Thanksgiving when I was growing up was television in a very specific sense: after a big meal, all the men in the family retired to the living room and promptly fell asleep before a soccer game.
With the ratings for the National Football League being what it is, there’s clearly still a lot of people who are going to spend Thursday with the Lions and Vikings and Bills, oh my god, conscious of it or not. But if your entertainment tastes lean towards something a little less jarring, you could use these free hours to catch up on shows you missed during the hectic fall months. Here’s a holiday menu of recent series worth discovering or resuming.
The single season of Icelandic crime drama Entrapped, which you can find on Netflix, is actually the third season of a series better known as Trapped, created by filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur; The first two episodes from 2016 and 2019 are available on Amazon Prime Video. But Entrapped, which begins with a clash between a biker gang and an Icelandic religious cult, can also be enjoyed alone. The mystery is detached, and in any case the series has been less about the details of the murder and more about the cranky, sullen nobility of Andri, the cop, played with exquisite portliness by Olafur Darri Olafsson. (Stream on Netflix.)
The creators of this coming-of-age animated comedy on FXX – Darcy Fowler, Seth Kirschner and Kieran Valla – are both actors and writers, and it shows in the believability of the characters who populate this casually racy, hex-positive universe . Chrissy (Lucy DeVito) is the angry, estranged teenage daughter of a single mother, Laura (Aubrey Plaza); The twist is that her family is broken because her father (Lucy DeVito’s real father Danny) is literally Satan. The show was a bit unfocused and ordinary at first, but halfway through its 10-episode season, it morphed into a hard-hitting and genuinely touching family saga that just so happened to involve a lot of interdimensional sex and soul-melting. (Stream on Hulu.)
Based on short stories by rising sci-fi star Ken Liu, Pantheon is a story about the consequences of uploading human consciousness to the cloud that shares a family resemblance with The Matrix. But its effectiveness stems from its humility and seriousness – the way it stays close to earth while imagining limitless digital worlds. (It’s also a corporate conspiracy thriller, in which the corporation isn’t always the worst actor on stage.) The investigations and battles in this animated drama on AMC+ take place primarily in virtual reality landscapes, while the non-virtual characters — including A feisty, heroic teenager (Katie Chang) and her occasional ally, a supernatural hacker (Paul Dano) — walk through their living rooms with headsets on. There’s still time to devour the eight episodes of the first season before the second and final season comes out in January. (Streaming on Amazon Prime Video.)
“The Serpent Queen”
Starz has always made room for costume drama, which is both about costume shedding and staying true to every recorded story. (See Spartacus, The White Princess, The Spanish Princess, Black Sails, Outlander, et al.) The Serpent Queen, starring Samantha Morton as Catherine de’ Medici, is in that tradition; It’s a historical rock ‘n’ roll drama that dons period clothing and a 16th-century look with a contemporary pop sound, with characters who move and speak (sometimes directly into the camera) with a thoroughly modern sensibility combined. And not only does it manage not to be downright irritating, it also manages to be surprisingly entertaining, largely because of Morton’s sly, steely portrayal of the overzealous Catherine. In the present of the series, she is already the Queen of France, planning and politicizing while telling her troubled story to a maid she hires as her personal maid (Sennia Nanua). (Stream on Starz.)
In his first TV series since his seven-year run on Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam plays an escaped Australian convict who ends up in 1980s Bombay – a few steps from the police, entangled with local criminals and bewitched by a mysterious Swiss beauty (Antonia Desplat). Based on an autobiographical novel by Gregory David Roberts, this Apple TV+ series presents the familiar elements of bohemian adventure and danger in warm climates with style and genuine suspense. (Stream on Apple TV+.)
Is there life after 30? There’s for The Simpsons, who felt rejuvenated in their 34th year on Fox. The episode that’s grabbed all the attention is October 9’s “Lisa the Boy Scout,” a hugely entertaining exercise in metafools. But the season was sharp week after week. The King of Nice, in which Krusty the Clown reinvents himself as the cuddly, dancing daytime talk show host – and Marge discovers her true calling as his producer – is a tightly crafted, perfectly timed satire; From Beer to Paternity is unexpectedly moving, in which Homer and Lisa take Duffman on a road trip to mend his relationship with his daughter. High hopes for Sunday’s episode, the ninth of the season, promisingly titled When Nelson Met Lisa. (Stream on Hulu.)
When Netflix and Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy relaunched this venerable true-crime series in 2020, they reclassified it and took it in a more documentary direction — a measured pace, a calm demeanor, no trust on narration. (Robert Stack, the show’s longtime host, has a shadowy presence in the opening credits.) They suspect someone involved is a big Errol Morris fan; The investigations may not be more thorough or balanced than those found on lower-rent cable shows, but the presentation has an elegance that draws you in. The third season, which has grown to nine episodes, continues the practice of occasionally shuffling UFO sightings as part of the constant diet of unsolved deaths. (Stream on Netflix.)