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02 Dec 2015

True TV: 'A Very Murray Christmas' Spreads the Weird Cheer; 'Telenovela' Does Spanish Soaps One Better

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This is not a “holiday variety show” in the traditional sense, because it stars Bill Murray and is directed by Sofia Coppola, so you know it’s going to get weird. This is not a “holiday variety show” in the traditional sense, because it stars Bill Murray and is directed by Sofia Coppola, so you know it’s going to get weird.

A Very Murray Christmas (Friday, Dec. 4, Netflix), special: This is not a “holiday variety show” in the traditional sense, because it’s directed by Sofia Coppola, so you know it’s going to get weird: Bill Murray’s grand plans for a Christmas cabaret show at the Carlyle Hotel are dashed when Manhattan is hit by an even grander blizzard, yet he puts on the show anyway for the hotel guests and staff, because he’s Bill freakin’ Murray. Braving the storm and pitching in are George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Maya Rudolph, Chris Rock, Jenny Lewis, David Johansen and, for no apparent reason, French awk-pop band Phoenix. (Told you it would get weird.) Finally, a reason to look forward to Christmas!

Telenovela (Monday, Dec. 7, NBC), series debut: Former Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria can do funny (check out her brief stint last year on Brooklyn Nine Nine, or in the terrible/hilarious movie The Baytown Outlaws), and telenovelas (you know, Spanish soap operas) are already inherently ridiculous, so how could Telenovela possibly go wrong? First of all, it’s on NBC, a network that hasn’t instilled an ounce of comedy confidence in a looong time; the recent Superstore is at least a (weak) step in the right direction. Second, Voice-loving Middle America may not be ready for a bilingual sitcom that will involve “reading” and “paying attention.” Still, the behind-the-drama setup of a famous telenovela starlet who can’t speak Spanish herself is a great hook, and Longoria and her equally funny castmates deliver like this show has been on for years. If Telenovela fails at night, maybe just slip it into the daytime lineup, NBC.

Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter (Monday, Dec. 7, Adult Swim), miniseries debut: When small Vermont town Garrity (“B&B Town, USA!”) is terrorized by a killer werewolf, they call in the one man with the skills to put down the hairy menace: Neon Joe (Jon Glaser, Parks and Recreation), an eye-patched mercenary with attitude to match his overkill weaponry, a near-indecipherable Cajun accent and a florescent jumpsuit that would make it seemingly impossible to sneak up on anything—but he’s just that good. Neon Joe began as a random joke Glaser once tossed out on The Tonight Show, and it has now come to fruition as a worthy entry into Adult Swim’s legacy of wacko live-action series—fans of The Heart, She Holler and Eagleheart, this is for you. All others: Go to bed early.

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (Tuesday, Dec. 8, CBS), special: Remember the days (like, 14 years ago) when this commercialized jigglefest was denounced and protested as a threat to Children, Morality and ’Merica’s soul itself? Now it’s just another holiday tradition—bring on the tits and glitz! Filmed in New York City weeks ago, this year’s edition features the traditional $2 million Fantasy Bra (as opposed to the other realist bras), as well as musical guests Selena Gomez (the obvious commercial pick), Ellie Goulding (the kinda-indie oddity) and The Weeknd (because nothing says “half-naked party” like limp Canadian R&B). Sure, it’s ridiculous, but if you don’t tune in … the terrorists have already won.

Rich in Faith (Wednesday, Dec. 9, Oxygen), series debut: The Only TV Column That Matters™ was certain that, when the rails finally ran out from under the reality-show train, it would happen on E!. Nope. The network that’s finally plowed through the end of the line is Oxygen, and the final piece of reality to be filmed before we drift off into the Great Nothingness (if you subscribe to Patton Oswalt’s theorem of pointless reality TV eating up actual reality) is Rich in Faith, a docu-series all about … Rich Wilkerson Jr., the Miami pastor who married Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Yes, the guy who simply performed a service for a pair of assclowns who are only famous for marginal hip-hop and marginal-ier sex tapes now has his own TV show. See that void on the horizon? It’s getting closer … and closer …

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