‘English’ in the Wild West, Corden Among the ‘Mammals,’ Giving Up the ‘Fight,’ Food Network and HGTV Get in the Holiday Movie Spirit
Emily Blunt stars in Prime Video’s grim Western fable The English. James Corden gets serious (mostly) in Mammals, a British dramedy about infidelity and its roots. A day late, we salute The Good Fight upon its departure. Stars from Food Network and HGTV get in the holiday-movie act, appearing in a quartet of new Christmas movies.
“I sometimes wonder if there’s horror in us all,” muses fallen Englishwoman Lady Cornelia Locke (an affecting Emily Blunt) in Hugo Blick’s bizarre and grim Western fable, suggesting that the fruited plains of the U.S. West might have been better off without the poisonous influences of the European interlopers (all seen as “English” to natives). Lady Cornelia is on a revenge quest, accompanied by the stoic Pawnee known as Eli Whipp (a growling Chaske Spencer), who left his tribe to serve during the Civil War as a cavalry scout and is now no longer welcome in either world. Watch for the colorful performances, including Rafe Spall as a fiendish shopkeeper in a not-yet-boom town in the new state of Wyoming. They rise above the fatalism of a series (all eight episodes available for a binge) in which the heroine declares, “You think I’m traveling with hope? Just without fear. You know why? ’Cause I’m dead already.” (See the full review.)
Best known as a playwright, Jez Butterworth (The Ferryman) presents a take on marital infidelity guaranteed to make you cringe, albeit with an occasional smile. (For instance, an out-of-nowhere cameo by Welsh singing legend Tom Jones in the first episode, timed at the worst possible moment.) James Corden stars as an ambitious London chef who loses his focus on opening his first solo restaurant when he discovers shattering truths about his marriage to the lovely Frenchwoman Amandine (Melia Kreiling). He leans for support on his academic brother-in-law Jeff (Colin Morgan), who’s got his own issues with his wife (Sally Hawkins), lost in her own dreamworld. A bonus: The six episodes clock in at around a half-hour each, so even when painful, the binge is brief.
The Good Fight
Inadvertently left out of Thursday’s roundup—I will use as an excuse my sense of denial that the show’s over—was my bittersweet salute to this brilliantly unhinged legal fantasia about a society in political chaos and freefall. In the final hour (now and forever available to stream), the Chicago law firm is under siege like never before, presenting Diane Lockhart (the great Christine Baranski) with choices that will decide her future, both professionally and personally. The episode, like the series as a whole, is often outrageous, hilarious and harrowing, as it counts down to a punch line that will take viewers back to the series’ beginning. Which is where I plan someday to return to savor the show in its entirety. It will be missed.
The workplace comedy, set in the ego-driven world of video-game developers, returns for a third season with visionary Ian (Rob McElhenney) and driven engineer Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao) working together, by themselves, considering a mammoth offer for their offshoot game, Hera. Back at Mythic Quest HQ, the team they left behind are rocked by one departure and another unexpected return.
A Christmas Open House
Food Network and HGTV stars dive into the Christmas-movie TV tradition, appearing in a four-pack of new holiday movies. Home Town’s Ben and Erin Napier show up as local Atlanta artists who help property stager Melissa (Katie Stevens) and her former high-school crush, now a real-estate agent (Victor Rasuk), prepare and sell her mom’s house with a Christmas deadline. Love It or List It’s Hilary Farr appears in Designing Christmas as the mentor to Stella (Jessica Szohr), co-host of a popular home renovation show who may be falling for her co-star (Marco Grazzini), though she’s engaged to another. Food Network’s Duff Goodman (Holiday Baking Championship) is on hand for A Gingerbread Christmas, while the ubiquitous Bobby Flay turns up in One Delicious Christmas as a food critic whose opinion matters to restaurant/inn owner Abby (Vanessa Marano) and her new chef (Alex Mallari, Jr.).
More from the Yule Log:
- The Dog Days of Christmas (8/7c, Lifetime): A do-gooder (Georgia Flood) finds new purpose and romance with a local vet (Ezekiel Simat) as they save an animal rescue operation during the holidays.
- In Merry Measure (8/7c, Hallmark Channel): Broadway/TV star Patti Murin is Darcy, a pop star who begins making beautiful music while coaching a high-school choir with her onetime rival (Chesapeake Shores’ Brendan Penny).
- The Christmas Retreat (7/6c, UPtv): A jilted romantic (Rhiannon Fish) heads with her mom to a retreat to get past her heartache, when she meets the owner’s unemployed brother (Clayton James).
Also on the stream:
- Is That Black Enough for You? (streaming on Netflix): Cultural historian Elvis Mitchell explores the revolutionary Black cinema of the 1970s, from Sounder to Shaft, that ushered in a new age of Black representation.
- Also new to Netflix: A second season of Down to Earth with Zac Efron, subtitled “Down Under,” as the actor heads to Australia with wellness expert Darin Olien to find new ways to conduct healthy, sustainable life practices. The true-crime documentary Capturing the Killer Nurse will be familiar to anyone who saw the Netflix movie The Good Nurse, about serial-killer nurse Charlie Cullen. In the eight-part Ancient Apocalyse, journalist Graham Hancock visits archeological sites from Indonesia and Mexico to ancient mounds in North America, uncovering evidence suggesting that civilizations of olde may have been more advanced than we imagined.
- Play-Doh Squished (streaming on Amazon Freevee): Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland hosts a family-friendly competition in which teams of kids and grown-ups test their skill in creating Play-Doh worlds. Among the guest judges: Sarah’s TV mom, Julie Bowen.
- Transformers: EarthSpark (streaming on Paramount+): The animated franchise returns with the Autobots welcoming a new type of robot, the Terrans, the first Transformers born on Earth.
Inside Friday TV:
- The Greatest #AtHome Videos (8/7c, CBS): Country music star Luke Bryan joins host Cedric the Entertainer for a special edition of the home-video series, featuring seasonal glimpses of favorite fall traditions. Bryan helps Cedric surprise heroes who went viral with their life-risking efforts during Hurricane Ian.
- True Crime Watch: Rural crime is on this week’s blotter. ABC’s 20/20 (9/8c) reports on the 2015 murder of 90-year-old Minnesota farmer Earl Olander, who was discovered to be a secret millionaire. A clue found inside his Bible led to his killers. On Dateline NBC (9/8c), Andrea Canning follows the 15-year hunt for the killer of a pharmacist in his Wisconsin farmhouse.
- MeTV Remembers the M*A*S*H Finale (7/6c, MeTV): For Veterans Day, a replay of the Korean War sitcom’s supersized finale, still the most watched scripted episode ever, featuring interviews with cast and crew. Turner Classic Movies’ Veterans Day lineup includes 1946’s Oscar-winning The Best Years of Our Lives (8/7c), followed by the epic all-star D-Day reenactment The Longest Day (11/10c) from 1962.