For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here. After months of preparation, and a date finally set for the reopening of Western Australia’s border,…
1. “The Witcher” Season 2 (available December 17)
Why Should I Watch? It’s been two years since Henry Cavill cast his spell on the world, and the titular Witcher’s long-awaited return to Netflix is finally upon us. I’m going to be honest: I do not remember much about this show. Twenty-four months — especially these past 24 months — is a long time, and I have yet to find the precious eight hours required for my rewatch. But I think that’s OK? What made “The Witcher” work so well was a beguiling combination of palpable enthusiasm (courtesy of Cavill, who f’n loves this franchise) and prioritizing spectacle over sanity. Rarely did “The Witcher” slow down so viewers could process what was going on, when it could simply charge forward into stranger and stranger events. Whether you can keep up with its wild world-building or not, the first eight episodes are an experience to be had, and I don’t doubt the second season will be even more… well, just more. The spell is too strong.
Bonus Reason: Did my flippancy regarding a very serious fantasy series that you take very, very seriously irk you? Are you looking for a reason to get hyped for Season 2, having already invested countless hours into memorizing all the bizarre names and laws that set “The Witcher” apart from lesser epics like “The Wheel of Time” and the Bible? Well, fine then. As you undoubtedly already know, Season 2 sees Geralt take Cirilla to his hometown (Kaer Morhen), in an attempt to protect the princess from dangers lurking outside and her own burgeoning powers inside. But did you know… it’s snowing there? OK, yes, you probably did, but the Netflix spoilers list is very detailed, you guys, and I’m genuinely scared to say anything more, so… snow. That’s what I’ve got for you. The promise of a white Christmas — in Kaer Morhen and for all of us Witcherites.
2. “Halt and Catch Fire” Seasons 1-4 (leaving December 13)
Why Should I Watch? Have you seen “Halt and Catch Fire”? Have you watched it recently? And by recently, I mean are you watching it right now? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, then you have less than two weeks to rectify your choices (hey, “Rectify” — also a great show) and appreciate one of history’s great dramas before it disappears from the world’s most popular streaming service. And really, Netflix has given you no excuses: “The Witcher” Season 2 won’t be out yet, and precious little else constitutes must-see TV in December. (Keep reading, though, please.) So why not cross a long-overdue item off your TV bucket list? I promise, by the time the word “Mutiny” starts meaning anything to you, you’ll forget other TV even exists.
Bonus Reason: The cast of “Halt and Catch Fire” instills the same kind of lasting loyalty as series like “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights,” in that once you’ve seen these actors in this show, you’ll follow them anywhere. You know how whenever you see Dominic West, you shout “McNulty!”, or when you spot Zach Gilford and think “Saracen”? Get ready to smile and say “Gordon” whenever Scoot McNairy strides onscreen. And Scoot is working a lot these days. So really, by watching “Halt and Catch Fire,” you’re opening yourself up to appreciating so much more of the entertainment landscape. And isn’t that why you’re reading this list in the first place?
3. “Voir” (available December 6)
Why Should I Watch? While it’s extremely difficult not to be snarky about a show that capitalizes “Cinema” twice in its synopsis, “Voir” represents the work of dedicated artisans celebrating other dedicated artisans, and that’s a lovely intention worth our collective respect. From executive producers David Fincher and David Prior, the six-episode pseudo-docuseries uses visual essays to honor and examine great filmmaking. In other words, it’s a show about the love of movies by people who know exactly what they love about movies — and hope to share that love in a similarly cinematic fashion. Essayists include Walter Chaw, Taylor Ramos, Drew McWeeny, Sasha Stone, and Tony Zhou; screeners have not been provided in advance and little else is known about the program, but if you’re someone who enjoys reading IndieWire for its in-depth analysis of not only movie stars and directors but editors, designers, and more, “Voir” is probably up your alley.
Bonus Reason: “Cinema” does not need to be capitalized. Please don’t let this be the start of something. The artistic medium of “film” is held in lofty enough esteem, we don’t need to start treating the very mention of its name like Jesus Christ or Jughead. OK, that is all, enjoy your movie show everyone.
Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in “Cobra Kai”
COURTESY OF NETFLIX
4. “Cobra Kai” Season 4 (available December 31)
Why Should I Watch? As of 2021, “Cobra Kai” can call itself an Emmy nominee for Best Comedy Series, aka one of the eight best comedy series on television (or streaming or whatever). That honor is voted on by members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, many of whom are industry professionals, and while they make mistakes fairly often, TV fans should at least be curious to discover why they choose what they do — and it always starts with watching the series itself. “Cobra Kai” isn’t a simple reboot, coasting off the nostalgia attached to “The Karate Kid” franchise. So give it a try. The Television Academy guarantees you’ll find something to appreciate.**
Bonus Reason: “Cobra Kai” is a hit! Don’t you want to join the millions of viewers who flock to each new season of this former YouTube original series? Don’t you want to be a part of the excitement surrounding each new release? Don’t you want to get hyped for your New Year’s Eve party by plowing through Season 4 as soon as it’s released? Sure you do. Have fun.
**This is an implied guarantee only, as interpreted by IndieWire based on the Emmys’ good standing and regard for quality. Should you not find a single thing about “Cobra Kai” you admire, the Television Academy will not provide you a refund on your subscription or a time machine. IndieWire won’t either. Own your decisions. Thank you.
