In this month's round-up of faith-and-family entertainment news, PBS Masterpiece's All Creatures Great and Small returns for a fourth season, with new and familiar faces; The Chosen hits broadcast TV on The CW in July; and an HBO writer takes a family-friendly turn, in a new Christmas story.
Returning (and Arriving) to the Yorkshire Dales
The beloved period comedy/drama All Creatures Great and Small returns with a fourth season, of seven new episodes, in early 2024 on PBS' Masterpiece.
Based on the fact-inspired novels by author (and real-life veterinarian) James Herriot, the family-suitable saga of an animal doc working in rural Northern England now moves out of the 1930s.
It's 1940, Churchill becomes prime minister, and the Nazis threaten England.
Season 4 sees Nicholas Ralph reprise his role as young country vet James Herriot, now married to Helen, played by Rachel Shenton (White Gold). Samuel West (Slow Horses) returns as James’ mentor Siegfried Farnon while Anna Madeley (Time) continues as Mrs. Hall, matriarch of Skeldale House. Patricia Hodge (A Very English Scandal) also reprises her role as the eccentric Mrs. Pumphrey, and Derek as her pampered Pekingese Tricki.
All Creatures is currently filming in Yorkshire.
Neve McIntosh (Shetland) joins the cast as the highly efficient bookkeeper Miss Harbottle, alongside James Anthony-Rose (Slow Horses) as the studious undergraduate vet student Richard Carmody. He arrives at Skeldale as part of his placement under the guidance of James.
Jesus Treads Where Vampires and Superheroes Once Reigned
Starting July 16, the existing three seasons of The Chosen series come to broadcast television for the first time, on The CW (which did a last-minute airing of the show's Christmas-themed episode, The Messenger, last Dec. 23).
Things are very different at The CW these days. The network, once known for sexy vampire dramas and edgy superhero adventures, has new ownership and management.
Taking over last October from former owners Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, Nexstar Media has shifted the focus of the network, starting with canceling most of its scripted lineup (the bulk of which came from uber-producer Greg Berlanti).
Meanwhile, hit Gospels-based drama The Chosen has also been having changes at the top, including adding Lionsgate as a distributor.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
The network, under the control of station group Nexstar since October, has landed U.S. broadcast rights to The Chosen. The drama series about the life of Jesus will launch Sunday, July 16, at 8 p.m. on the network, which will air the first three seasons through the fall before wrapping with the finale on Christmas Eve.
The CW’s deal for The Chosen, a crowdfunded drama from creator Dallas Jenkins (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone), covers the first three seasons of the series. Jenkins has a seven-season plan for the show and is currently in production on season four.
“The Chosen is based on the biggest IP of all time and is truly a one-of-a-kind series that tells this historically significant story in a captivating, dramatic and premium way,” said The CW president of entertainment Brad Schwartz in a statement announcing the deal Friday. “This show has already connected deeply with viewers around the world, and The CW will expand its audience even further.”
Lionsgate brokered the deal, saying (also from the THR story):
“As part of our global representation of this coveted property, we are pleased that The CW will become another great partner for The Chosen,” said Lionsgate president of worldwide television distribution Jim Packer.
“This groundbreaking series already has a massive global following, and The CW platform will provide the perfect opportunity for the show to reach existing fans and inspire new ones.”
As you can see below, The Chosen is currently shooting its fourth season, which will premiere on The Chosen and Angel Studios apps (and likely with an episode or two in theaters, if history is any guide).
Welcome to Gingerland
Best known for the fantastical HBO drama Carnivàle and the NBC crime drama The Blacklist, writer Daniel Knauf has abandoned Los Angeles for Florida -- just in time to publish a sweet Christmas story.
Told in installments to subscribers (although the first few are free) through the new medium Substack, Gingerland is the fanciful, illustrated tale of the secret lives of gingerbread-cookie people living in a gingerbread replica of a formerly luxurious mountain resort -- where it's perpetually Christmas.
It's listed as having been written by the late P.J. Hummel of Lake Winibigoshish, Minnesota, with Knauf merely as the publisher.
Three gingerbread children accidentally escape their home and enter the larger world. There, they discover that outside forces threaten Gingerland, and they must find new allies -- both human and gingerbread -- to save it.
Knauf intends for parents to read the story to their children. He doesn't have plans for a film adaptation right now, but he has put out videos showcasing artist Zelda Devon's illustrations for Gingerland, and another (so far) in which the au--, sorry, I mean, the publisher, reads an excerpt.
The Art of Gingerland
Daniel Knauf Reads an Excerpt
It's not an overtly Christian tale, but there is a chapter called The Second Best Christmas Ever (and you can guess what the Best One was).
Learn more about Gingerland here.
In 2018, when he was still in L.A., Knauf came by the FTP offices in Hollywood to give a talk at one of our monthly Prayer and Pasta gatherings for our local showbiz community.
I also sat him down for an interview, and here's the video of that.
Image: MASTERPIECE All Creatures Great and Small, Season 3 Shown: Bottom line: James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse). Top Line: Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), Mrs Hall (Anna Madeley). (C) Playground Entertainment
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.