It’s a new month, and you know what that means. That’s right, it’s time for me to make a list of all the things I’m excited about and share them with you. TV, comics, movies, podcasts… all of the forms of entertainment known to man. Let’s get to it!
Joe Pera Talks with You (December 6) – This Adult Swim comedy is the least Adult Swim thing in their entire lineup. It’s this gentle, leisurely-paced series about a man in Northern Michigan who just wants to tell you about the things that interest him. And it’s brilliant. It’s insightful and hilarious and sometimes just plain weird – check out Season One’s “Joe Pera Reads the Church Announcements” for an episode about how Joe discovered the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and then had to tell everybody about it. At length. It’s screamingly funny and if you’re not on board after that, I don’t even know what to do with you. Maybe we can’t be friends anymore. (Adult Swim)
Holiday Podcasts (Various) – You know my obsession with Christmas episodes, and this extends to the podcast sphere. While most of the major networks and shows don’t really announce plans ahead of time, there are certain things we can count on. Comedy Bang! Bang! always does a huge guest-filled episode for the holiday that just gets sillier and sillier. (And then proceeds to do the four-part “Best of” hosted by Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins.) My Brother, My Brother & Me and associated McElroy podcasts have the annual Candlenights live show and that’s always a blast. They recorded the Christmas episode of The Adventure Zone in Chicago and that was a wild one about people looking to beat up Santa Claus. The Doughboys usually put out a scripted play on the Double feed where Wiger learns the meaning of Christmas, and I hope they keep that up. Hello from the Magic Tavern does the annual Chris Must show. Amanda Lund is following up her great The Complete Woman series with The Complete Christmas. It may be too much to ask for to get another “Christmas on Mars” from the Thrilling Adventure Hour, but hope springs eternal. Off Book has already started a month of Paul F. Tompkins episodes for the Paul F. Days. And those are just the ones with established traditions – it’s going to be a month of specials and holiday-themed episodes.
Jumanji: The Next Level (December 13) – I did not expect to care about the Jumanji reboot and, to be honest, I really only saw it because Karen Gillan is in it. But the story of kids transported to a video game and inhabiting new personas was an absolute delight. Jack Black playing a teenage girl in the body of, well, Jack Black was hilarious and Gillan trying to distract a couple of gunmen is such a great bit. Rhys Darby and Marc Evan Jackson show up and the Rock does Rock stuff. It’s awesome! The sequel has the Rock and Kevin Hart inhabited by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover and yes, they’re doing impressions. Basically, the first one was so much better than I could have expected and I’m very into seeing another one.
Batman 85 (December 18) – Writer Tom King wraps up his long run with this month’s issue. And the thing about King’s run is that it’s mostly been things that sound like bad ideas that are almost always executed beautifully. “The War of Jokes and Riddles”, Batman’s engagement, the return of Flashpoint Batman, “City of Bane”, all of them sound bad and they’ve actually been great. King is moving on to a Batman and Catwoman miniseries and a new series starring Adam Strange, but this was a nice long run and I’m interested in seeing how he puts a button on this behemoth. Will I always resent him for apparently killing Alfred? Absolutely. But he also did that amazing story about Bruce Wayne serving jury duty during the trial of Mr. Freeze. Gonna miss that lunatic. (DC Comics)
A Christmas Carol (December 19) – My cousin alerted me to this and now I’m absolutely fascinated. This is a dark Christmas Carol miniseries produced by Tom Hardy’s production company, who previously gave us the bonkers-ass Taboo. Guy Pears stars as Scrooge, Andy Serkis plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, it’s written by Taboo‘s Stephen Knight, and it’s going to be the weirdest Christmas Carol you’ve ever seen. I can not promise it will be good, but that’s beside the point. (FX)
The Witcher (December 20) – Based on the Polish fantasy novels and the bestselling video games, Geralt the Witcher comes to TV this month. And here’s the thing – I theoretically like The Witcher very much. I’ve liked the parts of the second game I’ve played a lot, but it’s a sprawling RPG and my video game time has been so limited lately. Basically, if a game has crafting, I don’t have time to play it. But I pay a lot of attention to the games and I’m familiar with the story, so I’m excited to get this in a form that I can enjoy without having to learn how to fashion bracers. Henry Cavill, who I don’t blame for Zack Snyder’s DC movies, stars as Geralt and that guy is great. I can be kind of a hard sell for fantasy but I’m into this. (Netflix)
Bombshell (December 20) – Otherwise known as the FOX News movie, this stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie (as, respectively, Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and a composite character) and deals with the atmosphere of harassment and assault at the conservative new juggernaut. And the thing is, it actually looks pretty funny. (Theron’s delivery of “anger menstruating” in the trailer sealed the deal for me.) I’m interested in this story, and holy smokes, I just looked at the cast list. You know who else is in this movie? Mark Duplass, Tricia Helfer, John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes), D’Arcy Carden, Kate McKinnon, National Treasure Allison Janney, Connie Britton, Stephen Root, Deadwood‘s Nancy Weigert, Kevin Dorff, Rob Delaney, Richard Kind, and Spunkybuddy Marc Evan Jackson as Chris Wallace. That’s a ton of people who are usually enough to convince me to watch something all on their own. This is a power cast!
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (December 20) – Oh yeah. This is the big one for the month. Episode IX. The end of what we’re calling the Skywalker Saga. It’s hard not to be geeked for this, and every piece of information has me psyched. Keri Russell is in this thing, for cry pete! I’ll admit here that the title makes me nervous – I’m worried that they’re going to reverse Last Jedi and make Rey a Skywalker. That would be a bummer – I love the way Episode VIII opened up things. I mean, the bit with Broom Boy is one of my favorite images in the whole franchise. If Rey is a Skywalker, it ruins the whole “anybody can be a hero” bit and turns the whole thing in to a nine-movie generational saga about a family with magic blood. Don’t let me down, J.J.!
John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch (December 24) – Mulaney is one of the best comedians around and any new special is a cause for celebration. And this one is gonna be weird. John hangs out with kids and just talks to them about a variety of topics. It feels like that’s a genre of special that used to exist in the Seventies, but I don’t know that it was ever a thing. Gather the whole family around on Christmas Eve and enjoy! (Netflix)
Flirty Dancing (December 29) – We’re always kind of hurting for TV this time of year, so I am inordinately excited for this series. It’s based on the British hit where two people who have never met each learn one part of a shared dance on their own. And then the first time they meet, they perform the dance together. It’s part dating show, part Dancing with the Stars, and part that one improv game. I am more interested in this than I should be. (FOX)
That’s it for me. What are you into?