If you watch British quiz/panel shows, you’re probably familiar with Romesh Ranganathan–or you may have seen his stand-up. If you’re a fan of his on either–well, especially the latter–you’ll surely want to catch the latest Netflix special. There’s also a practical avalanche of documentaries and docu-series (well, at least for a random Tuesday), including an HBO expose of educational insanity, a look at a modern classic Christmas movie that turns 20, a pair of promising true crime studies, and the return of one of the most famous music biographies of all time, after its descent into booze and pills.
Romesh Ranganathan: The Cynic [Netflix]
With a mix of amiable average guy relatability and a rapier of dark sardonic wit, the British stand-up is one of the funnier comics on stage. He’s such a machine that he’s already titled his next tour, scheduled for 2024.
My So-Called High School Rank [HBO, 9p]
The race to get into college–and ultimately into the most cozy version of life itself–has always been cutthroat, but has become even more so in recent times. HBO docs are the gold standard and this one looks into students who are doing anything it takes to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields [Netflix]
Netflix’s crime documentary is unlikely to provide answers, but hopefully will shed new light on a case that has stymied true crime obsessives for decades. The series follows a man who has been searching for his daughter’s killer for years. The Texas Killing Fields span 25-acres on League City Texas; the series is sure to cover the many other murders connected to the area.
BUT, WAIT, THERE’S MORE:
- Actress/model Cara Delevigne is fresh off a star turn as Bloody Mabel’s mysterious–and possibly sinister?–love interest in season two of Only Murders in the Building. So, what else would she do next than host a docu-series about doing it, and doing it right? Planet Sex with Cara Delevigne debuts today on Hulu.
- For years, Behind the Music told the story of what happened when music celebrities stopped being friends and started becoming real… or something like that. The classic VH1 quick-cut docu-series, with its famous teasers for darker stages of its subject’s career, returned last year in streaming form on Paramount+. The second set of half hour bios features stories of illicit sex, plenty of drugs, rock, roll, rap, country, and one of the darkest days to hit Las Vegas and country music. Profiles include Boy George, Remy Ma, Jason Aldean, and Hootie AND the Blowfish.
- 2003’s Christmas-themed rom-com Love Indubita… we mean Love Actually… can be a polarizing film. The star-studded collection of loosely intertwined stories about people experiencing love, lust, and loss around the holidays has a cult following who watch the film every Christmas as well as a legion of detractors, including an irreverant hit job by Shrill creator Lindy West that also gets passed around this time of year. Whether you love it for its unabashed quirkiness or find it vapid and problematic–especially the oft parodied cue cards scene where Andrew Lincoln romantically tries to woo his best friend’s new wife–you just might enjoy the ABC tribute The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually. Diane Sawyer interviews Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and much of the film’s cast.
- Speaking of polarizing, the not guilty verdict in the case of accused child murderer Casey Anthony enraged many, but also had its defenders in the legal world. Anthony has never given her firsthand defense for her actions in 2008… of course we wouldn’t be saying it like that if she wasn’t doing so in the new Peacock docu-series Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies. It’s sure to be polarizing in its own right.
- OK, there is one significant scripted show and it’s a hell of a sudden mood change. CBS has a new Christmas schedule, and casting aside our cynical views here at Screen Scholars, it looks cute. Reindeer in Here is based on a popular children’s book about a special reindeer whose special skill is not guiding Santa’s sleigh, but inventing new toys… at least he’d like it to be, but as the trailer shows us, he’s not a whiz at it… yet.
- The twist of the new Magnolia home show The Story of Home is that the dwelling the professional interior designers Tara Mangini and Percy Bright are fixing up is their own recent purchase in the one place that can never decline, because it was never that great, upstate New York. Come see what they conjure up when they actually have to live in the place they are re-imagining.