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Hein’s Picks: Life Imitates Art as Warwick Davis Returns to Willow

PLUS: Slow Horses, George & Tammy, Irreverent, and more.
  • Warwick Davis in Willow (Photo: Disney+/Lucasfilm Ltd)
    Warwick Davis in Willow (Photo: Disney+/Lucasfilm Ltd)

    Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.

    Maybe life isn't too short after all.

    The BBC comedy Life's Too Short aired on HBO for one season and a special roughly a decade ago. The comedy created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant revolved around the life of a little person in show business. The star of the show is Warwick Davis, who is best known for the 1988 film Willow.

    Life's Too Short is jam-packed with celebrity cameos and provides a poignant often hilarious look at Davis' life.  The series concluded with the real Val Kilmer asking Warwick to shoot a modern-day Willow sequel but finance it all himself.

    This Wednesday, Warwick's dream comes true on Disney+ with the premiere of Willow, an eight-part TV series sequel to the original film starring… you guessed it… Warwick Davis. Talk about life imitating art (or is art imitating art here?).

    Warwick reprises his role years later as Willow Ufgood, now a great sorcerer who leads a quest taking place decades after the original film. It's an all-new cast and story, and Warwick once again displays the charm that made him so effective in the original film. Speaking of the original, let's remember that Willow is a creation of George Lucas and Ron Howard who never lost their passion for the project. Showrunner Jon Kasdan, son of The Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, keeps the flame alive with this new series for Disney+ that doesn't feel dated at all.

    This new incarnation of Willow threads the needle in satisfying old fans while also pleasing newcomers in this mystical world. Some characters from the film return, and the new characters don't feel forced and ring true to the universe. Disney+ has done well following the sci-fi formula of bringing back a classic title while updating it with fresh characters and different takes on a tried-and-true story. Willow follows this path, providing a nice nostalgic trip as it introduces a new adventure for all viewers to enjoy.

    Holiday specials are coming fast and furiously. Here's what else is worth watching on TV this week:

    PREMIERES

    Slow Horses (Apple TV+) Season 2
    Friday, December 2 

    The not-so-typical MI5 gang is back for a second season in this foreign spy thriller. Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas continue to show the young kids how it's done when it comes to keeping Britain safe. The tension and sense of humor is still intact with Sherlock director Jeremy Lovering at the helm.

    George & Tammy (Showtime)
    Sunday, December 4 at 9:00 PM ET

    This is one of those programs that you watch just to see what great actors can do. Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain star as George Jones and Tammy Wynette in this biographical tale of two country superstars. Even if you despise country music, you'll love the performances of these two performers at the top of their respective games. 

    FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Irreverent (Peacock)
    Wednesday, November 30

    A Chicago criminal messes up a gig and is forced to go on the run, so he heads to Australia where he disguises himself as a reverend. The search goes on as he adapts to his new life and surroundings. 

    THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
    (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

    Branson (HBO): Four-part documentary about a very wealthy British man who never shies away from his success. Wednesday at 10:00pm ET.

    Firefly Lane (Netflix): Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke return for a second and final season of this tale of two BFFs who support each other through good and bad times. Friday.

    GREATEST HITS
    (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

    This Week's Pick: Life's Too Short (HBO Max). In honor of Willow, I'm recommending this comedy that briefly aired on HBO. Warwick Davis pokes fun at himself while running a talent agency that specializes in small people. This mockumentary seems all too real as Davis struggles to maintain his pride and dignity in some funny situations. 

    Previous Picks:
    Narcos (Netflix)
    The Newsroom (HBO Max)
    Homeland (Showtime)
    Warrior (HBO Max)
    Oz (HBO Max)
    Fauda (Netflix)
    Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
    Taxi (Paramount+)
    It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
    The Office (UK) (Hulu)
    The Prisoner (Prime Video)
    The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
    Black Mirror (Netflix)
    The Leftovers (HBO Max)
    Deadwood (HBO Max)
    Rectify (AMC+)
    House of Cards (Netflix)
    Weeds (Showtime)
    Hannibal (Hulu)
    Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
    Downton Abbey (Peacock)
    Banshee (HBO Max)
    Police Squad! (Prime Video)
    Party Down (Starz)
    Dexter (Showtime)
    Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
    The Great (Hulu)
    Atypical (Netflix)
    Sherlock (PBS)
    Magic City (Peacock)
    Imposters (Netflix)
    Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
    Abbott Elementary (ABC)
    Damages (Hulu)
    Luther (HBO Max)
    Downton Abbey (Netflix)
    Justified (Hulu)
    The Good Wife (Paramount+)
    Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
    Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
    Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
    The Split (Prime Video)
    Bordertown (Netflix)
    Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe!

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: Willow, Apple TV+, Warwick Davis