Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.
Special ‘Holiday. Shows, Returning Series, and All About Peacock
This is the time of the year that “holiday” shows begin flooding every “visual” media outlet. Usually, this means Christmas-related shows. However, just because a show calls itself a holiday show, or a “holiday edition”, doesn’t mean they have much to do with Christmas. For example, two game shows airing this week claim they are special “holiday” shows. But they are really the same “old” game.
The NBC series “That’s My Jam” is hosted by “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon. It is based on various games (trivia, etc.) that Fallon gets his celeb guests to play on the “Tonight Show”.
The “regular season” episodes of “Jam” feature two, two-person teams of celebrities who play for their favorite charities. The special holiday show, as NBC calls it, also features two-person teams of celebs who play for a charity. Frankly, I am not sure what is “special” about it.
The “Jam” holiday special show airs on NBC on Monday, Dec. 5, at 10PM. The guests are all former “SNL” cast members (as is Fallon, himself). Fred Armisen and Ana Gasteyer join forces to compete with the team of RACHEL DRATCH, 56, and Melissa Villasenor.
ABC calls “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” a “special holiday episode”. Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who host the “regular people” version of “Wheel”, will also host the celeb version. The three celeb contestants can win up to a million dollars (all winnings go to charity).
The contestants are JACK BLACK, 52, Ms. Sasheer Zamata (another former “SNL” cast member), and Kal Penn (the co-star of the comedic “Harold & Kumar” movies). The show airs on Dec. 6, at 8PM.
I’m sure many people out there in “TV land” think of this episode as the “Wheel” Christmas show. I’m also sure that many people, who think this way, would be upset if they knew that the “Christmas” episode of “Wheel” features a funny Jew (Black), a funny gay Hindu (Penn), and a funny African American Christian who is a strong feminist and a spokesperson for the ACLU (Zamata).
In July 2021, I wrote about the premiere of “Gossip Girl” and “My Unorthodox Life”. They got big enough audiences to get the “go-ahead” for a second season. I imagine fans have been looking forward to a second season. Well, the long wait is almost over.
I won’t re-hash of the plot of “Gossip Girl”. Suffice it to say that this comedy/drama has two Jewish leads: TAVI GEVINSON, 26, as Kate Keller and ADAM CHALER-BERT, 35, as Jordan Glassberg (Premieres Dec. 1, HBO Max.)
“My Unorthodox Life” is a reality series that follows fashion designer JULIA HAART, 51, and her adult children. She is a former member of an ultra-Orthodox community. (Premieres Dec. 2, Netflix).
“The Calling”, an original Peacock series, streamed its entire first season (8 episodes) on Nov 10. The lead character is a quite religious Jewish NYC police detective.
I had a mixed reaction to the series. The Jewish detective is assigned two hard cases during the first season. The first case took up the first four episodes. The last four episodes were about the second case. The early scenes were intriguing, because the lead character is so novel. But “The Calling”, overall, meandered in the first three episodes. However, the case-concluding 4th episode was pretty exciting and surprising. (I won’t give out any spoilers about the second case). Overall, I give “The Calling” a mild thumbs-up.
Peacock is a weird hybrid. There are free shows and movies on the channel. But most content is behind a “pay wall”. For example, you can only see the first episode of an original series without subscribing. Its $5 dollars for a monthly sub that allows you to see everything, but you have to watch ads (and they hit you with a lot). It costs $10 to see everything without ads.
It's worth subscribing for one month to see “The Calling” and some of their movie offerings. The latter includes the charming “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” (2021) a surprise hit in theaters, and a Peacock “exclusive”. (Brit actor JASON ISAACS has a supporting role). Also, Peacock carries the “live stream” of many channels, including three Hallmark channels. On Dec. 18, Hallmark premieres its first “holiday season” Hanukkah movie (“Hanukkah Rye”). It will probably be a so/so flick, but it is a “first” worth catching. I’ll tell you all about “Rye”, and other (cheap) ways to view it, not long before it premieres.
Next week, an unreported, “fun” Jewish connection to the (soccer) World Cup.
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