The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 27 – Feb. 4

Top picks to watch & more!

Buffy’s back, Jason Segel’s a shrink & Ryan Seacrest’s scary nanny tale

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV in ‘Wolf Pack.’

All times Eastern.

FRIDAY, Jan. 27
Wolf Pack
Buffy’s back! Kinda. A teenage boy and girl find their lives changed forever when a raging California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature. The new series stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, plus Rodrigo Santoro, Armani Jackson and Bella Shepard (Paramount+).

You People
Jonah Hill, David Duchovny, Nia Long, Rhea Pearlman, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Eddie Murphy and Elliott Gould star in this new comedy flick about culture clashes and intergenerational differences between a new couple and their families (Netflix).

Shrinking
A grieving therapist (Jason Segel) starts to break the rules when he tells his clients exactly what he’s thinking, making tumultuous changes in their lives as well as his own. With Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams (Apple TV+).

SATURDAY, Jan. 28
Frozen Planet II
Brrrrrrrrr! Venture into some of the Earth’s coldest, most remote places in this sequel series to the original, more than a decade ago, to observe (and learn from) the amazing species that live and thrive there. Narrated, of course, by David Attenborough, the “voice” of BBC nature docs…who else? (8 p.m., BBC America and AMC+).

NOW HEAR THIS

The sweet, soulful, socially conscious sound of one of America’s most celebrated singer-songwriters travels through time in Marvin Gaye’s Greatest Hits Live in 1976 (Mercury). The remastered release, available on vinyl and CD and originally recorded in Amsterdam, features more than 20 tracks, including performance of “What’s Going On,” “Save the Children,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “It Takes Two.”

The iconic poet of a generation is now 81, but his music is still going strong in Bob Dylan’s Fragments (Sony). The five-disc collection from the acclaimed Dylan Bootleg Series features songs-in-progress and other tracks that were eventually recorded for his mid-career masterpiece, Time Out of Mind, including “Make You Feel My Love.”  

SUNDAY, Jan. 29
Fire Country
Is it getting hot in here? Or is it just this new drama series, starring Seal Team’s Max Thierot as a hunky young ex-con seeking redemption (and early release) by joining a prison firefighting program in Northern California? (10 p.m., CBS).

MONDAY, Jan. 30
Watchful Eye
Ryan Seacrest is one of the producers of this new series about a young woman (Mariel Molino) who takes a job as a nanny for an affluent family, soon discovering that everyone in the building has dark secrets and ulterior motives (9 p.m., Freeform)

Bake It Till You Make It
Contestants enter their cakes in one of the biggest events on the competitive-cooking calendar, Atlanta’s Ultimate Sugar Show (9 p.m., Food Network).

TUESDAY, Jan. 31
Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World
Everything stars somewhere, and this insightful four-part documentary series recounts the origins of the bold and revolutionary musical format that became a cultural phenomenon, featuring interviews with rap icons Chuck D, Ice-T, Run DMC, will.i.am, Cypress Hill and many more (check listings, PBS).

Pamela: A Love Story
New documentary humanizes Pamela Anderson, above, who became one entertainment world’s most famous blonde bombshells—the actress, model and Baywatch star whose marriage to rock drummer Tommy Lee didn’t last…but their stolen sex tape sure did (Netflix).  

BRING IT HOME

They’re young, they’re in love and they eat people. The acclaimed Bones And All (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) is a road movie, a love story and a tale of two young outcasts (Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell) on the move for their next meal, served extremely rare. Who’s hungry?

THURSDAY, Feb. 2
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
Second season of the dramatic/comedy series about the Black experience begins tonight, with Gabrielle Union, Chance the Rapper, Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Anderson, Holly Robinson Peete, Maury Povich and more (Disney +)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The hit movie comes to streaming tonight, starring Angela Bassett, left, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, and emotional flashback scenes with the late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman (Disney+).

18 ½
New Watergate-themed real-life dramedy—a companion of sorts to the limited series Gaslit—follows a young woman (Willa Fitzgerald) in the Nixon White House who tries to leak the president’s notoriously incriminating tape to a reporter. With Bruce Campbell as Nixon, plus Richard Kind, Jon Cryer and John Magaro (5:11 p.m., Starz).

The Reading
New thriller produced by Lee Daniels stars Mo’Nique Hicks as a recent widow who stirs up an evil spirit with her book about her family’s loss (BET+).

The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 20 – Jan. 26

Top picks to watch on broadcast TV and streaming

The origins of Iron Man, suspicious Playboy murders & Natasha Lyonne knows when you’re lying!

See how it all began with ‘Iron Man’ on The Wonderful World of Disney Sunday night, Jan. 22.

All times Eastern.

FRIDAY, Jan. 20
Truth Be Told
Octavia Spencer returns to the role of investigative reporter-turned-true-crime podcaster Poppy Scoville to take on a new case in season three of the acclaimed, NAACP award-winning drama. With Gabrielle Union (Apple TV+).

Real Time with Bill Maher
The talk-show host/comedian begins his 21st season with more guests, panelists and prickly topics (10 p.m., HBO).

SATURDAY, Jan. 21
Love & Marriage: DC
A new power couple joins the group of the reality show in season two, from producer Oprah Winfrey, exploring romance in Washington (8 p.m., Own).

