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Winter TV Watch List: The ‘Euphoria’ Kids Return and ‘The Expanse’ Blasts Off for Good

Gemstones, werewolves, and superheroes, all in one week!

2022 is just getting started but it’s already bringing the heat. This week we have two long dormant HBO series returning (praise be), two brand new superhero shows based on DC characters, and the finale of a celebrated sci-fi series. And that’s before you factor in the werewolves, soccer stars, and a true Shakespearean tragedy. 2022, you crazy for this one.

On with the television!

euphoria
HBO

“Euphoria”

Sunday, January 9 at 9 p.m., HBO

The long wait is over. Thank God. The first season of HBO’s breakout teen drama ended way back in August 2019, and while there were two self-contained “specials” that aired during the quarantine, the second (and last) installment aired almost a year ago. That is a long time to be without the exceptional cast of young performers (led by Zendaya, Maude Apatow, Hunter Schafer, Barbie Ferreira and Sydney Sweeney, all often smeared in the most gloriously outrageous eye makeup in the history of television), the energetic camerawork and direction, not to mention a soundtrack which makes you feel very old and very cool at the same time. Plot details for the new season are slim but there seem to be a few new characters, some burgeoning love triangles and an appropriate amount of angst. Quite frankly, there isn’t anything else like “Euphoria” on TV, making its return positively, well, euphoric. [TRAILER]

winter tv finale
The Expanse Season 6
Amazon

“The Expanse”

Friday, January 14, Amazon Prime Video

“The Expanse” is finally coming to a close (for real this time). After the highly regarded sci-fi series, based on the novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (writing under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey), was canceled by Syfy after three seasons, the deep pockets of Amazon swooped in, rescuing the show and airing it for an additional three “The Expanse” is finally coming to a close (for real this time). After the highly regarded sci-fi series, based on the novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (writing under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey), was canceled by Syfy after three seasons, the deep-pocketed folks at Amazon swooped in, rescuing the show and airing an additional three seasons. Now the series is finally coming to an actual close, and we have a feeling it’ll probably end with a bang. (It is directed by Breck Eisner, a longtime “Expanse” creative principal.) If you’ve never seen “The Expanse,” maybe the finale will encourage you to give the deep-space drama, starring Thomas Jane and Shohreh Aghdashloo, a shot. After all, in space, no one can hear you binge. [TRAILER]

winter tv watch list movie
the tragedy of macbeth
A24/Apple TV+

“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

Friday, January 14, Apple TV+

Joel Coen, of the prolific filmmaking team Coen Brothers, directs by himself for the first time and finds suitably grand source material: William Shakespeare’s immortal “Macbeth.” Shot in velvety black-and-white in a boxy aspect ratio that adds considerably to the overall haunting quality, the film stars Denzel Washington as Macbeth, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth, Corey Hawkins as Macduff, and Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan, all doing genuinely exceptional work. (Kathryn Hunter might sneak away with the movie, however, as the three witches, vividly brought to life by Coen.) “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” a coproduction of Apple and indie movie juggernaut A24Joel Coen, of the prolific filmmaking team Coen Brothers, directs solo for the first time and finds suitably grand source material: William Shakespeare’s immortal “Macbeth.” Shot in velvety black-and-white in a boxy aspect ratio that adds considerably to the overall haunting quality, the film stars Denzel Washington as Macbeth, Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth, Corey Hawkins as Macduff and Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan, all doing genuinely exceptional work. (Kathryn Hunter might sneak away with the movie, however, as the three witches, vividly brought to life by Coen.) “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” a co-production of Apple and indie movie juggernaut A24, could signal new Oscar nominations for Washington and McDormand, making this a must-watch for awards season (and any other season, really). Something wicked this way comes, indeed. [REVIEW]

winter tv watch list documentary
Diego the Last Goodbye
HBO

“Diego, the Last Goodbye”

Thursday, January 13, HBO Max

Diego Maradona is one of the most legendary (and controversial) figures in professional soccer. An Argentinian phenom who is largely considered one of the all-time great players, he battled substance abuse off the field, was banned during two different seasons and found himself in similarly calamitous financial situations. This new documentary, “Diego, the Last Goodbye” (directed by Sebastián Alfie) documents his last year of life (which, spoiler alert, was just as tumultuous as any of his other years) and the attempts to give him a proper farewell in the midst of a global pandemic. In terms of making you cry, this one is likely to score a few goals. [TRAILER]

winter tv watch rewatch of the week
Golden Girls
Disney

“The Golden Girls”

