Mike Hughes

Best-bets for Dec. 7: clever new comedy, silly old ones

1) “Abbott Elementary” debut, 9:30 p.m., ABC. A slow year for situation comedies is suddenly brightening. Too terrific ones get advance peeks – “Abbott” tonight and NBC’s “American Auto” next Monday – before getting weekly spots next month. Quinta Brunson (shown here) created this, produces it and stars as an earnest elementary-school teacher. Indeed, all the teachers here try hard, despite meager fundling and a clueless principal. The result manages to be both warm and funny. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 6: Blake, Buble, boy bands

1) “The Voice” semi-finals, 8-10 p.m., NBC. A week from the finale, “Voice” is down to eight acts – three on Blake Shelton’s team, two each with Kelly Clarkson and John Legend, only one with Ariana Grande. Now they perform and viewers vote; on Tuesday, five – tonight’s top four and one instant save – will advance. Tonight is all-music for NBC, with Michael Buble (shown here in a previous year) offering a special at 10, marking the 10th-anniversary of his best-selling Christmas album. Read more…

“Downton” movie heads to TV — twice

PBS has some good news for fans of dramas that are large, lush and (of course) British.
The movie version of “Downton Abbey” (shown here) will air twice – on Christmas Day and on Jan. 2. It will be alongside two other favorites (“Call the Midwife” and “All Creatures Great and Small”) and something new – David Tennant in an eight-part mini-series, “Around the World in 80 Days.” Read more…

She’s a downsized spark for TV comedy

Douglas Adams, the late “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author, had a vertical theory of humor:
All truly funny people, he said, were 6-foot-5-inches tall.
That might have seemed true in his native England. But now, in the U.S., it’s off by a foot-and-a-half.
Meet Quinta Brunson (shown here, foreground) , who is about to rescue us from a slow year for network-TV comedy. She’s the producer, star and sole creator of “Abbott Elementary,” which has an advance showing at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 7) on ABC, then gets a regular spot next month. She’s listed at 5-foot, but some of that is wishful thinking. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 5: Music blends with drama, real and fictional

.1) “A Home for the Holidays,” 9:30 p.m., CBS (but 9 p.m. PT). There’s music starpower here, with Justin Bieber (shown here), Alessia Cara, Darren Criss and Kane Brown. And between songs, there are true stories of adoptions. We’ll meet a UCLA freshman who was in nine foster homes in her first 12 years. And a former adoptee who now has an adoptive son. And a family that had three biological siblings, then adopted a boy and his baby sister. We’ll also see a girl’s adoption being finalized. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Dec. 6: A sharp comedy begins; a stern drama ends

1) “Abbott Elementary” debut, 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, ABC. Quinta Brunson is a tiny (4-foot-11) force, ready to save TV comedy. She went to school in Philadelphia, then became a star in streaming shows and on cable, in “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and (as a cowboy outlaw) in “Miracle Workers.” Now she’s written this clever show and stars as a Philly teacher (shown here, left) who has earnest (if overwhelmed) colleagues and a clueless principal. It gets a weekly spot Jan. 4, but for now, we can savor a sharp and funny opener. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 4: Sharp humor from “SNL” folks, past and present

1) “A Clusterfunke Christmas,” 7 p.m., Comedy Central. If you’ve seen a few Christmas movies, you’ll like this; if you’ve seen a lot of them, you’ll love it. It skillfully skewers their cliches, including the basic plot: A citydweller – accomplished, attractive, lonely – goes to a small town for a business deal … then discovers home-style warmth. Ana Gasteyer and Rachel Dratch (left and right) wrote a delightful script and co-star as the inn-owners. Vella Lovell stars (center), with Cheyenne Jackson as the hunky guy with an ax. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 3: football Ducks, Christmas blues and Bleu

1) Football, 8 p.m. ET, ABC. It’s time for the conference championship games – two tonight and then nine packed into a busy Saturday. ABC has the big one, with the Oregon Ducks (10-2; their fan section is shown here) and Utah (9-3) colliding for the Pac-12 title. And at 7 p.m. ET, the CBS Sports Network has the Conference USA game: The University of Texas at San Antonio – which was undefeated until its loss Saturday – hosts Western Kentucky, which has won seven straight, after starting the season at 1-4. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 1 (out of order): a sunny, funny night

1) “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (shown here) season-opener, 10 and 10:30 p.m., FXX. Most shows simply started late during the pandemic, but “Sunny” skipped all of 2020 and most of 2021. Hhere are its first new episodes in two years and 11 days. They start the 15th season – passing “Ozzie and Harriet” to become TV’s longest-lasting situation comedy (cartoons excluded). And they’re hilarious. The first tells how these guys triggered 2020’s key events; the second sees them make a micro-budget movie. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 2: Live “Annie” and holiday glitter

1) “Annie Live,” 8 p.m., NBC. The surge of live TV musicals has been a mixed blessing. Shows have ranged from great (“Grease,” “Hairspray”) to awful (“Peter Pan,” “Little Mermaid”). Now NBC plays it safe … just as it did in when it started the surge in 2013 with Carrie Underwood in “Sound of Music.” It takes a familiar show, filled with jaunty tunes, and inserts strong singers – Harry Connick (as Warbucks), Nicole Scherzinger and Megan Hilty. Celina Smith(shown here) stars, with Taraji Henson as Hannigan.

Read more…