As a New Year approaches, The Chosen continues to be a Christian-TV juggernaut and begins to break through into mainstream media -- along with touching on a subject that has affected many. News about upcoming TV and movies is also trickling out, and we look for any bright spots.
The Chosen, Mainstream TV and the Big Question About Healing
After being the talk of Christian circles since its premiere on Christmas Eve 2017, the Gospels-inspired series The Chosen has begun to attract the attention of mainstream news and pop up on places beyond its dedicated, free app.
The first two episodes of season three premiered in theaters as a Fathom Event in early December and made a major box-office splash. The third episode just premiered on Christmas Day; all are available online.
Some or all of the show's first two seasons now stream on Peacock, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
The show has also launched a new app, along with the new Come and See Foundation, which is looking to boost the show's funding and reach a billion viewers worldwide.
The 2021 Christmas episode, The Messengers, which premiered in theaters, even aired on Friday, Dec. 23, on The CW broadcast network.
The second episode of season three, in particular, struck many viewers on an emotional level. In it, apostle Little James (Jordan Walker Ross), asked Jesus (Catholic actor Jonathan Roumie) why he hasn't been healed.
In real life, Ross has minor cerebral palsy, severe scoliosis and severe asthma, and has undergone many surgeries. Some of Ross' physical issues are part of the character of Little James.
On Nov 1, I posted my interview with Ross. We discussed many things in it, including the moving scene where Little James confronts Jesus about not having been healed.
That part of the interview starts at about 6:18:
The TV/Movie Outlook for 2023
Articles have started to come out, previewing the new TV shows and films for 2023. I took a look. The pickings are thin, but I found a few things that might be interesting, in the faith and family areas.
The Hollywood Reporter looked at the most anticipated scripted shows of the coming year. I didn't find myself quivering with anticipation at them.
But, there is Shogun.
James Clavell's 1975 novel became a 1980 miniseries. It looks at 17th-Century Japan through the eyes of a British sailor named John Blackthorne.
He encounters Catholic Japanese, evangelized by Portuguese Jesuits, similar to those featured in Martin Scorsese's 2016 film Silence, based on the 1966 novel by Shūsaku Endō.
I struggle to remember how much of this was in the 1980 version of Shogun, but a lot of the book centers on the religious and economic conflict between the Catholic Portuguese and incoming Protestant English and Dutch.
While Blackthorne is Protestant, one of the main Japanese characters, Lady Mariko, is Catholic.
Shogun is set to become a limited series on FX, and THR says of the new version:
Unlike the former NBC take, Landgraf’s FX series will be told from the Japanese POV and has been updated to feature a more culturally sensitive and accurate portrayal.
What that mean remains to be seen.
As for movies -- review site Rotten Tomatoes has come out with its most anticipated movies of 2023.
There's a bumper crop of superhero, sci-fi and action-adventure films, but tucked in there are a few that may be of interest to the faith and family audiences (with the caveat that we won't be sure of anything until they come out).
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Christian actor Chris Pratt voices the lead character in The Super Mario Bros. Movie (April 7), based on the hit video game. Producing are Chris Meledandri of Illumination (Despicable Me) and the creator of Mario himself, Shigeru Miyamoto.
Super Mario is one of the few mainstream video games that is relatively kid friendly.
The Little Mermaid
Pop singer Halle Bailey takes the title role of Ariel in Disney's live-action (with computer animation) remake of The Little Mermaid (May 26), with Lin-Manuel Miranda providing songs.
Disney is very hit-and-miss these days. Might be good; might be a woke nightmare.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
The animated Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2) is a sequel to the Oscar-winning 2018 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which was a critical and audience hit, suitable for older grade-schoolers and up.
It focuses on Miles Morales, a teen who also gets super-spider powers, then encounters more super-spider-teens from different dimensions.
From Rotten Tomatoes:
Shameik Moore will voice Miles Morales again, with Hailee Steinfeld’s Gwen Stacy and Oscar Isaac’s Miguel O’Hara (aka Spider-Man 2099) joining him. We also know that Issa Rae is set to voice Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman), and it’s likely that Jake Johnson’s Peter Parker will be back as well.
The Nun 2
A sequel to the successful 2018 movie The Nun, The Nun 2 (Sept. 8) -- part of the expanding The Conjuring horror universe -- brings back Tessa Farmiga as evil-fighting Sister Irene.
A priest's murder pits Sister Irene once again against Valak, the demon who appeared in the form of a nun in the first film.
While very silly (and definitely not family friendly), The Nun was (as I wrote here) ultimately about the power of prayer and Christ to combat incarnate evil.
Let's hope The Nun 2 sticks to that.
Lastly, the remake of The Exorcist (Oct. 13, which, yes, is a Friday) seeks to recapture the dark magic of the 1977 original, which was scripted by Catholic writer William Peter Blatty from his novel of the same name.
From Rotten Tomatoes:
The Exorcist is a follow-up to the original — and the 1973 original only — and will reportedly unfold as the first of a trilogy, with Ellen Burstyn set to reprise her starring turn.
That's all we know. My expectations are low, but hope springs eternal ...
Image: (L-R) Jonathan Roumie and Jordan Walker Ross in 'The Chosen'/Photo: The Chosen
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.
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