What to watch this Christmas and New Year’s
Ahhh, the holidays. It’s a time for getting together with family, reconnecting with friends, eating too much food, and then inevitably collapsing on the nearest couch to watch a bunch of stuff on the TV. Then you go to work for a few days and repeat the process on New Year’s, just with a few more adult beverages.
With that in mind, we have a few choices on some programs to watch – mostly new, a few old – this holiday season. Some of the shows debut on Christmas Day, some on New Year’s, some in-between – assuming they are new.
This list is also heavily slanted in favor of British TV, which may make it tougher for some in America to access. You’re on your own for that, but there are ways – a few of which are even legal. It’s a strange difference between US and UK audiences. The British race to create a special specifically meant to air on Christmas Day, while American audiences tend to watch sports and go to the theaters (granted, that’s a huge generalization, but it seems justifiable).
As a result, some of the posts on this list will only be available in the UK at the moment (hi to our UK readers, btw). So you’ll either have to wait, or find other means of watching it.
What to watch on Christmas Day, New Year’s, and the days in-between.
And Then There Were None
(December 25, 27, & 28)
A new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is coming to the BBC in a three part mini-series, running on consecutive nights starting on Boxing Day (December 26).
The series stars several well known faces, including Aidan Turner and Burn Gorman, and it is the first adaptation to feature Christie’s original ending. If you are a fan of mysteries, this should be on your radar. There is a catch though.
The mini-series is being made in conjunction with the Lifetime Channel, where it will air as a two-part special – it doesn’t have a premiere date yet though.
Doctor Who – “Christmas Special”
There will be multiple ways to watch this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, including a brief run in theaters after Christmas.
The episode, titled “The Husbands of River Song,” will mark a new chapter for the Doctor, as it marks the first post-Clara story for Capaldi’s Doctor. That alone makes it noteworthy, but beyond that, the annual Doctor Who Christmas episodes have become an institution for nearly a decade now.
If you are a fan of the series, this one is probably already on your calendar.
Downton Abbey series finale
(December 25, 2015)
This Christmas will feature the fifth Downton Abbey Christmas Special, but this one is the most significant yet, as it will also serve as the series finale.
The 51st episode will wrap up the show, ensuring that it will have a lot of eyes on it. The only downside is that sixth season, which concluded in the UK in November, won’t even begin to air in the US until January.
MST3K – “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and “Santa Claus”
If you are looking for a modern Christmas tradition, for many you need look no further than MST3K. The series did a handful of holiday episodes, but few were as memorable as the pair of Santa Claus based episodes, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and “Santa Claus.”
“Martians” is a bit more of a traditional holiday movie, albeit a really bad one. It offers some adorable kids beating up Martians with bad makeup, as everyone learns an important lesson, or something. If you want to get weird though, “Santa Claus” is the way to go. The Mexican made movie offers racial stereotypes, a devil that uses interpretive dance, and a whole lot of weirdness.
Both are available in multiple formats and from multiple platforms. You can find them as physical media, downloads, or even streaming. A quick Google search should help find them.
(December 24 through January 3)
Although Mythbusters is preparing to air its final season, the show is not going to go quietly. The 14th and final season will begin on January 9, 2016, but before it does, you can watch all 248 episodes (including specials), in chronological order.
The marathon will air on the Science Channel, and you can check out the entire schedule on its website.
Nick Offerman Yule Log
If you just want something on in the background, look no further than a 45-minute clip of Nick Offerman drinking whisky in front of a burning fire. That’s it, no dialogue or music, just Offerman with a glass of whisky.
Watch it on a loop and call it done.
Rifftrax Christmas Specials and Shorts
Rifftrax has a fairly sizable offering of Christmas movies and specials, all available now. They range from a re-riffing of the classic MST3K “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” to the new, and bewildering, “Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny.”
If you are looking for something a little more bite sized, Rifftrax also offers a wide selection of Christmas shorts. Or just watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror. It’s not exactly Christmas-y, but you won’t regret it.
Some of the shows are available as DVD/Blu-rays, but if you want them now, most are available to download directly off the site.
Sherlock – “The Abominable Bride”
(New Year’s Day)
Like Doctor Who, the Sherlock special will appear in multiple formats, on multiple platforms. You can check it out on New Year’s Day, or wait a few days to catch it in theaters (or do both).
The special marks the first return of Bennedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson since the third series concluded on January 12, 2014, with something of a cliffhanger ending. This special won’t resolve that, but it is a long overdue return.
“The Abominable Bride” is a one-off special set during he Victorian era. It’s not clear how – or if – it connects to the larger series, which won’t be back on the air until 2017. So get your fix while you can.