The Watchman: Serena Serves Up ‘Lip Sync’ Perf, Animals Steal Show on ‘Dynasties’

Season five of Lip Sync Battle starts on Paramount Network Jan. 17. The season features performances by the Fab 5 of Queer Eye, Darren Criss of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, model Brooklyn Decker and Serena Williams.

Yes, the tennis star struts her stuff on stage. “Serena is an unbelievable dancer and a huge karaoke fan,” executive producer Casey Patterson said. “She’s perfectly at home in many ways.”

Season five also features a special appearance from Mariah Carey in the second episode. “She comes to play,” promised Patterson.

Lip Sync Battle is chugging along, and will reach 100 episodes this season. Patterson calls the format genre-less, ageless and timeless. “There’s always new music and the combinations are endless,” she said.

The celebs come on Lip Sync Battle to put on a show, said Patterson, not talk up some new project. “They’re not promoting a movie,” she said. “They’re truly coming to entertain.”

LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen host. Because he doesn’t have enough other stuff going on, John Krasinski is an executive producer.

Besides Serena taking on some Beyoncé, the season’s highlights include the Queer Eye fellows — Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness — performing together, then breaking into teams. “It’s highly competitive — and oddly emotional,” Patterson said.

And with Sesame Street approaching its 50th anniversary, that show’s stars, including Cookie Monster, Elmo and Big Bird, turn up for a little lip syncing, too. “Big Bird is unreal,” said Patterson.

Jan. 19 shows some other animal stars in action, as Dynasties begins on BBC America, AMC, IFC and SundanceTV. Four years in the making, the nature program showcases the lion, chimpanzee, tiger, painted wolf and emperor penguin across five episodes, depicting endangered animals doing what they have to do to survive.

Executive producer Mike Gunton spoke of finding “turning points” in the animal families’ lives, such as tigers waiting for cubs to be born in India, and penguins getting through the “utterly brutal conditions” in Antarctica. “It’s the story of how the animals have to cope with their own family,” Gunton said, “and the challenges of humanity.”

While he’s loath to pick one animal, Gunton said the chimpanzee tale stands out, as viewers watch what the alpha male goes through to retain his primacy. “I could not have written a script as extraordinary as what happened,” he said.

A pack of rivals assembles to overthrow the chimpanzee leader. “It’s a very dramatic story,” said Gunton, “a cross between The Revenant and Rocky.”

There are heart-stopping moments throughout Dynasties. “Some of it is brutal, but it all ends positively,” Gunton said. “A fire burns in these animals to survive.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.