Stories

Flash and frenzy: Here’s a Christmas-TV mega-list

It’s almost time for Christmas to take over our TV sets.
That starts at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, as the parade begins. It continues for four flashy weeks.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a mega-list of Christmas show, beginning Nov. 28. We’ll do them by category, starting (logically) with parades:
Nov. 28: “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” 9 a.m. to noon, NBC and CBS. The parade (shown here from a previous year) has 11 bands, 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers and 1,000 clowns, plus balloons and 26 floats – many with performers, including Celine Dion, Chicago, Ciara, Black Eyed Peas, Lea Michele, Billy Porter and Idina Menzel. The networks also bring in separate performers, usually in the first hour Read more…

It’s a story of war, love, death and birth

A decade ago, Waad Al-Kateab stepped into a new life.
She was 18 and idealistic (“headstrong,” her parents said), a freshman at the massive University of Aleppo, in Syria. Then war changed everything.
That’s part of the story of “For Sama,” which reaches PBS Tuesday (Nov. 19). The award-winning documentary focuses partly on her decision to stay, even after having baby Sama.
“We stayed with these people in Aleppo for five years …. We just felt we belong to this place, to these people as our family,” Al-Kateab (shown here, away from the war zone). “We can’t just … leave.” Read more…

Great advice: Find friends, ignore naked guys

A talented actress, we’re told, can ignore all distractions.
Still, that’s not easy when there’s a naked-guy table … and a naked-guy lamp … and more.
“We truly did mess a bunch of lines,” said Shay Mitchell, a “Dollface” co-star. “I’d be saying my line (and) a lamp-shade naked man was just walking by. I was like, ‘All right. Where was I?
”That’s part of the quirky approach of “Dollface,” which debuts Friday on Hulu.
Jules (Kat Dennings, shown here) has been casually dumped by her boyfriend of five years, propelling her fantasy scenes. “When Jules is going through a heightened emotion, the magical realism kind of comes in to guide her,” Dennings said. Read more…

“Green Eggs”: A few words hatch a series

There are plenty of great books out there, still waiting to be movies or TV series.
Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” seemed to be a long shot. Jared Stern recalled his first reaction:
“I was like, ‘Uh huh – there’s like 50 words in the book. How do we make it into a movie?’” Stern told the Television Critics Association in August.
Or into something bigger. Now it’s a 13-week series (shown here) that reaches Netflix on Friday (Nov. 8). Read more…

Molly: A vibrant life and a great movie

Jim Ivins insisted that his daughter have a respectable name.
Ivins – an oil executive nicknamed “General Jim” – chose Mary Tyler Ivins. His wife disagreed; so, eventually, did their daughter (shown here).
This was no mere Mary; by 12, she was 6 feet tall and brash. She re-named herself Molly Ivins.
She would become a newspaper columnist, known for both her wit and her venom, and then a “60 Minutes” commentator. She had a great little life (dying of cancer at 62) and is the subject of a great movie. Read more…

It’s typecasting … in a good way

For Auli’i Cravalho (shown here), this is a pleasant bit of type-casting. She’s in a water-y life – again.
She had the title role in “Moana,” as an adventurous islander; now it’s “Little Mermaid Live.”
In real life, Cravalho hasn’t, to our knowledge, taken a solo ocean trip in search of a legendary demigod, as Moana did. Or collected artifacts in an undersea kingdom, as Ariel the mermaid did.
But she is Hawaiian, which makes her close to both. “(I) grew up maybe 20 minutes from beach,” she said, “so I would say I was pretty water-active as a kid.”
Read more…

Life after “Thrones”? HBO has epic scale … and Lin-Manuel

(For HBO, this is the post-“Thrones” era. “Game of Thrones” — shown here — is gone; one of its prequels has been nixed. The next epic fantasy? There’s “Watchmen” at 9 p.m. Sunday and now “His Dark Materials,” debuting at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4. Here’s a look at Lin-Manuel Miranda — yes, the “Hamilton” guy — who is the show’s co-star and its superfan.)
By Mike Hughes
Lin-Manuel Miranda was talking to TV critics, which was familiar turf.
He had met the Television Critics Association back in 2013, when he was the co-star of … well, something or other
“The legendary ‘Do No Harm’ … The lowest-rated show in the history of NBC,” Miranda recalled.
Read more…

A musical surge begins

Every now and then, TV remembers one of its highest callings – to give us full-scale musicals.
Then it forgets again, sometimes for years. But now comes a spurt; there are three musicals in eight days, covering a rich range
On Friday (Nov. 1), PBS has the relentlessly giddy “42nd Street.” The songs are peppy, the dancing is zesty and the story … well, no one tried to improve on the 1933 movie this is based on.
A week later, it has the exact opposite with “The King and I” (shown here). Once you get past the lush music and costumes, you have the serious story of a 19th-century despot. Read more…

At 75, Douglas keeps finding fresh options

Michael Douglas has had to rethink this whole notion of retirement.
He’s 75, an age when retiring might seem reasonable. But in “The Kominsky Method” (shown here), his co-star (Alan Arkin) is 85; also, his dad (Kirk Douglas) will turn 103 on Dec. 9.
“I’ve got a long ways to go,” said Douglas, whose second “Kominsky” season starts Friday on Netflix. “It’s very exciting. I never anticipated (these) options as I reach the three-quarter-century mark.” Read more…

Coming up: An overcrowded Halloween week

Just how long is Halloween, anyway?
It used to be one day; some cable networks seem to think it’s an entire month. But for most TV viewers, it’s one crowded week: From Oct. 25-31, Halloween overruns our TV sets.
The Disney properties (ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel) lead, but others jump in. Here are some highlights of what’s new; the days listed refer to the 25th through 31st: Read more…