Thanksgiving Alternatives: ‘MST3K’ & Kurt Russell as Santa on Netflix, ‘Mary Poppins’ on ABC, ‘Murphy’ in the Kitchen
A critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
TV’s Thanksgiving traditions are well established: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC in the morning (9 am/8c), followed by The National Dog Show (noon/11c). CBS also offers its coverage of The Thanksgiving Day Parade (9 am/8c). And, of course, a full lineup of pro football, with Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions on CBS (12:30 pm/11:30c), Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys on Fox (4:30/3:30c) and on NBC in prime time, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (8:20/7:20c).
Or you could check out what’s new and different.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet (streaming on Netflix): Only a glutton for punishment would force themselves to watch six cinematic turkeys straight through, but that’s the challenge facing Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) and robot pals Crow (Hampton Yount) and Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn) in the latest incarnation of the cult comedy classic. The films being judiciously mocked into the E.T. ripoff Mac & Me, Atlantic Rim, The Day Time Ended (they wish), Killer Fish, Lords of the Deep and Ator, the Fighting Eagle. That’s a lot to digest.
The Christmas Chronicles (streaming on Netflix): Taking a page from the Hallmark playbook, Netflix is airing its own holiday originals, the highest-profile starring Kurt Russell as an unorthodox Santa whose yearly sleigh ride is derailed when two siblings (Darby Camp and Judah Lewis) stow away and cause the sled to crash. Can Christmas be saved? What do you think?
Naturally, there’s more where that came from. New Christmas movies on cable include Hallmark’s Christmas at the Palace (8/7c), starring Merritt Patterson as an ice-skating instructor who falls for her student’s father, the king of San Senova (Andrew Cooper). On Lifetime, The Christmas Contract (8/7c) is basically a reunion of One Tree Hill cast members, including Hilarie Burton, Danneel Ackles, Antwon Tanner and Robert Buckley, with a special musical appearance from OTH alum Tyler Hilton. Many will stick around for ’Tis the Season: A One Tree Hill Cast Reunion (10/9c), which promises some surprise guests.
'One Tree Hill' Stars Spill on Reuniting to Play New Characters in Lifetime's 'The Christmas Contract'
Mary Poppins Returns: Behind the Magic — A Special Edition of 20/20 (8/7c, ABC): Yes, it’s basically an in-house commercial for the upcoming sequel to 1964’s Oscar-winning Disney family classic. But Mary Poppins Returns is on many a moviegoer’s gotta-see list, and with stars Emily Blunt and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda joined by original Mary Poppins icon Dick Van Dyke, think of it like a premature DVD extra.
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Murphy Brown (9:30/8:30c, CBS): Alone among Thursday’s scripted network series, the sitcom revival airs an original episode, which finds Murphy (Candice Bergen) out of her comfort zone—in the kitchen—when she invites her colleagues as well as Phyllis (Tyne Daly), Miguel (Adan Rocha) and his parents (Valente Rodriguez and Orange Is the New Black’s Selenis Leyva) over for Thanksgiving dinner. It has already been established that son Avery (Jake McDorman) is more adept in the culinary arts. Can he save the day?
Inside Thursday TV: I know you are, but what am I? IFC taps into your inner child with an all-day marathon of the Saturday morning favorite Pee-wee’s Playhouse (starts at 6 am/5c)… A second season of the offbeat cop comedy No Activity streams all eight new episodes for binge-watching on CBS All Access, starring Tim Meadows (SNL) and Patrick Brammall as detectives on an endless stakeout. A corruption scandal within the SDPC rocks their world, and maybe their vehicle… With Fox airing its football game during the day, the network turns over prime time to Masterchef Junior: Celebrity Showdown (8/7c). In the first battle, Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and Empire’s Terrence Howard are paired with Junior alums for a Mystery Box challenge. Then How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan and Rel’s Lil Rel Howery play a tag-team challenge with their own 9-year-old daughters. And finally, NFL Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice pair up with past Junior winners in a cooking scrimmage.