Mike Hughes

Best-bets for Dec. 7: “Nurses” starts, football grows

1) “Nurses” opener (shown here), 10 p.m., NBC. The five nurses arrive for their first day of work. They’re young, bright, diverse and (of course) telegenic. They have almost a minute to acclimate; then the world falls apart. A driver has crashed into students, killing and injuring; soon, the show is racing at “ER” speed. It sometimes slows, however, for personal glimpses of the patients and staff. Some of that feels contrived – especially an argument about helping a villain – but this is still a solid-enough drama. Read more…

An honorable judge sinks into chaos

This is a basic challenges of fiction: Find a plausible way for an ordinary person to plunge into an extraordinary situation.
That’s what “For Honor,” the mini-series starting at 10 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 6) on Showtime, does so well. Aided by the subtle skill of Bryan Cranston (shown here with Hunter Doohan), it keeps sinking deeper into a pit.
Such stories are best if the protagonist starts with a small sin he wants to hide. He joy-rides in a car, unaware there’s a body in the trunk … sneaks into an apartment, unaware it’s a drug house … cheats on his wife, unaware that the object of his lust is obsessive.
In this case, there’s an extra layer – a widowed dad is desperate to help his son. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Dec. 7: Lotsa Christmas, lotsa football

1) “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, PBS. For a time, one of TV’s greatest half-hours (shown here) seemed to be out of reach for most viewers. The entire “Peanuts” collection had gone to Apple TV+; that’s fine for Apple’s 40 million subscribers, but what about everyone else? Fortunately, there are solutions: The show will be available to non-subscribers this weekend (Friday through Sunday, Dec. 11-13) online. And on Sunday, it gets this spot on PBS – which seems ideal for a show that satirizes commercialism. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 5: Second chances for chimps and country star

1) “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Morgan Wallen (shown here) is a young (27) country singer on a roll; his last four singles have each hit No. 1 on on the country airplay charts. He was supposed to be music guest earlier this season – then blew it when social media showed him partying without a mask. Dropped from the show then, he gets a second chance now; Jason Bateman hosts. Read more…

Carrie and more: Some Christmas specials stand out

Carrie Underwood’s new Christmas special is the ultimate in sleek simplicity.
It has no gimmicks, no guests (except briefly). It has no distractions and – this is streaming – no commercials. It simply has Underwood (shown here in a previous performance) warmly caressing each song.
It also reminds us of something else: Even in this crowded, cluttered season, there are some TV moments that are really worth watching – or re-watching. I’ll list some others (and their air dates) in a minute; for a full Christmas TV list, scroll under “news and quick comments.” But first, let’s look at three: Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 4: Pop art, popular dramas

1) “American Masters: Keith Haring: Street Art Boy,” 9 p.m., PBS. Haring (shown here) grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch turf, forever chosen last for games. He was quick to leave his small town, move to New York and make a splash. Soon, his uncluttered artwork was on buildings, walls, floors … then in international galleries. In his 31 years (before being one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS), he made more than 10,000 artworks and became a pop-culture star. Here’s a fascinating story, richly illustrated. Read more…

Pro football: No home, no name, no quarterback, no (?) schedule

There was a time when every pro football team had a home. And a name. And a quarterback (several actually). And a schedule, set in stone.
That was a dull-but-simple time, before the chaos of 2020. Now the changes keep coming.
There are games — some involving the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers (shown here) — at unexpected times – this Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 2) … early Monday evening (Dec. 7) … and Tuesday night (Dec. 8). For the second time, a Thursday-night game will be scrapped. And schedules have changed and unchanged for NBC, ABC and Fox.
Most, but not all, of this is COVID-related. The changes include: Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 3: Carrie’s Christmas or comedies

1) “My Gift,” any time, HBO Max. Here’s the consummate Christmas special – no gimmicks, no distractions, no commercials, just a great singer. Carrie Underwood (shown here)  has shown her religious passion with “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Something In the Water” (both included here), but she hadn’t done a Christmas album until this year. She soars in the classics (“O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” etc.) and links beautifully with John Legend on his “Hallelujah” and with her son, 5, on “Little Drummer Boy.” Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 2: “SEAL” returns, Christmas continues

1) “SEAL Team” season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. This is a big week for CBS: Three more dramas arrive Friday, leaving only two fall shows (“Evil” and “Equalizer”) pemding. And “SEAL” starts with a two-parter, as the team heads into the mountains (shown here) to find a terrorist leader. Jason (David Boreanaz) is soon separated from the rest. The second hour includes treacherous tunnels that are booby-trapped. Read more…