Can the world handle, and does it need, an irreverent new twist on A Christmas Carol? (It won’t be the last iteration of the Dickens classic this year.) At least Spirited acknowledges the trend with a self-mocking tone that extends to the elaborate Broadway-style musical numbers from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, The Greatest Showman). Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds are the headliners, with Ferrell an earnest Ghost of Christmas Present and Reynolds his “unredeemable” new corporate-monster target, who resists change until the Ghost takes a hard look at himself. (Tracy Morgan provides the voice of the sepulchral Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come.) It’s all in good fun, but a little exhausting at more than two hours.
Mickey: The Story of a Mouse
Helping kick off the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company’s founding in 1923, a new documentary profiles the plucky animated mouse (originally to be named Mortimer) on which the Disney empire was built. The film from director Jeff Malmberg traces Mickey’s evolution from his breakthrough success in the first sync-sound short, 1928’s Steamboat Willie, to his iconic status in films like Fantasia and, of course, TV. Included is an exclusive hand-drawn animated short, Mickey in a Minute, to remind us that deep down we’re all members of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Next at the Kennedy Center
Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell receives an eclectic tribute in the latest installment of the concert series. The National Symphony Orchestra provides the backdrop as artists including Renée Fleming, Lalah Hathaway, Jimmie Herrod, Raul Midón and Aoife O’Donovan find new shadings in such standards as River, The Circle Game, A Case of You and Woodstock.
From the first episode of the freshman drama, we’ve known there’s bad blood between former besties Bode (Max Theiriot), the inmate firefighter, and Battalion 1608 engineer Jake (Jordan Calloway), stemming from the tragic car-accident death years earlier of Bode’s sister. It may be time to finally bury the hatchet—metaphorically—when the one-time bros attempt a dangerous mountainside rescue together of a hiker who fell while taking a selfie. The tone of conflict continues on Blue Bloods (10/9c) when brothers Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) and Jamie (Will Estes) butt heads over a gang-related shooting.
The Yule Log:
- So much holiday programming as we head toward December, and let’s start with another Apple TV+ special: Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, welcoming Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs to Jim Henson’s rollicking Fraggle world as Jamdolin, who urges Wembley to make a wish as the Fraggles embark on a quest to find the brightest light and the meaning of the holiday. And there’s more:
- Best in Snow (streaming on Disney+): Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) hosts a light-hearted reality-competition in which teams gather in a Snowdome village to create magical sculptures (inspired by Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Muppet themes) out of 10-foot, 20-ton blocks of snow.
- Inventing the Christmas Prince (8/7c, Hallmark): Tamera Mowry-Housley stars as an overworked widowed mom who cajoles her demanding boss (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) to pretend to be the Christmas Prince of the stories she tells her daughter.
- A Country Christmas Harmony (8/7c, Lifetime): Brooke Elliott (Drop Dead Diva) is a country-music star who heads home to perform a live Christmas concert in hopes of jump-starting her fading career. Guess who she runs into? The former duo partner and boyfriend she left behind for the big time!
- Josh Turner: A King Size Manger (7/6c, UPtv): Fess up: You’re already listening to Christmas music before Turkey Day. Even if you aren’t, you might want to check out Grand Old Opry star Josh Turner as he turns his booming baritone on holiday classics and four original songs from his 2021 album.
- Martha Holidays (streaming on The Roku Channel): Martha Stewart shares holiday recipes, gift ideas, decorating and craft projects to help make your home a winter wonderland.
Inside Friday TV:
- Young Rock (8:30/7:30c, NBC): The future Rock’s dad Rocky (charismatic Joseph Lee Anderson) gets life-changing news in 1985 Hawaii, while in the future 2033, Dwayne (Dwayne Johnson) considers embarking on a diplomatic mission.
- True Crime Watch: ABC’s 20/20 (9/8c) explores a twisted triangle in the aftermath of the 1999 murder of 75-year-old Texas businessman Steve Beard, when accused perpetrator Tracey Tarlton confessed that she and the much-younger widow, Celeste, were lovers. On Dateline NBC (9/8c), Dennis Murphy reports on the 2014 stabbing death in Florida of Jill Halliburton Su, where footage from the home’s security camera helped find the killer.
- The Last Cowboy (10/9c, CMT): From Yellowstone’s prolific Taylor Sheridan, a third season of the million-dollar horse-reining competition.
- Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c, HBO): Friends alum Matthew Perry joins the host for the Season 20 finale.
- The Graham Norton Show (11/10c, BBC America): Fresh from his Tonight Show stint, Bruce Springsteen visits the raucous British chat show, with Florence and The Machine also on hand.
On the Stream:
- The Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 5 (streaming on Netflix): As the finale of the regular series’ Collection 10 airs, judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith preside over a two-episode holiday competition featuring bakers from past seasons.
- Central Park (streaming on Apple TV+): The delightful animated musical wraps its third season with Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.) in full swing with his “I Heart the Park” campaign, while nemesis Bitsy (Stanley Tucci) works her political connections to seize control of the park.
- Emeril Cooks (streaming on The Roku Channel): Iconic Louisiana chef Emeril Legasse trawls New Orleans to find locals who inspire his savory dishes.
- Slumberland (streaming on Netflix): Jason Momoa stars in a movie fantasy as the charming tour guide to a dream world where a young girl (Marlow Barkley) hopes to find her father (Kyle Chandler), who’s lost at sea. Also on Netflix: Part 2 (eight episodes) of the adult animated comedy Inside Job, with Severance’s Adam Scott joining the voice cast as Ron Staedtler, the Chief Mind Erasing expert for Cognito’s corporate rival, the Illuminati.
- Blue’s Big City Adventure (streaming on Paramount+): It’s a reunion of all three Blue’s Clues hosts—Josh Dela Cruz, Donovan Patten and Steve Burns—in a feature-length family film when Josh heads to New York with loyal Blue to audition for Rainbow Puppy’s (Brianna Bryan) Broadway musical. Stage and film/TV stars stars Ali Stroker, BD Wong, Alex Winter, Phillipa Soo and Steven Pasquale appear in cameos.