As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve come to the realization that my children, now all teenagers, are not excited for the annual parade of Christmas specials airing on TV anymore. It makes me a little sad and a bit nostalgic for the time when they were little and we would pop some popcorn, cuddle under warm blankets on the couch with hot chocolate in our hands to catch our favorite holiday specials.
Now, with the abundance of streaming services we can watch many of our favs whenever the mood strikes. So, in no particular order here is my list of the Top 10 must see Christmas specials:
- Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – Airing every year since its release in 1964, who can resist watching the longest running holiday special in television history. It’s the story of a misfit reindeer who saves Christmas by guiding Santa’s sleigh with his glowing nose. Watch: CBS 12/19 @6:45pm, 12/24 @9pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
- Frosty the Snowman – With the help of a magic hat a jolly, happy snowman comes to life and parades through town before he melts away, thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump! Watch: CBS 12/19 @ 6:10pm, 12/24 @8:30pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas – Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him; Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas. Watch: 12/19 on PBS. Stream: Apple+
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Nothing beats the original! A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville only to discover Christmas is a feeling and not about things. Stream: TNT and TBS, or with Peacock.
- Shrek the Halls – Shrek wants the perfect Christmas for him and his family but he has no clue how to do it. He buys a book on how to do Christmas perfectly and everything is going well, until donkey and gang decide to intrude. Watch: 12/24 on ABC. Stream: Netflix
- Elf – The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Watch Buddy the Elf’s journey from the North Pole to NYC in search of his biological father, who just happens to be on the naughty list. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+, Starz.
- The Santa Clause – an ordinary man who accidently kills Santa Claus on Christmas eve is magically turned into the new Santa Claus. Watch: Freeform: 12/17 @5:10pm, 12/22 @7:15pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
- Home Alone – An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Watch: Freeform 12/25 @6:45pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
- National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – In classic Griswold style, Clark prepares for a perfect “fun old-fashioned family Christmas” with anything but perfect results. Stream: HBO Max.
- The Polar Express – When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+
The past year of the pandemic slowed the production of many of our favorite TV shows. The good news is it looks like 2021 will be full of great content to choose from.
The continued fragmentation of audience viewership has opened up the competition for great content as well. Last summer, all the network TV stations launched their own OTT platforms, in which they pulled back a lot of their own shows and movies. You may find that your favorite episodes are no longer on HULU for free or on other apps like TUBI or IMBD. NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC now protect their own content residing within these platforms. I do find the Amazon firestick search option helps find my own favorites. If you do a search there, Amazon will tell you all the places you can find the content you are seeking, free or paid.
There is a flurry of great shows coming as viewers seemed to have gobbled up tons of content last year, sitting home throughout the pandemic. As the funnel of free content gets slimmer, I hope this extensive list of upcoming shows to look out for will help in your own search for the next show you binge on.
- Pretend it’s a City – Netflix
Directed by Martin Scorsese
A humorous series inviting conversations between Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz centered primarily around New York City.
- Cobra Kai – Netflix
Inspired from the earlier flick; Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, continues the storyline 34 years later focusing on the character Johnny Lawrence.
- Euphoria – HBO
Jules and Rue continue with their struggles, challenges and accomplishments throughout their High School years.
- WandaVision – Disney+
WandaVision takes place three weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and directly sets up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), in which Olsen reprises her role as Maximoff.
- Clarice – CBS
Jodie Foster’s character from Silence of the Lambs is revamped in this new mystery thriller. Taking place back in the early 90’s, this series investigates sexual predators and serial murderers centered around the political arena in Washington DC.
- Hip Hop Uncovered – FX
A docuseries on hip-hop from the street level. It expresses how this music forum molded street culture and nurtured talent into the music business.
- Falcon and the Winter Soldier – Disney+
New Season: Season One will debut on March 19
Following up on the ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier partner together to defeat the world’s evil players.
- Loki – Disney+
Loki, who is once again played by Tom Hiddleston, comes from the brotherhood with Thor into his own series. His mischievous and cunning ways will surely entertain Marvel fans throughout this fresh season.
- Dave – FX
A comedy loosely based on rapper/comedian Dave Burd, otherwise known as Lil Dicky, takes a comical look at a neurotic 20-something year old man who is driven to be the best rapper of all time.
- Pose – FX
A dance musical that takes place in the 80’s in New York City, and depicts the African-American and Latino LGBTQ drag queen culture. The first season takes place in the 80’s while the second season fast forwards to the 90’s.
- Succession – HBO
The family drama continues in the Roy family who is fighting over who will lead the family empire and worry about the health of Logan Roy.
- Atlanta – Hulu
A Princeton drop out, Earn’s character struggles with finding his place in the world while attempting to redeem himself in his daughters’ eyes.
