The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of December 5, 2016

Which TV series will your friends (and the entire internet) be talking about this week? Stay informed — or at least be able to fake it — with SideReel's weekly guide to The Most Important Shows on TV.


Hairspray Live!

Hairspray Live!

Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NBC

Why: NBC has staged three live musicals in as many years. They have been OK (The Sound of Music), bleh (Peter Pan), and not bad (The Wiz). This year's choice arguably has the most promise, but in some ways makes the least sense. After all, the musical version of Hairspray was in theaters just nine years ago. And it was pretty good. And quite successful! So why redo it? Beats me! But one thing's for sure: the story is depressingly relevant (get ready to hear that about both period pieces and dystopian dramas for the next four years). A song like "Come So Far (Got So Far To Go)" will ring very true for many people. And the cast is bananas: Harvey Fierstein, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin, Rosie O'Donnell. That level of talent suggests this could be NBC's best musical yet. Let's just hope that if it isn't good, it's really bad.

Prepare to talk about: Amanda Bynes' live tweets; whether the new Tracy (Maddie Baillio) will be more Ricki Lake or Nikki Blonsky.


Mozart in the Jungle: S3E1

Mozart in the Jungle
(Season Premiere)

Friday at 3 a.m. on Amazon

Why: It's that show you hear about twice or thrice a year, usually around big award ceremonies. Which means it's good, right? But for some reason you still haven't checked it out. Well, now just might be the time. The half-hour dramedy (comama?) about a fictional New York City orchestra, now in its third season, is based on Blair Tindall's critically acclaimed memoir Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs & Classical Music. It's a wonderfully weird series with a bit of a madcap tone. The cast is superb, especially Gael García Bernal, who somewhat surprisingly won a Golden Globe earlier this year for his work as Rodrigo. The new season begins with the symphony family torn apart after a lockout, leading different members to take on new opportunities, including Hailey touring Europe with a different group and Rodrigo working with an opera diva on her return concert in Italy.

Prepare to talk about: Rodrigo's talkative hair; how much more of Monica Bellucci there should be on TV screens.


The Walking Dead: S7E8

The Walking Dead
(Midseason Finale)

Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC

Why: It's still cable's most-watched show, but AMC's zombie drama has taken a serious ratings tumble this season. Some are pointing the barbed bat at Negan and the gruesome violence that marked the season premiere, but the decline in viewership could also be attributed to the show's move away from core characters and into unfamiliar territory. That's obviously a necessity for a series that's known for killing off fan faves on the reg. But as the first half of the seventh season comes to a close, viewers are thirsty for more humor and a reason to cheer. This 90-minute episode's summary is not super comforting: "Negan’s unwelcome visit to Alexandria continues as other members scavenge for supplies; things quickly spin out of control."

Prepare to talk about: Whether these midseason breaks make any sense; whether the show can rebound in the spring.


T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He absolutely can stop the beat — but he won't. Follow him on Twitter.



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Dec 5, 2016 7:26AM EST

So glad we're gonna "hear the hair" again in a few days! :D

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Dec 5, 2016 9:54AM EST

Mozart in the Jungle seems like one of those enjoyable grungy intellectual shows. Smart but chock full of dreary truths about life and society.

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Dec 8, 2016 1:28PM EST

"One time at band camp..."

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Dec 11, 2016 8:21AM EST

KORRRRRRRAL! get in the house!

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