What to Watch This Week: December 11 to 16

From a Backstreet Boys holiday special to a documentary about London's famed Abbey Road Studios, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

From a Backstreet Boys holiday special to a documentary about London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. Baking It: Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler’s Celebrity Holiday Special – Monday, December 12, NBC

Baking It: Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler's Celebrity Holiday SpecialNBCSometimes it’s just as much fun watching people fail at baking as it is to see them succeed. Or at least it is when celebrities are involved! In a special instalment of their kitchen competition series, SNL alums Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph invite a few famous pals to test their culinary mettle. Fred Armisen, Kristen Bell, Nicole Richie and J.B. Smoove will take on everything from sticky apple cake to vegan banana pudding cake. Some have never baked a single thing in their lives, while others are self-professed “cake architects.” Regardless, it’s all in good fun and all for charity. Look for season two of the regular, non-celebrity Baking It to debut in 2023.

2. Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge – Tuesday, December 13, Prime Video | Series Premiere

Dr. Seuss Baking ChallengePrime VideoThere are tons of themed baking shows out there, particularly around the holidays. Tis the season, after all, for monstrous cakes, glittery sugar creations and indulgence after indulgence. But one thing that sets this show apart from the rest is a dash of nostalgia that speaks to adults and kids alike: recreating the magic of Dr. Seuss in food form.  

Here, nine teams enter the “City of Seuss,” a whimsical kitchen that’s inspired by the beloved children’s author and contains many references to his eccentric, loquacious worlds. Beyond the allure of a $50,000 prize, each contestant has their own personal connection to the writer that’s led them to pick up the whisk. And for the legions of viewers out there who grew up with the books, you’ll no doubt delight in the mouth-watering, eye-popping dishes that are cooked up.  

“From the Grinch to the Cat in the Hat, these teams of bakers will use their limitless imaginations to craft jaw-dropping creations inspired by beloved Dr. Seuss characters,” reads a press release. In the trailer, there’s also an homage to Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, not to mention a towering green cake that looks precariously close to collapsing.  

Each episode, the competitors will be given a challenge based on different Seuss characters and stories. Pastry chefs Clarice Lam and Joshua John Russell are the judges tasked with evaluating each creation based on taste, creativity, accuracy and storytelling. Meanwhile, host Tamera Mowry-Housley (Sister, Sister) guides them through it all with a smile and a Seussian rhyme or two. 

3. In a Different Key – Tuesday, December 13, KCTS | Series Premiere

In a Different KeyPBSThis fascinating three-episode series (all airing back-to-back tonight) follows the efforts of a mother to track down the very first person ever diagnosed with autism, Donald Triplett, now an elderly man living in rural Mississippi. The reason behind her journey is a personal one: to discover how his life turned out, and whether his story holds promise for her own autistic son. In the first episode, she meets Triplett and learns how his tight-knit community has embraced the man and supported him over the years—a rare example of acceptance from an entire community at a time when autism was something few people knew about or understood.  

In the subsequent episode, she learns things about her son that she’d never realized when they visit a cat shelter. In the third and final episode, she introduces viewers to Jonah Lutz, an autistic man whose family is his support system, and whose challenges are so profound that society tends to look away rather than make a Hollywood movie about him—even though at least 30 per cent of people on the spectrum live with hurdles of a similar degree.   

In a Different Key exposes a startling record of both cruelty and kindness alike, framed by forces like race, money and privilege. However, it all ultimately leads to the hope that more communities are learning to have the backs of people on the spectrum.

4. The Banshees of Inisherin – Wednesday, December 14, Disney+

The Banshees of InisherinDisney+Tragedy and comedy are seamlessly interwoven in a new film from director Martin McDonagh, as he reunites with Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, who starred in his earlier film In Bruges. In this dark Irish comedy, they play two lifelong friends who suddenly encounter an insurmountable roadblock in their relationship when one of them abruptly severs their decades-long bond, and refuses to change his mind. 

5. A Very Backstreet Holiday – Wednesday, December 14, NBC

A Very Backstreet HolidayNBCThe ultimate ’90s boy band is ready to show you the meaning of being jolly with an hour-long musical special that features the guys crooning tunes from their brand-new Christmas album as well as a few of the old chart-toppers, plus a surprise guest or two. 

6. Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery, December 16, Netflix

Who Killed Santa?NetflixIf you missed Netflix’s offbeat comedic experiment Murderville when it dropped season one earlier this year, it’s easy enough to explain the premise in a single sentence: Canadian Will Arnett plays Det. Terry Seattle, and each episode finds him teamed with a new celebrity partner (such as Sharon Stone, Conan O’Brien and Annie Murphy) who hasn’t seen any sort of script and must help Terry solve his case totally off the cuff. In other words, it’s an improv murder-mystery comedy! 