- Hawkeye – Disney+
Another Marvel take off starring Jeremy Renner and Vera Farmiga, sure to be followed by the Marvel fans.
- Inventing Anna – Netflix
Shonda Rhimes brings forth her storyline about New York City socialite circles through a journalists’ eyes.
- The Underground Railroad – Amazon Prime
Based around the mid-1800’s underground railroad. The plot revolves around hidden routes, safe houses and the people willing to risk it all to help slaves reach their path to freedom.
- Lord of the Rings – Amazon Prime
This production crew just went back to work in New Zealand. Be on the look out for hobbits coming sometime later this year.
- Bel Air – NBC Peacock
Will Smith revives his most iconic role from early in his career.
- Nine Perfect Strangers – Hulu
Nine Aussies gather at a 10-day retreat to transform their bodies and find solitude together. The retreat is lead by a mysterious Russian.
- The Dropout – Hulu
Inspired by the podcast, Amanda Seyfried heads up this cast as Elizabeth Holmes, who is the world’s youngest female self-made millionaire.
- Dopesick – Hulu
Michael Keaton stars in an adaptation of Beth Macy’s non-fiction book about the opioid crisis in America.
- Mare of Easttown – Sky Atlantic and NOW
Kate Winslet is Mare Sheehan, a detective in small-town Pennsylvania who investigates a murder.
- The Terror – AMC
Produced by Ridley Scott, this series focuses on the British Royal Navy in the mid-1800’s. The polar explorer ships take to their next adventure in the frigid icy seas.
- Your Honor – Showtime
Bryan Cranston is a judge in New Orleans who overseas a case involving his son who was responsible for a hit and run accident.
- Murder Among the Mormons – Netflix
Based on the true character of Mark Hoffman, who was one of the world’s most well-known forgers. A good watch if you enjoyed “Catch Me If You Can” with Leo DiCaprio.
- Waffles + Mochi – Netflix
Michelle Obama heads up a kid’s cooking show with all the bells and whistles, including puppets.
- For All Mankind – Apple TV+
This is a fictional 90’s glimpse at positioning a never-ending ‘race to space’ between the USSR and US.
- Can’t Get You Out of My Head – Amazon Prime
A look back on recent history through the eyes of Adam Curtis.
- The Investigation – HBO
Based on the 2017 murder investigation of Kim Wall, otherwise known as the ‘submarine case’ out of Sweden.
- Trump Takes on the World – Amazon Prime
A look into President Trump’s foreign policies, including a colorful cast of white house characters.
- ZeroZeroZero – Amazon Prime
A thriller that covers all the drug trafficking topics, including running cocaine and corruption to the highest level.
- The Serpent – Netflix
A vintage 70’s story that follows hippie styled Charles Sobhraj throughout Thailand.
- Night Stalker – Netflix
This series stalks serial killers ravaging the Los Angeles night scene.
- Call My Agent – Netflix
This French comedy taking place in Paris. A variety of characters must manuever through the challenges of working in a talent agency.
- Back – Amazon Prime
A sitcom about 4 brothers who haven’t been on the best of terms, that must come together after the death of their father to run the family business.
- A Perfect Planet – Amazon Prime
David Attenborough leads this picturesque series about the beautiful planet Earth.
- Mythic Quest – Apple TV+
A successful video game company struggles to keep their top market position.
- Sex Education – Apple TV
A comedic sex comedy centered around teenage life and challenges of hormonal pubescence.
- Peaky Blinders – Netflix
A continuation of the Irish gang of hoodlums during the early 1900’s.
- American Crime Story: Impeachment – Amazon Prime
Starring Sarah Paulson and Clive Owen as President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, this story relives his term and impeachment trial.
- Derry Girls – Netflix
Lisa McGee’s teenage coming-of-age series set in the 90’s continues the laughs around a group of Irish girls and all their fun adventures, big hair included!
- Cowboy Bebop – Hulu/Netflix/Adult Swim
A futuristic anime series taking place in the year 2071.
- McMafia – Amazon Prime
A British crime drama focused on the son of a Russian mob boss who resides in London.
- Paper Girls – Amazon Prime
Four pre-teen newspaper delivery girls stream their story from the suburbs of Cleveland Ohio.
- This Way Up – Hulu
A comedy/drama about a young Irish English teacher has a nervous breakdown.
- Industry – Amazon Prime
A group of 4 graduates who will do whatever it takes to land a prestigious job in the London banking industry.
- Time – Amazon Prime/TUBI
Sean Bean stars in a series about surviving a 4-year prison sentence after an accidental homicide.
- The Talented Mr. Ripley – Hulu/Amazon Prime
A take-off of the psychological thriller from the late 90’s.