A victim of COVID-19 crisis twice over, the 2020 comedy "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" was originally slated to be released in cinemas. And that release was scheduled to coincide with the 2020 Eurovision competition. Needless to say, there’s been a change in plans.
Streaming today on Netflix, “Fire” stars Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as a bighearted, undertalented duo bent on representing their native Iceland in the annual song contest.
For those unfamiliar with Eurovision, it has been a cheesy staple of continental pop culture since 1956. Each country showcases one artist or ensemble, making it a strange combination of the Olympics and "American Idol." Over the decades, the award has established some major artists, most notably Sweden’s ABBA, who won with "Waterloo" in 1974. Canadian singer Celine Dion won in 1988, while performing (in French) to represent Switzerland. The contest's definition of "Europe" has been rather vague. Israel has competed. So has Australia.
The contest has long had a reputation for overbaked glitz, more than bordering on camp. As early as 1973, Brian Ferry and Roxy Music sent up the pomp and pretense of the proceedings with the gloomy, pretentious parody number "A Song for Europe."
Over the past few years, the Eurovision contest has been hosted by Graham Norton, the Irish-born British TV host with a well-deserved reputation for playing the gushing fan, a champion of the over-the-top who can ooze enthusiasm while simultaneously rolling his eyes in derision. Look for Norton as himself in "The Story of Fire Saga."
All of this makes Eurovision and its excesses a perfect vehicle for Will Ferrell. During his career, he has sent up figure skating ("Blades of Glory”), NASCAR ("Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"), the short-lived American Basketball Association ("Semi-Pro") and even Christmas ("Elf"). And don’t forget, along with Ana Gasteyer, Ferrell made his reputation as a part of the singing duo Marty and Bobbi Culp on "SNL."
Audiences will have to decide if Ferrell is too old to play yet another delusional striver in spandex. Making fun of Eurovision is a pretty easy and obvious joke. Will enough American viewers care?
Look for Pierce Brosnan as Ferrell's disapproving father, and Dan Stevens ("Downton Abbey" and "Legion") as a rival performer. Demi Lovato also stars.
-- You have to give Disney+ credit for entertaining its franchise fans between new installments. With “Frozen 3” not arriving for another year, fans will have to settle for “Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2,” streaming today.
Disney+ also streams the “Star Wars” placeholder “Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” a behind-the-scenes docuseries.
-- The 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) will also reflect our COVID quarantine status, with presenters, nominated talent and winners appearing from home and remote locations. Like every genre, daytime talk shows and soaps have been affected by the closure of sets and production studios. Soaps may be leading the way toward our new normal. It was reported last week that the CBS series “The Bold and The Beautiful” would be the first to resume production.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
-- Acts move forward on “World of Dance” (8 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG).
-- Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”) and Jane Seymour (“Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman”) star in the 2014 holiday confection “A Royal Christmas” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).
-- The 2019 incarnation of “Charlie’s Angels” (8 p.m., Starz) hoped to attract younger viewers to a mature franchise.
-- Christine Lahti portrays Gloria Steinem in “Gloria: A Life” on “Great Performances” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-14, check local listings).
-- Mystic evidence on ”Blue Bloods" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
An experimental fertility drug results in something monstrous in the bizarre 1974 shocker “It’s Alive” (4 a.m., early Saturday, TCM, TV-14), directed by Larry Cohen.
“WWE Friday Night Smackdown” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) ... Cheese sets the agenda on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... Dean Cain hosts “Masters of Illusion” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14), followed by a repeat episode (8:30 p.m.).
“The Wall” (9 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) ... “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) ... Improvisations on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-PG; 9:30 p.m., r, TV-14) ... “Dateline” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
Keegan-Michael Key and Wes Moore are booked on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Pierce Brosnan, Nicole Richie and Blackpink on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Regina King appears on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (11:35 p.m., ABC, r).
Pete Davidson and Matthew Rhys visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) ... Rep. Val Demings and M. Ward appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, r).