Stay Tuned: Julia Roberts makes her series-regular debut in ‘Homecoming’
This week’s TV Insider takes an early look at holiday TV, which gets started with a “legendary” singer crooning Christmas songs and Gordon Ramsay hosting celebrities and their kids on a Thanksgiving night broadcast. New fall shows are light this week but subscription services offer some notable highlights.
Last week’s column incorrectly stated the broadcast dates for “Heathers.” The show premiered on Oct. 25 and will run over five nights.
Dispatches: Weekly TV News
It may be Halloween week but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for broadcast TV’s Christmas specials. One of the first up is “A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy” (Nov. 28, 10 p.m. ET/PT, NBC). Get into the holiday spirit with EGOT winner John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen who will be joined by friends, family and other famous people as Legend performs songs from his upcoming album, “A Legendary Christmas.”
The kinder, gentler version of Gordon Ramsay gets even sweeter on the special Thanksgiving episode of “Masterchef Junior: Celebrity Showdown” (Nov. 22, 8 p.m. ET/PT, Fox). Ramsay and chef Aaron Sanchez host celebrities, their kids and a few fan-favorite alumni to test their cooking skills in a competition for charity. In between, Ramsay will swap holiday recipes with Martha Stewart.
Because wacky international formats that have gone viral are too good to pass up, Fox will ring in the new year with “The Masked Singer.” Based on a South Korean show, the singing competition features celebrities performing in elaborate costumes that hide their identity, leaving it to the judges and the audience to guess who. It will be hosted by Nick Cannon with panelists Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke. One singer will be eliminated by the judges and audience each week, based on their performance. The show premieres Jan. 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Contenders: Buzz worthy shows to watch this week
All the fall series have debuted so it’s a slow week for broadcast highlights but there are a few worth mentioning. Showtime’s documentary “Shut Up and Dribble” (Nov. 3, 9 p.m. ET/PT) explores the history of the NBA, with an emphasis on the evolution of many of its players, who have expanded their brands beyond the court. Executive produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter and Gotham Chopra (who directs), the three-part series is an interesting look at the NBA’s influence on culture and politics.
Political drama “House of Cards” marks its final season with Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) taking her seat behind the oval office desk. (Nov. 2, Netflix). Wright’s solid performance as a cold and calculating political operative should be even more seductive now that she has the top job.
In her first series-regular role, Julie Roberts plays Heidi, a caseworker for PTSD sufferers, in “Homecoming” (Nov. 2, Amazon Prime Video). Based on a successful fiction podcast of the same name, the conspiracy thriller is about a government program called Homecoming, which helps veterans adjust to civilian life. The stage is set for an intriguing mystery as the action shifts four years into the future and Heidi is living with her mother, waitressing in a diner and claiming to know nothing about her former life.
Report Card: A look at ratings winners and losers
Winners: The friendship-is-complicated drama “A Million Little Things” has been given a full-season order.
Losers: “Blindspot” and “I Feel Bad” are underperforming, with renewals looking increasingly unlikely.
— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.