What to Watch This Week: December 17 to 22

From an alternate universe on Netflix to the best of American baking, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

From an alternate universe on Netflix to the best of American baking, we round up our top 10 shows to watch this week

1. Jean Claude Van Johnson, Amazon Prime Video

Jean Claude Van Johnson centres around aging action star Jean-Claude Van Johnson, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, with the exact same filmography and backstory that we have all come to know. The twist is that throughout the entirety of his career, he has also been a secret agent and his film career has been a cover for his missions. If he gets hired to assassinate somebody in Thailand, his agent will book him into Kickboxer, and that explains why he’s in Thailand for three months. The show picks up as he is experiencing, potentially, the back end of his career, and struggles with the decision to keep doing either of those two jobs.

2. Ellen’s Game of Games – Monday, December 18, 10:01 p.m., NBC | Series Premiere

Ellen DeGeneres is looking to expand her status as queen of daytime television to primetime, and the affable comedienne is entering the fray with a new comedy game show that serves up “super-sized” versions of the games that have become familiar to fans of her daytime show. In Game of Games, contestants are pulled from the studio audience, Price Is Right-style, and will then face everything from a giant obstacle course to answering knowledge-testing trivia questions under immense pressure, with the possibility of winning a huge cash prize waiting at the end of the line.

“I’m so excited to be hosting a huge primetime game show for NBC. We’re pulling out all the stops — gigantic sets, hilarious games. It’s going to be like a combination of American Ninja Warrior, RuPaul’s Drag Race and a water park,” said DeGeneres in NBC’s Game of Games announcement, adding: “OK, it’s nothing like that, but you should still watch.”

3. Finding Your Roots – Tuesday, December 19, 6 p.m. & 11:30 p.m., WTVS; 9 p.m., KCTS | Season Finale

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. caps off another season of helping celebrities scale their family trees by sitting down with comics Garrison Keillor, Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari, leading to profound revelations and of course, plenty of laughs.

4. Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Tuesday, December 19, 8 p.m., CBC

It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without an annual viewing of this 1966 special based on the Dr. Seuss classic about a green grouch who celebrates the holidays by ripping off the citizens of Whoville in a daring Christmas Eve heist. It’s innocent little Cindy Lou Who, however, who teaches the Grinch the error of his ways, causing his mean little heart to grow three sizes that day. Boris Karloff narrates.

5. Vice Special Report: A House Divided – Wednesday, December 20, 5:45 p.m., HBO Canada

Vice News has a reputation for seeking out their stories in the dark corners that the rest of the world either doesn’t know about or wilfully ignores. In this “special report,” however, they take aim at an issue that’s on everyone’s mind: the deep, bitter division at the heart of America, and how it allowed a non-politician like Donald Trump to be elected president. In order to make sense of the current political climate, reporter Shane Smith sits down with a man who spent eight years right in the thick of it: President Barack Obama, for a look back at his policies and his presidency as a whole, particularly as it relates to the toxic partisanship that’s taken root across the country.

6. Survivor – Wednesday, December 20, 8 p.m., Global & CBS | Season Finale

Over the years, this never-ending social experiment has tried to keep things fresh by offering up new tribe configurations and gameplay twists for its eclectic array of castaways to contend with as they endeavoured to outwit, outlast and outplay their way to a million bucks.

In cycle 35, the producers gave us one of the more bizarre formula tweaks with “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers,” and, controversial though it’s been amongst fans, it’s a tribe configuration that’s certainly made for some interesting dust-ups.

This week, the action winds down with the customary two-hour finale that pits the remaining contestants against each other in their greatest challenge yet, with only one winning the coveted immunity and deciding who to take in front of a jury of their own grudge-bearing peers to plead the case for victory.

7. Happy! — Thursday, 7 p.m. & 10 p.m., Showcase

Aficionados of high-concept weirdness will want to check out this oddball dark comedy (which premiered a couple weeks back) in which a hit man (L&O: SVU‘s Christopher Meloni) facing an existential crisis finds himself befriended by an excruciatingly cheerful imaginary horse (voiced by Patton Oswalt).

8. Great News – Thursday, December 21, 8 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., NBC

If you’re a Great News fan—and you should be, given that it’s been delivering episodes which have earned the series comparisons to 30 Rock—then you’ll find yourself uttering its title aloud when you read this: you’re getting two back-to-back episodes this week. First up, there’s a holiday episode, in which Carol realizes that she’s become a sort of reverse-Scrooge by driving her co-workers insane with her non-stop Christmas spirit, while Chuck reunites with his estranged son, Petey (guest star Will Sasso).

In the next episode, Carol and Chuck balk when they’re ordered to attend a Sensitivity Training seminar and decide it’s more appropriate to drag everyone down to their level, while Portia is suspicious about Katie’s new boyfriend Jeremy (guest star Reid Scott), fearing that he views Katie as little more than a sidepiece.

9. The Great American Baking Show – Thursday, December 21, 9 p.m., ABC | Season Finale

By now, most of us have completed our Christmas baking and doled it out into cute tins to gift to neighbours, friends and family. Others, remembering how much work Christmas baking inevitably turns out to be, have made the equally valid life choice to swing by the store, buy the premade variety of our favourite sweets and pass them off as our own whenever company comes over. Whichever camp you fall into, one can’t help but appreciate the confectionary achievements of these scrappy amateurs over the past few weeks.

With morning treats, cakes, cookies and desserts in general out of the way, it’s now up to the hopeful bakers to prove their weight in sugar when it comes to the art of French pastries and knock the socks off judges Ayesha Curry, Johnny Iuzzini and Paul Hollywood.

10. Bright — Friday, December 22, Netflix

Netflix has been making some big inroads into the world of theatrical-quality feature films, and the streaming service’s latest boasts an A-list star, a high-concept twist that combines buddy-cop movies such as Lethal Weapon with Lord of the Rings-style fantasy and a high-profile director, resulting in a film that would normally be seen screening in a multiplex over the holiday season, not streaming on your television.

In that vein, Friday brings viewers the premiere of Bright, reuniting Suicide Squad director David Ayer and star Will Smith in a feature-length action flick focusing on a pair of LAPD cops.

What makes Bright different from your traditional crime drama is that it’s set in an alternate universe in which humans and mythical creatures (i.e. faeries, centaurs and the like) have co-existed since the dawn of recorded history.