From holiday classics to festive sweets and treats, we round up the top 10 shows to watch this week
1. Elf – Saturday, December 7, 7 p.m., Family
Family Fresh off his iconic run on Saturday Night Live, Will Ferrell solidified himself as a big-screen comedy superstar with director Jon Favreau’s 2003 classic about an overgrown elf who departs the North Pole for the Big Apple in search of his birth father (James Caan). The only rub? Dad’s a mainstay on Old Saint Nick’s dreaded “naughty list.”
2. Madam Secretary – Sunday, December 8, 10 p.m., Global & CBS | Series Finale
GlobalThe world was a very different place when Madam Secretary premiered back in 2014. In those kinder, simpler days, Donald Trump was presiding over D-list boardroom bickering on The Celebrity Apprentice, not being impeached for allegedly shaking down the president of another country — all told, a bygone era when American foreign policy was far less chaotic than it is today. Ever since the 2016 election, watching the political journey of Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) hasn’t just been fictional, but seemed like it’s been beamed down to TV screens from another dimension.
This week marks the series’ end after six seasons, with the finale set to feature an array of guest stars, including Cicely Tyson, Tyne Daly and World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team members Crystal Dunn, Allie Long, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger. Also on hand will be legendary rocker Peter Frampton, who performs a song at a McCord family function.
3. The L Word: Generation Q – Sunday, December 8, 10 p.m., Crave1 | Series Premiere
Crave1A few years after The L Word aired its finale, Jennifer Beals realized something troubling: “Nothing had taken its place.” So she and the other stars of the groundbreaking series about a close-knit group of gay women living in Los Angeles started chirping in creator Ilene Chaiken’s ear about reviving the show — but it would take a seismic political shift for The L Word to return to screens after a 10-year hiatus. “I remember watching the returns [from the presidential election] come in and Ilene and I were texting each other, and we were both like, ‘We have to do something. We don’t know what it is exactly, but it must have to do with storytelling, because that’s our wheelhouse,’ ” Beals recalls. “We have to do something to be helpful, because we can see the tsunami coming.”
With the return of The L Word, television not only gets a voice from the LGBTQ+ community, the narrative itself also presents a scenario where that community is represented in ways they could currently only dream of: in the next chapter of the series, Beals’ character Bette Porter is seeking office as mayor of Los Angeles. “From a writing perspective, I was desperate to have a character who could speak from the queer experience. What would it be like to have somebody in the political space that speaks openly and authentically from the queer perspective?” says new showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan. “It’s a dream, really, to be able to tell these stories and to put into the world what I wish were already there.”
4. Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways – Tuesday, December 10 & Wednesday, December 11, 7 p.m., and Thursday, December 12, 9 p.m., CTV
Ellen's Greatest Night of GiveawaysMove over, Oprah, there’s a new celebrity gift-giver in town, and she’s aiming to top your infamous 2004 car-palooza. Ellen DeGeneres is getting into the holiday spirit with a supersized version of the gift-giving bit she does on her daytime talk show — turning it into a three-part primetime special airing all this week.
Lucky audience members won’t just get to take home some fabulous swag from the dancing host, they’ll be treated to appearances by an array of her famous friends; they include Jason Momoa, Chrissy Teigen, Melissa McCarthy, Michael B. Jordan, Justin Timberlake, Sterling K. Brown, Robert Downey, Jr., Jennifer Aniston and Michelle Obama. Yes, it seems that when Ellen calls, the stars come out.
“I was so excited when they told me that they had truckloads of cash and expensive gifts that they wanted to give me for the holidays,” DeGeneres joked in the official release. “You can imagine my surprise when they said, ‘No Ellen, we want you to give away truckloads of cash and expensive gifts for the holidays.’ ”
5. Michelle Wolf - Joke Show – Tuesday, December 10, Netflix
NetflixIf you thought that Michelle Wolf was left a shattered woman by the cancellation of her Netflix series, The Break With Michelle Wolf, well, you clearly don’t know anything about Michelle Wolf. As it happens, she’s spent virtually all of 2019 on the road, doing standup, and the end result is this special. “I’m actually in a nice little groove right now, and I was able to come up with a new hour pretty quickly,” Wolf told Indy Week last month. “I’m not saying all of it’s great. It definitely needs work. But that’s why you go on the road, and hopefully the audience feels like they’re part of it, too. A lot of these jokes, it might be the first time I ever say them out loud; it’s funny to me, but I don’t know if it’s funny to everyone else. I literally need you to laugh or not.”
Given the reaction to her one-off stint as host of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2018, it’s probably a fair bet that not everyone will laugh, but for those who are at least tempted to check it out, we know that her topics in the special include the differences between men and women, gender equality and why society should be a little less “woke.”
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that not everyone’s going to like you,” she told Indy Week. “So you might as well just get comfortable with that and say what you want to say.”
6. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation – Wednesday, December 11, 5 p.m. & Thursday, December 12, 2:45 p.m., AMC
AMCWith the holidays almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about decking the halls, purchasing the perfect gifts and, of course, bracing for a visit from the relatives. And while in-laws can be a delight, some mental preparation may be necessary. AMC has just the prescription you need, offering a double-dose of holiday humour with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, airing Wednesday and Thursday.
7. Miracle on 34th Street – Thursday, December 12, 8 p.m., CBC
CBCIn this 1947 classic, the incomparable Edmund Gwenn plays a mall Santa who thinks he’s the real deal, a belief that gets him locked up at Bellevue, but also convinces a cheerless little girl (Natalie Wood) that Christmas really is magic.
8. The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition – Thursday, December 12, 9 p.m., ABC
ABCFrost the cupcakes and get to mixin’ those sugar cookies because the biggest Christmas cooking competition this side of the Atlantic is back. Tune in as a new batch of hungry contestants try to prove they have what it bakes to be dubbed America’s greatest.
9. A Legendary Christmas With John and Chrissy – Thursday, December 12, 10 p.m., NBC
NBCIf you missed it last year, #CoupleGoals John Legend and Chrissy Teigen repeat their celebration of the season alongside the couple’s family and celebrity friends, performing a selection of songs from Legend’s holiday album, A Legendary Christmas.
10. The Expanse – Friday, December 13, Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime VideoAs the old saying goes: when one wormhole closes, another opens! After American network Syfy ended the voyage of this cultishly adored outer-space epic at three seasons, fans were rightly devastated. But as it happens, one of those fans was the world’s richest man, and he happens to have his very own streaming service; and so it was that Jeff Bezos resurrected this Game of Thrones-in-space drama for a fourth season on Amazon Prime Video.
As the Toronto-shot series returns, the stakes are high. It all picks up with the scrappy crew of the Rocinante embarking on a mission to explore new worlds beyond the Ring Gate, worlds filled with Earth-like planets and untold perils.
When they land on the first one, called Ilus, they quickly realize they’ve happened upon a long-dead alien civilization, and if they aren’t careful, humanity — Earthers, Martians and Belters alike — may come to share their fate. For the time being though, we aren’t too worried about Cpt. Holden and his peeps; while the show got an early axe on its first broadcaster, Amazon is all-in: season five’s already in production.