BRING IT HOME

Santa opens up a big bag of holiday whoopass in Violent Night (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour stars as a St. Nick pushed way past cookies and milk when he finds himself in the middle of a violent home invasion. It’s rollicking, naughty-nice fun.

SUNDAY, Jan. 22
Accused
Collection of stories of crime and punishment is based on a hit BBC series, with each tale presented from the defendant’s point of view—and you watch as the wheels of justice spin. (9 p.m., Fox).

The Wonderful World of Disney: Iron Man
Well, it’s a few thousand pop-cultural miles away from Peter Pan, Snow White and The Jungle Book, but tonight’s franchise-launching superhero saga (from 2008) is a slam-bang comic-book fairy tale sprung to big-screen life as a billionaire-genius industrialist (Robert Downey Jr.) builds a metal suit and becomes a global crime-fighter (8 p.m., ABC).

MONDAY, Jan. 23
The Lazarus Project
Imagine a secret organization, one that has figured out to turn back the hands of time whenever humanity is threatened with extinction. This eight-episode drama series ponders the existential question: If you had the power to change the past, would you? Should you? (9 p.m., TNT). 

Judy Justice
Manhattain’s honorable Judy Sheindlin—formerly known as simply Judge Judy, who began her TV sessions way back in 1996—arbitrates a new slate of small-claim cases with wisdom-tempered wit, candor and honesty (Amazon Freevee).


The Playboy Murders
Former Playboy bunny Holly Madison hosts this true-crime anthology series probing the dark side of the popular men’s magazine—and a series of murders and mysteries that intersected with it (ID and Discovery+). 

TUESDAY, Jan. 24
How I Met Your Father
Comedy series returns for a second season with Hilary Duff (left) recounting to her son how she met his papa in her younger years. With Kim Cattrall, Ashley Reyes and Josh Peck (Hulu).

American Masters: Roberta Flack
An intimate look at the music icon following her career from a piano lounge to the top of the charts, with such hits as “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly.” Features interviews from Flack, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Peabo Bryson and more (9 p.m., PBS).

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25
Grown-ish
Junior isn’t making enough money, so he starts up a new stock market side hustle, while Lauryn stops singing to focus on finding more substantial work (10:30 p.m., Freeform).

THURSDAY, Jan. 26
The 1619 Project
Six-part streaming docuseries looks at the institution of slavery and traces its historical consequences in the development of America (Hulu).


She knows when you’re not telling the truth!

Poker Face
Natasha Lyonne stars in this new streaming series as a young woman with an uncanny ability tell when someone is lying, who becomes a crime-solver in different places and scenarios for each episode. Guest appearances by Tim Blake Nelson, Adrien Brody, Nick Nolte and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Peacock).

—Neil Pond

The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 13 – Jan. 19

Top picks to watch & more!

All times Eastern.

Dog Gone. Rob Lowe as John in Dog Gone. Cr. Bob Mahoney/Netflix © 2022.

FRIDAY, Jan. 13
Dog Gone
Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams star in this network movie about a father’s desperate search for his son and his canine when they become lost hiking the Appalachian trail (Netflix).

Super League: The War for Football
Documentary documents the high-stakes battle put into play when plans for a breakaway league emerges and the fate and future of European football hangs in the balance (Apple TV+).

SATURDAY, Jan. 14
Six Minutes to Glory: The HBCU Band Experience
Documentary series spotlights Black marching bands of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) in a high-stakes halftime competition in Atlanta, Ga. (8 p.m., Aspire TV).

SUNDAY, Jan. 15
The Critics Choice Awards
Chelsea Handler hosts this freewheeling movie-awards event, voted by print and broadcast critics, which has become a bellwether for the Oscars. And actor Jeff Bridges will receive the org’s Lifetime Achievement Award (7 p.m., The CW). 


The Last of Us
Twenty years after civilization has been destroyed, a hardened survivor (Pedro Pascal) embarks on a brutal journey with a teenage girl (Bella Ramsey) in this apocalyptic-adventure series (9 p.m., HBO).


Meet the (older) women looking for love in ‘Milf Manor’!

Milf Manor
Here’s a new twist on dating shows: A group of 40-to-60-year-old women compete for hot young(er) hunks at a posh beachside resort in Mexico. Hubba hubba! (10 p.m., TLC).

Your Honor
Bryan Cranston returns for season two of the taut crime drama, as his character (a former federal judge) faces new complications with an old nemesis, crime boss Jimmy Baxter (Michael Stuhlbarg), and the arrival of a prosecutor (Rosie Perez) determined to get to the bottom of things (9 p.m., Showtime).  0tfc

MONDAY, Jan. 16
The Price of Glee
Discover the harsh downside of the fame—endless scandals, tabloid gossip and fatal tragedies—that came with the hit musical series Glee in this three-part limited series (9 p.m., ID).


The Miracle Workers: End Times
It’s a miracle. Well, maybe, not exactly. But it is the newest installment of the caustically witty series in which the same actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, Geraldine Viswanathan and Karan Soni) return each season, but as all-new characters in brand-new scenarios. This one is set in a dystopian future overrun with radioactive mutants, killer robots and a tyrannical homeowner’s association with outrageous fees (10 p.m., TBS).

TUESDAY, Jan. 17
9-1-1: Lone Star
Join the emergency response units of Austin, Texas, in season four of this drama-series spinoff of the hit L.A.-based 9-1-1 (8 p.m., Fox).


