As the Best American (elected so by Screen Scholars seven years in a row), we must protect Dolly at all costs. She lifts up our spirits for the holidays in her latest special–some people mark the beginning of ths season when they first hear Christmas music on the radio, others when Santa rides into Herald Square on Thanksgiving morning, but we now contend it’s when Dolly Parton’s special airs. In our recs, we also tout an HBO documentary about an OG rich twit lost in the shuffle of recent rich twittery, and a schizophrenic detective mystery from overseas.
Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas [ABC, 9p]
Dolly Parton stars a version of herself (or maybe Miley Cyrus does, does it matter?) travelling through Tennessee. Through the power of song–and possibly a witch, a reculusive woodsman finds the spirit of Christmas. After everything Dolly has done for us, she can do any cheesy thing she wants on primetime.
Branson [HBO, 10p]
The court of public opinion is not on the side of billionaires right now. in the era of Bond-like villainy from the likes of Musk and Bezos, it’s almost quaint to revisit the life of Richard Branson. But that is just what the new HBO series does. i will give it him, he’s had an interesting life.. and yes, I miss his megastores.
Agatha Christie’s Hjerson [Topic]
If you are craving a detective series and you can’t decide between a charming Agatha Christie or a gritty Nordic noir, you’re in luck as this darkly comic offering from Sweden gives you a litte from column A and a little from column B. The elusive deep cut Christie mystery solver is brought to life by Johan Rheborg and if you can find Topic, it should be a treat.
BUT, WAIT, THERE’S MORE:
- One of the quicker turnaround reboots of recent times, the CW classic Gossip Girl goes into its second season and of course the rumors are still flying and the scandal’s a-brewin’. We’re not one to traffic in watercooler speculation, but we can guarantee you can find it on HBO Max.
- New content on HBO Max is the theme of the day, which is refreshing for a site that has become infamous for brutally removing favorite older shows. Also going into its second week on the streaming arm of the cable channel that once bragged about “not being TV,” Sort Of has flown waaaaay under the radar in spite of its 100% Rotten Tomato rating. The groundbreaking comedy about a non-binary Pakistani-Canadian teen learning about themself and attempting to figure out their place in the world.
- HBO Max brings the meta on the Hallmark-style-Christmas-film-within-a-Hallmark-style-Christmas-film A Holiday Christmas about a meet cute between a director and a humbug executive who demands to know the meaning of Christmas movies.
- Did you ever watch the yuletide ballet, The Nutcracker, and think the titular gift should have been given by Elmo? First, gotcha weirdo, but, second, congratulations as that is the premise of the HBO Max special Sesame Street’s The Nutcracker–good for young children and grown nostalgia nerds alike.
- If you enjoy your nordic noir more terrifyling than the Agatha Christie suggested above, Netflix brings us Troll. The Norwegian thriller is pretty much exactly what the title implies–a creature menaces a group of rural folks in Norway.
- The signature horror streaming service Shudder also brings us a new thriller A Wounded Fawn and we’re gonna stop right there because that’s too sad and it’s Christmas…