Hulu

With Betty White passing away shortly before her 100th birthday, it seems like as good a time as any to revisit what Betty White spoke about death beautifully. She said that her mother had described it as the greatest secret. We know so much about the earth and the ocean and outer space, but we still don’t know what happens when we pass. When someone would move on, her mother would say, “Now they know the secret.” Now Betty White knows the secret, after dying just days before her 100th birthday. What better way to celebrate her than binging on her funniest, sharpest, most indelible performance on “The Golden Girls,” which ran for seven seasons and won two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series? It’s just as good as it was in 1986, with or without an accompanying slice of cheesecake. White’s character, Rose, was strikingly emphatic (first as a counselor and later as a kind of investigative TV journalist) and used to tackle serious subject matters (from AIDS to molestation to LGBTQ issues – all truly revolutionary stuff at the time). In the years after the show, we learned Bea Arthur didn’t really like White, and occasional tensions with other cast members arose, but none of that behind-the-scenes drama tarnishes how much “The Golden Girls” still glitters. Maybe more so now. [WATCH]

winter tv watch best of the rest

“The Righteous Gemstones”

Sunday, January 9 at 8 p.m., HBO

Praise the Lord! “The Righteous Gemstones” have returned. The first season aired its last episode way back in October 2019. But now we have a second coming for the ribald comedy about a dysfunctional Southern family that runs a crass mega-church, from the “Eastbound and Down”/”Vice Principals” team of Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green. Truly, we are blessed. “The Righteous Gemstones,” which stars McBride, John Goodman, Adam DeVine, Edi Patterson and Walton Goggins, isn’t for everybody. But those who have fallen for its particular brand of humor (razor-barbed satire wrapped inside extreme silliness) will fully acknowledge that “The Righteous Gemstones” is a blessing. [TRAILER]

“Naomi”

Tuesday, January 11 at 9 p.m., The CW

“Naomi” is the latest in the CW’s ever-growing stable of DC-based superhero series. What makes “Naomi” (based on the comic book character created by Brian Michael Bendis David F. Walker, and Jamal Campbell) different, though, is the subject matter and pedigree. Naomi (Kaci Walfall) is a young Black girl who realizes she has superpowers like her favorite heroes. This alone makes it feel unique and special, especially given how long-in-the-tooth some of the other CW heroes are getting. (It should be noted that the comic book mythology is needlessly convoluted and it’s unclear how much the show will retain.) Also, “Naomi” was developed by Ava DuVernay, the celebrated director of “Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time,” who also co-wrote the first episode. Hopefully DuVernay’s artistic sensibilities and the show’s progressive plot will help it stand out from other superhero fare. [PREVIEW]

“Peacemaker”

Thursday, January 13, HBO Max

Speaking of other superhero fare, “Peacemaker” debuts on HBO Max this week! In a spinoff of last summer’s “The Suicide Squad” (press materials state that this is the first true series that takes place within the cinematic DC Universe), John Cena reprises his role as the peace-loving mass murderer Peacemaker, who is recruited to help save the world once again. (Steve Agee and Jennifer Holland also reprise their roles from “The Suicide Squad.”) James Gunn, who wrote and directed “The Suicide Squad,” returns to write every episode of “Peacemaker” (he also directed five of the eight episodes), so we can expect lots of irreverence, F-bombs and exploding body parts. (If any show is suited for the creative freedom of a streaming platform, it’s probably this one.) The first three episodes debut this week, with subsequent episodes arriving weekly. How’s that for freedom? [TRAILER]

“Wolf Like Me”

Thursday, January 13, Peacock

Abe Forsythe, the Australian writer-director behind zombie comedy “Little Monsters,” is back, this time with a brand new monstrous mystery-drama. Josh Gad plays a widower who falls in love with a mysterious woman (played by Isla Fisher), whose demons might be more literal than he imagined. The moody trailer promises just as much heartfelt drama as suspense, and the show’s Australian production/setting should also help set it apart. Forsythe directed all six episodes, which debut at the same time. Time to feast. [TRAILER]

“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania”

Friday, January 14, Amazon Prime Video

franchises is headed straight-to-streaming. (All three of Sony’s big movies last year, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” “Wish Dragon,” and “Vivo,” premiered on Netflix. So it’s not a huge surprise.)  This new installment, written by longtime franchise shepherd Genndy Tartakovsky, sees a magical ray gun transform the humans into monsters and the monsters into humans, leaving Johnny (Andy Samberg) and Dracula (Brian Hull, subbing for Adam Sandler) to embark on a dangerous mission to make things right. A fitting, admirably goofy send-off to the series, featuring lively animation and tons of fun gags. You’ll zing with this one. [TRAILER]