The Hammer
Reba McEntire reunites in this network original movie with her former TV costar Melissa Peterman to play an outspoken, no-nonsense lawyer appointed as a traveling judge in Nevada—based on a real character, and a true story (8 p.m., Lifetime).

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 18
The Cupcake Guys
Find out how a pair of NFL football stars (former Tennessee Titans teammates Brian Griffin and Brian Orakpo) became bakery kings, owning and operating their own franchise of Gigi’s Cupcakes in Austin, Texas (Roku Channel).


Grown-ish
Zoey and Aaron have an unexpected run-in at the San Francisco airport, making them re-evaluate the pros and cons of long-distance relationships (10:30 p.m., Freeform).

THURSDAY, Jan. 19
Are You the One?
Kamie Crawford hosts season two of this big-budget dating competition series, which offers a houseful of recently single men and women from all over the world opportunities to find their soulmates—and split a massive cash prize (Paramont+).

New faces reboot ‘That 70s Show’ two decades later: Mace Coronel, Callie Haverda, Ashley Aufderheide, Reyn Doi, Maxwell Acee Donovan and Sam Morelos

That 90s Show
It’s back! Sort of. This spinoff (of the teen sitcom That ‘70s Show) returns now 15 years later, a bit older and wiser, but just as wildly funny. Starring anew generation of “kids” in the setting of Point Place, Wisc. (Netflix).

The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 6 – 12

The week’s top picks for TV, books and home entertainment

Dan Rather interviews Trisha Yearwood as part of an all-day programming block about country music’s most acclaimed female artists.

FRIDAY, Jan. 6


All the Single Ladies
Taking its title from the Beyonce hit, this new unscripted reality series features Black women across the nation discussing intimacy, dating, sex and love in the modern world (9 p.m., Own).

Rose (left) is one of the “Single Ladies” in the new series taking its title from the Beyonce hit.

Boys in Blue
Docuseries follows a high school football team coached by officers in Minneapolis following the police killing of George Floyd (8 p.m., Showtime). The Pale Blue Eye
Christian Bale stars as a detective investigating a savage murder at an 1830s military academy (Netflix)

SATURDAY, Jan. 7
Svengoolie Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Movie
The classic kooky spooky-movie series expands tonight to two and a half hours, with more corny jokes, fan mail, interviews, special guests and surprises. Tonight’s film is the Vincent Price/Boris Karloff classic The Raven, which includes in its cast a very young Jack Nicholson! (8 p.m., MeTV).

The Women of Country
Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna Judd, Lady A, Tanya Tucker and more are featured this all-day programming “stack” of specials, interviews and concert events from country music’s top female artists (begins 12 p.m., AXS TV).

Alert
New police procedural set in the Philadelphia PD’s Missing Persons department stars Hawaii Five-O’s Scott Caan and Diana Ramirez (right) from Devious Maids (8 p.m., Fox).

SUNDAY, Jan. 8
Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches
This new series in the “Anne Rice Immortal Universe” is based on the best-selling author’s best-selling trilogy, Lives of Mayfair Witches, focusing on a young neurosurgeon (Alexandra Daddario) who discovers she’s the unlikely heir to a supernaturally gifted family (9 p.m., AMC and AMC+).

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Singing legend Roberta Flack details the beginning of her love of music (and the roots of her tremendous talent) in The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music (Anne Schwartz Books). About how she started with a beat-up piano her father found in a junkyard, it’s written and illustrated for young kids, but the testimony is ageless: Music can change lives. It certainly did for the “Killing Me Softly with His Song” superstar.

MONDAY, Jan. 9
NCIS Crossover
If you can’t get enough of crime procedurals, well, tonight’s your night. Tune for this three-hour TV event in which the casts and plotlines of NCIS, NCIS: Hawali and NCIS Los Angeles intersect and overlap (8 p.m., CBS).

I Didn’t See You There
Acclaimed documentary takes viewers inside the life of a disabled person, using only footage shot from his personal perspective in a wheelchair, often “invisible” to those around him. It’s moving and mesmerizing (10 p.m., PBS).

TUESDAY, Jan. 10
The Rookie
The search for a missing boy leads the team into the middle of a dangerous drug war between two rival gangs. With Nathan Fillion and Alyssa Diaz (8 p.m., ABC).

NEW ON DVD

Get reacquainted with country star Tanya Tucker in The Return of Tanya Tucker (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), an insightful documentary about the “Delta Dawn” singer on her recent comeback trail, aided by Americana singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile.

Dwayne Johnson brings a new superhero to the screen in Black Adam (Warner Bros Home Entertainment), based on a character that originally appeared in the 1940s and reappeared in the 1970s as a bad guy, an archenemy to Captain Marvel and other Marvel superheroes. Pssssst: He’s still a badass, just not so bad anymore.

She Said (Universal Home Entertainment) is the riveting true-life story of two intrepid New York Times reporters (Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan) broke open the story of Hollywood’s biggest sexual abuser, Harvey Weinstein.

WEDNESDAY, June 11
Celebrity Name That Tune
Star contestants test their musical knowledge in a new season of this one-hour game show hosted by Jane Krakowski (9 p.m., Fox).

