Christmas week (and beyond) means this TV and streaming guide is a bumper one as the nation hunkers down for treats both in front of and on the sofa – and, like that box of Quality Street that lasts a single sitting instead of the intended several, there’s plenty to choose from in a short space of time, including spinoffs from cult film franchises in The Book of Boba Fett and Cobra Kai, David Tennent going Around the World in 80 Days, winter chills in Silence of the Lambs prequel Clarice, and the second season of love-to-hate Netflix hit, Emily In Paris. Here’s what you should be watching on TV and streaming over the festive period.
Girls5eva, Season 1
If you like musical comedies such as Pitch Perfect or even The Lonely Island‘s various TV skits and films, you might find a new TV fixation in Meredith Scardino’s Girls5eva. The series stars Sara Bareilles who, with pop anthems like Love Song and Broadway musical mainstay Waitress (among others) under her singer/songwriter belt, knows a thing or three about both the pop and musical worlds. Bareilles plays Dawn Solano in Girls5eva, the more laid-back member of the show’s titular Spice Girls-apeing group, alongside other notable castmember Busy Phillipps, who you may know from her comedic turn in ultimate guilty pleasure movie White Chicks, or more recently, her rabble-rousing daytime talk show in the States. SNL and 30 Rock alum Tina Fey, a venerable comedy icon by now, also – and with deliberate inexplicability – makes cameo appearances as a hallucinatory Dolly Parton, easing Dawn through her songwriting process like some kind of peroxide spirit guide. Scardino was a writer on Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which may be indicative of the buzz-worthy series’ tone. Making its UK television debut this week, it’s already been greenlit for a second season in the US.
Available from Peacock via Sky and NOW TV from Tues 21 Dec
Emily In Paris, Season 2
The show that both loves and hates the French in perplexingly equal measure is back. Netflix doubtless wasn’t expecting the social media whirlwind that Emily In Paris created when it dropped onto the streaming service around this time last year – just in time for the continued lockdown depression to make binging something so delectably vapid as Phill Collins’ daughter flouncing around a theme park version of Paris to teach us all about #GirlBoss feminism a great idea. It’s almost Christmas 2021 and while things aren’t quite so dire, the Omnicron threat (a virus, not a Decepticon) has probably instigated enough doom and gloom to make a second helping of the fashionista influencer’s foreign adventures go down an absolute treat again; the summery Parisian countryside and long lunches along the Seine providing comforting escapism while Emily’s own romantic fumbles and odd framing as an American victim of uptight European xenophobia ripe for ironic enjoyment at a ventilated watch party.
Begins streaming Wed 22 Dec on Netflix
Around the World in 80 Days, Season 1
While you stave off the anticipation for Good Omens Season 2, why not get stuck into another jolly-looking David Tennant series on the Beeb? Adapted from Jules Verne’s classic story, the last time Around the World in 80 Days was attempted for television, the year was 1989 and Pierce Brosnan was the leading man. More recently, Steve Coogan took a stab at playing Phileas Fogg “of London” in 2004, racking up two Razzie nominations in the process. That leaves this eight-episode miniseries an extremely low bar to clear, and a particularly spiffing, moustachioed Tennant – alongside The Crown‘s Leonie Benesch and French soap star Ibrahim Koma – may be just the tonic. Honouring Verne’s own heritage, this production has France in its bones – a collaborative effort between French, Italian and German companies for the European Alliance. (Remember Europe? They used to like us.) Luckily, Brexit hasn’t scuppered television arts dealings between us and the mainland, with BBC One nabbing Boxing Day broadcasting rights for the series premiere.
Begins airing Boxing Day on BBC One at 5:50 pm and available on BBC iPlayer thereafter.
