Month: December 2021

Best-bets for Dec. 28: Re-meet two esteemed shows

1) “This Is Us” and “New Amsterdam, 9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Next Tuesday (Jan. 4) is a big day for NBC: “This Is Us” starts its final season and “New Amsterdam” returns after a five-week break. First, we can catch up, watching the previous episodes. At 9 p.m., the family gathers for what’s supposed to be the wedding of Kevin and Madison (shown here in an earlier episode); there are flashbacks and surprises. At 10, Max and Helen are heading to London to start their new life; then a superbug hits the New York hospital. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec.27: One more look, alas, at 2021

1) “The Year: 2021,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. What kind of year has it been? Well, the Capitol was breached, chaos ensued(shown here), people were killed and maimed … and that was in the first week. Later, unemployment plunged, inflation climbed, COVID was stifled and then rebounded. Two giant recovery bills passed and a third stalled. Robin Roberts hosts this overview, which has ABC News people plus pop-culture figures, from country music’s Jimmie Allen to “Love Island” narrator Matthew Hoffman. Read more…

New Year’s Eve plans trimmed a bit

In an era when TV viewers keep expecting more, this is a surprise: COVID has caused some New Year’s Eve plans to be dumped, trimmed or changed.
The Fox newtwork has dropped its celebration entirely … The others will continue, but with a reduced crowd in Times Square … And the Gator Bowl has switched one of its teams.
Other celebrations are still scheduled, but only ABC and CNN will be strongly in New York. NBC is in Miami and CBS has a new country-music event, based in Nashville. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 26: four finales and a Latifah-thon

1) “Insecure” series finale, 10 p.m., HBO, rerunning at 11:23 p.m. and 12:45 a.m.. These five years have seen Issa Rae’s career soar. Once confined to short-form humor (YouTube and, later, “A Black Lady Sketch Show”), Rae (shown here, center, in a previous episode) created and starred in “Insecure,” getting two Emmy nominations for best comedy actress and one for best comedy series. She also wrote a book and did movies, including a serious drama, “The Photograph.” Tonight, her character looks back at what got her where she is. Read more…

She can handle surgery, karate and (maybe) a mop

Actors keep having to know (or fake) new skills.
They must ride and shoot, perform surgery, spout words that only doctors or techies would understand.
Now consider Elodie Yung (shown here), whose “The Cleaning Lady” debuts at 9 p.m. Monday on Fox. She plays a Cambodian doctor who becomes a Las Vegas cleaning lady, then works for a crime ring.
She had to learn how to do emergency first aid, but that wasn’t the hard part. “I had to learn how to clean,” Yung said in a Television Critics Association virtual press conference. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 25: “Downton,” Disney, dunk shots

1) “Downton Abbey” (2019) and “Call the Midwife Holiday Special,” 7 and 9:07 p.m., PBS. The “Downton” movie has the elegance of the series (shown here), plus bigger stakes. The king is coming, amid schemes large (an assassination attempt) and small (the royal staff trying to seize control of household duties). That’s followed by a warm “Midwife,” set in Christmas of 1966. Medical crises complicate the wedding of Lucille, a Jamaican nurse, and Cyril, a Guyanese mechanic, student and church leader. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 24: classic movies, cartoons, more

(Here are the five TV best-bets for Friday, Dec. 24; feel free to use in any form – all or some, print and/or web)

1) “A Christmas Story” (1983) marathon, 8 p.m., TBS and 9 p.m., TNT. This modest movie does everything right. It captures a 1940s holiday through the hopes and fears of a boy (shown here) who simply wants a BB gun. Done with droll humor, it’s become a tradition for these networks. It runs every two hours for 24 hours, so one of the two will start it at the top of each hour. Read more…

He’s an airborne TV star

If TV had an all-time commuter award, Kenan Thompsom(shown here) might be … well, a solid second place.
The top prize goes to David Frost, who did weekly commutes from London to New York – a jet across the Atlantic, then a helicopter to his office.
But Thompson comes close: He filmed his comedy – “Kenan,” which starts its second season at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Jan. 3 on NBC – in Los Angeles, then flew to New York for each “Saturday Night Live.”
In LA, the emphasis was on COVID safety, he said. “We were to ourselves, in our own little bubble.” But it’s not really a bubble if one guy keeps flying in packed planes; Thompson needed private ones. Read more…

TV has big plans for Jan. 6 anniversary

As the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot nears, TV has major plans.
ABC has announced coverage that will start Jan. 2 and sprawl across the week. It will include a documentary on two streaming services – Hulu and ABC News Live.
That’s alongside other documentaries – a new one on PBS and a rerun on HBO – plus news coverage. Congressmen are talking about a Jan. 6 memorial event; Donald Trump has said he’ll have a press conference that day. Some of the TV plans include: Read more…

Cooking shows rise (or sink) to a new level

As cooking shows fill our TV sets, they offer lots of sleek settings.
“The contestants are always working in these fabulous, million-dollar kitchens,” said Matt Cahoon, a creator of the new “Next Level Chef” on Fox. They have “the best equipment in the world, using the highest-end ingredients that money can buy. And that’s not real life.”
Now real life – or three variations of it – arrives. “Next Level Chef” debuts after football (at about 8 p.m. ET) on Jan. 2, then moves to Wednesdays. It instantly shows its extremes.
“We’ve got these three incredible kitchens, three stories high, 85,000 tons of steel,” said Gordon Ramsay, who produces the show with Cahoon and Lisa Edwards. (The structure is shown here, with Richard Blais, Ramsay and Nyesha Arrington.) Read more…