Superkitties
If your kid’s a cat person, they’ll love this new animated series about four cute and cuddly kittens—with superpowers! Mee-oww, it sounds marvelous! (10.30 a.m., Disney Channel).

The Traitors
Actor Alan Cumming hosts this new streaming competition in which a group of 20 contestants vie for a sizeable cash prize. The catch, though—three of them are “traitors” trying to devise a deceitful plan to cheat and steal their way to victory (Peacock).

THURSDAY, June 12

The Vikings are coming…back!

Vikings: Valhalla
The gritty hit series returns for a second season of 11th century Scandinavian raids, sword-rattling and ice-covered adventure. Sam Corlett stars as legendary explore Leif Eriksson (Netflix).

How I Caught My Killer
New true-crime docuseries highlight real-life stories of unique homicides and the crucial clues that help crack each case (Hulu).

The Climb
Actor Jason Momoa and legendary rock climber Chris Sharma host this new climbing competition series, as contestants scale some of the most daunting summits in the world in hopes of clinching a $100,000 prize (HBO and HBO Max).

—Neil Pond

The Entertainment Forecast

Jan. 6 – 12

The week’s top picks for TV, books and home entertainment

Dan Rather interviews Trisha Yearwood as part of an all-day programming block about country music’s most acclaimed female artists.

FRIDAY, Jan. 6


All the Single Ladies
Taking its title from the Beyonce hit, this new unscripted reality series features Black women across the nation discussing intimacy, dating, sex and love in the modern world (9 p.m., Own).

Rose (left) is one of the “Single Ladies” in the new series taking its title from the Beyonce hit.

Boys in Blue
Docuseries follows a high school football team coached by officers in Minneapolis following the police killing of George Floyd (8 p.m., Showtime). The Pale Blue Eye
Christian Bale stars as a detective investigating a savage murder at an 1830s military academy (Netflix)

SATURDAY, Jan. 7
Svengoolie Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Movie
The classic kooky spooky-movie series expands tonight to two and a half hours, with more corny jokes, fan mail, interviews, special guests and surprises. Tonight’s film is the Vincent Price/Boris Karloff classic The Raven, which includes in its cast a very young Jack Nicholson! (8 p.m., MeTV).

The Women of Country
Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna Judd, Lady A, Tanya Tucker and more are featured this all-day programming “stack” of specials, interviews and concert events from country music’s top female artists (begins 12 p.m., AXS TV).

Alert
New police procedural set in the Philadelphia PD’s Missing Persons department stars Hawaii Five-O’s Scott Caan and Diana Ramirez (right) from Devious Maids (8 p.m., Fox).

SUNDAY, Jan. 8
Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches
This new series in the “Anne Rice Immortal Universe” is based on the best-selling author’s best-selling trilogy, Lives of Mayfair Witches, focusing on a young neurosurgeon (Alexandra Daddario) who discovers she’s the unlikely heir to a supernaturally gifted family (9 p.m., AMC and AMC+).

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Singing legend Roberta Flack details the beginning of her love of music (and the roots of her tremendous talent) in The Green Piano: How Little Me Found Music (Anne Schwartz Books). About how she started with a beat-up piano her father found in a junkyard, it’s written and illustrated for young kids, but the testimony is ageless: Music can change lives. It certainly did for the “Killing Me Softly with His Song” superstar.

MONDAY, Jan. 9
NCIS Crossover
If you can’t get enough of crime procedurals, well, tonight’s your night. Tune for this three-hour TV event in which the casts and plotlines of NCIS, NCIS: Hawali and NCIS Los Angeles intersect and overlap (8 p.m., CBS).

I Didn’t See You There
Acclaimed documentary takes viewers inside the life of a disabled person, using only footage shot from his personal perspective in a wheelchair, often “invisible” to those around him. It’s moving and mesmerizing (10 p.m., PBS).

TUESDAY, Jan. 10
The Rookie
The search for a missing boy leads the team into the middle of a dangerous drug war between two rival gangs. With Nathan Fillion and Alyssa Diaz (8 p.m., ABC).

NEW ON DVD

Get reacquainted with country star Tanya Tucker in The Return of Tanya Tucker (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), an insightful documentary about the “Delta Dawn” singer on her recent comeback trail, aided by Americana singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile.

Dwayne Johnson brings a new superhero to the screen in Black Adam (Warner Bros Home Entertainment), based on a character that originally appeared in the 1940s and reappeared in the 1970s as a bad guy, an archenemy to Captain Marvel and other Marvel superheroes. Pssssst: He’s still a badass, just not so bad anymore.

WEDNESDAY, June 11
Celebrity Name That Tune
Star contestants test their musical knowledge in a new season of this one-hour game show hosted by Jane Krakowski (9 p.m., Fox).

Superkitties
If your kid’s a cat person, they’ll love this new animated series about four cute and cuddly kittens—with superpowers! Mee-oww, it sounds marvelous! (10.30 a.m., Disney Channel).

The Traitors
Actor Alan Cumming hosts this new streaming competition in which a group of 20 contestants vie for a sizeable cash prize. The catch, though—three of them are “traitors” trying to devise a deceitful plan to cheat and steal their way to victory (Peacock).

THURSDAY, June 12

The Vikings are coming…back!

