The Most Important Shows on TV: Week of December 19, 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.

 

Travelers: S1E1

Travelers
(Series Premiere)

Friday at 3 a.m. on Netflix

Why: Hundreds of years from now, when humans have screwed up everything, some survivors discover how to override the minds of their ancestors, who become an elite force trying to save humanity from itself. It's an interesting and pretty timely premise that leads down all sorts of paths as it progresses, but the pilot's focus is on introducing the people whose lives these "travelers" are going to assume. There are some really fun moments here, including one domestic abuse victim using her newfound strength to right a wrong and a teen taking a long look at a fresh apple in his family's kitchen. From Stargate SG-1 co-creator Brad Wright, this Canadian show obviously has sci-fi elements, but it's mostly a fairly grounded, semi-spy drama, so even those who are typically wary of the genre may find it intriguing.

Prepare to talk about: Eric McCormack finding a juicy post-Will & Grace role; whether we'll see any of the future hellscape.

 

Sense8: Christmas Special

Sense8
(Christmas Special)

Friday at 3 a.m. on Netflix

Why: It’s been a minute since the release of the first season (June 2015), and the second won't stream until May. Luckily, there's a Christmas special to keep this strange and daring series' patient fans sated. Because nothing says Christmas like curling up by the tree with your tablet, watching a cast of beautiful polyglots dodge baddies on their way to the next orgy. Seriously though, this is a fun (if sometimes confusing) show that keeps viewers entertained while they try to connect the dots. In this two-hour special, we see the replacement for the actor who played Capheus (Toby Onwumere took over for Aml Ameen, who left due to "creative differences"). He and the rest of the crew are still on the run from Whispers, who, if you recall, connected with Will at the end of the first-season finale. That means, of course, that everyone in the sensate cluster remains in danger. (Even during the holidays!)

Prepare to talk about: How unlikely and incredible the Wachowski sisters' personal story is; why Lito and Hernando speak English to each other; what a weird bad-guy name Whispers is.

 

Doctor Who: 2016 Christmas Special

Doctor Who
(Christmas Special)

Sunday on BBC and BBC America

Why: It's also been a long drought for Doctor Who fans, who have been waiting for the universe's longest date night to end. In "The Return of Doctor Mysterio," the Time Lord finally is back from his rendezvous with River Song, this time for a holiday special (the 12th since the show's revival) that is pretty light on Christmas but heavy on fun. In an interesting cross-genre mix, the Doctor finds himself in the middle of a superhero adventure, joining forces with a masked vigilante known as the Ghost (Justin Chatwin), who is trying to keep New York City safe. Along for the ride is Who veteran Matt Lucas as the bumbling Nardole, who has reunited with his head (ah, sci-fi). A newcomer, journalist Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield), also is on hand to help battle this special's villains: brain-swapping aliens.

Prepare to talk about: Peter Capaldi's place among the modern-era Doctors; all the clever nods to comic book culture.

 

T.J. DeGroat is the editor of SideReel. He thinks Donna is the best companion. Follow him on Twitter.

Comments

4 comments

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Dec 19, 2016 1:19PM EST

I see "hundreds of years from now, when humans have screwed up everything" and I assume you meant to write "hundreds of hours from now."

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Dec 19, 2016 1:35PM EST

Just trying to make it through ONE DAY without sobbing, Leah.

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TelevisionFanboyContributor
Dec 19, 2016 3:28PM EST

Travelers looks pretty solid!!! I guess I will have to catch up on my Who too so I can properly enjoy the Xmas special.

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Dec 21, 2016 1:57PM EST

Don't they know it's Christmas weekend?? How will I find the excuses to duck out and watch these? ;-)

Doctor Who: Hoping for some good fun, assuming they stop wasting Peter Capaldi. Also: Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall, The Player, High Moon, 33 Mockingbird Lane).
Travelers: Not sure if the description of the time travel method reminds me more of Trancers or Assassin's Creed. However, it sounds like that's just a small part of what's going on. Could be good, hopefully a 3-peat of really good unknown series for Netflix, after Stranger Things and 3%.
Sense8: Yes!!!

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