TV Talk: ‘Yellowstone’ made Westerns a hot genre — expect to see more, including Hallmark’s ‘Ride’
Hallmark Channel’s latest drama series, “Ride” (9 p.m. Sunday), won’t be confused with a great new drama, but it does mark another baby step forward for the cable network.
Yes, there’s a potential romance at the show’s center, but this series has characters with more flaws, more secrets and more men with facial hair than you’ll generally find on a Hallmark Channel program.
“Ride” is the latest in what’s sure to be a cascading number of Western-set dramas, all vying for a share of the attention that comes to “Yellowstone” and its spinoffs.
Like Hallmark’s “The Way Home,” which has its first-season finale at 8 p.m. Sunday, “Ride” is another multigenerational family-focused drama with a strong female central character.
Nancy Travis (“Last Man Standing”) stars as Isabel McMurray, matriarch of a Colorado family of bull riders. Her son, Cash (Beau Mirchoff, “Now Apocalypse”), had the hots for his brother Austin’s wife, Missy (Tiera Skovbye, “Riverdale”), but then Cash left home for a while. He returns at the top of the pilot, and it’s clear Cash and Missy have feelings for one another. Lucky for them, Austin gets stomped by a bull and dies within the first 10 minutes of the series so viewers are likely in for at least a full season of will-they-or-won’t-they between Cash and Missy, who also has her eyes on new-to-town Gus (Tyler Jacob Moore, “SEAL Team”). Surely a love triangle is in the offing.
Created by Rebecca Boss and Chris Masi (“Step Up: High Water,” “Our Kind of People”), “Ride” is emblematic of the new, more inclusive Hallmark because there’s also a gay, stereotype-defying McMurray brother whose name is — and I am not making this up — Tuff (Jake Foy, “Designated Survivor”). Like much about “Ride,” that name tries a little too hard, but at least Hallmark now reflects the real world more accurately.
Jack Bauer is back! Not really, but the character Kiefer Sutherland plays in Paramount+’s “Rabbit Hole,” streaming Sunday, is no more than a second cousin to ol’ Jack of “24” fame.
This time Sutherland plays John Weir, an F-word-spouting master of deception who works in corporate espionage. He’s framed for the murder of a Treasury Department official (Rob Yang, “American Rust”) and evinces a paranoid streak that he apparently inherited from his father.
It all starts when he’s working for a client in New York, where he meets Hailey (Meta Golding), who’s in town on a business trip from Pittsburgh. Is she part of the conspiracy? She’s certainly part of the only distinguishing element of “Rabbit Hole” — Hailey is funny.
After Weir rescues her from an attempted kidnapping, she critiques his method, calling Weir “a little racist” for using assumptions about Black people and the police to manipulate the crowd when Weir got her away from the kidnappers.
That lighter touch the writers take with Hailey draws more humor out of Sutherland’s Weir. After Weir saves Hailey from the kidnapping, he pretty much kidnaps her himself but later decides to let her go. She refuses to leave.
“Patty Hearst had to be easier than this,” Weir quips.
That may not be enough to recommend “Rabbit Hole,” which is largely a generic conspiracy thriller, but it’s at least a differentiator.
Musical TV series are having a busy few weeks: Season two of Apple TV+’s “Schmigadoon” arrives April 5, preceded one day earlier by Paramount+’s “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.”
On Friday, Hulu streams all eight first-season episodes of “Up Here,” featuring songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the team behind the “Frozen” movies and the theme songs in “WandaVision.”
“Up Here” is based on a stage musical the Lopezes wrote, and, while the series adaptation has some toe-tapping musical numbers that should be catnip for musical theater fans, the series ultimately proves less satisfying than one would hope.
In 1999 New York, Lindsay (Mae Whitman) and Miguel (Carlos Valdes) meet cute — but they both have warring voices in their heads that lead to self-doubt and questionable choices. Those voices are seen as actual people by both the characters and viewers.
The biggest problem with “Up Here” is that the writers failed to come up with enough plot to justify eight episodes. To reach that running time, Lindsay and Miguel must get together and come apart multiple times. It gets repetitive and dull, though the musical numbers should help maintain some viewer interest.
This week, KDKA-TV launched its afternoon lifestyle show, “Talk Pittsburgh” (3 p.m. weekdays), and my initial impression is that host Heather Abraham is a trooper.
Other than one or two weather hits, the whole show — four major interview segments on Monday — rested on her shoulders. On Monday, all interviews appeared to be live; Tuesday’s installment included pre-taped segments on actor F. Murray Abraham and a visit to a local brewery, which gave the show more variety and gave its host a break. Abraham, who cut her teeth on and continues to co-host “Pittsburgh Today Live,” is certainly up to the task, but that must be exhausting on days with no taped segments.
“Talk Pittsburgh” covers topics that play off the news, but in its first two outings there was no breaking news, just a multitopic, interview-driven talk show with an emphasis on helpful tips (how to declutter your home), a mix of serious (mental health in teens) and upbeat segments (“KD Kids Club”) and pop culture-adjacent features.
Peacock renewed the former NBC daytime soap “Days of Our Lives” for two more years, keeping the show in production through its 60th season, and will bring back “Bel-Air” for a third season.
Daytime talk show “Karamo” (10 a.m. weekdays, WPNT-TV) was renewed for a second season.
Disney+ canceled fantasy series “Willow” after a single season.
Peacock ordered “Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A ‘Monk’ Movie,” based on the 2002-09 USA series, that will star series regulars Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine, Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Standford, Hector Elizondo and Melora Hardin and will be written by series creator Andy Breckman.
Paramount+ ordered a streaming movie sequel to ’90s film “Good Burger,” a spinoff of the Nickelodeon series “All That,” to once again star Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell.
With KDKA-TV morning anchor Lindsay Ward now on maternity leave until late summer, Erica Mokay will fill in on Channel 2’s morning newscasts. … After three seasons, Tyra Banks will depart the host role on Disney+’s “Dancing with the Stars” with Julianne Hough returning to the series as co-host. … The first season of Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father” will get a linear airing on cable’s Freeform with back-to-back episodes airing at 10 and 10:30 p.m. beginning April 25.
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