Vikings: Valhalla
The gritty hit series returns for a second season of 11th century Scandinavian raids, sword-rattling and ice-covered adventure. Sam Corlett stars as legendary explore Leif Eriksson (Netflix).

How I Caught My Killer
New true-crime docuseries highlight real-life stories of unique homicides and the crucial clues that help crack each case (Hulu).

The Climb
Actor Jason Momoa and legendary rock climber Chris Sharma host this new climbing competition series, as contestants scale some of the most daunting summits in the world in hopes of clinching a $100,000 prize (HBO and HBO Max).

—Neil Pond

Bot Life

A super-smart android doll makes life interesting—and then dangerous—in this spunky horror comedy

M3GAN
Starring Alison Williams & Violet McGraw
Directed by Gerard Johnstone
R

In theaters Friday, Jan. 6

Back in 1963, Telly Savalas starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Living Doll,” playing a father who buys a talking doll for his daughter. But the chatty plaything becomes a pest, then a threat, telling him, “My name is Talky Tina—and I’m going to kill you.”

“Artificial intelligence” wasn’t such a hot topic in the early 1960s, an era long before smartphones, computerized appliances, interactive toys, Siri searches and self-driving cars. Today we’re surrounded by things that “think,” processing information much, much faster than the human brain.

In M3GAN, a high-tech robotic doll takes over the lives of a young girl and her aunt. Alison Williams stars as Gemma, a computerized toy designer in Seattle who brings her latest prototype home as a companion to her niece, Cady (Violet McGraw), whose parents have died in a tragic road accident. Now Gemma is Cady’s official guardian, and she’s stretched thin with her demanding job and the overwhelming duties of being a new parent. M3GAN (it stands for Model 3 Generative Android) can do a lot of things, for golly-gee sure—but can she take the place of a loving mother?

M3GAN and Cady bond almost instantly. “She’s not a toy!” Cady insists, and indeed, the lifelike doll becomes Cady’s companion, best friend and playmate. She sings, she dances, she reads storybooks in the voices of the characters. She can “read” a room like, well, like a computerized android who knows what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling.

And she becomes a fierce protector. Bullying schoolboys, vicious dogs, meddlesome next-door neighbors, corporate males who want to control her—well, M3GAN’s got your number.

This spry, supple horror comedy nimbly slices into our ever-increasing reliance on things that aren’t human but that have become “essential” parts of everyday living. It’s tense and intense and scary without being gory, and its well-placed humor helps lighten the mood of eventual, inevitable murder and mayhem as M3GAN stands up for Cady, and for herself.

M3GAN becomes a sensation and makes Gemma, her creator, a superstar. She’s constructed of titanium and circuitry, with a rubbery silicone coating, but she’s made of pure gold, a sure contender to corner and crush the market for the toy company that commissioned her. (Even though we’re told she’ll retail for “less than a Tesla.”) But M3GAN has other ideas. And when things turn dark and ominous, as you know they will, the movie becomes a gleefully freakish joyride as we wait for her make her next maliciously nasty move, whether it’s bolting on all fours like a wild animal, weaponizing a nail gun or calmly pursuing a soon-to-be victim down a blood-red hallway, wielding a machete.

The film’s stylish horror-show cred is impressive. Williams, a former star of the TV series Girls, made a splash in Jordan Peele’s acclaimed terror parable Get Out, and young McGraw got her start in the streaming series The Haunting of Hill House. One of the producers is Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse franchise gave us Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious and Malignant.

There are respectful nods to the bountiful lineage of other scarifying movies that have come before, from Frankenstein to Chucky and Ex Machina, with touches of Stephen King and even The Evil Dead. As M3GAN mounts her reign of monstrously fun movie terror, the film raises some serious existential issues, most notably mortality itself as M3GAN comforts Cady over the loss of her parents. What is death, exactly? What happens after you die? And, in M3GAN’s case, how can you possibly “kill” something that was never alive to begin with?

It may make you think about what, exactly, Alexia is doing in your home when you’re away. Or if your smartphone is smarter than you are. Just how much do Google and Facebook and Amazon, or your Mac or PC, really know about what you’re doing online?

But if you see Telly Savalas stomping through your house and heading into the basement with a blowtorch…run!

—Neil Pond

Loud & Clear

All-star cast presents a searing drama about a homespun #MeToo movement

Women Talking
Starring Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy & Ben Whitshaw
Directed by Sarah Polley
Rated PG-13

In theaters Friday, Jan. 6, 2023

An all-star ensemble cast tackles a thorny subject in director Sarah Polley’s powerful presentation of a 2018 novel about the traumatic aftermath of horrific sexual abuse. 

The book was based on actual events that happened in Bolivia, when men in an ultraconservative religious community were arrested and eventually imprisoned for raping women and young girls after drugging them with animal tranquilizers. The film imports the story to America, as a small group of the victimized women—Mennonites in the book, but not noted in the film—meet in a barn during a tense two-day period to decide their fateful course of action for when the men return, out on bail.

There are indelibly potent performances by Roonie Mara, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy and others as the besieged women huddling on haybales to debate faith, forgiveness, justice, morality and mortality, and craft their dreams for a better future. Suffering for years under the heels of a repressive patriarchy that has kept them apart from the “civilized” world and denied them access to education and technology, the women are barely literate. But, with the clock ticking and their attackers returning, they realize the importance of choosing one of the three options before them—staying and resisting, leaving forever, or simply doing nothing.

