With Halloween firmly in our rearview mirror, the holiday season now stretches out before us. That means family, friends, parties, presents, food, and more food. But it also means cold weather, perhaps snow, and the need to find something to do that is indoors, near a fireplace, and not too far from the kitchen that is overflowing with leftovers. I am, of course, talking about your television.
More specifically, I’m talking about the loads of binge possibilities on that television that will get you primed and ready for the turn of the calendar to 2017. New seasons of our favorites are set to launch, and you need to get caught up. Because nothing says I’m hip, in the know, and game for some great conversation at the upcoming office Christmas party like being able to dissect the last season of Sherlock.
Sherlock, Season 4 (January 1)
If you haven’t been watching the BBC/PBS contemporary version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s supremely successful observational detective Sherlock Holmes, don’t worry. No judgment here. But if you don’t take the time between now and New Year’s Day to get caught up on the series the judgment will be harsh, and deserved.
Benedict Cumberbatch, now one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, breathed a new and quirkier life into the world’s most famous detective when the show first aired in 2010. Martin Freeman, no stranger to playing well-know characters from literature with turns as The Hobbit’s Bilbo Baggins and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Arthur Dent, is Dr. Watson, now an Afghanistan War veteran. And the updated version of Holmes, as devised by creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (Holmes texts and uses GPS), is brilliant.
Each series is comprised of three 90-minute episodes, with a single one-off episode of the same length airing on January 1, 2016. That gives you a full 15-hours of top quality entertainment to be consumed this holiday season.
Nashville, Season 5 (January 5)
It may have changed to a less convention prime-time television network with its new home on CMT, but Nashville has survived for an upcoming 5th season.
Confession time: I don’t like country music. At least I didn’t think I did, until I started watching Nashville. The acting is great–who doesn’t love Connie Britton (Spin City, Friday Night Lights) and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)–the story lines, while definitely prime-time soap opera-ish, are fresh and compelling, and the music is phenomenal. And impressively, the music is all real. As in the actors are actually the people singing.
From producers, to writers, to performers, to agents, every part of the music industry in the titular Nashville is represented in the series that so far has produced 86 hour-long episodes. So cancel your plans, order a pizza or two, and get to watching.
Homeland, Season 6 (January 15)
Showtime’s award-winning CIA thriller series Homeland has been criticized in some circles for not being entirely realistic in its portrayal of intelligence gathering. Well, yes, it’s television. With only 12 episodes a season to tell a story, depicting the minutia of surveillance and wire taps wouldn’t be all that interesting. What is interesting, however, is the bipolar and fiercely loyal Carrie Mathison, as played by Claire Danes (Terminator 3, Shopgirl).
Trying to save the world from terrorists is hard. Trying to do while fighting tooth and nail to keep your own life together is next to impossible. But Carrie, along with help her on-again off-again mentor Saul Berenson, played by Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope, Criminal Minds), and fellow agent Peter Quinn, played by Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria), make it work. Sometimes. And sometimes it’s very messy. And sometimes it upsets their host nation. Actually, that’s most times.
From Washington, D.C., to Kabul, Afghanistan, to Berlin, Germany, Carrie and her intelligence colleagues get around. For season 6 they will be in New York, with 12 new episodes beginning in January, with 60 one-hour episodes already out there and available for your viewing pleasure.
Billions, Season 2 (February 19)
Speaking of Homeland, please tell me you watched the first season of Showtime’s Billions. If you did, awesome. Watch it again, because season 2 is coming. If you didn’t, I have but one question to ask: What in your life could possibly be more important than watching Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, Homeland) and Paul Giamatti (John Adams, 12 Years a Slave) go head-to-head in battle of legal chess in the high stakes world of hedge fund managers, insider trading, and U.S. Attorneys?
Damian Lewis is the flashy billionaire with a fortune built on the back of the attacks of September 11th. Paul Giamatti is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who doesn’t particularly like billionaires, but does like being the submissive in the bedroom to his very wealthy wife, the very talented Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men).
It’s superb acting, tight writing, and a perfect example of what makes today the true golden age of television. You have 12 episodes to watch over the holidays, but it’s guaranteed to take just one to get you hooked.