This weekend I have … a half-hour, and there’s beauty in small things.
‘How to With John Wilson’
When to watch: Friday at 10 p.m., on HBO.
We live in arguably the most redundant age of television, when every show — even excellent ones, special ones — looks and sounds and moves like a lot of other shows, all squeezed out of the same tube. Except this one. “How to With John Wilson” is a video collage of footage shot by Wilson and assembled into gorgeous, silly and strange musings. Seemingly random vignettes of pedestrians, of wry graffiti, of urban minutiae play under Wilson’s narration, and suddenly what was a mess of roving is now a beautiful strand of yarn. Season 2 kicks off with “How to Invest in Real Estate,” which somehow includes clotheslines of underpants and an array of ventriloquism dummies. I love this show.
… a half-hour, and I like goofy comedy.
When to watch: Saturday at 8:30 p.m., on the CW.
“Wellington Paranormal” is a comedy from New Zealand that’s like a hybrid of “The X-Files” and “Reno 911.” It’s part of the “What We Do in the Shadows” universe, but you don’t need to have seen that movie or that show to like the supernatural shenanigans here. Three seasons have aired in New Zealand, but so far only two have aired in the United States, broadcast on the CW and streaming on HBO Max. This weekend’s episode is the Christmas special from 2019, and it’s a perfect entree: Officers Minogue and O’Leary (Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary) investigate a cursed doll, a mall Santa who is actually a mall Satan and a barbecue where a portal to another dimension has opened.
… a few hours, and I like cooking shows.
‘School of Chocolate’
When to watch: Arrives Friday, on Netflix.
This eight-part chocolate-sculpture competition series sets itself apart from other food-contest shows in a few ways. First, no one is eliminated (the dream!) but rather graded throughout the season. Second, the host and judge, Amaury Guichon, provides genuine instruction to the chocolatiers, not just “are you suuuure?” eyebrow waggles, or passive-aggressive suggestions like, “Well, if you like those flavors. … ” Third, several of the episodes are around 30 minutes. Fourth, the contestants taste one another’s work. And finally, they seem less interested in testy infighting than cheftestants on other shows; “It’s not personal,” one says, correctly, when she is ranked last in a challenge. If you want a crowd-pleasing, low-lift show for this weekend, try this.