a premiere by Demi Lovato to En Vogue celebrating the 30th anniversary of “Free Your Mind.” Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 13: Romance and football collide

1) “The Bachelorette” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., ABC; or football, 7 p.m. ET, CBS. Here’s a perfect night for some two-TV households; it offers two opposite shows – one romantic and one combative. ABC has a long-anticipated one – a “Bachelorette” (with Clare Crawley, shown here) that was set for summer, then delayed by COVID. CBS has an unanticipated one; a game making up for a COVID-postponement. It should be a good one, with two undefeated teams – Buffalo (4-0) at Tennessee (3-0). Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 12: A double day for Justina

1) “One Day at a Time” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. For nine years this was a typical CBS comedy– smart, funny and produced by Norman Lear. Rebooted with a Latina cast and with Lear (now 98) still producing, it ran three seasons on Netflix and six episodes (before a COVID shutdown) on Pop. Now the Pop six spend three Mondays on CBS. Tonight’s first episode (shown here), with Ray Romano as a census-taker, is clever; the second is OK, but suffers from broad jokes and brash supporting characters. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 11: It’s zombie Sunday

1) “Fear the Walking Dead” season-opener, 9 p.m., AMC. The fifth season ended 14 months ago, with Morgan wounded and alone. That’s the perfect set-up for a pandemic production, when smaller casts are ewelcome. Tonight, just two people are key to Morgan’s life – a skilled hitman, sent by Virginia, and a stranger (shown here) with an unstated mission. The result is fierce and gory, but thoroughly involving. Read more…

Best-bets for Oct. 10: The big games — football and politics

1) Football and “Saturday Night Live,” 7 p.m. ET and 11:29 p.m., NBC. This is the Saturday that NBC dreamed of when the shutdown began: Fifth-ranked Notre Dame hosts Florida State; then is the second of five straight new “SNL” episodes. When the show returned last week, viewers weren’t sure what to expect: Would it be muted because of President Trump’s illness? All worries were quickly doused by host Chris Rock and by the opening bit — a Trump-Biden “debate” (shown here) with Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey. Now Bill Burr hosts, with Morgan Wallen as the music guest. Read more…