Happy last month of 2021 everyone, can you believe it? I’m absolutely gobsmacked that by the time we get through this round of new shows it’s going to be 2022. Since we’re already being inundated with Christmas commercials and holiday specials are taking over our airwaves, these non-themed new series should provide the perfect escape. The final round of the best on offer is an eclectic mix with one thing in common — engaging ways to pass a little quiet time in between wrapping and cooking and baking and all the family gatherings. So grab a glass of eggnog or your favorite libation and settle in for an interesting winter’s night. Ho ho ho and all that!
December 6, 2021 (HBO Max)
If you didn’t catch David Thewlis in Noah Hawley’s Fargo (FX), slap yourself and go fix that right effing now. Then you, like me, can lament that Olivia Colman should be in that series but isn’t, and send out a message to Hawley on Twitter. Meanwhile, this limited series could basically fit right into that universe and whoever put these two brilliant people together, I want to kiss you! The pair bring to life Susan and Christopher Edwards, an English couple who may have killed Susan’s parents. Written by Colman’s actual husband, Ed Sinclair, and directed by Will Sharpe (Casualty, Sherlock, Dirk Gently, Babylon, Flowers).
December 6, 2021 (Netflix)
Film lovers, meet other film lovers, and deep dive with them into the movies that have lodged themselves in our minds forever. Each of the six episodes delves into character, story, and the how and why particular scenes were created to affect us the way they do. Writer/director Tony Zhou, critics Walter Chaw, Drew McWeeny, writer/animator Taylor Ramos, and writer Sasha Stone carry out David Fincher and David Prior’s docuseries vision described as a “collection of video essays celebrating cinema.”
December 9, 2021 (AMC+/Channel 5 UK)
There goes any plan you had to drop extra streaming services! The incredible Jodie Turner-Smith stars as the titular queen and second wife of a certain king who had a penchant for beheading his wives. This particular take begins with only months until Anne’s life ends, with our heroine fighting to make a place for her daughter Elizabeth, and coming to terms with her unjust fate. The show also stars Game of Thrones’ Mark Stanley as Henry VIII and I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu as George Boleyn, but it is Turner-Smith we’re tuning in for.
December 16, 2021 (Disney+)
What if a series could combine our love for all things Marvel/Disney and the creativity with food seen in competitions like The Great British Baking Show? Enter Foodtastic, the show that does just that — with artists recreating scenes from Star Wars, The Lion King, The Avengers, Toy Story, and more. Hosted by Keke Palmer (Nope, Insecure, Hustlers) and featuring food experts Benny Rivera and Amirah Kassem as judges, this one’s a sure winner for the whole family.
December 16, 2021 (HBO Max)
This might be a little too on the nose for some of us… Emily St. John Mandel’s popular novel about a deadly flu pandemic will play out in the form of a ten-part miniseries created by Patrick Somerville (The Leftovers, Maniac) and directed by Hiro Murai (Barry, Atlanta). With a great cast headed by Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel, and Gael García Bernal, the apocalyptic tale focuses on the survivors, though there’s no denying the story’s dark side. If that’s your thing (my comfort show is Ozark) and you’re looking for an engrossing story, this could be your late-night pleasure.
December 16, 2021 (AMC+/Sundance)
Connie Nielsen and The Doctor Christopher Eccleston play husband and wife Jo and Rob Harding, a couple struggling to deal with Jo’s piecemeal resurfacing memories after she suffers a fall that may or may not have been an accident (I mean, come on…!). Based on Amanda Reynolds’s best-selling psychological thriller and with leads like these two, how can we not watch?
December 16, 2021 (AMC+)
If all you want for Christmas is a new vampire story, get ready for this Aussie production about a remote mining town that harbors a very old (1788) secret in its underground tunnels. Created by Warwick Thornton (Sampson & Delilah), the series stars Rob Collins and Shantae Barnes-Cowan as indigenous Australian hunters Tyson and Shanika who’re trying to keep the bloodthirsty creatures from devouring… everyone.
December 19, 2021 (Paramount+ )
Though everyone in the world seems to be watching, I can’t say that Yellowstone is my cuppa, though I’d be neglectful not to add this prequel to December’s best-of list. Funnily enough, there’s a real Westworld vibe to the trailer; I can almost see William and Logan stepping off the train and into this version of the Old West to meet up with another generation of Duttons. Taylor Sheridan brought in the big guns for this one, too; Sam Elliott, Billy Bob Thornton, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw head up the cast, so slap a saddle on your kid’s rocking horse and keep an eye on anyone wearing gloves.
December 29, 2021 (Disney+)
While everyone predictably (and deservedly) went gaga over The Mandalorian and his little friend Grogu, we also got a nice surprise when Temuera Morrison showed up as the remarkably cool — and a little worse for the wear — Boba Fett. After surviving the Sarlacc, a dude deserves his own show and now Disney has made it so. Joined by the phenomenal Ming Na Wen’s Fennec Shand, the pair return to Tatooine to reclaim lands formerly ruled by Jabba the Hutt. With a slew of great directors (Bryce Dallas Howard, Jon Favreau, Dave Filloni, etc.) at the helm, we can’t wait to head back to where it all started.
December 31, 2021 (Netflix)
The Good Wife and Torchwood’s fabulous Cush Jumbo heads up another of writer Harlan Coben’s fourteen (!) Netflix adaptations as Megan, one of three people hiding from their secret pasts and whose lives are about to intersect in a terrible way. With Richard Armitage, Eddie Izzard, James Nesbitt, and Sarah Parish also on board, this thriller will satisfy that British suspense/mystery hole left by The Five and The Stranger.