News and Quick Comments

Christmas TV list: the final week

OK, we’re down to the final week before Christmas Eve. Here’s a shortened version of the Christmas TV mega-list, sticking strictly to Dec. 17-25:
– Dec. 18: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 7 and 9:30 p.m.,, TNT; also, 8 p.m. Dec. 25, NBC.
– Dec. 19: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (shown here), 6:45 p.m., Freeform; also, 5:15 p.m., Dec. 20; 9 p.m., Dec. 24; 5:40 p.m., Dec. 25. Read more…

“Ricardos”: masterful telling of a (semi-) true tale

Aaron Sorkin’s latest masterwork is ready to reach our TV sets.
“Being the Ricardos” (shown here with Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem) is already in theaters; it arrives Tuesday (Dec. 21) on Amazon’s Prime Video, which produced it. Like all things Sorkin, we cheer it … cautiously.
When working with pure fiction – including the “West Wing,” “Newsroom” and “Sports Night” TV series – Sorkin is the best, concocting wondrous twists.
And when adapting true events? He still concocts. Read more…

Nesmith was a Monkee and much more

Mike Nesmith, who died Friday at 78, was many things, some of them mismatched.
He was heir to a “Liquid Paper” fortune …. And a songwriter whose “Different Drum” reached the top-20 with Linda Ronstadt … And a producer of distinctive movies – “Repo Man,” “Tapeheads” and “Timerider” … And a pioneer of music videos and comedy videos.
Mostly, though, he’ll be remembered for one thing: He was a Monkee.
Nesmith (second from left) was the guy with the wool cap and the slight Texas drawl. He was also considered the main musician – a skilled guitarist and songwriter – of the quartet that was assembled for a TV show. Read more…

TV rolls back toward comedies

The low-laugh TV season will get another boost.
CBS announced today that “How We Roll” (shown here) will join its line-up next spring, after “B Positive” ends its season. That’s the same approach that successfully launced “United States of Al” this year.
“Roll” is based on the true story of Tom Smallwood, a Michigan autoworker whose life changed when he was 30. Laid off from work – and unable to find another job during a recession – he revived his dream of being a professional bowler. Read more…

Revive the past? Yes and NO(!)

At first glance, these seem like worthy goals: Revive the past AND do a live TV show.
Still, there’s a key question: Is this piece of the past really worth reviving?
NBC’s “Annie Live” (shown here) was mostly excellent; ABC’s “Diff’rent Strokes” was thoroughly awful. Let’s look at both: 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…

Christmas TV: Here’s the mega-list

If TV people have their way, we’ll spend the next month staring at Christmas shows.
We’ll start this Thanksgiving Day with the Macy’s parade (shown here in a previous year), continue through Christmas Day with the Disney parade, then watch a few reruns. We’ll be happy, apparently.
Last year, TV slowed down slightly, to allow COVID caution. This year, it’s moving faster than ever. This mega-list starts on Thanksgiving morning and is packed. Read more…

Summer heat brings cool Christmases?

It seems so easy, making all these Christmas movies.
They almost have the same cheery backdrops, the same perky heroine. She’s often expected to return to her home town and/or to squabble with a handsome guy who turns out to be OK after all.
Still, these aren’t that easy to make … starting with the weather. “You always do a Christmas movie in July,” John Schneider said. “As you always do a beach movie in November or December.”
His movie – “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune” (8 p.m. Friday on Lifetime), shown here – has more music than most, along with some of the brightest colors this side of animation. It was also a rare case of a holiday film shot in the South. Read more…

Mid-season: more laughs, more female crooks

For five TV networks – the big, broadcast ones – fix-it time is near.
That’s the mid-season, when new shows are tried, old ones return and schedules are adjusted.
Returning will be a couple of much-honored shows (“Black-ish,” shown here, and “This Is Us”), a revival of an old show (“Law & Order”) and others. For the new shows, three focus on female criminals. Read more…