The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

ABC's 'Deception' is a Fresh Magic Act

Ilfenesh Hadera and Jack Cutmore-Scott in Deception (ABC)


When ABC began airing commercials for its new show, Deception, I thought that the studio was going for a reboot of Castle, the long-running and popular action/adventure/comedy show that featured a wise-cracking male mystery novel author and a super-serious female homicidal detective. While the new show does have a few similarities, it is definitely its own show – and a better one at that.

Instead of Rick Castle, Deception features Cameron Black (Jack Cutmore-Scott), a superstar magician whose day job comes to a screeching halt when his magic act is ruined by scandal. Instead of Kate Beckett, the show features Kay Daniels (Ilfenesh Hadera) as a FBI agent not entirely convinced that she needs Black’s help. However, before the first hour is up, it becomes clear that these two will make a good team and harbor less tension that Castle and Beckett ever did on their show.

I’m not totally sure, but it’s been a while since a magic-themed crime show has been on the air. Bill Bixby’s The Magician ran from 1973-1974. Yes, CBS’s former The Mentalist had some similar themes, this show is more full on magic show stuff. (In less than a minute, Black is sharing a card trick to those watching and it even has a cameo with Penn and Teller). Overall, the show feels more similar to the Now You See Me movies. Even the music is reminiscent to Now You See Me. Those who like magic and mystery with a touch of humor here and there will like this show. Expect to be fooled numerous times and hear cliché magic references. And unlike traditional magic shows, this one lifts up the curtains and shows what’s behind the smoke and mirrors much like how Murder She Wrote went back and showed you the clues you missed earlier in the episode. The art of deception is described here as really the art of distraction, causing the viewer to look one way while the trick is being done the other way.

Laila Robins, Vinnie Jones, Lenora Crichlow, Jack Cutmore-Scott, 
Ilfenesh Hadera, Amaury Noloasco, Justin Chon (ABC)
Both Black and Daniels bring a team with them to play. This includes FBI Agent Deakins (Laila Robins) and Mike Alvarez (Amaury Nolasco from the NBC comedy Telenovela) on Daniels side and Gunter Gustafsen (Vinnie Jones from Galavant), Dina Clark (Lenora Crichlow) and Jordan Kwon (Justin Chon) on the magician’s side.

The pilot episode for Deception was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Cutmore-Scott is cocky yet manages to be likable and Daniels is tough but she’s also a team player and can admit when she is wrong. While there is one over-arching storyline, for the most part, it appears that each epiode will be able to stand on its own. It will be interesting to see if each episode that follows will be as intriguing and if they will be able sustain the momentum.

Deception airs on Sundays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC. An encore of the pilot episode will air this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. as well.

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