Christmas is almost here and that means a whole series of holiday specific programming for your television. America doesn’t do specials so much as incorporate Christmas themed episodes into its regular programming, while British television often produces holiday episodes set outside a show’s regular season. Even shows that haven’t had regular seasons in years will still turn up with Christmas specials. So here’s a look at what you should catch between holiday meals.
Luther – BBC America
Case in point, this British crime drama starring the currently ubiquitous Idris Elba hasn’t produced an episode since the season three finale in 2013. But now DI Luther is back with a two episode special set that aired on Dec. 17 on BBC America. When we last saw Luther he had quite the police force to run away with his sociopathic friend Alice. What they got up to after that is anyone’s guess and will hopefully be addressed during these episodes. Luther is lured back to the force when a cannibal killer begins terrorizing London. Luther is a fantastic show and Idris Elba is just phenomenal as this good guy who goes about things the wrong way.
Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song- BBC One
Yes, the season nine finale was two weeks ago, but who can complain about more Doctor Who sooner than usual? When we last saw the Doctor he had taken off on his own as Clara made her way back to Gallifrey – the long way around – in the company of Ashildr. As the title of the Christmas episode suggests, River Song is back and it will be the first time 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi has shared screen time with Alex Kingston’s River Song. I personally think the pairing will be perfect. Apparently, though, River doesn’t seem to recognize the Doctor – which is pretty confusing for the Doctor considering she’s his wife and that she seems to have another husband.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride – BBC One
I’ve grown so used to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s Watson run around modern day London that seeing them set back in Victorian London seems so out of place – which itself is weird considering that’s when you usually think of Sherlock Holmes being set. Talk about special episodes, this New Year’s day one off episode takes Holmes and Watson back to their roots, and I can’t wait to see how it will translate. While I am very excited to have Sherlock back for an episode, the story obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the return of Moriarty at the end of season three. For that, we’ll have to wait a bit longer as Freeman and Cumberbatch coordinate their increasingly demanding schedules.
A Very Murray Christmas – Netflix
This Sofia Coppola directed Christmas special is already available to watch on Netflix and it is all kinds of weird and wonderful. Murray prepares to put on a live television Christmas extravaganza during the biggest blizzard of the year. With no guests and no audience, the show is shaping up to be a disaster. The bulk of the special plays out like exactly what it pretends to be – a group of people stranded in a blizzard during Christmas and making the most of what they have. Murray plays ringleader, naturally, and initiates a string of singalongs. Its all topped off with Murray’s fantasy Christmas show during a drunken dream sequence.
I Love Lucy Christmas Special – CBS
Obviously not new material, CBS profits from its ownership of I Love Lucy to re-broadcast two special episodes – one an actual Christmas episode of I Love Lucy which itself is made up of flashbacks to previous episodes and the second the famous vitameatavegemin episode where Lucy gets drunk while doing a commercial for a health tonic. CBS ran an I Love Lucy Christmas Special last year and found that ratings were good enough to merit a second try. Maybe they’ll start doing Star Trek Christmas Specials too?
Taraji and Terrence’s White Hot Holiday – FOX
This has already aired, but if you can catch a re-run of it during Christmas there’s plenty of great music presented by great performers. The Taraji and Terrence of the title are in fact Tarahi P. Henson and Terrence Howard of Fox’s Empire – a show about a hip hop entertainment company the drama surrounding it. Taraji and Terrence host this musical variety extravaganza, performing with special guests like Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige, and John Legend – so at the very least you know that the talent behind the concept it is pretty solid.