From the arrival of The Buccaneers to Emma Stone in The Curse, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week
1. The Improv: 60 and Still Standing – Tuesday, November 7, Netflix
Avenue that’s helped launch the careers of more standup comedy superstars than any other club on Earth, The Improv is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Having started out as a single location in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, back in the 1960s, there are now 23 Improvs all across America, the most notable of which is in Hollywood. And that’s exactly where this new Netflix special takes place, as a lineup of top-shelf comics—including Jo Koy, Craig Robinson, Bert Kreischer, Whitney Cummings, Deon Cole, Jeff Dunham, Fortune Feimster and Kevin Nealon—take the stage to fête six remarkable decades of hilarity.
Adding to the yuks is rare archival footage of such Improv icons as Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Ray Romano, Wanda Sykes and the late, great Norm Macdonald.
2. The Santa Clauses – Wednesday, November 8, Disney+ | Season Premiere
’Tis the second season of Tim Allen’s holiday family film franchise turned Disney+ TV series. Scott Calvin (Allen) and his wife Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell)—a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Claus—are back in the North Pole, and, after failing to find a red-suitable candidate to be the next Santa back in season one, Scott is now schooling his son Cal (Austin Kane) to take the reins of his sleigh.
Unfortunately, there’s another contender for the job: Magnus Anta, who previously held the post back in the 14th century and earned himself the nickname of “Mad Santa.” Played by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, Magnus is introduced proclaiming: “The Santa who occupies the North Pole now is a fraud! Revenge will be swift—and sweet. I am Santa, after all.”
His strategy for retaking the workshop is unclear, but one thing’s for darn sure: this December 25 will be anything but a silent night, as Scott and his elves go to war to protect the world from this crazed usurper.
Beyond the incomparable, Emmy-winning Mr. Stonestreet, season two will feature another comedy icon in the form of 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan, who guest stars as the Easter Bunny,
and standup sensation Gabriel Iglesias as a holly-jolly theme park owner named Kris Kringle.
3. The Buccaneers – Wednesday, November 8, Apple TV+ | Series Premiere
It will be awhile before the next season of Bridgerton comes around, but until then fans of lush, romantic period dramas can get their fix with The Buccaneers, a big-budget new streaming series cut from the same opulent cloth.
Set in the the Gilded Age and based on Edith Wharton’s unpublished novel of the same name, the titular buccaneers are the daughters of America’s new rich, whose parents are flush with cash and want to marry them off to young scions of the British aristocracy—men who may hold prestigious titles but are also eager to shore up their family’s dwindling bank accounts.
“Girls with money, men with power. New money, old secrets,” reads the Apple TV+ synopsis of the eight-episode series created by Katherine Jakeways. “A group of fun-loving young American girls explode into the tightly corseted London season of the 1870s, kicking off an Anglo-American culture clash as the land of the stiff upper lip is infiltrated by a refreshing disregard for centuries of tradition. Sent to secure husbands and titles, the buccaneers’ hearts are set on much more than that, and saying ‘I do’ is just the beginning...”
Featuring a cast of young up-and-comers, the series’ most recognizable face belongs to Mad Men alum Christina Hendricks, who portrays Mrs. St. George, who’s hell-bent on finding a suitable husband for her headstrong daughter, Nan St. George (Kristine Frøseth, The Assistant).
The other women accompanying her to London on this marriage-minded manhunt are Nan’s sister, Jinny St. George (Imogen Waterhouse of The Outpost), Conchita Closson (Alisha Boe of 13 Reasons Why), sisters Mabel and Lizzy Elmsworth (played by Josie Totah of Saved by the Bell and Dive Club’s Aubri Ibrag), and Honoria Marable (Mia Threapleton, Shadows).
4. Robbie Williams – Wednesday, November 8, Netflix | Series Premiere
The extraordinary journey of British music sensation Robbie Williams comes to life in this four-part docuseries that chronicles the story of one of the U.K.’s most successful recording artists. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of his solo career—having previously been a member of boy band Take That—Robbie Williams is said to be “the definitive story” of his rise to fame and stardom and, as Williams puts it, becoming the “centre of the pop culture world.” Documenting all the ups, downs and media scrutiny he’s experienced, the series also features highlights from hundreds of hours of intimate, never-before-seen personal archival footage, along with unprecedented access to the singer himself.
5. The 57th Annual CMA Awards – Wednesday, November 8, CTV2 & ABC
Over the years, awards galas have seen plenty of unconventional hosting duos. Some are a disaster (James Franco and Anne Hathaway at the Oscars). Others, surprisingly effective, which was clearly the case with American Idol judge Luke Bryan and NFL legend/SNL all-star Peyton Manning, who have been asked back to emcee the biggest night in country music for a second straight year. Expect them to once again bring the charm and chuckles.
Another trend that’s carrying over from 2022 is “Heart Like a Truck” singer Lainey Wilson landing the most nominations. She’s up for nine trophies in total, one of those being the evening’s biggest prize, Entertainer of the Year; on that front, she’ll battle it out with fellow heavy hit-makers Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood.
