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.

The documentary Prohibition is the latest PBS multi-part presentation by Ken Burns. He and his filmmaking partner, Lynn Novick, aren't just riding the Boardwalk Empire train here – their story begins a full hundred years before Prohibition began in the 1920s. In fact, they spend the entire first installment explaining how alcohol became a wedge issue, and how religious conservatives, woman suffragists and other groups all used it to gain political power.

I'm well aware that most of the buzz this time of year goes to the new fall TV shows – and one of the passably watchable ones, ABC's Pan Am premieres this Sunday. But for the most part this fall, broadcast TV has been more interesting because of the older, more familiar elements – especially familiar faces who are returning to TV in new roles.

For the second year in a row, the new shows served up by the broadcast TV networks are dull and disappointing — not a great new program in the bunch. There are a pair of terrific new series on the horizon, on cable. But the entire fall TV season concept has been defined and dominated by broadcast television for half a century now — and though that changes a little each year, it's still the biggest game in town, with the most viewers and the most attention.

So here we go again.

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