Category Archives: Pop Culture

The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 27 – Feb. 4

Top picks to watch & more!

Buffy’s back, Jason Segel’s a shrink & Ryan Seacrest’s scary nanny tale

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV in ‘Wolf Pack.’

All times Eastern.

FRIDAY, Jan. 27
Wolf Pack
Buffy’s back! Kinda. A teenage boy and girl find their lives changed forever when a raging California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature. The new series stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, plus Rodrigo Santoro, Armani Jackson and Bella Shepard (Paramount+).

You People
Jonah Hill, David Duchovny, Nia Long, Rhea Pearlman, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Eddie Murphy and Elliott Gould star in this new comedy flick about culture clashes and intergenerational differences between a new couple and their families (Netflix).

Shrinking
A grieving therapist (Jason Segel) starts to break the rules when he tells his clients exactly what he’s thinking, making tumultuous changes in their lives as well as his own. With Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams (Apple TV+).

SATURDAY, Jan. 28
Frozen Planet II
Brrrrrrrrr! Venture into some of the Earth’s coldest, most remote places in this sequel series to the original, more than a decade ago, to observe (and learn from) the amazing species that live and thrive there. Narrated, of course, by David Attenborough, the “voice” of BBC nature docs…who else? (8 p.m., BBC America and AMC+).

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The sweet, soulful, socially conscious sound of one of America’s most celebrated singer-songwriters travels through time in Marvin Gaye’s Greatest Hits Live in 1976 (Mercury). The remastered release, available on vinyl and CD and originally recorded in Amsterdam, features more than 20 tracks, including performance of “What’s Going On,” “Save the Children,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “It Takes Two.”

The iconic poet of a generation is now 81, but his music is still going strong in Bob Dylan’s Fragments (Sony). The five-disc collection from the acclaimed Dylan Bootleg Series features songs-in-progress and other tracks that were eventually recorded for his mid-career masterpiece, Time Out of Mind, including “Make You Feel My Love.”  

SUNDAY, Jan. 29
Fire Country
Is it getting hot in here? Or is it just this new drama series, starring Seal Team’s Max Thierot as a hunky young ex-con seeking redemption (and early release) by joining a prison firefighting program in Northern California? (10 p.m., CBS).

MONDAY, Jan. 30
Watchful Eye
Ryan Seacrest is one of the producers of this new series about a young woman (Mariel Molino) who takes a job as a nanny for an affluent family, soon discovering that everyone in the building has dark secrets and ulterior motives (9 p.m., Freeform)

Bake It Till You Make It
Contestants enter their cakes in one of the biggest events on the competitive-cooking calendar, Atlanta’s Ultimate Sugar Show (9 p.m., Food Network).

TUESDAY, Jan. 31
Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World
Everything stars somewhere, and this insightful four-part documentary series recounts the origins of the bold and revolutionary musical format that became a cultural phenomenon, featuring interviews with rap icons Chuck D, Ice-T, Run DMC, will.i.am, Cypress Hill and many more (check listings, PBS).

Pamela: A Love Story
New documentary humanizes Pamela Anderson, above, who became one entertainment world’s most famous blonde bombshells—the actress, model and Baywatch star whose marriage to rock drummer Tommy Lee didn’t last…but their stolen sex tape sure did (Netflix).  

BRING IT HOME

They’re young, they’re in love and they eat people. The acclaimed Bones And All (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) is a road movie, a love story and a tale of two young outcasts (Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell) on the move for their next meal, served extremely rare. Who’s hungry?

THURSDAY, Feb. 2
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
Second season of the dramatic/comedy series about the Black experience begins tonight, with Gabrielle Union, Chance the Rapper, Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Anderson, Holly Robinson Peete, Maury Povich and more (Disney +)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The hit movie comes to streaming tonight, starring Angela Bassett, left, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, and emotional flashback scenes with the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman (Disney+).

18 ½
New Watergate-themed real-life dramedy—a companion of sorts to the limited series Gaslit—follows a young woman (Willa Fitzgerald) in the Nixon White House who tries to leak the president’s notoriously incriminating tape to a reporter. With Bruce Campbell as Nixon, plus Richard Kind, Jon Cryer and John Magaro (5:11 p.m., Starz).

The Reading
New thriller produced by Lee Daniels stars Mo’Nique Hicks as a recent widow who stirs up an evil spirit with her book about her family’s loss (BET+).

The Entertainment Forecast

Dec. 30 – Jan. 5

Top picks for TV, books, music & more!

All Times Eastern.

Will Young Sheldon drop out of college????? Watch Thursday night, Jan. 5, to find out!

FRIDAY, Dec. 30


Wildcat
If you fell under the spell of The Tiger King, you’ll purr over this documentary, about a couple of animal conservationists caring for an orphaned African wildcat (Amazon Prime).

Island
Korean fantasy series, set on the tropical Jeju Island, taps into legends and folklore as it follows a group of young characters fighting an evil force that threatens to destroy the world (Prime Video). 

SATURDAY, Dec. 31
New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash
Yep, it’s big, all right. Ring out the old and usher in the new, Nashville-style, with performances all over Music City by Brooks and Dunn, Sheryl Crow, Elle King, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Kelsi Ballerini and more (10:30 p.m., CBS).

United in Song: Ringing in the New Year Together
With so many things dividing us, how about something to bring us all together? This holiday special celebrates America’s rich diversity in music, from folk, rock, opera and country to hip hop, showtunes, bluegrass and beyond (8 p.m., PBS).

Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest
It’s nearly a 20-year tradition as hosts Ryan Seacrest, Billy Porter, Liza Koshy and singing superstar Ciara anchor down in New York City’s Times Square—and beyond, in a pre-taped Disneyland segment—for this festive, fun celebration of stars, music, and fireworks! (8 p.m., ABC)

Lizzo Live in Concert
The world’s most rockin’, rappin’ flautist gives a full concert with her band, The Lizzbians, and special guests from the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (HBO Max).