6. Escaping Twin Flames – Wednesday, November 8, Netflix | Series Premiere
Described as “a sinister love story for the digital age,” this three-part documentary series pulls back the veil on Twin Flames Universe, a controversial online community that allegedly uses sophisticated techniques to recruit and indoctrinate people who are looking for love, with former members coming forward to share their personal horror stories of being coerced and manipulated.
7. Blackberry – Thursday, November 9, CBC | Series Premiere
Back in the late-’90s, a tech startup known as Research in Motion (RIM), tucked away in the city of Waterloo, Ontario, changed the entire world. Indeed, though there’s either an Apple or an Android in your pocket these days, the first viable smartphone came from RIM, and it was called the BlackBerry. Here, a three-part miniseries tells the story of its meteoric rise and its epic, profoundly human fall.
The BlackBerry was the brainchild of Mike Lazaridis (Million Dollar Baby’s Jay Baruchel) and Doug Fregin (Operation Avalanche’s Matt Johnson), two engineers who founded RIM in the 1980s, but were clueless when it came to business. Yet after meeting an ambitious wheeler-dealer by the name of Jim Balsillie (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton), the three formed a partnership that netted billions and redefined communication itself. Alas, soon enough, these innovators were overtaken by their competitors—felled, ironically, by a stubborn failure to innovate.
Speaking with TV Week, co-star Johnson, who is also the series’ writer-director, addressed the human frailty at the heart of RIM’s meltdown: “It’s symbolized for me in the line that Jim says when Mike asks, ‘Why were you fired [from your old job]?’ And Jim’s answer is, ‘I got fired because the people who fired me were idiots.’ Of course, completely untrue. You were fired because you’re insubordinate, you’re immature, because you’re selfish, because you’re not a team player—all the flaws that Jim would take to Research in Motion and subtly use them to destroy the company while also growing it... These are all guys who feel like the world treats them unfairly and that’s why they haven’t got what they wanted. And I think that’s always a very interesting archetype to deal with—a very interesting archetype to suddenly give power and see what they do with it.”
8. The Killer – Friday, November 10, Netflix
Director David Fincher makes an always-welcome return to the crime genre—a genre he himself redefined with indelible thrillers like Se7en, Fight Club and Gone Girl. Reteaming with his Se7en writer Andrew Kevin Walker, Fincher here adapts a lauded French graphic novel about a nameless contract killer (Michael Fassbender) who, after a job gone wrong in Paris, must use his particular set of skills to put down his own bosses.
It’s a film that’s been described as a taut action flick with a pitch-black sense of humour. But it’s also an intimate character study of one seemingly emotionless assassin with a bad case of cognitive dissonance—a man whose ruthlessly pragmatic way of life and death is suddenly at odds with the hand he’s been dealt... if it was ever anything more than a delusion.
9. The Curse – Friday, November 10, Paramount+ | Series Premiere
With his Comedy Central series Nathan For You, Nathan Fielder pushed the boundaries of marketing, while his recent HBO show The Rehearsal offered real people the chance to rehearse for pivotal moments in their lives. In his latest, Fielder has teamed up with Uncut Gems co-director Benny Safdie (who also stars) for a genre-bending mashup of horror, comedy and HGTV-style house-flipping shows. Fielder and Emma Stone portray Asher and Whitney Siegel, spouses and stars of a home-improvement TV show; Safdie is the show’s ethically challenged producer. The upscale couple delusionally believe themselves to be a force for good in the small desert community they’ve entered, not recognizing the true degree of their moral decay. That comes into play when Asher has an unfortunate encounter with a young girl—who places a curse on him, leading to strange occurrences that utterly upend their lives. Also starring Barkhad Abdi, Corbin Bernsen and Constance Shulman.
10. 007: Road to a Million – Friday, November 10, Prime Video | Series Premiere
His name is Cox. Brian Cox. The Scottish actor has been a fixture of the film world for decades, lending his gravitas to historical epics like Braveheart, superhero blockbusters like X2 and even raunchy cult comedies like Super Troopers. But after scoring the lead in HBO’s Succession, arguably the most talked-about TV show of the past five years, Cox’s profile rose to the next level—a career boost he’s now parlaying into a key role in the James Bond franchise... well, sort of.
Helmed by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, longtime producers of the 007 movies, Road to a Million is an eight-part competition that blends the globe-trotting mad dash of The Amazing Race with challenges, settings and luxury sports cars inspired by cinema’s most iconic spy franchise.å
Teased as a test of intelligence, endurance and heroism, the show tasks teams of two with not only completing physical challenges, but answering deviously tricky questions at locales that range from Jamaica to Venice to the Scottish Highlands. Sending these teams on their impossible missions is The Controller (as played by Cox). Part host, part antagonist, he’s described as “villainous and cultured”... a man who “revels in the increasingly difficult journeys and questions the contestants must overcome.” All told, there are millions of pounds to be won—potentially £1 million per team—if they’re up to the task.
Reflecting on his Road to a Million experience, Cox explained in a press release: “I got to see how ordinary people would cope with being on a James Bond adventure. As they travel the world to some of the most iconic Bond locations, it gets more intense and nail-biting. I enjoyed my role as both villain and tormentor, with licence to put the hopeful participants through the mangle.”