Ben Whitshaw plays a mild-mannered, college-educated Mennonite who has returned to the colony as a schoolteacher; he’s the only male the women trust, and he’s been asked to take the minutes of the meetings, to create a record. Significantly, he’s the only adult male in the movie that we ever fully see, or whose voice we hear—the lone sympathetic soul in a seemingly soulless place where the other males are either faceless sexual predators, abusive beasts, or enablers of a male-dominated culture that has fostered such toxic, repressive masculinity.

Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy star in ‘Women Talking.’

The discussions are fraught with weighty consequences. In this authoritarian religious microcosm, male leaders have told the women that the horrors they’ve experienced are only the fertile stuff of dreams and nightmares, the results of the hyper-active female imagination—and those pregnancies, well, they’re the work of ghosts, or even Satan. And if they ever, for whatever reason, deign to leave the colony, women will forever forfeit their ticket to all heavenly afterlife rewards.

It’s stylish and solidly theatrical, intimately small and intently focused in both scope and setting; it’s filmed in muted, monochromatic colors to underline the somber overtones and the seriousness of the situation. These are women at a breaking point, pushed to life-altering choices about what to do with their lives, how to move forward to ensure the safety of their daughters. As they grapple with the details of their homespun #MeToo movement to move out from underneath a gaslight toward true light, viewers are compelled to consider the wider, larger real-world connections—to women everywhere, anywhere, anytime, who bravely confront injustice and abuse.

Although there’s little action, in a conventional movie sense, there’s plenty of drama as the women do what the title suggests: They talk. They also sing hymns, quote Scripture, shout, and sometimes laugh—and let fly an f-word or two. A familiar Monkees hit, blaring from a car, is a bittersweet intrusion of the “forbidden” outside real world popping—for just a moment—their insular little bubble. There’s even a shoutout to gender fluidity, represented by a young female character who decides—after her rape and miscarriage—that she simply doesn’t want to be a girl anymore.  

It’s not Top Gun or Avatar, by any stretch. Nothing blows up, no one gets shot, and the only high-velocity moment is when a horse-drawn buggy veers off into a field. But Women Talking is explosive in other ways, including how it presents a group of women facing choices that could very well blow up the only world they’ve ever known. As the rest of America is being “counted,” against the film’s backdrop of the 2010 national census, these women are also making their presence known.

A late entry as a contender for one of the year’s best movies, it’s a monumentally consequential, timelessly important film. How important? Frances McDormand (who has a small role as one of the women) and Brad Pitt (who doesn’t) are among the producers, believing in the film enough to put their movie muscles into it.

It quietly, vividly, simply and surely sears its way into your soul, a bold, thought-provoking testament to the revolutionary power that can start with women talking, then mapping the way for themselves and future generations to navigate the world.  

The Entertainment Forecast

Dec. 30 – Jan. 5

Top picks for TV, books, music & more!

All Times Eastern.

Will Young Sheldon drop out of college????? Watch Thursday night, Jan. 5, to find out!

FRIDAY, Dec. 30


Wildcat
If you fell under the spell of The Tiger King, you’ll purr over this documentary, about a couple of animal conservationists caring for an orphaned African wildcat (Amazon Prime).

Island
Korean fantasy series, set on the tropical Jeju Island, taps into legends and folklore as it follows a group of young characters fighting an evil force that threatens to destroy the world (Prime Video). 

SATURDAY, Dec. 31
New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash
Yep, it’s big, all right. Ring out the old and usher in the new, Nashville-style, with performances all over Music City by Brooks and Dunn, Sheryl Crow, Elle King, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Kelsi Ballerini and more (10:30 p.m., CBS).

United in Song: Ringing in the New Year Together
With so many things dividing us, how about something to bring us all together? This holiday special celebrates America’s rich diversity in music, from folk, rock, opera and country to hip hop, showtunes, bluegrass and beyond (8 p.m., PBS).

Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest
It’s nearly a 20-year tradition as hosts Ryan Seacrest, Billy Porter, Liza Koshy and singing superstar Ciara anchor down in New York City’s Times Square—and beyond, in a pre-taped Disneyland segment—for this festive, fun celebration of stars, music, and fireworks! (8 p.m., ABC)

Lizzo Live in Concert
The world’s most rockin’, rappin’ flautist gives a full concert with her band, The Lizzbians, and special guests from the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif. (HBO Max).

A Toast to Twilight
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve with a marathon of Twilight Zone episodes, and your cup will runneth over for this one, featuring 84 back-to-back episodes of creator Rod Serling’s sci-fi TV masterpieces and sparkling with a galaxy of guest stars from the 1950s and ‘60s, including Carol Burnett, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Mongomery and (of course!) William Shatner (12 p.m., MeTV).  https://vimeo.com/777154241/3fc542d9e9

SUNDAY, Jan. 1
Paul T. Goldman
Watch the dramatized true story about a man who went “from wimp to warrior” after a shocking betrayal…and brought down an alleged international crime ring (Peacock).

Kaleidoscope
Like the object in its title, little episodic “fragments” come together bit by bit to ultimately reveal the details of a tense, heist-drama crime caper spanning 25 years. The non-linear story is inspired by real events that transpired in Manhattan, when $70 billion in bonds went missing during the chaos of Hurricane Sandy (Netflix).