A Toast to Twilight
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve with a marathon of Twilight Zone episodes, and your cup will runneth over for this one, featuring 84 back-to-back episodes of creator Rod Serling’s sci-fi TV masterpieces and sparkling with a galaxy of guest stars from the 1950s and ‘60s, including Carol Burnett, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Mongomery and (of course!) William Shatner (12 p.m., MeTV).  https://vimeo.com/777154241/3fc542d9e9

SUNDAY, Jan. 1
Paul T. Goldman
Watch the dramatized true story about a man who went “from wimp to warrior” after a shocking betrayal…and brought down an alleged international crime ring (Peacock).

Kaleidoscope
Like the object in its title, little episodic “fragments” come together bit by bit to ultimately reveal the details of a tense, heist-drama crime caper spanning 25 years. The non-linear story is inspired by real events that transpired in Manhattan, when $70 billion in bonds went missing during the chaos of Hurricane Sandy (Netflix).

Fantasy Island
Beat the winter blahs with the season two return, spun off from the iconic 1970s series, about a luxury tropical-isle resort where every dream can come true—but they rarely turn out as expected (8 p.m., Fox).

America’s Got Talent All-Stars
Cue the magicians, the singers, the jugglers, the dancers, the aerialists. Winners, finalists, fan faves and viral sensations from around the world—and AGT’s global franchises—return for this new series to compete for the hit TV competition’s ultimate All-Star title (8 p.m., Jan. 2)

TUESDAY, Jan. 3
FBI
The team jumps into action when an intelligence officer (Taylor Anthony) is taken hostage (8 p.m., CBS).

Sometimes When We Touch
Three-part soft-rock documentary explores the retro roots of the format that spawned such 1970s acts as Air Supply, Ambrosia, Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins and many others in the 1970s—and ultimately crashed and burned in the ‘80s, only to stage an unlikely comeback later as “yacht rock” (Paramount+).

American Experience: The Lie Detector
You’ve seen it in the movies and on TV, but how much do you know about the device that knows if you’re telling the truth—or lying? This documentary takes you in the history, and the science, of the device that revolutionized police work…and more (9 p.m., PBS).  

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4
Tough as Nails
In tonight’s two-hour premiere, host Phil Keoghan welcomes another hard-working crew to compete—in challenges designed to represent real-world work—for the $200,000 grand prize and prove that they’re, well, as tough as nails (9 p.m., CBS).

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street
Meet the man behind the infamous $64 billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, the largest in history, that swingled countless investors who put their misplaced trust in the revered financial guru (Netflix). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k31dKoFsniU

Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test
This “social experiment” competition premieres tonight with a two-hour kickoff in which a group of famous and semi-famous celebs (including Jamie Lynn Spears, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Anthony Scaramucci) trade spotlight glam for gutsy gung-ho grit in a series of challenges from the Special Forces playbook (8 p.m., Fox).

THURSDAY, Jan. 5

Ginny & Georgia
Season two of the comedy-drama series features Brianne Howrey and Antonia Gentry (right) returning to their roles as a New England daughter and her mom, now dealing with a deadly secret (Netflix).

Young Sheldon
Sheldon (Iain Armitage) considers dropping out of college to focus on building his own computer database (9 p.m., CBS).

Kold x Windy
Not a weather forecast, as the title suggests, but rather an eight-episode scripted drama series about the street culture of Chicago’s south side, following a rising hip hop star (Sh’Kia Augustin) and her rapper friend (Nijah Brenea) (10 p.m., WeTV).

Guillermo de Toro’s Pinocchio

Deliciously dark new take on the classic folktale takes you far beyond Disney

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Voices by Gregory Mann, Ewen McGregor, Christoph Waltz & Finn Wolfhard
Directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson
Rated PG

See it: On Netflix Friday, Dec. 9

Guillermo del Toro has always had a soft spot for monsters and misfits.

The Oscar-winning director of The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak and Nightmare Alley puts a deliciously dark, fantastically original spin on the enchanted tale of the wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy.

This isn’t the Pinocchio you grew up with, particularly if your baseline is the beloved Disney version from 1940, or even Disney’s ambitious hybrid (computer animation plus live action) from earlier this year, featuring Tom Hanks as Pinocchio’s creator,  Geppetto. With a vision rooted in the source material, the 1883 fantasia novel by Italian author Carlo Collodi, del Toro gives the fable a boldly creative, explosively imaginative retooling of magical enchantment, grotesque beauty, mythological mysticism, sweeping human emotion and existential wonder.

This Pinocchio has an eye-popping wow factor that’s practically off the charts. Visually resplendent and bursting with detail, its magnificent stop-motion animation (courtesy of Mark Gustafson, whose other work includes Fantastic Mr. Fox) elevates the craft far above cartoon-y kids’ stuff and into the rarified upper echelons of high art.  Resetting the story in 1930s Italy (as opposed to the vague, 19th century “once upon a time” of earlier versions), it uses the rise of brutal far-right fascism in Italy—dictator Benito Mussolini even makes an appearance—for a real-world, pre-World War II militaristic backdrop that becomes an integral part of its tale…and a callout to today’s unsettled modern world.

Ewan McGregor provides the voice of the movie’s narrator, Sebastian Cricket.

