Have yourself a Moody Christmas

Each December, we know what to expect from TV movies and specials.
“It’s ‘Oh, we’re going to stand around a Christmas tree,’” Elizabeth Perkins said.
There are plenty of those shows …. but now there’s “The Moodys.” Charlie Collier, the Fox programming chief, calls it a “single-camera, dysfunctional family comedy.”
Perkins plays the mom … and an opening scene (a flashforward) has her firing a BB gun at the tree; Denis Leary (they’re shown here) is the dad. “He’s irreverent,” she said. “He’s always willing to go there.” Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 1: The 25-day marathon begins

1) “25 Days of Christmas” start, Freeform. It’s the 23rd year of this marathon, packing the month with holiday movies and more. That starts mildly – “Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish” at 7 a.m. – and soon gets better. There are “Simpsons” Christmas reruns (shown here) at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 p.m., followed by Tim Allen’s “Santa Clause” trilogy at 2:45, 4:50 and 6:55 and Jim Carrey’s “Grinch” at 9. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 30: Robbie leads a holiday flurry

1) “Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire” and its sequel, 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. We’re used to cartoons that are brash and frantic. Here’s the opposite, with droll, dry wit. It’s British, of course; the voices were re-cast for us, using one Brit (Hugh Grant as Blitzen) and lots of Americans. Ben Stiller voices Robbie (shown here), with Britney Spears as Donner, Leah Remini as Vixen and Jim Belushi as Santa. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Dec. 2: Farewell, Madam President

1) “Madam Secretary” series finale, 10 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 8), CBS. Back in 1974, Cicely Tyson won two Emmys for playing Jane Pittman. Tyson, then 49, portrayed the fictional Pittman, 110, recounting a life that went from slavery to civil rights. And now? Tyson, 94, plays someone who was born 99 years ago, when women got the right to vote; she watches a female president (Tea Leoni, shown here in the Dec. 1 episode) start a landmark initiative. The finale also has Tyne Daly, the U.S. women’s soccer team and music from Peter Frampton. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 29: Time to get kinky or get Frosty

1) “Great Performances: Kinky Boots,” 9 p.m., PBS. In a five-Friday stretch, PBS has had a vast range. It’s had a serious drama, a Shakespearean comedy and three musicals – one silly, one heavy and now “Kinky” (shown here), with a shoe company switching to flashy footwear. Onstage, this was a big hit; it won six Tonys, including best musical and score. On TV, Cyndi Lauper’s vibrant music only partly makes up for the cardboard characters, including a central guy who temporarily goes bad, for plot convenience. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov.28: A parade … and much more

1) Thanksgiving Day Parade, 9 a.m. to noon, NBC.and CBS, Here are all the elements to launch TV’s Christmas season – noise, color, size and Santa. The parade (shown here) are 11 bands, 1,000 clowns, 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers and 26 floats, many bearing lip-syncing star –.Ciara, Chicago, Lea Michele, Billy Porter, Black-Eyed Peas and more. Networks also add separate acts, especially early. CBS has Miranda Lambert; NBC opens with “Sesame Street” Muppets and has the casts of four musicals. Read more…

The Eaton era: masterful “Masterpiece”

The Rebecca Eaton era is ending at “Masterpiece.” It has been … well, mostly masterful.
At its peak, it has provided some of the finest moments on television – “Downton Abbey” (shown here), “Prime Suspect,” “Wallander,” “Sherlock” and more, including “Little Women” and “Bleak House” reboots.
At its low point, it’s merely been bland, such as the recent “The Chaperone.” Then it has bounced back.
PBS announced recently that Eaton, 72, is being “promoted” to “executive-producer-at-large.” She’ll work at developing new drama projects, while also fundraising for The Masterpiece Trust, which has raised $20 million since she launched it eight years ago. Read more…

Mister Rogers? Yes, he really was like that

TV critics are used to pomp and hype, to overstuffed praise for underdeveloped shows.
So it’s refreshing when we get the opposite: That was the day Fred Rogers showed up.
It springs to mind now – almost 22 years later – because of the odd (and oddly wonderful) movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Here is Tom Hanks playing a gentle man who happened to be an important TV producer-writer-composer-star; people might wonder: Was Rogers really like that?
Apparently. And that’s what we got that January day in 1998. Read more…

Best-bets for Nov. 26: Dolly is eternal

1) “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry,” 9-11 p.m., NBC. Parton (shown here), 73, continues her triumphant tour of the networks. ABC had a primetime profile, then featured her at the Country Music Association awards. Netflix made eight movies based on her songs; on Dec. 8, Hallmark has her “Christmas at Dollywood” movie. And NBC has her performing along with some famous friends, including Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Lady Antebellum, Margo Price, Hank Williams Jr. and more. Read more…