December is a weird time for television. While the way that TV is released throughout the year these days means that there are fewer ebbs and flows in overall content quality (not to mention quantity), it still feels as if December has less going on in comparison to other months in the year. Maybe that’s just because, in comparison, film is continuing its lightning-quick clip or, perhaps, networks are savvy enough to know that people are looking for an easy, digestible binge this time of year.
No matter, because while the slate in leaner than it has been for most of the year, there’s still a considerable amount left to consume, including the debut of a project have been anxiously awaiting for years.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Cast: Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein, Michael Zegen, Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle
What You Need to Know: We’ll find ourselves in very different locations than what we’re used to in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” returns for its much anticipated third season as the titular character takes to the road on tour with a musician as the opening act. The Amy Sherman-Palladino led show has no shortage of fans looking for engaging storytelling and vibrant colors but if you’re still looking for a hook in, perhaps that addition of “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown will be enough to warrant an episode or two of your time. Things continue to be on the rocks in Midge’s (Rachel Brosnahan) love life, all of which will make for more addiction television as we watch the award-winning series follow her as she tries to continue to acclimate to her growing success.
Release Date: Season 3 premieres December 6th on Amazon Prime
“Truth Be Told”
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul, Lizzy Caplan, Elizabeth Perkins, Michael Beach
What You Need to Know: So far it appears that Apple TV+ has been far from a resounding success. We’d even go so far as to say it’s been a complete disappointment, no matter what star wattage and creative minds involved in many of the eclectic television series. Still, we’re willing to extend some wary optimism for their latest, “Truth Be Told,” starring Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul. Paul is coming off of his tremendous reprisal of “Breaking Bad” favorite Jesse Pinkman in “El Camino” while Spencer too had a strong supporting role in the underrated “Luce.” Add to that the intrigue of a new true crime story, based on the novel “Are You Sleeping” by author Kathleen Barber and, by all accounts, this should be something to look forward to. We’ll just have to see if “Truth Be Told” manages to break the Apple TV+ trend.
Release Date: The first season premieres on December 6th on Apple TV+
“Work in Progress”
Cast: Abby McEnany, Karin Anglin, Julia Sweeney, Theo Germaine, Celeste Pechous
What You Need to Know: Anyone who didn’t watch the globe-trotting, love-enforcing, deliciously optimistic “Sense8” on Netflix missed out on something that felt transcendently good in a medium aimed at watching the gray in humanity engulf us all. Luckily, director Lily Wachowski is returning to the television field, this time as a co-writer, along with showrunner Abby McEnany for the Showtime series “Work In Progress.” The eight-episode series will follow a 45-year-old queer woman whose misfortune leads her to a transformative relationship.
Release Date: The first season premieres on December 8th on Showtime
Cast: Gregg Sulkin, Allegra Acosta, Ariela Barer, Brigid Brannagh, Ever Carradine
What You Need to Know: And the cull continues of the Marvel television properties, with Season 3being the last for Hulu’s “Runaways.” No real loss, considering the rather muted response. Our critic called Season 1“utterly disposable,” writing that it all felt “like an opportunistic gambit to get into the superhero game rather than tell a meaningful, worthwhile story.” Still, a shame, considering the source material was so long coveted by fans to be turned into a series or film. There are pieces where we can see what this show might’ve been without ever there being enough payoff to justify its existence when the field is so congested with superhero content as it is.
Release Date: Season 3 premieres December 13th on Hulu
Cast: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar
What You Need to Know: As has been the case with plenty of other Peak TV shows that don’t have quite as big and loud an audience as others, “The Expanse” was in an exhausted limbo for a while after being cancelled on SyFy before being picked up at Amazon Prime – arguably a better home for the show. The process between cancellation and pick up wasn’t as easy as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” or as drawn out as “One Day at a Time,” the excitement still for the series return is palpable among fans. A perpetually underrated space set genre piece, “The Expanse” is a bleak, unforgiving look at society once they’ve been forced to take to the stars.
Release Date: Season 4 premieres on December 13th on Amazon Prime
Cast: Henry Cavill, Tom Canton, Eamon Farren, Lars Mikkelson, Maciej Musial
What You Need to Know: With “The Witcher” starring Henry Cavill in his perfectly coiffed Legolas blonde wig, Cavill takes on the famous lead character from the book series by author Andrzej Sapkowski, a series fans have been salivating for eons. And honestly, the trailers so far have done a lot to convince us that this will be a must-watch. Following a monster hunter who joins forces with a targeted princess, the show will fill the void for those looking for a “Game of Thrones” level fantasy drama. Created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, the stakes are high for this one, with a Season 2 already picked up by Netflix.
Release Date: The first season premieres on December 20th on Netflix
“John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch”
Cast: John Mulaney, David Byrne, Andre De Shields, Natasha Lyonne, Richard Kind
What You Need to Know: It would seem that, at this point in his career, following one massive success after another, comedian John Mulaney could do just about anything he wanted. As one of the most distinct voices working in comedy today, Mulaney has shown clear passion in avenues of performance not strictly stand up, illustrated by his work in episodes of “Documentary Now” and the musical sketches that have become iconic on ‘SNL.’ Still, who could’ve guessed that his next venture would be in the vein of Sesame Street-style variety shows? With guest stars that include Jake Gyllenhaal and Natasha Lyonne to perfectly captured “A Chorus Line” homage poster, it might not be the obvious way to celebrate the holiday season, but it might be the right one.
Release Date: December 24th on Netflix
Our brilliant director @RhysThom2 attempts to get the Sack Lunch Bunch together by evoking “class photo.” He fails and they taunt him.
— John Mulaney (@mulaney) November 24, 2019
“Lost in Space”
Cast: Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Ignaccio Serriccio, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall
What You Need to Know: I am of the mind that more science fiction on television is always a good thing. That being said, the Netflix fantasy series “Lost in Space” seemed to catch little, real attention following its release. However, it managed to impress some, especially with Molly Parkers terrific performance and an overall strong supporting cast, innovative production design and inventive set pieces. Season two continues to follow the Robinson family with Jupiter 2 stranded on a mysterious ocean planet and their only means of survival being how they work alongside one another.
Release Date: Season two premieres on December 24th on Netflix