Worth Watching: ‘Holey Moley’ and Other Game Shows, ‘Reef Break,’ New Face on ‘Elementary’
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
Holey Moley (8/7c, ABC): Think Wipeout with less mud, more holes, a robot with a killer swing‑and the NBA’s Stephen Curry (an executive producer) adding some mock celebrity swagger to the silly summer season’s most ridiculous outing yet. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though you might end up wondering, “Holey moley, why did I just waste this hour?” With comedian Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore providing arch commentary, this elaborate game show is set on a “mega-mini golf-stacle course,” where miniature-golf pros, many in wacky costumes, compete on oversized sets with slapsticky stunts threatening everyone’s dignity. From time to time, Curry helicopters in or appears in cameos for a “Stephen Curry moment.”
Followed on ABC by yet another competition series, Family Food Fight (9/8c), which doesn’t appear to be as messy as it sounds. Ayesha Curry (wife of Stephen, by no coincidence) hosts the show, in which four families compete in a series of cooking challenges, including a six-course feast and breakfast-for-dinner spread. Judges include Curry, Cat Cora and Graham Elliot, who’ll decide which family takes home a $100,000 prize.
Reef Break (10/9c, ABC): The network’s all-new summer Thursday lineup wraps with a mindlessly breezy crime drama that would have been a decent fit on USA back in its “blue sky” days. Filmed in gorgeous Queensland, Australia, Reef stars gorgeous Poppy Montgomery as one-time pro surfer and reformed thief-turned-police consultant Cat Chambers. She’s a cool cat, indeed, flirty and saucy and fearless when she returns to exotic Reef Island after a five-year break and instantly finds herself caught up in a kidnapping/ransom scheme. Ray Stevenson (HBO’s Rome) looks to be enjoying his beach vacation as Jake, a grizzled FBI agent who married Cat while undercover and lends a hand when Cat isn’t going under the cover with equally gorgeous locals.
Elementary (10/9c, CBS): Tech visionaries are TV’s new go-to baddies, and so it is as one of the medium’s busiest character actors — James Frain (Gotham, True Blood, The Tudors) — joins the cast in its final season as enigmatic billionaire Odin Reichenbach. He hires Joan (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) to handle a personal matter, but it’s obvious from the start — to the viewer, if not the sleuths (though Sherlock is skeptical) — that there’s another agenda at play. And he’s here to stay.
Inside Thursday TV: Millions were moved by Anderson Cooper‘s tribute to his late mother Gloria Vanderbilt on CNN earlier this week, and HBO remembers their relationship with a replay of the acclaimed 2016 documentary Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper (8/7c)… If your appetite for game shows in prime time is limitless, Fox follows up its Mental Samurai experiment with a trivia game, Spin the Wheel (9/8c), from producer Justin Timberlake and hosted by Bless This Mess star Dax Shepard. As the title suggests, contestants answer questions while spinning a giant 40-foot wheel, for the chance to win (or lose) millions… The next best thing to being there, Sundance Now streams the entire second season of the romantic intrigue thriller Riviera, starring Julia Stiles as a glamorous widow hoping to get away with murder while fighting for control of a family fortune opposite first wife Irina (Lena Olin). Joining the cast: Will Arnett (Arrested Development) in a rare dramatic role as Georgina’s uncle, Jeff, who may shed light on her cloudy past in America.