Fantasy Island
Beat the winter blahs with the season two return, spun off from the iconic 1970s series, about a luxury tropical-isle resort where every dream can come true—but they rarely turn out as expected (8 p.m., Fox).

America’s Got Talent All-Stars
Cue the magicians, the singers, the jugglers, the dancers, the aerialists. Winners, finalists, fan faves and viral sensations from around the world—and AGT’s global franchises—return for this new series to compete for the hit TV competition’s ultimate All-Star title (8 p.m., Jan. 2)

TUESDAY, Jan. 3
FBI
The team jumps into action when an intelligence officer (Taylor Anthony) is taken hostage (8 p.m., CBS).

Sometimes When We Touch
Three-part soft-rock documentary explores the retro roots of the format that spawned such 1970s acts as Air Supply, Ambrosia, Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins and many others in the 1970s—and ultimately crashed and burned in the ‘80s, only to stage an unlikely comeback later as “yacht rock” (Paramount+).

American Experience: The Lie Detector
You’ve seen it in the movies and on TV, but how much do you know about the device that knows if you’re telling the truth—or lying? This documentary takes you in the history, and the science, of the device that revolutionized police work…and more (9 p.m., PBS).  

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4
Tough as Nails
In tonight’s two-hour premiere, host Phil Keoghan welcomes another hard-working crew to compete—in challenges designed to represent real-world work—for the $200,000 grand prize and prove that they’re, well, as tough as nails (9 p.m., CBS).

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street
Meet the man behind the infamous $64 billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, the largest in history, that swingled countless investors who put their misplaced trust in the revered financial guru (Netflix). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k31dKoFsniU

Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test
This “social experiment” competition premieres tonight with a two-hour kickoff in which a group of famous and semi-famous celebs (including Jamie Lynn Spears, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Anthony Scaramucci) trade spotlight glam for gutsy gung-ho grit in a series of challenges from the Special Forces playbook (8 p.m., Fox).

THURSDAY, Jan. 5

Ginny & Georgia
Season two of the comedy-drama series features Brianne Howrey and Antonia Gentry (right) returning to their roles as a New England daughter and her mom, now dealing with a deadly secret (Netflix).

Young Sheldon
Sheldon (Iain Armitage) considers dropping out of college to focus on building his own computer database (9 p.m., CBS).

Kold x Windy
Not a weather forecast, as the title suggests, but rather an eight-episode scripted drama series about the street culture of Chicago’s south side, following a rising hip hop star (Sh’Kia Augustin) and her rapper friend (Nijah Brenea) (10 p.m., WeTV).

The Entertainment Forecast

Dec. 23 – 29

Top picks to watch this week on network & streaming!

Don’t shoot your eye out, Kevin Hart rings out the old & stars salute Paul Simon

The stars come out to honor singer-songwriter Paul Simon and his decades of music.

FRIDAY, Dec. 23
24th Annual A Home for the Holidays at the Grove
Celebrity guest appearances by Little Big Town, Gloria Estefan, Andy Grammer, David Foster and more help draw attention (and raise funds) in this annual entertainment special spotlighting adoption and foster care (8 p.m., CBS).

Strange World
Animated Disney hit comes to streaming, featuring voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu and others in a lively tale of a motley crew of explorers navigating a mysterious new land Disney+).

2022 Back that Year Up
Hosts Kevin Hart and Kenan Thompson find the funny in recapping the year’s highlights, all the stuff that we remember, and some things we might like to forget (Peacock). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyseaJEucrI

SATURDAY, Dec. 24
Rock into Christmas!
Deck the halls with more than 12 hours of seasonal concert specials, from Sting, Faith Hill, Heart, Chris Isaak and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (begins 1 p.m., AXS).

A Christmas Story
Settle in for what has become a modern-day Christmas-classic tradition: The 24-hour marathon of this 1983 holiday comedy, about a young boy whose only Christmas wish is for a Red Ryder BB gun (8 p.m., TBS and TNT).  

SUNDAY, Dec. 25
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Animated short film, based on the internationally best-selling book, follows an unlikely friendship between a boy and animals as he searches for a home. With voices by Tom Hollander, Idris Elba, Gabriel Byrne and Jude Coward Nicoll (AppleTV+).

Disney Park’s Magical Christmas Parade
After you unwrap your Santa goodies, join this festive tour of holiday fun and all things Christmas in Walt Disney World and Disneyland, including celebrity guests (10 a.m., ABC)

MONDAY, Dec. 26
Bake It Till You Make It
Master cake artist Duff Goldman narrates this new docuseries providing an inside look at the world of competitive baking—and the enthusiastic, sometimes over-the-top personalities who participate, hoping for a baking “big break” (9 p.m., Food Network). 

TUESDAY, Dec. 27
American Masters: Groucho & Cavett
New documentary explores the relationship between comedy icon Groucho Marx and TV personality Dick Cavett in the late 1960s with archival TV footage, interviews and recordings (check listings, PBS).

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28
Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon
TV tribute special to the 16-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, with performances of his hits by Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, Eric Church, the Jonas Brothers, Billy Porter, Sting and many others (8 p.m., CBS).

Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl
Live-concert experience at the iconic venue brings together the original voice cast of the Oscar-winning Disney hit movie performing its songs with an 80-piece orchestra, 50 dancers and special theatrical effects. But we don’t talk about Bruno! (Disney+).

