Q: Why was “White Christmas” so hard to find on TV this latest holiday season? — Dave Jenkins, Westerville, Ohio
A: It was a matter of knowing when and where to look. AMC traditionally has been the seasonal home of the 1954 Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye classic, and while the picture still could be found there, it was pretty much relegated to the overnight hours last month … with more-contemporary attractions such as “Love Actually” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” getting the prime evening scheduling.
However, Sundance offered a feast of “White Christmas” on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, running it continuously for the better part of 24 hours — thus emulating what TBS and TNT traditionally do each year with “A Christmas Story,” and setting up a rivalry of sorts between two of the most beloved of all holiday movies, though there were plenty of chances to catch both within that time span.
Q: I see that Sara Haines is hosting the new game show “The Chase.” How is she able to do both that and “The View”? — Sandy Crane, via e-mail
A: Skillful scheduling, but there’s even more to it than that. You couldn’t tell it from watching ABC’s “The View,” especially with its current format that has the hosts in different locations anyway, but the normally New York-based Haines was maintaining her weekday role on that program while also recording the first season of “The Chase” over a two-week period in Los Angeles.
That’s often how primetime game shows are done now, taping most or all of a season’s episodes within a concentrated period of time. As another example, Elizabeth Banks has confirmed to us that’s how she does ABC’s “Press Your Luck,” thereby leaving her available to work on the many other television and movie projects she’s involved in.
Q: I see that Queen Latifah’s version of “The Equalizer” will premiere soon. Who was the star of the original show? — Bruce Hart, Glasgow, Ky.
A: British actor Edward Woodward played Robert McCall, the government-espionage veteran who used his skills from that job to “equalize” things for people in trouble, in the original 1985-89 CBS drama. That inspired two Denzel Washington-starring feature films … both of which were big hits that undoubtedly helped pave the way for the forthcoming series reboot (with Queen Latifah as “Robyn McCall”) that will get the plum slot after the Super Bowl when CBS premieres it Feb. 7.
Q: The last time “A Million Little Things” was on, the preview said it wouldn’t be back until March. Why so long a wait? — Greg French, via e-mail
A: There are several reasons. One is that ABC is using Thursdays in January and February — including the “Things” slot — for a new slate of game shows, including the aforementioned “The Chase.” Another is that “Things” got a late start on production for its current season, as so many shows did during the time of the pandemic, so the on-air break gave the series a chance to catch up to itself.
Finally, as with fellow ABC Thursday-schedule-mates “Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” waiting until March for more “Things” supplies new episodes that will take the show through the end of the formal television season without the need for another sustained break. That’s especially important when it comes to serialized dramas, to keep the momentum going.
Q: What happened to the show from a few years ago that involved Mary Elizabeth Winstead and zombies? — Rob Franklin, Fruita, Colo.
A: “BrainDead” was a Washington, D.C.-set summer series on CBS in 2016, and though creator-producers Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Wife,” “Evil”) had mapped out a four-year plan for it, it lasted only one season. It was somewhat timely, since that was a summer of political conventions — though those didn’t involve the extraterrestrial insects that the show did.
A rare television project for Winstead at the time, “BrainDead” boasted an impressive cast that also included Danny Pino, Aaron Tveit, Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and his wife Brooke Adams, Megan Hilty (“Smash”), Margo Martindale, Kurt Fuller (“Psych”) and filmmaker Michael Moore.
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