There are all-new songs (with a resplendent original soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer Alexander Desplat) and other enhancements to the familiar tale, including a recurring afterlife setting with grousing, poker-playing black rabbits, and a poignant backstory to the pine tree that provides the wood for Pinocchio. (And pinecones become a potent symbol of life, rebirth and regeneration.) Jiminy Cricket is now Sebastian Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor), a dapper bon vivant who lives in a knothole in Pinocchio’s chest—quite literally, inside his heart.  The glowing, translucent, blue-hued wood sprite (voiced by Tilda Swinton), peering into Pinocchio with hundreds of inscrutable eyes, is an otherworldly, awe-inspiring winged serpent that bestows Geppetto’s creation with life—and grants Sebastian Cricket a single, significant wish.

As for the puppet boy (evocatively voiced by young Gregory Mann), he’s a gangly, twiggy, wobbly oddity of a creature with more than a passing connection to another “unnatural” being, Frankenstein’s monster. And he has a fascination with yet another wooden creation, the life-size Jesus on the crucifix Geppetto makes for the village church. Pinocchio is puzzled why villagers adulate the somber figure on the cross, heaping high praises to him in song, but they hurl cries of “monster” and “demon” at him. “Why do they like him, and not me?” PInocchio asks Geppetto.

And like a crucified Christ, Pinocchio also rises again, in yet another twist to the story. The puppet boy discovers that since he’s not really “alive,” in a human sense—he’s made of wood, after all—so he can’t really die. At least, not for long: He keeps bounding back from various mishaps that turn him into heaps of splintered wood scraps. But there’s a difference, he finds out, between existence and truly experiencing life.

Like many “boys,” Pinocchio is full of energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and spunk. As a newcomer to the world of the living, he has a lot to learn—that hot chocolate is yummy, fire can burn, and other creatures—other creations—have feelings. He learns empathy. He stands up to the cruel carnival master (Christoph Walz) abusing his monkey assistant (Cate Blanchett), and he offers to work at the carnival’s puppet show, in a kind of indentured servitude, to keep his father out of a crippling debt. His infectiously sunny personality disarms a young village boy who starts out as his tormentor, turning him eventually into a friend and ally.

The A-list vocal cast also includes David Bradley as Geppetto, the lonely woodcarver who longs for Pinocchio to fill the aching hole created by the untimely death of his young son. Finn Wolfhard is Candlewick, the son of the town’s sternly militaristic podesta (Ron Pearlman), who sees the “stringless puppet” as an ultimate soldier who can’t be killed, conscripting him as fodder for the nation’s war machine. (Instead of a wild-boy romp Pleasure Island, there’s a major scene in a “youth camp” where Pinocchio and Candlewick are forced to compete in a high-stakes war-game exercise.) John Turturro is the village padre, a priest under the thumb of the oppressive regime.

This finely refashioned fairytale is a story of outsiders and nonconformists, imperfect boys and imperfect fathers, the heartbreaking burden of loss, about learning to love, and accepting people (and puppets) for who they are, not who, or what, we want them to become. It’s a reminder that no one lives forever but life goes on, that some rules—like telling the truth—aren’t absolute, and everyone “must try to do their best—and that’s all anybody can do.”

Even after nearly 150 years, this little puppet still has a few things he can teach us. And Guillermo del Toro has created one of his best, a film that spins magisterial new magic into an age-old folktale.

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The Entertainment Forecast

Dec. 2 – 8

Top picks for TV, books, music, home entertainment & more

A steamy new take on a romance classic, all hail country music’s king and queen, & celebs play bar games

FRIDAY, Dec. 2
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Steamy new adaptation of the classic D.H. Lawrence novel stars Emma Corwin (above) as the wealthy Englishwoman who finds that love—and marriage—ain’t what it was cracked up to be (Netflix).

Firefly Lane
Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke return to their roles for season two of the drama about lifelong best friends facing the ultimate test of their bond and wanting to nurture the other relationships in their lives (Netflix).

Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays
The superstar a cappella group goes on a magical musical whirlwind trip around globe in this streaming special, gathering holiday cheer and inspiration (Disney+).

SATURDAY, Dec. 3
The Great Holiday Bake War
Can a yummy recipe have all the ingredients for romance? Find out in this original network movie starring LeToya Luckett and Finesse Mitchell as contestants who meet on a holiday baking competition (9 p.m., Own).

SUNDAY, Dec. 4
Fit for Christmas
Amanda Kloots (of TV’s The Talk) executive-produced and stars in this new holiday flick as a Montana fitness instructor who falls for a mysterious businessman, complicating both of their plans (8:30 p.m., CBS).

George & Tammy
Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain star in this six-episode saga about the turbulent, often torrid relationship of superstar country music couple George Jones and Tammy Wynette (9 p.m., Showtime).


Home Town
Renovation experts Erin and Ben Napier (left) return for a new season of bringing new life to outdated homes in their own small town of Laurel, Miss. (8 p.m., HGTV).

MONDAY, Dec. 5
Barmageddon
Country star Blake Sheldon and buddy Carson Daily are the rowdy ringleaders of this wild new game show, hosted by WWE wrestling superstar Nikki Bella, pitting their celebrity friends against each other in “bar games” at Sheldon’s Old Red nightspot in Nashville. With appearances by

His Dark Materials
Season three of the series, based on the final novel in author Philip Pullman’s award-winning epic fantasy series, finds the prophesized child (Dafne Keen) venturing to a dark place as her father’s war against the Authority edges closer. With Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy (9 p.m., HBO).

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
It wouldn’t feel like the holidays without a viewing of this classic 1966 TV special, featuring the voice of Boris Karloff as the green-goblin Christmas thief transformed by the sweetness of the season (7:30 p.m., TNT).

Tiny Toony’s Christmas Carol
Get in the ha-ha holiday spirit with this Dickens-themed roundup of classic ‘toons from Popeye, Bugs Bunny, Porky the Pig and others, plus vintage holiday shorts rarely seen on broadcast TV (8 p.m., MeTV).