Although we’ll have to wait a while longer for the show’s second season, producers are offering fans a nice little stocking stuffer on Thursday: a Murderville holiday special. Better yet, it’s a special that teams Arnett with two of his former co-stars: Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) and Maya Rudolph (Up All Night).  

And, no, the title isn’t false advertising: the trailer clearly shows Jolly Old Saint Nick getting shanked with a candy cane. There are a few other familiar faces joining Arnett, including Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) and standup comic Kurt Braunohler, but the real fun obviously comes courtesy of Rudolph and especially Bateman; a bit of that old Michael/Gob chemistry should make for a merry, quippy Christmas indeed.

7. Snow Day – Friday, December 16, Paramount+

Snow DayParamount+There comes a time in every TV and film fan’s life when they find themselves flummoxed by the announcement of a remake. “Didn’t the original just come out?” they ponder, brow furrowed. Or perhaps, “Wasn’t one of them enough?” No doubt, we’ll see plenty of both sentiments with the news that Snow Day is coming back… and as a musical no less.  

In case you don’t remember that particular goofy family flick, it hit theatres in 2000 and starred Chevy Chase as a TV weatherman with a workaholic wife (played by perennial Emmy fave Jean Smart) whose kids, Hal and Natalie (Mark Webber, Zena Grey), are trying to extend their snow day by going to war with the local snowplow driver (Chris Elliott).  

Whether it’s a cinematic classic or not perhaps depends on the age you were when you first watched it. Although one thing’s for sure: you can’t fault the original for having a subpar cast, which in addition to Chevy and Jean was rounded out by Josh Peck, Schuyler Fisk, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Carly Pope, John Schneider, Pam Grier and even Iggy Pop!  

This new incarnation stars Ky Baldwin and Michaela Russell as Hal and Natalie, and is now almost entirely about the kids, with a heavy emphasis on Hal trying to win over his crush (Shelby Simmons) and Natalie trying to bury the Snowplow Man (Jerry Trainor of iCarly fame).  

Directed by Emmy-winner Michael Lembeck, Snow Day 2022 was written by Will McRobb & Chris Viscardi and Samantha Martin (Danger Force, Henry Danger: The Musical), who also penned the teleplay and contributed music for the movie. 

8. If These Walls Could Sing – Friday, December 16, Disney+

If These Walls Could SingDisney+For more than nine decades, Abbey Road Studios has been at the heart of the music industry. Fans journey every year to have their photos taken at the iconic zebra crossing made famous from The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, while artists who record there strive to follow in the footsteps of their heroes. In this personal film, Mary McCartney invites viewers to experience the creative magic that makes Abbey Road the most famed and longest-running studio in the world. Interviewees include McCartney’s dad Paul and his fellow Beatle Ringo Starr, along with Elton John, Roger Waters, Liam Gallagher and more.  

9. The Recruit – Friday, December 16, Netflix | Series Premiere

The RecruitNetflixOodles of fans know Noah Centineo as the studly love interest in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Or perhaps they recall his Teen Choice Award-nominated turn on The Fosters. But now, the young heartthrob is taking on his first “grown-up” role, in a darkly comedic spy thriller from The Rookie creator Alexi Hawley.

Centineo plays a young CIA lawyer named Owen Hendricks who, before he can even unpack his boxes, receives a letter from a former agency asset (The Capture’s Laura Haddock), now behind bars awaiting trial for murder, who demands exoneration or else she’ll expose the CIA’s undercover operations in Russia. Suddenly, the kid is thrown into an unpredictable game of power and politics, forced to contend with not just enemy operatives, but ambitious fellow CIA personnel eager to hang him out to dry if it furthers their own career. But hey, Hendricks is at his best when he’s in way over his head. 

10. Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths – Friday, December 16, Netflix

Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of TruthsNetflixThe latest from Alejandro González Iñárritu finds the Oscar-winning Birdman director telling the story of a journalist and documentary filmmaker (Daniel Giménez Cacho) who returns to his homeland of Mexico to accept a prestigious award—even though he suspects he’s only receiving it in order to ease tensions between Mexico and the U.S. His homecoming, however, pushes him toward an existential crisis, which he experiences in the form of vivid, dreamlike visions that he can’t seem to get under control. 

In an interview with Collider, Iñárritu (whose other movies include acclaimed dramas The Revenant and 21 Grams) described his latest effort as encompassing everything he’s learned as a filmmaker to this point in his career. “I will say this film, Bardo, I think it’s something that, in a way, I feel contains a lot of the things that I have learned,” he explained, “and that I have accumulated some experience that I’m very happy about [with] this film.”