What to Watch This Week | December 18–24
CableTV.com’s superb viewing recommendations for shows, movies, sports, and more on TV this week.
CableTV.com’s Best New TV Shows of 2023 list is finally complete because, in case you hadn’t noticed, 2023 is pretty much done-zo. Keep in mind, the list consists only of series that premiered in 2023, not previously established shows like The Bear, Succession, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, so don’t @ me about it (or do, on Threads or Bluesky—Xitter is dead to me).
This week’s What to Watch recs include the new Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Bradley Cooper biodrama Maestro, the premiere of NBC’s Extended Family, docuseries Gwyneth vs. Terry: The Ski Crash Trial, the second season of Peacock’s Dr. Death, and NBA and NHL action on Max. Let’s stream into Christmas!
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What’s premiering this week
Percy Jackson and the Olympians | Disney+ | Drama, fantasy
Series premiere, Wednesday, December 20: Advance word is that Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a TV series based on Rick Riordan’s YA fantasy novels, is a more faithful adaptation than the movies, The Lightning Thief (2010) and The Sea Monsters (2013). This young Percy (Walker Scobell) is definitely working with a flashier cast: Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Lin-Manuel Miranda, pro wrestler Adam “Edge” Copeland, and the late Lance Reddick, just to name a few. Two episodes stream on December 20.
NBA and NHL on Max | Max | Sports, basketball, hockey
Streaming through December: Did you know that, until March 2024, Max subscribers can take advantage of the Bleacher Report Sports add-on package for free? This means you can watch select live NBA and NHL games, including Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors (both December 19), and New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals and Seattle Kraken vs. Los Angeles Kings (both December 20) without leaving Max for a live TV service. Watch free while you can.
What to watch on Netflix this week
Maestro | Netflix | Drama
Movie premiere, Wednesday, December 20: Maestro, which dramatizes the 25-year relationship between famed composer Leonard Bernstein (played by director Bradley Cooper) and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (Carey Mulligan), has already been a hit in theaters for a month. Real people and film critics alike say it proves Cooper’s successful 2018 directorial debut, A Star Is Born, was no fluke, particularly praising Mulligan if not Cooper’s prosthetic nose. Matt Bomer, Sarah Silverman, and Maya Hawke also star.
Rebel Moon Part 1: A Child of Fire | Netflix | Drama, sci-fi
Movie premiere, Thursday, December 21: Zack Snyder continues his post-DC relationship with Netflix and Rebel Moon, a two-part sci-fi epic that began as a Star Wars project over 10 years ago. It certainly sounds Star Wars-y: When evil forces threaten an edge-of-the-galaxy farming colony, a young woman (Sofia Boutella) travels to other planets to recruit warriors for its defense. Rebel Moon Part 1: A Child of Fire also stars Charlie Hunnam, Anthony Hopkins, and Cary Elwes; Part 2 will premiere in 2024.
What to watch on Peacock this week
Dr. Death | Peacock | Drama
Season 2 premiere, Thursday, December 21: It’s going to be tough to top the 2021 debut season of Dr. Death, which starred a perfectly creepy Joshua Jackson as a sadistic/murderous surgeon. Season 2 is also based on a true story first told on the Dr. Death podcast, this time about Dr. Paolo Macchiarini (played by Edgar Ramírez), who was involved in revolutionary but deadly procedures, not to mention an illicit affair with a journalist (Mandy Moore). All eight episodes of Dr. Death season 2 will stream on December 21.
Extended Family | Peacock | Comedy
Series premiere, Saturday, December 23: Dropping a new series on a Saturday night after an NFL game is a weird way to do TV business, but it’s been a weird year, so why not? Extended Family stars Jon Cryer and Abigail Spencer as Jim and Julia, a newly divorced couple working around shared custody of their kids and house, as well as Julia’s new boyfriend, Trey (Donald Faison). After tonight, the sitcom will settle into its regular Tuesday timeslot on January 2 after Night Court (which also drops a new holiday episode after Extended Family tonight).
What to watch on Prime Video this week
Merry Little Batman | Prime Video | Animation, fantasy
Movie, now streaming: Left alone at Wayne Manor on Christmas Eve, 8-year-old Damian Wayne (voiced by Yonas Kibreab) dons the Batman costume to fight holiday crime in Gotham City. The story borrows from Home Alone, the animation is a subtle nod to Calvin & Hobbs, and Warner Bros. Discovery inexplicably gave this endearing gem away to Amazon/MGM after rejecting it for Cartoon Network and Max. Merry Little Batman also features the voices of Luke Wilson, James Cromwell, and David Hornsby.
Candy Cane Lane | Prime Video | Comedy
Movie, streaming: A few weeks ago, the What to Watch column highlighted Melissa McCarthy’s new Christmas movie Genie, believing it would be a better pick than Candy Cane Lane. Wrong call: Candy Cane Lane, starring Eddie Murphy and Traci Ellis Ross, is the far superior holiday flick, a fast and funny riff on The 12 Days of Christmas. To win a holiday home decorating contest, Chris (Murphy) makes a deal with a devilish elf (Jillian Bell) that goes from bad to worse as Christmas approaches. A new holiday classic.
W2W wildcards of the week
Gwyneth vs. Terry: The Ski Crash Trial | Max | Documentary
Docuseries premiere, Monday, December 18: From the producers of Kim vs. Kanye: The Divorce and Johnny vs. Amber, it’s Gwyneth vs. Terry: The Ski Crash Trial, documenting the Utah civil trial that captivated the nation for five minutes earlier in 2023. Gwyneth Paltrow was found not guilty of skiing into and injuring retired optometrist Terry Sanders in a 2016 slopeside accident. Even though we know how the story ends, there’s plenty of saucy courtroom material for the two-part Ski Crash Trial to work with. Also, Paltrow wishes you well.
Movie premiere, Thursday, December 21: On a trip to Ireland to visit family for Christmas, married couple Caroline (India Mullen) and Jack (Justin Long) come to a disagreement: he wants kids, but she doesn’t. But being around Caroline’s big Irish family just might change their minds, which is what The Christmas Break is all about. BTW, Long is 45 in real life and Mullen is only 30, which means he would logically have a greater sense of urgency about having children than she does. Just sayin’…
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