As we’ve already covered extensively in this column, TV is churning out a lot of very watchable programming, so it’s become genuinely hard to keep track, especially of all the new stuff. Rounding out 2015, here’s the December TV premieres worth caring about.
November 30 Superstore – NBC – Okay, obviously this is not December. And why on Earth would I ever bend the rules to include an NBC product? Their shows are terrible pretty much all of the time, and this show is probably no exception. But the half-hour sitcom about the drones working in a Walmart-type store does feature the unstoppable Ben Feldman (Jean Ralphio from Parks & Recreation), who I will watch in anything(ed. note: see correction at bottom). So I’m giving it a shot. Stars America Ferrera and Ben Feldman.
December 1 Real Rob – Netflix – You’ve probably heard about the Netflix deal with Adam Sandler that will have us all tits-deep in terrible movies for the foreseeable future. But here’s an even more disturbing byproduct: Rob Schneider getting his own TV show on the streaming network. The show is described as Schneider’s “answer to Louie.” Oh god. That sounds… just awful. Stars Rob Schneider.
December 4 A Very Murray Christmas – Netflix This looks like another case of Netflix getting too cute for its own good and being too hypnotized by hipster street cred. This terrible-looking variety show will feature the great Bill Murray lazily phoning it in while a parade of guest stars show their a*ses. Nein danke. Stars Bill Murray, George Clooney, and Miley Cyrus.
Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter – Adult Swim – I frequently am concerned that Adult Swim’s formula of throwing almost any random thought a good comedian farts out up on the screen as a whole TV show won’t last. But why are they consistently so good? This time Jon Glaser (Delocated) is a werewolf hunter? I think? I don’t care. The cast is fantastic. I’m in. Stars Jon Glaser, Scott Adsit, and Steve Little.
December 11 Transparent – Amazon – I wasn’t sure Transparent deserved the best comedy statuette at the Golden Globes, but it’s undeniably well-written and the cast is fabulous. The overly clever title is actually a minus for me, but Jeffrey Tambor as the transgender matriarch of the hilariously dysfunctional family is a definite plus. Stars Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffman, and Jay Duplass.
December 14 Childhood’s End – Syfy – This miniseries adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel about alien invasion might be the most highly anticipated science fiction production ever put on television. Aliens invade Earth, but don’t destroy us, in this spooky-looking production that has a quality cast, if not a star-studded one. Stars Charles Dance, Colm Meaney, and Daisy Betts.
The Expanse – Syfy – This is Syfy’s most ambitious and expensive series ever, and it also looks pretty enticing. An abandoned spaceship is found, but it contains something that might be a threat to mankind. Huh. What a vague and unhelpful synopsis. That’s okay, I’m willing to give this one a chance. Sounds very mysterious… Stars Thomas Jane, Shoreh Aghdashloo, and an extra named Drew Carrymore (not kidding).
December 18 F is for Family – Netflix – This animated sitcom about a foulmouthed Boston family living in the ‘70s is written by and starring the vocal talents of standup comedian Bill Burr, who is hilarious. So I’m going to wave all my misgivings about Netflix’s animated fare (see Bojack Horseman for eye rolls…). Stars Bill Burr and Laura Dern.
Making a Murderer – Netflix
Anyone who saw the HBO true crime documentary series The Jinx or listened to the podcast, Serial, has got to be frothing at the mouth for this documentary on the Steven Avery saga, a story almost too unbelievable to be true. Read a little on the background of the case and you’ll be hooked. Stars Steven Avery.
By Ygal Kaufman
11/20/15: Correction – this article mistakenly referred to Ben Feldman as the actor who portrayed Jean Ralphio on Parks & Recreation. In fact that actor is Ben Schwartz. Ben Feldman is the actor who plays lawyer Ron LaFlamme on HBO’s Silicon Valley, among other less memorable roles. You now have no reason at all to watch Superstore, my apologies for the error. – Ygal Kaufman