‘Beauty and the Beast’ at 30, a ‘Ghost’-ly Hour, Simpsons at the Opera, ‘Parent Test’
Josh Groban and H.E.R. headline a 30th-anniversary celebration of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. CBS hit Ghosts expands to an hour for a rollicking Christmas episode. A new Simpsons short features the singing Bocelli family. ABC puts parents to the test in a new reality show.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration
Disney invites you to be their guest to mark the 30th anniversary of the Oscar-winning animated classic, brought to life in staged live-action performances of the Alan Menken–Howard Ashman score alongside scenes from the beloved film. Headliners include everyone’s favorite EGOT, Rita Moreno, as the narrator, R&B star H.E.R. as Belle, Josh Groban as the big-voiced Beast, Broadway’s Joshua Henry as Gaston, Martin Short as the irrepressible Lumiere, David Alan Grier as the cantankerous Cogsworth and Shania Twain as the lovable Mrs. Potts.
There are surprises and delights a-plenty in a two-part, hourlong holiday episode of the CBS hit comedy, sparked by Sam’s (Rose McIver) addiction to Christmas-themed romcoms. The fun begins when she tries to matchmake husband Jay’s (Utkarsh Ambudkar) visiting sister Bela (Punam Patel) with her platonic and clearly smitten BFF Eric (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’s Andrew Leeds). Turns out ghostly bro Trevor (Asher Grodman) has other ideas on how to make the holidays merry for Bela, with truly bewitching complications. In a more poignant subplot, Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones) reflects on his past to try to explain his romantic ambivalence towards fellow Revolutionary War-era ghost Nigel (John Hartman). Ghosts continually reminds us that passions are alive and kicking in the spirit world.
The Simpsons Meet the Bocellis in Feliz Navidad
The latest animated short produced exclusively for Disney+ brings The Simpsons into the world of high culture, when Homer unexpectedly surprises Marge with a gift for the ages: a musical encounter with opera superstar Andrea Bocelli and his family, 25-year-old son Matteo and 10-year-old daughter Virginia. Their version of “Feliz Navidad” is being released today and can be heard on the Bocellis’ new album A Family Christmas. This is also The Simpsons’ anniversary week, coinciding with the Dec. 17, 1989 premiere of the series on Fox. Times and TV have changed, but not those wacky Simpsons.
The Parent Test
Ali Wentworth hosts this social experiment with parenting expert Dr. Adolph Brown, in a series that contrasts the parenting approaches of 12 families. They’re observed while participating in special challenges meant to spark conversation and debate on how they’re raising their children. In a preview episode, before the series begins a run on Thursdays at 9/8c in January, the families take on the High Dive and Yes Day challenges.
The Yule Log:
- The Great Nickmas Tree Sliming… Hosted by That Girl Lay Lay (7/6c, Nickelodeon): The teenage rapper leans on celebrity friends including Drew Barrymore and Keke Palmer when she zaps Santa’s sleigh out of the sky. Expect music (from Lay Lay, Tinashe, Pentatonix and Good NEWZ Girls) and oodles of slime.
- Record Breaking Christmas (8/7c, Lifetime): Michelle Argyis stars as an adjudicator for the Guinness Book-like World Record Bureau, and her assignment is to check out a small town that’s planning to break multiple holiday world records.
- Christmas Around the USA (8/7c, The CW): Dean Cain and Laura McKenzie host a celebration of holiday traditions, customs and seasonal displays from all over the land.
- One Delicious Christmas (8/7c, Food Network): Bobby Flay makes a cameo as a food critic in a holiday movie, previously streamed on discovery+, starring Vanessa Marano as a struggling Vermont inn’s owner who hires a trendy chef (Alex Mallari Jr.) to spice up the menu.
- Dr. Pimple Popper (9/8c, TLC): In the celebrity dermatologist’s “With Every Cyst-Mas Card I Write” special, Dr. Sandra Lee and her medical assistant Kristi relive scenes from their favorite holiday movies and make cards for patients while also tending to those who hope to be blemish-free for the holiday.
- Top Gear: Driving Home for Christmas (11/10c, BBC America): Doubling as the season finale and a holiday special, motorheads Chris Harris, Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff play Secret Santa, choosing vehicles for one another to travel across the U.K.
- Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery (streaming on Netflix): The improvisational comedy returns for a holiday special, with detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) enlisting guest stars Jason Bateman and Maya Rudolph into the hunt to find Kris Kringle’s killer.
- Blackjack Christmas (streaming on BET+): A dramatic holiday story brings together two sisters (Dawnn Lewis, Charmin Lee) who grew apart when one moved to the U.S. and the other stayed in their native Jamaica.
- Holiday replays include Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love on NBC (9/8c) and 1999’s A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart on TNT (8/7 and 10/9c)
Inside Thursday TV:
- CSI: Vegas (10/9c, CBS): There’s no happily-ever-after for two attendees of a Regency Romantic Festival who are found murdered. Investigating the crime, the CSI team finds surprising links to previous cases.
- The Game (streaming on Paramount+): A players’ strike creates tension in a new season of the sports dramedy.
- Fleishman Is in Trouble (streaming on Hulu): A reunion party leads to more soul-searching for the spiraling Toby (Jesse Eisenberg), his restless BFF Libby (Lizzy Caplan) and their bud Seth (Adam Brody).
- Harry & Meghan (streaming on Netflix): The hit docuseries presents Volume II, with the final three episodes focusing on the couple’s historic split from the royal family.
- Call Me Miss Cleo (streaming on HBO Max): A documentary from Gunpowder & Sky follows the turbulent history of TV call-a-psychic celebrity Miss Cleo, whose Psychic Readers Network in the 1990s attracted government scrutiny over allegedly deceptive business practices. (Cue the joke “We should have seen that coming.”)
- Love for the Ages (streaming on Peacock): Well past the seven-year itch, three middle-aged Latino couples from L.A. trade in their spouses for a younger model to test the strength of their relationships in an eight-part series (the final four episodes drop next Thursday).
- The Spectacular (streaming on Topic): From the Netherlands, a taut four-part drama about the investigation into violent IRA attacks on British soldiers stationed in the Dutch region of Limberg, Germany.