TUESDAY, Dec. 6
Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22
Let’s rock! Documentary and full concert chronicles the Oasis frontman’s return to the stage at England’s iconic music venue (Paramount+).

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7
The Goldbergs
In this holiday episode, Erica buys a festive baby toy and Beverly goes full Grinch in an attempt to steal Christmas (8:30 p.m., ABC).

The Great Holiday Baking Special
Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are the judges, and Ellie Kemper and Zach Cherry host this celebrity-filled holiday special, in which you’re invited “into the tent” for a star-studded competition of whisking, baking and faking (Roku Channel).

THURSDAY, Dec. 8
CMA Country Christmas
Carly Pierce hosts this 13th annual holiday TV musical special, with performances by Steven Curtis Chapman, Scotty McCreery, Marin Morris, Old Dominion, The War and Treaty, and more, all filmed on colorful Christmas-themed sets in Nashville, Tenn. (9 p.m., CBS).

The Real Housewives of Miami
New season six of the feisty franchise drama turns up new heat in the Sunshine State with its returning high-drama housewives and some new acquaintances (Peacock).

Doom Patrol
Brendon Fraser, Matt Bomer, April Bowlby and Michelle Gomez star in season four of the action-packed series based on characters in DC Comics, about a group of people who all suffered horrible accidents that left them with superhuman abilities (HBO and HBO Max).

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Relive the smooth, spiritually-inclined grooves of the 1972 Cat Stevens’ No. 1 platinum album Catch Bull at Four—the best-selling album of his entire career—with this newly remastered vinyl 50th anniversary re-release (AME/Ume). 

The seminal sounds of the Beach Boys can be rediscovered in the new box set Sail On Sailor-1972 (Capitol/Ume). The multi-disc collection, available as both CDs and LPs, includes rarities, remastered versions of original albums from the group’s post-pop period, and a live Carnegie Hall concert.

Sweet indeed! The cast recording of the Broadway smash A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical (UMe) is a tune-filled journey through the iconic singer-songwriter’s catalog of hits, including “Sweet Caroline,” “I’m a Believer,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Solitary Man.”

Legendary former Beatle Paul McCartney sounds as great as ever on The 7” Singles Box, a new-release collection of 80 career-spanning single releases, newly remastered on CD, including “My Love,” “Live and Let Die,” “Band on the Run,” “Silly Love Songs,” plus rare mono recordings of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” and “Too Many People.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Long before the #MeToo movement, Joyce Chopra was breaking down barriers in Hollywood. Find about how in Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond (City Lights). As this new bio details, among her many other achievements, Chopra produced the first TV-movie adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Blonde—beating the controversial Netflix adaptation (starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe) to the screen by 20 years.

Learn about the rockin’ roots of the music that changed the world in The Birth of Rock & Roll: The Illustrated Story of Sun Records (Wheldon Owen) by noted music journalists Peter Guralnick and Colin Escott. This lavishly illustrated coffee-table showcase details the start of a musical revolution in Memphis, Tenn., where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, B.B. King and others churned out an explosive mix of hillbilly boogie, Beale Street blues, Southern soul and juke-joint jump at visionary producer Sam Philliips’ now-legendary studio.

The coolest cat in all of pop culture is the Bat. Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight, by Andrew Farago and Gina McIntyre (Insight Editions), spreads its wings with a lavishly illustrated tour of Batman across the spectrum of entertainment, from comic books and TV to animation and live action, video games and ultimately a franchise of blockbuster movies.

WATCH IT NOW

One of TV’s hottest series is now available on Blu-ray. The sixth and final season of Better Call Saul (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) follows star Bob Odenkirk as he dramatizes the last leg of his character’s transformational journey from a former con artist into criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 25 – Dec. 1

Top picks for TV, streaming, home entertainment & more!

Omari Hardwick & Marsai Martin star in ‘Fantasy Football.’

FRIDAY, Nov. 25
Fantasy Football
Family sports comedy film, set in a fictional world around the Atlanta Falcons, stars Marsai Martin as a young woman who can magically control the moves of her father (Omari Hardwick) on the gridiron. With Kelly Rowland (Paramount+)

Stepping into the Holidays
Mario Lopez stars as a former Broadway idol who returns to his hometown for Christmas after being fired as the host of a TV dance competition. Can he help the owner of the local dance studio (Jana Kramer) revive the burg’s annual holiday show? What do you think? (8 p.m., Lifetime).

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista reprise their movie roles in this merry Christmas adventure about the Guardians’ mission to make this Christmas an unforgettable holiday (Pratt) (Disney+).

SATURDAY, Nov. 26
Robbie the Reindeer
Animated special about a reindeer in training for the “reindeer games” to determine the coveted spots on Santa’s sleigh team (8 p.m., CBS).

Soul Train Awards
All aboard! This present-day awards event preserves the cultural legacy of the landmark 1970s series with appearances from some of the brightest stars in Black entertainment (8 p.m., BET, MTV2, VH1). 

SUNDAY, Nov. 27
Christmas Cooking Challenge
In tonight’s episode, hosts Ree Drummond and Eddie Jackson oversee talented cookie makers all trying their best to end up on Santa’s good list and go home with a $10,000 prize (8 p.m., Food Network).

A Christmas…Present
After multiple projects for the Hallmark network, Full (and Fuller) House star Candace Cameron Bure branches out as producer and star of this new holiday movie, on a new network, about a harried real estate agent who learns to value the reason for the season (Great American Family).

MONDAY, Nov. 28
The Great Christmas Light Fight
The search is on for season 10 and more homes with extravagant holiday lighting and over-the-top decorations (10 p.m., ABC).

Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin
New installment of the PP franchise stars Adam Levin reprising his movie role as Bumper Allen, now venturing to Germany when one of his songs becomes a big hit there. With Sarah Hyland (Peacock).