Clarice, Season 1
The horror renaissance of the 2010s onwards continues this week with the UK debut of American Silence of the Lambs spinoff, Clarice. Fans of the cultiest of cult TV shows Hannibal will have high expectations for this follow-up television offshoot, which, as the title indicates, focuses this time on the female FBI Agent who crosses Dr. Lecter’s path, Clarice Starling, rather than the aforementioned Hannibal‘s Will Graham. Clarice doesn’t appear to have much to do with the latter: taking place instead between the 1991 and 2001 films (Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal). With Rebecca Breeds stepping into Jodie Foster’s shoes, the show picks up with Starling grappling with the aftermath of the Buffalo Bill case as well as the professional stain her involvement with an imprisoned Hannibal Lecter has tarnished her with. Sadly, the show hasn’t gone down well with critics who, while not outright panning it, have branded it a “disappointing” entry in such a well-renowned saga. Avid police procedural and horror fans (yes, Silence of the Lambs IS horror, that’s my hill to die on) may want to decide for themselves though.
Begins airing Mon 27 Dec on Alibi at 9 pm
The Book of Boba Fett, Season 1
To say that being a Star Wars fan in the last decade has been complicated would be a galactic understatement. While the continuing pop culture phenomenon has been effectively jumpstarted again from the brink of comparative, mainstream irrelevancy after George Lucas’ disastrous prequel films that only the TickTok generation could love, some of its latest offerings have gone down as well as a glass of blue milk on a hot day. However, while the sequel movie trilogy failed to propel the franchise into a bold, Disney-funded future that pleased all, television entries in the Star Wars universe have played things safer – plumbing new ground but further back in the timeline. Two incredible seasons of The Mandalorian restored faith in what Star Wars could be: nostalgia-baiting but still creatively risky. Now, following his incredible (but mostly canonical) return, spinoff to the spinoff, The Book of Boba Fett has a big helmet to fill, but with a fan-favourite title character and some returning Mando faces – and directors – it’s hard to imagine things will go the way of the Death Star(s).
Begins streaming Wed 29 Dec on Disney+
Stay Close, Limited Series
Following his Big Money deal with Netflix in 2018, miniseries Stay Close will be the latest adaptation of uber-popular mystery novelist Harlen Coben’s work. It comes warmish on the heels of previous adaptations The Woods and The Innocent, which were in Polish and Spanish respectively, as well as the English language The Stranger, which starred Richard Armitage, in January last year – one of 14 that Coben will executive produce for the streaming service. Armitage clearly enjoyed his time on the last project as he’s back for more British psycho-drama here, along with James Nesbitt, Eddie Izzard and lead actor Cush Jumbo of The Good Wife and The Good Fight fame. Unlike Coben’s Myron Bolitar and Mickey Bolitar series, Stay Close is a standalone story – hence Armitage’s involvement in a different role; a Coben Multiverse, if you will. Despite the author being a New Jersey native – where many of his books take place – these televised versions have transferred to locations in and around Manchester effortlessly, bringing addicting, twisty-turny plots involved Things Most Foul to a whole new audience.
Begins streaming New Year’s Eve on Netflix
Cobra Kai, Season 4
While an iconic slice of cheesy, 80s sporting cinema, who’d have thought The Karate Kid world would make such a comeback after so many decades? The other improbable thing about Cobra Kai, now entering its fourth season, is that it began as a YouTube original. Finding an enthusiastic audience on the video-sharing site – though one not typically keen on traditional TV – YouTube’s loss became Netflix’s gain when the former nixed the sequel series around Season 3 after coming to the aforementioned conclusion about scripted content. Set almost 40 years after the original film, Cobra Kai has flourished on its new home, with the continuation to the “Miyagi-verse” gaining both widespread critical acclaim and an even more avid viewership for its blend of nostalgia, comedy and surprisingly hard-hitting reappraisal of the franchise’s story through former antagonist Johnny Lawrence’s adult eyes. As well as William Zabka as Johnny, Cobra Kai of course welcomes back Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso, who once against sizes up his past adversary as he opens the doors to the Cobra Kai dojo once more. Unsurprisingly, a fifth season is in the works already.
Begins streaming New Year’s Eve on Netflix
words HANNAH COLLINS
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