5. “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays” Season 4 (available December 3)
Why Should I Watch? This is a two-part question, really. The first is rather simple: Why should I watch “The Great British Baking Show: Holidays”? After all, “GBBS:H” follows a different format than the traditional seasons of “GBBH.” There are only two episodes: “The Great Christmas Baking Show” and “The Great New Year’s Baking Show.” Each episode has its own set of contestants, and the drama (on a show already fairly light on tension) is considerably lessened. If that sounds less than enticing, then you have your answer. If it sounds good, then it’s on to the second question: Why should I watch Season 4 of “The Great British Baking Show”? If this is your query, then you’ve probably already sampled one or more of the first three “GBBS: H” seasons and come to recognize them as disposable, cheery and, baker-dependent. Which means your real question is: Who’s baking? Jamie Finn, Rosie Brandreth-Poynter, Ruby Bhogal, and James Hillery make up the Christmas episode, while Nancy Birtwhistle, Rahul Mandal, Helena Garcia, and Henry Bird step into the tent for New Year’s.
Bonus Reason: The Christmas episode features a competition based around “illusion cakes,” so you’ll naturally want to find out what those look like, and New Year’s is themed after another booze-fueled anniversary: 21st birthdays.
6. “Aggretsuko” Season 4 (available December 16)
Why Should I Watch? Originally a short-form animated series in 2018, “Aggretsuko” follows a 25-year-old red panda named Retsuko (born from lifestyle brand Sanrio), who’s easily one of Netflix’s most relatable characters. No, it’s not her pitch-black eyes that turn white with rage onstage (though they do convey a certain “darkness of the soul” inflicted by too many hours on the clock); nor is it her adorable, whiskered face (though I’m sure many viewers wish their own visage could look as sweet). It’s her coping mechanism. Aggretsuko takes out her frustrations via screaming renditions of heavy metal karaoke, which kicks off many more adventures from there. When the man’s got you down, sometimes the only thing you can do is yell back — at a bar, after work, so you can keep the job your livelihood depends upon.
Bonus Reason: Season 4 sees Haida, a spotted hyena and also Retsuko’s co-worker, finally pursue the crush he’s let lie these past five years, just as a new office director shows up with one priority in mind: obedience. How both developments jive with Retsuko should make “Aggretsuko” plenty entertaining in its fourth year.
Brian Steele (as the Robot) and Maxwell Jenkins in “Lost in Space”
Diyah Pera / Netflix
7. “Lost in Space” Season 3 (available December 1)
Why Should I Watch? If adventurous family fare is what you seek this holiday season, “Lost in Space” is one of the better bets. The shiny Netflix reboot lasted the same number of seasons as Irwin Allen’s original (three each!), and it still tracks the Robinson family as they try to survive the hostile environments of deep space. Season 3 sees Judy, Penny, Will, John, and Maureen separated from each other and still trapped on a mysterious planet. With the help of their (legitimately cool) Robot, the family will try to rescue local colonists, topple an alien threat, and — most importantly — reunite with the ones they love.
Bonus Reason: The Robot (just called “Robot”) is the best part of this family-friendly adventure series, and one has to hope showrunner Zack Estrin maximizes its potential before the final credits roll. Tune in to find out! (At the very least, this outsized, open-ended question — “Did they do enough with the Robot?” “What would I have done?” “Where does this robot stand in the long cinematic history of helpful A.I. machines?” — will give parents something to focus on while the kiddos are caught up in all those not-so-dangerous escapes.)
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Decoupled” (available in December)
“Kayko and Kokosh” Seasons 1-2 (available December 1)
“Are You the One” Season 3 (available December 1)
“Ink Master” Seasons 3-4 (available December 1)
“Knight Rider” Seasons 1-4 (available December 1)
“Knight Rider 2000” (available December 1)
“Coyotes” (available December 2)
“Escalona” Season 1 (available December 2)
“Coming Out Colton” (available December 3)
“Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous” Season 4 (available December 3)
“Money Heist” Part 5, Vol. 2 (available December 3)
“Money Heist: From Tokyo to Berlin” Volume 2 (available December 4)
“Japan Sinks: People of Hope” Season 1, Episode 8 (available December 5)
“Centaurworld” Season 2 (available December 7)
“Go Dog Go” Season 2 (available December 7)
“Bonus Family” Season 4 (available December 9)
“How to Ruin Christmas” Season 2 (available December 10)
“Aranyak” (available December 10)
“Twentysomethings: Austin” (available December 10)
“Saturday Morning All Star Hits!” (available December 10)
“The Hungry and the Hairy” (available December 11)
“Japan Sinks: People of Hope” Season 1, Episode 9 (available December 12)
“The Future Diary” (available December 14)
“Black Ink Crew New York” Seasons 3-4 (available December 15)
“The Challenge” Seasons 12 and 25 (available December 15)
“Elite Short Stories: Phillipe Caye Felipe” (available December 15)
“Masha and the Bear: Nursery Rhymes” Season 1, Part 2 (available December 15)
“Selling Tampa” (available December 15)
“Teen Mom 2” Seasons 3-4 (available December 15)
“Fast and Furious Spy Racers: Homecoming” Season 6 (available December 17)
“Bulgasal: Immortal Souls” (available December 18)
“What Happened in Oslo” (available December 19)
“Elite Short Stories” (available December 20)
“Emily in Paris” Season 2 (available December 22)
“The Silent Sea” (available December 24)
“Single’s Inferno” (available December 25)
“Anxious People” (available December 29)
“Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer” (available December 29)
“Kitz” (available December 30)
“Queer Eye” Season 6 (available December 31)
“Stay Close” (available December 31)
“The Last O.G.” Seasons 1-2 (leaving December 3)
“Fifty: The Series” Seasons 1-2 (leaving December 13)
“Saint Seiya” Seasons 1-6 (leaving December 13)
“Private Practice” Seasons 1-6 (leaving December 21)
“Forensic Files” Collections 1-9 (leaving December 31)
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” Parts 1-5 (leaving December 31)
“Fullmetal Alchemist” Season 1 (leaving December 31)
“The Great British Baking Show: The Beginnings” Season 1 (leaving December 31)
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