Kids Baking Championship: All Star Holiday Homecoming
Hosts Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli welcome back four previous winners to show off their holiday-cheer kitchen skills (9 p.m., Food Network and Discovery+).

TUESDAY, Nov. 29
Reindeer in Here
New animated holiday original—following tonight’s 1964 classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—is about a young reindeer and his friends who band together to save Christmas. Of course! (9 p.m., CBS).

Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies
True-crime lovers will love this: For the first time, Casey Anthony sits down to answer questions in this three-part limited-series event, sharing her side of the story about her culture-defining trial for killing her own child—and her subsequent acquittal—11 years ago (Peacock).

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30
Willow
Live-action fantasy adventure series—based on the 1988 movie—features an international cast on an epic adventure set in a magical world with brownies, sorcerers, trolls and other mythical creatures—and a young girl destined to unite the realms, defeat an evil queen and bring light to the doom-y darkness (Disney+)

Irreverent
A criminal mediator from Chicago is forced to flee for his life and hide out in a small Australian coastal community while posing as the community’s new reverend. Starring Colin Donnell, PJ Byrne and Ed Oxenbould (Peacock).

THURSDAY, Dec. 1
Hush
New series about a sex and relationship “fixer” (Joyful Drake) who becomes the gatekeeper and problem solver for rich and famous clients who don’t want their between-the-sheets secrets airing out in public (ALLBLK).

Inside the Black Box
New season of the interview series spotlighting artists of color, from producers, directors and writers to musicians, as they reflect on how their complexions have impacted their journeys to success (Crackle).

Zion Morino and Savannah Lee Smith bring the glitter to ‘Gossip Girl.’

Gossip Girl
It’s back to school time tonight for season two of the rebooted series based on the novels of bestselling author Cicily von Giegzesar, about the juicy goings-on at an exclusive Manhattan academy (HBO Max).

Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas
The country queen stars in this new holiday special—as herself, putting together a Christmas TV special about the Tennessee “mountain magic” at her theme park, Dollywood. With guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus and more (8 p.m., NBC).

READ ALL ABOUT IT
Read all about it in Totally Wired (Thames and Hudson)—author Paul Gorman’s epic account of how once-thriving “music journalism” became a force through magazines like Rolling Stone, Creem, Crawdaddy, Melody Maker and a plethora of smaller, niche ‘zines), giving rise to a pop-cultural explosion of writers, photographers and print outlets. 

How powerful is the influence of entertainment? Pretty potent, according to Entertainment Nation (Smithsonian), an engrossing dive into the wide-ranging effects of movies, TV, music and spectator sports. The handsome volume includes 225 photos of artifacts from the Smithsonian’s pop culture collection, including Frank Sinatra‘s bowtie, Cyndi Lauper‘s dress and a costume from The Handmaid’s Tale.

BRING IT HOME
Prepare to enter a suburban dystopia in Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), a psychological thriller about a young housewife (Florence Pugh) who comes to realize something is seriously wrong with the idealized life she’s made with her husband (Harry Styles). Maybe the creepy CEO of her hubs’ company (Chris Pine) has something to do with it….

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Hey, hey, it’s the Monkees! The new Headquarters: Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino) features four CDs and a 7” vinyl. It’s a treasure trove of previously unreleased tracks, early demos, alternative takes and remixes, which provide a soundtrack for the made-for-TV ensemble’s struggle for creative control of their music with their music supervisor, Don Kirschner—and a snapshot of the group’s enthusiastic emergence as a “real band.”

The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 11 – Nov. 17

Top picks for TV, home entertainment releases & more!

James Cordon is a ‘Mammal,’ Sly Stallone’s a mobster & Martha’s in the kitchen

James Corden stars in Mammals

FRIDAY, Nov. 11
Mammals
James Cordon, Sally Hawkins, Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Melia Kreiling star in this six-episode relationship comedy with a whodunnit twist (Prime Video).

Circuit Breakers
Futuristic family-friendly anthology series tackles kid-relatable issues through a sci-fi lens, which reveals that things are not always as they seem, often leading the characters into chaos (Apple TV+).

Play-Doh Squished
Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland hosts this new competition based the hit holiday special of last year, in which celebrity judges oversee inventive creations made with the iconic kids’ crafting compound (Amazon Freevee).

SEEING STARS
Wanna see some real-life TV actors up close? Then head to the annual Days of Our Lives fan event at Xbox Plaza in Los Angeles, where on Nov. 12 dozens of stars from the long-running daytime soap will be on hand to meet their admirers.

SATURDAY, Nov. 12
Reindeer Games Homecoming
The sparks fly at an annual Vermont fundraising event when a bookish biology teacher (Sarah Drew) meets a fading Hollywood star (Justin Bruening) who happens to be her old crush! (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Sylvester Stallone plays a Midwest mobster in Tulsa King.

SUNDAY, Nov. 13
Tulsa King
Sylvester Stallone—yes, of Rocky and Rambo fame—comes to the “smaller screen” as a New York mobster sent to run Midwest operations in this new streaming series premiering tonight following an all-new episode of Yellowstone (Paramount+).


Real Life Nightmare
Former Cold Case investigator Paul Holes joins season four of this series about longstanding unsolved mysteries, including airplane disappearances, murders and kidnappings (9 p.m., HLN).


Celebrity Wheel of Fortune
Comedians Paul Scheer and Luenell join actress Mary Lynn Rajskub taking spins for charity with host Pat Sajak (9 p.m., ABC).


MTV EVAs
Get ready to rock, on a big scale. Actress Rita Ora and actor-director Taika Waititi host this global music awards event live from Dusseldoft, Germany (MTV).

