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Faith & Family News: 'All Creatures' Returns, CBS Brings Soul to the Super Bowl; Dallas Jenkins' New 'Pageant'

,,, | January 4, 2024 | By

Happy 2024! The year starts off auspiciously, with the return of PBS' beloved All Creatures Great and Small, a Soulful Super Bowl special from CBS, and a new project from The Chosen creator Dallas Jenkins.

War Looms on the Yorkshire Dales

Here's how PBS describes season 4 of All Creatures Great and Small, launching Sunday, Jan. 7, on Masterpiece:

It’s Spring 1940 and with Europe at war, the community in Darrowby are pulling together more than ever before. With Tristan away serving, Siegfried and James bring in some extra hands to help around the practice: highly efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle, and student vet Richard Carmody. Happily married Helen and James begin to think about their future despite the looming possibility that James could be called up to serve.

As with many British shows, ACGS has a Christmas special, but you're going to have to wait until Feb. 18 for that.

I've seen all the episodes, and ACGS continues with the realities of rural life in northern England in the shadow of World War II, with heartbreak, joy, and love. There are disputes and disagreements, but ultimately they're overcome with solidarity and support.

Parents with very young children, especially children who are not exposed to country life or the challenges of working with animals, might need to explain some things to the little ones. Other than that, once again, ACGS offers no content challenges and lots of wholesome entertainment for the whole family.


No word yet on whether there will be a Season 5, but I'd be surprised if it didn't happen.

The Soulful Side of the Super Bowl

Faith and pro football have been entwined since the sport's earliest days -- as I wrote about here, chronicling the NFL's Catholic roots -- and since the Super Bowl is on CBS this year, a longtime musical celebration is getting a new name.

The near-tragedy that happened to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest on Jan. 2, 2023, during Monday Night Football, brought the NFL and the nation together in prayer (good news: he's doing fine).

But faith, on the field and off, is nothing new for football players. Our own producer-at-large, Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., is an NFL chaplain, offering Mass for the Catholic members of visiting teams when they come to play the Los Angeles Rams or Chargers.

So, a joyful noise will be raised in Las Vegas, site of Super Bowl LVIII, between the ... well, we don't know yet!

From CBS:

CBS presents THE SUPER BOWL SOULFUL CELEBRATION 25TH ANNIVERSARY, (previously known as the “Super Bowl Gospel Celebration”), to air Saturday, Feb. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand on Pluto TV and the day after the special airs)*. Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold of CBS’ THE NEIGHBORHOOD are confirmed to host.

“I’m thrilled to return to the Super Bowl Soulful Celebration stage in Vegas as co-host of the 25th anniversary broadcast on CBS with my dear friend and THE NEIGHBORHOOD co-star Tichina Arnold,” said Cedric the Entertainer. “A huge congratulations to Melanie Few for creating this amazing celebration of music, faith and football.”

The one-hour music special, in partnership with the NFL, tapes Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Pearl Theater at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, in advance of Super Bowl LVIII, airing Sunday, Feb. 11 on CBS. Commemorating its silver anniversary this year, the concert event brings an inspiring blend of music and football to a broadcast television audience. Honorees and performers will be announced at a later date.

Here's a peek at what happened in the past:


Dallas Jenkins Tackles His Favorite Christmas Pageant

Every person has a film or book that's close to his or her heart, and for Dallas Jenkins, creator of the hit Gospels-based series The Chosen, that's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Here's how publisher Harper Collins describes it:

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.”

The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids. You and your family will laugh along with this funny story, perfect for independent reading or read-aloud sharing.

Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked.

It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.

Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company (Jesus Revolution, the upcoming Ordinary Angels) are working with Jenkins to adapt and direct a film version of the book, currently in production in Canada for a Christmas-season 2024 release.


Jenkins pursued a 15-year journey to secure the rights to The Best Christmas Pageant Everrights which have been stewarded by Darin McDaniel, Chet Thomas, and Gerald R. Molen. The book has sold over 7M copies since it was published in 1972.

The success of The Chosen also helped, as you can see in this Facebook post from Dec. 6:


Image: (L-R) Helen Herriot (Rachel Shenton) and James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph). Courtesy of Playground Entertainment and MASTERPIECE/Photo: PBS

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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