Rock Climbing and Sabotage in New Reality Competitions, Back to ‘Valhalla,’ Velma’s Story, We Heart ‘Ghosts’
Streaming kicks into high gear, with two high-profile reality competitions—Jason Momoa’s The Climb on HBO Max, and Alan Cumming hosting the Mole-like The Traitors for Peacock—and the return of Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla. Also on tap: Mindy Kaling’s quirky animated homage to Velma from Scooby-Doo. CBS’ Ghosts delves deeper into relationship issues with its new arrivals.
Jason Momoa, a climbing enthusiast, and champion rock climber Chris Sharma are the driving forces behind a grueling yet exhilarating eight-part reality competition playing out over three weeks (three episodes this and next Thursday, with the final two airing Jan. 26). They gather a group of amateur climbers to attempt some of the world’s most perilous ascents, pushing their limits as they vie for a $100,000 cash prize and a climbing ambassadorship.
From the guilty-pleasure side of the reality ledger comes a contest reminiscent of The Mole, in which 20 contestants gather in the Scottish Highlands —half the cast comprised of reality-TV personalities ranging from The Bachelor and Survivor to Below Deck and the Real Housewives franchise—with the puckish Alan Cumming as host, to tackle challenges and build up a treasury worth up to $250,000. As the title suggests, not everyone’s on the same team, namely three “traitors” who scheme all the way to mock “murder” to take the winnings from the “faithful” and keep it for themselves. All 10 episodes are available for binge-watching.
How has Ghosts’ Thorfinn not become addicted to this show yet? Maybe it will happen, with the return of Season 2 of the Vikings spinoff, following the fall of Kattegat to ambitious prince Harald’s (Leo Suter) brother Olaf. Now fugitives in Scandinavia, Harald and explorer Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) and his pagan sister Freydis (Frida Gustavsson) venture into new territories, with Harald focused on his goal of becoming king of Norway.
Mindy Kaling indulges another of her lifetime obsessions by taking on the character of the oft-neglected Scooby-Doo brainiac Velma Dinkley in an animated adult comedy. This is her origin story, and the impressive voice cast includes Constance Wu and Sam Richardson in lead roles, with guest appearances by the likes of Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Cherry Jones, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Nicole Byer, Ken Leung, Yvonne Orji and Ming-Na Wen. Ruh-roh!
It’s rather comforting to imagine that even after death, the heart wants what the heart wants. So we gather from this delightful supernatural comedy, with the haughty Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky in rare form) denying her sensual urges towards ’80s chauvinist Trevor (Asher Grodman)—though it’s clear she’d like more. For the moment, Hetty is more concerned about Sam (Rose McIver) meddling in new assistant Freddie’s (Mike Lane) personal life, being of the mind that showing human decency toward the help never ends well. Outside the house, Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) is smitten with ditsy car ghost Jessica (Nichole Sakura), but can’t contain his jealousy over the other spirits she encounters while on the road.
Inside Thursday TV:
- Law & Order (8/7c, NBC): Leading off an all-new night, the case of an ex-con’s murder prompts ADA Maroun (Odelya Halevi) to take lead in court when she and Price (Hugh Dancy) disagree on trial strategy.
- Christina in the Country (8/7c, HGTV): Designer Christina Hall leaves the Southern California coast for the countryside of Tennessee in her new home makeover series. Her first assignment: modernizing the home of husband Josh’s sister and her husband. Followed by a new season of Married to Real Estate (9/8c).
- Hell’s Kitchen (8/7c, Fox): Time for the annual blind taste test challenge, with celebrity guests Eric McCormack and baseball’s Justin Turner arriving for the dinner service for their charities.
- Call Me Kat (9:30/8:30c, Fox): When Sheila (Swoosie Kurtz) moves into a retirement home, she’s annoyed by daughter Kat (Mayim Bialik) making friends more easily.
- How I Caught My Killer (streaming on Hulu): A true-crime docuseries revisits murders in which the victim left behind evidence, often digital in nature, that helped authorities solve the case.
- One Lane Bridge (streaming on Sundance Now): The New Zealand crime drama returns for a third season, picking up several months after Detective Sergeant Ariki Davis (Dominic Ona-Ariki) used his second sight to solve his best friend’s murder. Now the Queenstown squad is dealing with a new boss.