Monday, Nov. 14
Martha Cooks
Join Martha Stewart in this new series from her farmhouse kitchen in Bedford, N.Y., as she shares and prepares recipes (and reveals her three favorite cookies of all time). (Roku Channel).

TUESDAY, Nov. 15
Once Upon a Time in Londongrad
Craving a deep-dish dive into the dark international cloak-and-dagger world? This documentary series explores a series of mysterious deaths in the U.K., with alleged connections to Russia, stretching across two decades (Peacock).

Happy Birthday, Martin Scorsese
What does the famed director (Raging Bull, Casino, Goodfellas), one of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers, want for his 80th, on Nov. 17? How about for you to see four of his favorite films, and hear how they influenced him? You got it, Marty! (begins 8 p.m., TCM).

Beat Bobby Flay: Holiday Throwdown
Get in the food mood for the most wonderful time of the year with this new series in which the celebrity chef competes against other Food Network personalities (9 p.m., Food Network).

Florence Pugh (with Kila Cassidy) stars in The Wonder.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16
The Wonder
Florence Pugh stars in this psychological thriller, set in 1800s Ireland, about a nurse called in to observe a little girl who may be the living manifestation of miracle…or perhaps something more ominous (Netflix).

Master of Light
Compelling documentary about a classical painter who learned his craft while incarcerated in federal prison on narcotics charges, now hoping to break into the ranks of non-white artists and heal wounds from his past (8:30 p.m., HBO).

THURSDAY, Nov. 17
Fleishman is in Trouble
Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes star in this miniseries, based on a 2019 novel, about the downfall of a couple’s marriage, as narrated by his college friend (Lizzy Caplan) (Hulu).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jyBu4xGeH4

NEW ON DVD

The trippy Three Thousand Years of Longing (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) stars Idris Elba as a genie-like Djinn who grants three wishes to a skeptical academic (Tilda Swinton) in exchange for his freedom. But one of her wishes surprises them both!


The legendary, shape-shifting glam rocker David Bowie is the subject of Moonage Daydream (Neon Home Entertainment), a cinematic documentary that explores his life, career and spiritual evolution—and features rare performances of “The Jean Jeanie,” “Heroes,” “Changes,” “Modern Love,” “Let’s Dance” and more.

Horror fans will freak (in a good way!) for Pearl (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), the bloody backstory to a killer character who made her debut in the acclaimed slasher film X. Starring Mia Goth.

Hallelujah! The praise-worthy 10-CD collection Amazing Grace: Country Stars Sing Songs of Faith and Hope (Time Life) includes hits and deep tracks from Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton and many, many more…plus a 36-page booklet with photos and liner notes, two bonus DVDs of Opry Gospel Classics, interviews with performers and other bonus content.

Back in Black

‘The Black Panther’ find its superhero footing after Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Starring Letita Wright, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o & Angela Bassett
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Rated PG-13

Angela Bassett reprises her role as Queen Mother Ramonda.

See it: In theaters Friday, Nov. 11

The specter of Chadwick Boseman looms large over this highly anticipated superhero sequel to the 2018 blockbuster.

Boseman, who starred in Black Panther as the first Black comic-book character to get a Marvel movie, died in 2020 of colon cancer. But his legacy endures, in more ways than one.

Wakanda Forever opens with the funeral of his character, the beloved King T’Challa, who became the crusading, wrong-righting Black Panther, the champion of his people, donning a sleek black bodysuit super-powered by a rare metal called vibranium.

T’Challa’s death is an emotional, gut-punch wallop to his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his scientist sister, Princess Shuri (Letita Wright). It also creates a power vacuum in the isolated kingdom, which has become a global superpower. The rest of the world wants what it’s got—the unique metal that’s made Wakanda the most technologically advanced place on the planet. Just think what other countries—and their military programs—could do with the wide-ranging wonders of vibranium.

And without the Black Panther to protect it, how can Wakanda defend itself?

That’s a question the movie takes nearly three hours to answer, as it constantly reminds us that Boseman’s T’Challa isn’t around anymore. The arrival of a strange visitor (Tenoch Huerta), a “merman” mutant who can zip through the air like a bug and live underwater like a fish, poses a new, existential threat: What it vibranium exists elsewhere, other powers use it for less-than-noble purposes, and Wakanda gets blamed for it?

Can the women of Wakanda rise to the challenge? Oh, yeah.

Director Ryan Coogler, who also wrote the story, returns to his role after the 2018 film, which was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture (losing, if you’re keeping score, to Green Book). Coogler seems to understand that the absence of Boseman, the franchise star, requires something else to fill the void, something big and substantial. And he pours it on.

Wakanda Forever is a spectacle, for sure, a sprawling, visually sumptuous, epic-sized moviescape itself superpowered with high-tech FX and eye-popping gee-whizzery. It’s big and bulky and sometimes beautiful, almost enough for two full movies packed into one. It has a major theme of Black female empowerment, of course, but also builds on the importance of global allies, the evils of colonization and the interface between ancient tradition, primal ritual and modern invention. Wakanda’s fierce female warriors still throw spears, but they also fly around in an arsenal of battlecraft, and inside armored suits.

The movie melds African culture, Pacific lore and Black experience into a tapestry of wide-ranging action and adventure.

It’s a good time to be “young, gifted and Black,” says Riri, a young college-student genius (Dominique Thorne) who becomes a new central character.     

You’ll plunge underneath the ocean to see the amazing sights of a vast aqua kingdom (it reminded me a bit of the fabulous wonder world touted in comic books advertising Sea Monkeys). There’s a warrior king with wings on his feet, and an aqua army riding around on whales—and wait until you see them swarm up the sides of a battleship and over it like ants on an anthill. The costumes are over-the-top fantabulous. A beloved character dies. And I won’t spoil it, but there’s at least one other golly-whopper of a surprise, too.

