This once-dormant Lucasfilm franchise could be your next favorite fantasy TV show


Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who is thankful Spotify doesn’t have access to the personal viewing data of the film and TV we’ve been watching all year.

A dormant Lucasfilm franchise has recently joined this year’s influx of fantasy TV. “Willow,” the Disney+ legacy sequel to the 1988 cult film, made its debut this week and Tracy Brown, our expert in fictional universes with passionate fandoms, has graciously prepared a helpful guide to all things “Willow.”

Also this week, we’re joined by “Lopez vs. Lopez” co-creator and star Mayan Lopez, offer a pair of streaming recommendations for your weekend, and more. As always, we want to know what you’re watching too! Pretend we’re at the water cooler and give us your review of a TV show or streaming movie you’ve loved and it may be included in a future edition of Screen Gab. (Submissions should be approximately 100 to 150 words and sent to with your name and location.)


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Actress Aubrey Plaza, photographed last month in Los Angeles.

(Maiwenn Raoult / For The Times)

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Turn on

Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times

Alfred Molina in a scene from "Three Pines."

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (Alfred Molina) and Emilie Longpre (Jill Frappier) in “Three Pines.”

(Yan Turcotte/Amazon Studios)

The estimable, ageless Alfred Molina adds the Quebecois police detective Armand Gamache to his big book of “Nationalities I Have Played” in “Three Pines” (Amazon Prime Video). Adapting Louise Penny’s popular series of crime novels, it’s set in an eccentric village outside of Montreal, whose inhabitants nevertheless represent a wide range of types, from upright to bohemian — it’s a little as if “Northern Exposure” were reimagined as a murder mystery, or maybe “Midsomer Murders” without all the moving from town to town and with more snow. Gamache, who in the series is sent to Twin Pines, he suspects, as “punishment,” is the model of a methodical detective (“Every mistake I ever made was because I made an assumption and then I acted upon it as if it were a fact”). But he’s also a caring sort who’s led by his feelings, not least when it comes to added plotlines involving indigenous issues, present and past — the institutional indifference to missing and murdered girls, and the “residential schools” where Indigenous children were separated from their families and culture, and thousands to tens of thousands are thought to have died. —Robert Lloyd

Now in its third season, “First Wives Club” (BET+) stars Jill Scott as superstar singer Hazel Rachelle, who demands to be the center of attention, even as she spirals from her superstar singer status after the betrayal of her husband in Season 1. But what really makes this breezy series sing — in harmony — are the rich, full lives afforded to her friends who aren’t relegated to being stuck in her orbit but navigate their own vivid worlds. This season, the wives (a word used loosely here, much like the “Real” ones) include Michelle Buteau’s hilariously harried surgeon mom Bree, and Michelle Mitchenor’s career-driven lawyer Jayla, among some other faces. With nods to the 1996 movie starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler throughout, perhaps the most important one is Hazel’s stepdaughter Versace, who is served up deliciously and hilariously by Tara Pacheco. If the first batch of episodes are any indicator, the ladies continue their fight through emotional upheaval, whether with their significant others (big ups to RonReaco Lee, who plays well with all the others) or Hurricane Hazel. Or, rather, they’re wading through the sometimes fraught friendship of upwardly mobile women who are really sisters (sing it with me) “doing it for themselves” — and their friends. —Dawn M. Burkes

Guest spot

A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching

George Lopez and daughter Mayan Lopez in  the NBC sitcom "Lopez vs. Lopez"

Veteran comedian George Lopez and his once-estranged daughter Mayan Lopez star together in a an NBC sitcom inspired by their real-life dynamic.

(Casey Durkin/NBC)

For Mayan Lopez, a comedian and daughter of veteran funnyman George Lopez, mining her life and TikTok-ing about her family issues — including her once-estranged relationship with her father prompted by his infidelities — inspired a TV sitcom that’s kept their healing going. Taking a page from real life, the pair play a father and daughter mending their dynamic after not speaking much for a few years in NBC’s “Lopez vs. Lopez.” The newcomer stopped by Screen Gab to share what it’s like collaborating with her father, using social media to open up, and which Jack Black movie has been in frequent rotation. —Yvonne Villarreal

Did you make any pact — guidelines or boundary-setting stipulations — before taking the step of working together?

We probably should have, but no we didn’t. We accepted the opportunity to do “Lopez vs. Lopez” as performers first, not just father and daughter. In the beginning we tiptoed around each other a little because acting together as adults was such a new experience. But now we are very comfortable, and we aren’t afraid that we may say or do something that would make it awkward for each other.

Since you set out on this journey together, how would you describe your collaboration with your father on “Lopez vs. Lopez”?

My dad and I work well together. We have a similar comedic perspective, so we have a shorthand that works successfully on set. I’m learning a lot about being on a sitcom from him. I was an improv performer, so this has been a different experience with a big learning curve. It’s great to have my dad, who is a legend and at the top of his game, helping me hone my sitcom skills. I get my comedy chops from both my parents. My mom is loud and gregarious, while my dad is an introvert. I’m loud like my mom, which always elicits a look from him. He hates to be reminded that I’m not only his child.

