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The rush of the holidays is now behind us, the weather sucks, and the news is getting scarier by the day. There’s really only one sane response: stay in and watch more television. Continuing its never-ending flood of content, Netflix has already released Messiah and Spinning Out, series designed to appeal to those who’ve been waiting for a second coming-themed religious mystery story and an ice-skating drama, respectively. This month will also soon see the returns of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO and Party of Five, the latter receiving a timely, immigration-themed update on Freeform. But the promising possibilities don’t stop there. Here are our 10 best bets for what to watch this month.
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Avenue 5 (HBO, Jan. 19)
Veep and In the Loop proved that British writer-director Armando Iannucci’s profane, satirical sensibility could work in the United States. But what about in space? The Thick of It creator’s latest takes place aboard an interplanetary pleasure cruise gone wrong. Hugh Laurie stars as the put-upon captain of a ship whose crew and passenger list also includes Josh Gad, as the ship’s billionaire owner, and Silicon Valley’s Zach Woods, as a customer relations head sorely unprepared to deal with catastrophe.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens (Comedy Central, Jan. 22)
Why can’t more shows have titles that helpfully inform viewers about their stars and setting? In this new semi-autobiographical series, Awkwafina plays a twentysomething woman named, yes, Nora who lives with her father (B.D. Wong) and Grandmother (Lori Tan Chinn) in — that’s correct — Queens. Will she ever get her act together, figure out what she wants to do with her life, and move out on her own? Presumably not until at least a few seasons have passed.
Dracula (Netflix, Jan. 4)
With Sherlock, the creative team of Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss memorably reworked Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective stories for the 21st century while retaining the spirit of the source material (and turning Benedict Cumberbatch into an international sex symbol). Their latest collaboration finds them turning their attention to Bram Stoker’s bloodsucker via a three-part, era-spanning, unapologetically loose adaptation. (Dolly Wells fill the Van Helsing slot, for instance.) Star Claes Bang (The Square) wears a cape well, which goes a long way in any Dracula adaptation.
Girl/Haji (Netflix, Jan. 10)
Just like Netflix’s 2018 hit Bodyguard, this import has already played to great acclaim on British television — which also suggests this eight-part crime thriller set in London and Tokyo will be a must-see. Takehiro Hira stars as a Japanese detective looking for his brother, a member of the Yakuza, in London. Kelly Macdonald and Will Sharpe round out the cast as, respectively, a detective and a sex worker drawn into the mystery.
The Good Place: The Final Season (NBC, Jan. 9)
The cliché that all good things must come to an end applies even to the afterlife. Michael Schur’s beloved, unpredictable, philosophical sitcom will begin its official last lap this month, a run culminating in a two-part series finale and a post-show wrap-up on January 30th. No other comedy has traveled from heaven to hell while contemplating the nature of humanity and throwing in inspired, silly gags like a chowder fountain, so it’s hard to know what to expect from this final stretch (beyond Jacksonville jokes, of course).
Little America (Apple TV, Jan. 17)
Apple continues its slow-but-steady attempt to stake out a spot in the streaming terrain with this series about the immigrant experience from the Big Sick team of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Office veteran Lee Eisenberg, and Alan Yang, late of Master of None and Parks and Recreation. The eight-episode first season draws inspiration from a diverse selection of true tales; along with the forthcoming Amazing Stories revival, its suggests the fledgling service is banking big on the ol’ anthology format.
The New Pope (HBO, Jan. 13)
The Young Pope, Paolo Sorrentino’s venture into the world of Vatican intrigue, ended on an enigmatic note that threw the future of Jude Law’s eponymous pontiff into doubt. And while the star returns for this sequel series, the new title confirms another character has ascended to the papacy: an eccentric English aristocrat played by John Malkovich (as if the promise of more of Law’s enigmatic performance wasn’t already enough to get our attention). Let the chewing of Roman scenery commence!
The Outsider (HBO, Jan. 12)
Last year’s flood of Stephen King adaptations shows no sign of slowing down — so tune in to this 10-episode adaptation of his 2018 novel about a popular Oklahoma teacher who insists he’s innocent of raping and killing an 11-year-old boy despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt. Could supernatural forces have played a part in the crime? (Spoiler: probably.) To say that movies and TV shows based on the bestselling author’s work vary wildly in quality would be a vast understatement, but a creative team that includes Richard Price and Jason Bateman — and a cast that includes Bateman, Cynthia Erivo, Ben Mendelsohn and others — suggests this will be one worth watching.
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access, Jan. 23)
It would be a cosmic injustice if the disappointing 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis had been our very last look at USS Enterprise captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Fortunately, this new series gives Picard a second chance via what appears to be a story about second chances — one set in motion by the arrival of a woman in need (Isa Briones) who draws the good captian out of retirement. Showrunner Michael Chabon has kept plot details under wraps, but the previews haven’t been shy about revealing the involvement of former Star Trek stars Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jeri Ryan, and Brent Spiner. Will this be the end of Picard? (The show has already been renewed for a second season, FYI, so … not quite.)
Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning (Lifetime, Jan. 2)
Featuring first-person accounts of singer R. Kelly’s widely alleged abusive, cult leader-like behavior, Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly stirred outrage when it aired last January. The renewed attention helped lead to the musician’s arrest and incarceration. It didn’t, however, exhaust the disturbing stories, as the existence of this second installment attests. Part II‘s interview subjects include early accuser Tiffany Hawkins and journalist Jim DeRogatis, who spent years pursuing the story.
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