Key players from the original cast return: Martin Freeman as Wakanda’s CIA ally; Winston Duke as the mountainous warrior leader M’Baku; Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, T’Challa’s former lover, now running a Wakanda “outreach” program in Haiti.

But the central character of this tale remains the one played by Boseman, who may not be around anymore, but his influence casts a long, deep shadow. The movie has the muscle and heft of a comic-book blockbuster, but it also reflects profoundly on the human resonance of ancestry, remembering and moving on.

Can the Black Panther move on without Boseman, and without T’Challa? You’ll have to watch—all two hours and 45 minutes—to find out. But “forever” is in the title for a reason (and it’s not just how long the movie feels). And Wakanda Forever suggests that the kingdom, and the franchise, are in good hands.

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The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 4 – Nov. 10

Top picks for TV, new books & just-released music & more!

Harry Styles is cop, George Lopez returns & Say Hey, It’s Willie Mays!

Harry Styles and Emma Corman star in a tale of forbidden love.

FRIDAY, Nov. 4
My Policeman
Singer-actor Harry Styles stars as a cop who undertakes an emotional journey in this story of forbidden love and changing social norms set in 1950s Britain. With Emma Corrin and David Dawson (Prime Video).

Lopez Vs. Lopez
George Lopez returns to TV in this new working-class inter-generational comedy costarring his daughter, Mayan Lopez (NBC).

SATURDAY, Nov. 5
Merry Swissmas
Jodi Sweetin (from TV’s Fuller House and its sequel) stars in this romance about romance at an inn in Switzerland, which kicks off the Lifetime’s network of Christmas-themed flicks (8 p.m., Lifetime).

SUNDAY, Nov. 6
Dangerous Liasons
New “prelude” to the 18th century literary classic focuses on the origins of the iconic characters, the Marquise de Merteuil (Nicholas Denton) and the Vicomte de Valmont (Alice Englert) meeting as passionate lovers in Paris on the eve of the French Revolution (Starz streaming service).

MONDAY, Nov. 7
One Delicious Christmas
Real-life celebrity chef Bobby Flay stars in this streaming holiday movie about a stressed Vermont restaurant and inn owner (Vanessa Marano) preparing for a big Christmas Eve dinner (Discover+).

TUESDAY, Nov. 8
Hey, Willie Mays!
Sports doc examines the career and the legacy of the Baseball Hall of Famer, whose achievements on the diamond during the era of Civil Rights helped break through the game’s longstanding color barriers (9 p.m., HBO).

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9
CMA Awards
Country hitmaker Luke Bryan—a two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year—and football superstar Peyton Manning host this 59th annual awarding of the year’s top tunes, performers and collaborations (8 p.m., ABC).

THURSDAY, Nov. 10
The English
Emily Blunt stars in this new drama series as an aristocratic British woman on the American frontier, whose life intertwines with a Pawnee ex-U.S. Calvary scout (Chaske Spencer) on a violent landscape built of dreams, destiny and blood (Prime Video).

NOW HEAR THIS

Actor Luke Evans has appeared in a slate of films, including Clash of the Titans, Dracula Unchained, The Hobbit and Beauty and the Beast. But did you know he was a singer? Check out his impressive debut album, A Song for You, with a slate of classics, easy listening tunes and Christmas chestnuts that features a duet with Nicole Kidman, his costar when they costarred in the hit Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Attention, Royals fans. Put together a meal fit for a king with Christmas at the Palace (Wheldon Owen), a crown-worthy cookbook for 50 festive recipes, gorgeously posed in charming Christmas settings. Author Carolyn Robb certainly knows her stuff: She spent over a decade in Kensington Palace as a royal chef, where the dining room was peopled by Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Sherlock’s Little Sis

Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role in new Victorian Era mystery romp

Milly Bobby Brown & Helena Bonham Carter

Enola Holmes 2
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Lewis Partridge & David Thewlis
Directed by Harry Bradbeer
Rated PG-13

See it: Nov. 4, 2022, only on Netflix

“Some of what follows is true,” reads the placard at the opening of this sassy sequel about Sherlock Holmes’ little sister. “The important parts, anyway.”

The true, important parts are something that took place in England at the close of the 19th century…but more about that later.

Millie Bobby Brown continues to move beyond Stranger Things to reprise her role as the younger sibling of the iconic fictional British sleuth. After the events of the first Enola Holmes flick (2020), the young-adult clue-sniffer has now branched out to open her own detective agency.

But she’s detecting that it’s not easy being a PI when your big brother is the world’s most famous gumshoe. Enola gets her big break, however, when she’s asked to investigate a missing-person case, which turns into a wild, puzzle-solving romp throughout the social strata of 1880s Victorian England.

And it turns Enola into a murder suspect on the lam from the law.

Director Harry Bradbeer also returns behind the camera from the first Enola Holmes, picking things up where they left off. He’s a native Brit himself, with a witty, gritty style that suits this lively, frisky, fem-centric frolic. (He’s also directed episodes of TV’s Fleabag and Killing Eve).

On the surface, the movie is about Enola’s hunt to find out what happened to a young factory worker who has seemingly vanished. But it’s also got some serious stuff on its mind—women’s rights, the unity of sisterhood, really toxic workplaces, progressive politics and setting young Enola up as a proto-feminist firebrand. Gender fluidity even gets a nod.

Bucking the trends of her times, Enola has brains as well as some impressive bust-a-move ju-jitsu…much of which she learned from her mother (Helena Bonham Carter), a scrappy activist-crusader.

Henry Cavill plays Sherlock Holmes.

Henry Cavill (who’s played Superman as well as starring in The Tudors, The Witcher and Midsomer Murders) returns to the role of Sherlock, who ultimately joins Enola as the unraveling thread she’s following leads her into a web of business corruption, conspiracy and even homicide.