In our culture, you don’t air the family’s dirty laundry in public. In what ways has being open about your dynamic with your father — first on TikTok, now with this show — been a healing or a meditative experience?

I’ve always been honest and transparent in my social media. My TikTok videos showed what was happening in my life and that included the complexity of my relationship with my dad. My dad told me a story that he was golfing with Anthony Anderson. Anthony said to him “ Did you see the TikTok Mayan posted about you. Are you OK with that?” and my dad responded, “Well, she’s not wrong. She can post whatever she wants”….. And, boy, did I. I think people respect honesty. I’m grateful that people are responding to our relationship and the themes on the show that are so personal to me. I have gotten so much feedback from people saying that they have the same family dynamics, face the same struggles in their lives and appreciate seeing it on television. I always wanted my pain to help others and I hope that it is now with the show

What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?

The movie I go back to again and again is “Nacho Libre” with Jack Black. It never fails to make me laugh. I have all the dialogue memorized. When my dad and I were in a bad place sometimes we couldn’t talk to each other, but we could always watch “Nacho Libre” and laugh together.

Break down

Times staffers chew on the pop culture of the moment — love it, hate it or somewhere in between

Warwick Davis in a scene from the Disney+ series “Willow.”

Warwick Davis returns in the title role for the series sequel to the movie “Willow.”


It’s been a banner year for fantasy franchises on television. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon” and Prime Video’s “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power,” also a prequel, launched over the summer to varying degrees of fanfare and expectations. This week, Disney+ joined the fray with “Willow,” a sequel to the 1988 fantasy film of the same name. As Times television critic Robert Lloyd notes in his review, ”‘Willow’ is perhaps not the first, or second, or third property one would have expected to see revived, so expensively and at such length” even in this time of abundant reboots, prequels and reimaginations because of the movie’s mixed reception. But much like the original film’s titular hero, “Willow” the series is brimming with heart, hope and humor — which balances nicely with the perilous dangers you expect from a story about a quest to save the world. Although the series efficiently dispenses its backstory, here’s a quick rundown of everything “Willow,” “Willow” and Willow to get you started.

What is “Willow” (1988)? Directed by Ron Howard, the 1988 fantasy film stars Warwick Davis as Willow Ufgood, a young farmeron a quest to deliver an infant his kids rescued from a river to someone that can take care of her. But it turns out the baby is no ordinary baby — she is Elora Danan, a princess prophesied to defeat an evil sorceress. So it’s up to Willow and other unlikely heroes to help protect Elora Danan and save the world. “Willow’s” story was conceived by executive producer George Lucas, who had already set a high bar with “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” by then.

Who is Willow? Willow Ufgood is introduced in the original film as a Nelwyn farmer and family man who dreams of becoming a great sorcerer. (The Nelwyn are a race of little people in the world of “Willow.” Other races in the realm include the Daikini and the Brownies.) Thanks to his heroic adventure in the movie, Willow in the series has become that great sorcerer and is called upon once again to help save the world while mentoring the next generation of heroes.

What is “Willow” (2022)? The new series, from executive producer/showrunner Jonathan Kasdan, is set about 16 or so years after the events of the original film. Elora Danan has been secreted away since the events of the movie, but is presumed to have grown up and her kingdom has flourished in her absence. Unfortunately, the evil that was thought to have been defeated in the original film has returned, as great evil is wont to do, so it’s up to a new fellowship of heroes to help save the world.

Who are the other key players in the show? Besides Warwick reprising his role as Willow, the main cast of the series is mostly comprised of new faces. Kit (Ruby Cruz) and Airk (Dempsey Bryk) are twin royals, the teenage kids of Queen Sorcha (Joanne Whalley) and Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), who helped save the world in the original film. The series also introduces Jade (Erin Kellyman), Kit’s best friend and aspiring knight; Dove (Ellie Bamber), Airk’s paramour and castle kitchen maid; Graydon (Tony Revolori), a scholarly prince betrothed to Kit; and Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel), a thief and capable swordman for reasons is entrusted to help guide the teen heroes.

I never watched “Willow,” why do I know the name “Elora Danan”? You’re thinking of “Reservation Dogs” probably.

What’s next

Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on

Fri., Dec. 2

“Christmas With the Campbells” (AMC+): A woman hooks up with her ex-BF’s hunky cousin in this 2022 rom-com. With Justin Long and Brittany Snow.

“Darby and the Dead” (Hulu): “Mean Girls” meets “The Sixth Sense” in this 2022 supernatural comedy.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” (Disney+): The sibling rivalry will continue until morale improves in this animated 2022 sequel.

“Firefly Lane” (Netflix): Small-town BFFs Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke return in Season 2 of this decades-spanning drama.

“The Great American Baking Show Celebrity Holiday Special” (Roku): Celebrities, start your ovens for a special edition of this competition series.

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Netflix): “The Crown’s” Emma Corrin plays D.H. Lawrence’s thirsty heroine in this 2022 adaptation of that scandalous 1929 novel.

“My Unorthodox Life” (Netflix): Fashion mogul Julia Haart is back for a second season of her reality series.

“Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays” (Disney+): The a cappella group trolls the ancient Yuletide carol in this new special.

“Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” (Netflix): Dickens’ timeless tale lives again in this 2022 animated musical. With Luke Evans and Jessie Buckley.

“Slow Horses” (Apple TV+): Gary Oldman saddles up for a second season of this oh-so-droll espionage drama. Kristin Scott Thomas also stars.

“Sr.” (Netflix): Indie filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., father of “Iron Man’s” Robert Downey Jr., is remembered in this 2022 documentary.

“Three Pines” (Prime Video): Chief Inspector Gamache (Alfred Molina) is on the case in Quebec in this new mystery drama.

“A Big Fat Family Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A Chinese American photographer hooks up with a hunky reporter in this new TV movie.

“Cloudy With a Chance of Christmas” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A meteorologist hooks up with a hunky morning-show host in this new TV movie.

“Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): The comic is joined by “Fire Island” co-star Bowen Yang and others in this new special.

Sat., Dec. 3

“A Fabled Holiday” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A woman hooks up with her now-hunky childhood bestie in this new TV movie. With Brooke D’Orsay.

“A New Orleans Noel” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): An architect hooks up with a hunky former classmate in this new TV movie. With Keshia Knight Pulliam.

“Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 8:29 and 11:29 p.m.): “Nope’s” Keke Palmer hosts and R&B singer SZA performs.

“The Great Holiday Bake War” (OWN, 9 p.m.): A pastry chef hooks up with a hunky former rival in this new TV movie. With LeToya Luckett.

Sun., Dec. 4

“Fit for Christmas” (CBS, 8 p.m.): A fitness instructor hooks up with a hunky businessman in this new TV movie.

“Undercover Holiday” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A pop star hooks up with her hunky bodyguard in this new TV movie.

“Merry Textmas” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): An app developer hooks up with a hunky graphic designer in this new TV movie.

“George & Tammy” (Showtime, Paramount, CMT, 9 p.m.): Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain portray country music icons George Jones and Tammy Wynette in this new bio drama.

Mon., Dec. 5

“Back in the Groove” (Hulu): Three single gals in their 40s go looking for a little fun under the Caribbean sun in this new reality series hosted by Taye Diggs.

“TMZ’s Merry Elfin’ Christmas” (Fox, 8 p.m.): Celebrities from Henry Winkler to Post Malone celebrate the season in this new special.

“His Dark Materials” (HBO, 9 p.m.): The fantasy drama based on Philip Pullman’s acclaimed trilogy returns for a third and final season. With Dafne Keen.

“The Tetris Murders” (Investigation Discovery, 9, 10 and 11 p.m.): This new three-part series investigates the murders of a game developer and his wife and son in Palo Alto in 1998.

“Mariah Carey: Live at the Tokyo Dome” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The pop diva is captured onstage in Japan in 1996 in this 2020 concert doc.

“Barmageddon” (USA, 11 p.m.): Famous faces compete in a series of outrageous bar games in this new series from Blake Shelton and Carson Daly.

Tue., Dec. 6

“Sebastian Maniscalco: Is It Me?” (Netflix): The veteran comic cracks wise about family and relationships in this new stand-up special.

“Max Steiner: Maestro of Movie Music” (TCM, 5 and 9:15 p.m.): The Oscar winner who scored such classics as “King Kong,” “Casablanca” and “Gone With the Wind” is saluted in this 2021 documentary.

“People’s Choice Awards” (NBC, E!, 9 p.m.): “SNL’s” Kenan Thompson hosts and country music’s Shania Twain collects career kudos.

“Unveiled: Surviving La Luz Del Mundo” (HBO, 9 and 10 p.m.; concludes 10 p.m. Wednesday): This new three-part docuseries details the sex scandals that rocked the Mexico-based megachurch.

Wed., Dec. 7

“Too Hot to Handle” (Netflix): Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder as the competition returns with new episodes.

“DC’s Stargirl” (CW, 8 p.m.): The superhero drama starring Brec Bassinger ends its run after three seasons.

“All I Didn’t Want for Christmas” (VH1, 8 p.m.): A woman’s letter to Santa has unintended consequences in this new TV movie. “Empire’s” Gabourey Sidibe stars.

“The Amazing Race” (CBS, 9 p.m.): The finish line is in sight in the globetrotting competition’s season finale. Phil Keoghan hosts.

“Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown 2022” (CW, 9 p.m.): This new special spotlights delightful seasonal ads from around the world.

Thu., Dec. 8

“The Bad Guys” (Prime Video): Criminal critters try to go straight in this animated 2022 comedy with the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron and Awkwafina.

“A Miracle Before Christmas” (BET+): A relationship expert in a struggling marriage gets an angelic assist in the new TV movie. With LeToya Luckett.

“The Real Housewives of Miami” (Peacock): The franchise entry returns for Season 5.

“CMA Country Christmas” (ABC, 9 p.m.): Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, et al sing in the season in the annual holiday special.

“Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles” (Bravo, 9 p.m.): The real estate series returns with new episodes.

“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.): The South African comic steps down as host of the late-night talk show after seven seasons.

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