Santa Claus has brought in the muscle.
Terry Crews, with his ripped chest and bulging biceps, doesn’t look like the typical elf, but he’s filled with the Christmas spirit.
He’s the star and host of Terry Crews Saves Christmas, a fun and funny show in which Crews and a team of experts stage holiday interventions for disaster-plagued party hosts.
The first of five episodes, all airing this week during the countdown to Christmas, is at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the CW. (Additional episodes are at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday.)
“The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time,” the Brooklyn Nine-Nine funnyman says. “But they’re also a lot of pressure. And we decided the hardest of it all might be the Christmas party.
“So we set out to help people and families that have a lot of Christmas spirit — no problem in that department — but they just can’t get it together. The party will inevitably go wrong.”
Crews, a former football pro, donned colorful elf costumes (minus the sleeves, of course, so he can show off “the guns”) and he surprised various families in need of a “Christmas life hack.”
“The families knew somebody was coming,” Crew says. “But when they opened the door and there I was, a 250-pound giant African-American, ha!, it was hilarious to see the reactions on their faces.”
Crews believes he is uniquely qualified to host a show like this because he used to be king of dysfunctional Christmases.
“I’ve been married 27 years,” he says. “I have five kids and one grandbaby. So I’ve done a lot of Christmases and I made all the mistakes. I’m the guy who stayed up till 4 in the morning trying to put the toy together. I’ve hosted family Christmas get-togethers that ended horribly. I’ve done it all.”
The problem that plagued most of the families, Crews says, was poor planning.
“What we tell people is that, literally, with a half-hour of planning, you can make up for 10 days of scrambling,” he says. “The other problem is people trying to do too much. I understand about wanting to go big. I’m all about going big. If you do it right, you can go as big as possible.
“But when it’s wrong and try to go big, then it’s just a giant mess.”
Here’s a sampling of the disasters that Crews and his crew encountered:
“First of all, there’s running out of food,” he says. “You invite family, friends, co-workers. But way too early in the evening there’s literally nothing left to eat. We had one family that was microwaving hotdogs because they ran out of everything else.
“Another problem was setting out food and after a while it getting cold and isn’t good any more. To see people avoiding food was embarrassing. Like, they were trying to do anything not to eat, to the point that people were drinking too much, which is a very different party.
“There also were decorating faux pas where somebody tried to be quirky, but it came off wrong. One lady had a bubble machine, but the thing malfunctioned and there was slippery soap everywhere. I was like, ‘Somebody’s going to slip and fall. You’re setting yourself up for an accident and a lawsuit.’ ”
These families weren’t the only ones who got a lot out of the visits from Crews and his team of advisers. Crews himself benefited.
“My mom last year passed away two days before Thanksgiving,” he says. “It left a hole in my holiday. Last year was a very hard Christmas for me, because my mother was the spirit of Christmas for me.
“I remember growing up in Flint, Mich., and we would make ornaments out of construction paper because we didn’t have a lot of money to buy any. When my mom was gone, it really hurt.
“But doing this show really filled a hole for me because I got to spend time with other families and with other moms.
“There were a lot of laughs, yes, but there also were a lot of tears and hugs.”
Terry Crews Saves Christmas
- 7 p.m. Tuesday
- KDAF/Channel 33