THURSDAY, Dec. 29
Stab That Cake!
Bakers compete to see if their hyper-realistic faux cakes can fool anyone when placed right next to the real-deal confections in the grocery store (9 p.m., Cooking Channel).

Party On! ‘Babylon’ Movie Review

Margot Robbie cuts loose in spectacularly profane ode to Old Hollywood debauchery

Babylon
Starring Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Jean Smart & Diego Calva
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Rated R

See it: In theaters Friday, Dec. 23

A sweeping, swaggering, spectacularly saucy salute to old Hollywood, Damien Chazelle’s new Oscar-bait period-piece epic spins a sprawling, gloriously seedy tale about the deep-dish decadence of a bygone era.

Drugs? For sure. Sexual kink? Plenty of that! Excessive nudity? Oh, yeah. Hard-partying depravity? Check.

This big, boisterously sleazy ode to Hollywood’s baser instincts of yore clocks clocks in at just more than three hours, spanning several years in the intertwined lives of its ensemble of characters, from the late 1920s into the early ‘50s. Among other, more salacious things, it’s a looking glass into the moviemaking machinery and the process of those “golden years,” from suffocatingly hot studio soundstage sets to chaotic, wide-open on-location spectacles, with hundreds of extras running into (and over) each other and multiple movies filming at once, racing the setting sun before the productions run out of light.

Brad Pitt

The all-star cast is anchored by Margot Robbie, and you can expect her name in the conversation as a Best Actress contender. She’s the “face” of the movie as Nellie LeRoy, an aggressively eager starlet, hungry to climb up the Hollywood food chain. Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad, a dashing former superstar watching his leading-man legend fade as movies transition from silent films to “talkies.” Diego Calva played a drug lord in Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico, and here he makes his movie-mainstream debut as Manny Torres, a lowly Mexico-born film assistant working his unlikely way to becoming a big-shot studio exec. Jean Smart of Hacks is a Hollywood hack, the been-there-seen-that gossip columnist who watches it all from the sidelines.

Jean Smart

Hey, look! There’s Tobey Maguire (he was Spider-Man!), Lukas Haas (the grownup kid from Witness!), Olivia Wilde (she directed Don’t Worry Darling and Booksmart!), Katherine Waterson (her dad is Law & Order star Sam Waterson!), Eric Roberts (Julia’s brother!), and Flea (the bass player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers!). A jazz trumpet player (Jordan Adepo) and a lesbian torch singer (Li Jun Li) are also along for the boisterous, bumpy ride through crazytown.

This outrageously excessive, cocaine-fueled romp depicts a time when Hollywood was itself outrageously excessive, often living up (and down) to its hedonistic reputation—and its nickname, lifted from the ancient cradle of civilization that became Biblical shorthand for evil and immorality. You get a good idea about the why the movie is called Babylon in the Fellini-esque bacchanalia buffet of rampant debauchery that opens the film, half an hour before the movie’s title even appears onscreen. 

Director Chazelle made his mark with the Oscar-winning Whiplash and his smash 2016 musical, La La Land. That movie, too, was set in Hollywood, but it seems like a soft, gentle breeze of a lullaby compared to the roaring hurricane of tawdry behavior in Babylon, which depicts a Hollywood gone wild, yet to be reined in by a “morality code” or restricted with movie ratings. If you think Charlie Sheen was a baaad boy and Lindsey Lohan the poster child for wasted excess, well, they can’t hold a candle to this.

It’s not a true story, but it is true-ish, and characters are amalgams of certain Hollywood screen idols of yesteryear—Pitt’s character represents a cross between the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and the seductive, big-screen suavity of Clark Gable. Robbie’s Nellie LeRoy follows the career trajectory of Clara Bow, a former Brooklyn flapper who became one of filmdom’s first “sex symbols” in the Twenties—and whose abrasively nonconformist lifestyle didn’t exactly help Hollywood transcend the widespread perception of movies as cheap, disposable “low art.”

Margot Robbie

Bawdy, extravagant, explosively vulgar and sometimes salaciously savory—it’s all that and more, and you’ll probably not see another movie this holiday season with explosive pachyderm diarrhea, phallic-shaped pogo sticks, a subterranean lair full of freaks and geeks, and a conversation discussing the, ahem, dimensions of Charlie Chaplin’s manhood. And Margot Robbie fights a rattlesnake. Yes, Margot Robbie fights a rattlesnake.

But it’s also funny, sad, sometimes quite poignant, and heart-achingly human, depicting a place of towering artifice teetering on a foundation of vanity and fever dreams, on the cusp and the cutting edge of sweeping innovation and change, with characters watching their own fortunes rise and fall along the wayside. The end sequence, which takes place (fittingly enough) inside a movie theater, is a dazzling, almost hallucinatory salute to the durability of film, the magic of an art form that will ultimately outlast the lives of all who ever work in, on or for it.

Fame and fortune can swell and soar, as did the Tower of Babel in the ancient city of Babylon—before it all came crashing down. Nothing lasts forever. And like the resplendently tawdry, off-the-rails Hollywood depicted in Babylon, every party comes to an end, one way or another…no matter how many drugs or how much booze, how many naked starlets, trumpeting elephants or hissing vipers.