Winter TV Watch List: Ready to Go Back to Hogwarts?

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Boy Who Lived

'Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts' (HBO Max)
'Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts' (HBO Max)

Welcome to 2022!

If 2021 was any indication, there is going to be an absolute glut of new television shows, movies, and everything in between, seen across linear networks and streaming platforms. And the first week is no different. Get ready to return to Hogwarts, say goodbye (for now) to one of the hottest shows on cable, and maybe bust a few ghosts along the way.

But enough with the new year’s prognostication, on with the television!

winter tv watch list premiere
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson From the Set of Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts
Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe (HBO Max)

“Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts”
Saturday, January 1, HBO Max

Can something make you excited while also reminding you of how horribly old you are? “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Returns to Hogwarts” suggests, yes, it’s possible! To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” film adaptation, HBO Max and its parent company Warner Bros. have rounded up a whole host of stars and creative heavyweights. (Judging by the lineup, it’s a celebration of the entire franchise and not just the first movie.) Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, plus Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Ian Hart, Toby Jones, Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch are all set to return, along with producer David Heyman, and directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell and David Yates. (How are they going to fit all of these people into this one special?) Filmed at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour at Leavesden, England, it is set to air on TBS and Cartoon Network later in 2022 ahead of the release of Yates’ “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” [TRAILER]

winter tv finale

Sunday, January 2 at 8 p.m., Paramount Network

Kevin Costner’s “Yellowstone” wraps up its widely viewed fourth season with a two-hour finale that is poised for another big showdown. Series creator Taylor Sheridan (who has either written or co-written every episode in the show’s entire run) penned this episode as well, and the speculation has already begun about whether some of the family tensions and loyalties severely tested this season will spill over into bloodshed. Considering the beloved supporting cast includes Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley and Cole Hauser, if there is indeed a major death, it’ll dramatically affect the show. Additionally, you can still watch Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel series “1883” over on Paramount+. [TRAILER]

winter tv watch list movie
The Tender Bar
(Claire Folger/Amazon)

“The Tender Bar”
Friday, January 7, Amazon Prime Video

Director George Clooney is back, a little more than a year after his sci-fi epic “The Midnight Sky” (which debuted on Netflix in late 2020). But instead of an apocalyptic threat, Clooney is tackling a small-scale coming-of-age story. Based on the memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer and adapted by “Departed” Oscar winner William Monahan, the film centers on Tye Sheridan as a young J.R. who searches for a father figure since his biological father left shortly after his birth. Ben Affleck plays his charismatic bartender uncle, with whom young J.R. bonds even as he forges connections with other patrons of the local bar. Unsurprisingly, the supporting cast is stellar, and includes Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Max Martini and Ron Livingston. 2021 was all about nostalgic coming-of-age tales (“Licorice Pizza,” “The Hand of God,” “Luca”), so why shouldn’t 2022 have some sweet nods to the pains and pleasure of growing up too? [REVIEW]

winter tv watch list documentary
Let the World See

“Let the World See”
Thursday, January 6 at 10 p.m., ABC

“Let the World See” is a companion series to “Women of the Movement,” a fictionalized account of the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. While “Women of the Movement” is a six-episode event (starring Tony winner Adrienne Warren) spread across three consecutive Thursdays, the documentary series unfolds in three parts that conclude each night that “Women of the Movement” airs. Like the fictional series, “Let the World See” is produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith and aims to offer true historical context for the events depicted in “Women of the Movement.” Taken together, “Women of the Movement” and “Let the World See” feels like a true television event. [SNEAK PEEK]

winter tv watch rewatch of the week


Maybe it’s the current dearth of high-concept, high-quality series right now, but it’s hard not to miss “Watchmen,” Damon Lindelof’s audacious adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ beloved comic book. If you’ve never seen the series, it’s weirdly accessible even if you didn’t read the source material, taking place in a world very much like our own. The series’ chief concern is actually the racial division in the U.S., something that has become even more prescient since the show originally aired, with some superhero theatrics thrown in for good measure and one of the all-time greatest cliffhangers. With a cast that includes Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett, Jr., Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart and Hong Chau, it’s an embarrassment of riches. And that’s before you get into the layers of symbolism, Easter eggs (sometimes literal) and the greatest TV score in recent memory courtesy of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Less a show than an experience, “Watchmen” remains an unrivaled accomplishment. [WATCH]

winter tv watch best of the rest

“The Bachelor”
Monday, January 3 at 8 p.m., ABC

“The Bachelor” is back. The ABC franchise, which has weathered its fair share of controversy recently, returns for its 26th (!) season. This year’s main man is 28-year-old Clayton Echard, a former football player (he had a brief career with the Seattle Seahawks) who appeared in Michelle Lewis’ season of “The Bachelorette” (that was season 18 for those playing at home) and is currently a medical sales representative in Eureka, Missouri. (And yes, he is very, very white.) Some of the ladies vying for his attention including a former Miss Teen America and an Olympic sprinter who represented Haiti in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Nothing like some good reality trash to cure the winter blues, right? [TRAILER]

“The Cleaning Lady”
Monday, January 3 at 9 p.m., Fox

Well this sounds intriguing: Based on an Argentinian television format (“La Chica Que Limpia”), “The Cleaning Lady” stars Élodie Yung (“Daredevil”) as a Cambodian doctor who flees the Philippines with her young son (who is suffering from a rare medical disorder). Searching for medical help despite her expired visa, she works as a cleaning lady in Las Vegas. That is, of course, until she accidentally witnesses a mob killing and is recruited as a “cleaner” for the mafia. This is just the kind of soapy, violent subject matter that could lead to a breakout hit. At the very least it’s great to see Yung, a singularly striking and charismatic presence, on TV again after being one of the highlights of Netflix’s failed interconnected Marvel series. [TRAILER]

“Abbott Elementary”
Tuesday, January 4 at 9 p.m., ABC

This is also known as “the funniest commercial you’ve seen repeatedly for the past six months on ABC while watching something else.” Created by and starring Quinta Brunson (“iZombie,” “Black Lady Sketch Show”), “Abbott Elementary” is set in a Philadelphia public school where the teachers band together to help their students. Co-stars include Tyler James Williams, Janelle James, Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti. If the actual show is half as funny as the commercials, it’s going to be very funny. [INTERVIEW]

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife”
Tuesday, January 4, VOD

If you missed “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” when it was released in theaters earlier this fall, now is your chance to catch up. A legacy sequel/reboot, the film stars Carrie Coon as the daughter of Harold Ramis’ departed Egon Spengler. She moves to the Oklahoma countryside where her father lived his final days, and while there she and her children (played by Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) uncover a supernatural mystery. Co-written and directed by Jason Reitman, son of original “Ghostbusters” filmmaker Ivan Reitman, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” could hit the warm-and-fuzzy (but still spooky) spot. Who else you gonna call? [INTERVIEW]

“Search Party”
Friday, January 7, HBO Max

The cult series, which premiered on TBS in 2018 before moving to HBO Max last year, begins its fifth and final season on the streamer. The series, co-created by Michael Showalter, Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss, stars Alia Shawkat, John Reynolds and John Early, and has shifted tone and format with each season. What does season five hold for the group of young New Yorkers who get involved with a missing person case and suffer the fallout from their investigation? Who knows? With “Search Party,” you can expect the unexpected. [PHOTOS]