There’ve been dozens of actors who’ve played Sherlock, a diverse group of nearly 60 that includes Christopher Lee, Will Ferrell, Michael Caine and Benedict Cumberbatch. Take Robert Downey Jr. out of the running, maybe, and none of them comes close to looking as hunky in a cloak and hat as Cavill. His dapper, brooding, brainiac detective would be the perennial winner of Old London’s Sexiest Bachelor award.

But this movie, after all, is about Enola, and girls will love the way she rocks, rolls, connects the clues and crushes the case about something causing young British women to die. (And that’s the “important” part of the movie, the thing that really matters…even if it’s just an historical footnote.)    

And along the way, she crashes a high-falootin’, high-society costume ball, scampers across rooftops, recouples with her crush, the dashing young viscount Tewkesbury (Lewis Partridge), and outwits the conniving London constable (David Thewlis) trying to reign her in. She also runs circles around Scotland Yard’s inspector Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar, also reprising his role), who’s always one hapless step behind Enola and Sherlock.

Run Enola, run!

Lestrade was a recurring character in the Holmes stories of creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1800s. At the end of this spry Sherlock spinoff, you’ll be introduced to yet another character that’s become a nameworthy part of Holmes lore.

As for Enola, her character was created by New Jersey author Nancy Springer, who launched a series of novels about the teenage detective in 2006. Enola may not be as old, figuratively and literally, as her more famous brother, but she has certainly made her mark.

Will we see her again? Likely, and hopefully. The world needs more Enolas, smart young female crusaders everywhere who can also snap open some cans of serious wrong-righting whoop-ass.

Hollywood Nights

Worlds Collide in Quentin Tarantino’s Wild Ride Thru the Summer of ’69

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Brad Pitt
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
R

An aging movie actor and his faithful stuntman find themselves on a collision course with fate in Quentin Tarantino’s sprawling, deliciously detailed ode to Hollywood’s faded glories.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the director’s 10th film, is set in the sweltering summer of 1969—a major moment in time in which the world was churning and turning, if not burning, in several ways. The Beatles were breaking up in England, men were walking on the moon, the war in Vietnam was raging, Woodstock was grooving in upstate New York.

In Hollywood, there’s Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose box-office star once shone bright in action-packed movies, and as the lead of his own Western TV series. But now Rick is relegated to guest roles, often as a villain, on other people’s prime-time hits—like The F.B.I, Mannix and The Green Hornet—and he soaks his faltering acting career in booze.

2488029 - ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton guest-stars as a “heavy” on the 1960s hit TV show “The F.B.I.”

Since Rick lost his license to the bottle, he’s driven around by his longtime stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).

Cliff lives in a dingy trailer behind the Van Nuys Drive-In, with his rust-colored pit bull, Brandy. On Rick’s cul-de-sac at the end of Cielo Drive, in Benedict Canyon, just north of Beverly Hills, he’s jazzed to discover that his new next-door neighbors are Polish director Roman Polanski and his wife, aspiring actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

On one of their jaunts around town, Rick and Cliff see a bunch of young hippie chicks, dumpster diving in shorty-short cut-off jeans and halter tops. Rick is disgusted, but Cliff is intrigued. Later, he’ll give one of them a ride. Turns out she lives in a commune with a guy named Charlie—as in Charlie Manson.

You probably already know, or can guess, where all this is headed—to a fateful intersection with the horrific events of Aug. 8, 1969, when Manson’s followers went on a killing spree and slaughtered Sharon Tate and four others in her home. But Tarantino’s never felt strictly beholden to facts. Remember, this is the director who blew up Hitler in Inglourious Basterds. Don’t hold him to historical record.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with a title that begins like a fairy tale, a fable or a children’s bedtime story, is an ode to a golden, gilded age of Hollywood that Tarantino clearly cherishes—a time and a place that shaped his sensibilities as a filmmaker and a savant of pop culture. Meticulously crafted, masterfully curated and obsessively detailed, it’s like a cinematic sandbox of Tarantino touchstones. Hamlet coexists on the same pop-cultural plane with I Love Lucy, and the soundtrack blares tunes from Deep Purple, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, cheesy commercials and snippets of the era’s movie tunes. There are Nazis, cowboys, jocks, jive talk, G.I.s, and a bloody reckoning.

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Margo Robbie

And what a cast. DiCaprio—making his first film in four years, since The Revenant—and Pitt are both Tarantino veterans. They’re both great here once again, leathery leading men who have no trouble at all hitting a confident stride through the movie’s inventive interplay of reality, fiction, fantasy, revisionist history and buddy comedy. Al Pacino plays a Hollywood producer who tries to convince Rick that his future lies in making spaghetti Westerns in Italy. There’s Damian Lewis as actor Steve McQueen at a party at the Playboy Mansion; Bruce Dern appears in a scene as George Spahn, the elderly man who allowed Manson and his followers to use his ranch.

Watch closely and you’ll also see Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Clifton Collins Jr., Scoot McNairy, Lena Dunham and Rumer Willis.

But the centerpiece, and the heart, of the whole thing is Robbie, the Australian actress who previously appeared with DiCaprio The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). As Sharon Tate, she has barely a dozen lines in the whole film, but she’s one of the first characters to appear, she’s threaded into it throughout, and she’s vitally important to its overall theme. She floats and glides, all sunshine and smiles, the embodiment of the innocence and beauty and paradise “lost” as the peace and love of the 1960s busted up and came crashing down in a tumultuous end.

Not all stories that begin “Once upon a time…” end happily after ever, as we know. Sometimes they end…well, like Quentin Tarantino wishes they had, especially when he’s in charge of the storytelling.

In theaters July 26, 2019