Christmas is over.
The Christmas Radio Times has been discarded and most of the good TV specials have already aired.
But with miserable weather and more bank holidays this year than usual due to how Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell, now is a perfect time to hunker down with some good company and quality TV.
What to watch on Disney+
The latest TV addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, by my reckoning, the best so far.
Where Wandavision, Falcon and Winter Soldier and Loki all suffered from definite filler episodes this is six-episodes of action-packed perfection.
Jeremy Renner is excellent as the Avenger suffering equally from PTSD, imposter syndrome and the burning urge to get home to his family for Christmas without getting murdered by a vengeful crime syndicate while Hailee Steinfeld is the brilliant Kate Bishop – a teenager turned vigilante who saw her dad killed by Loki’s attack on New York in Avengers Assemble and was inspired by Clint Barton fighting the invading alien hordes to learn archery.
If you’ve not watched it yet, it will definitely add more to your viewing pleasure if you watch the Black Widow movie (also on Disney+) before you start.
Only Murders in the Building
Comedy geniuses Steve Martin and Martin Short team up with former teen popstar Selena Gomez in a funny and tightly-plotted ten episode murder mystery.
Set in a posh New York apartment block where three residents unite to solve a mystery the police have ruled is suicide, this is a very fun watch and has, I guarantee, the funniest and most surreal cameo of a rock legend you’ll see in anything on this list.
The Beatles: Get Back
There’s only three episodes of this but if you’ve sat through Peter Jackson’s director’s cut of Return of the King you know that literally means nothing.
Covering the making of the Fab Four’s 1970 album Get Back, the eight hours run time is both at points fascinating and at points utterly banal in a way that is oddly watchable – you literally go from George having a hissy fit and announcing he’s leaving The Beatles to an inordinate amount of time spent eating toast.
Perfect background watching for families who want to dip in and out, but for Beatles die-hards this is a series you will want to get lost in.
Honourable mention: The Book of Boba Fett
Not out until December 29 and running week by week so not technically a binge watch, but this is top of my post-Christmas viewing list and I’m not alone.
Reprising their roles from The Mandalorian, Temuera Morrison (Boba Fett) and Ming-Na Wen (Fennec Shand) join the turf war for Jabba the Hutt’s old territory.
After the sheer joy of The Mandalorian finale – arguably one of the best hours of TV of the year – there are high hopes for this.
- Sky TV boasts the biggest collection of festive favourites including Gremlins, Scrooged, Bad Santa, Jingle All The Way, and Die Hard… if you count that one, that is. Check out the latest Sky deals and discounts here.
- Amazon Prime are now streaming classic Christmas movies including Polar Express, Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life. Click here to start your 30 day Amazon Prime Video trial today.
- Disney Plus is the place to go if you’re looking for Muppets Christmas Carol, Nightmare Before Christmas, and the original Miracle On 34th Street. Subscriptions start from £7.99 per month.
- Netflix are offering a number of newer Christmas crackers including Nativity, Deck The Halls and The Holiday.
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What to watch on Amazon Prime
Alex Rider (Otto Farrant) juggles life at sixth form with going undercover for a shadowy subdivision of MI6 into places where adults can’t go.
Based on the hugely popular Anthony Horowitz novels, this is basically 24 for teens but with glossy production values and cracking performances that mean adults watching it won’t want to smother themselves with a sofa cushion.
So much TV aimed at young adults talks down to their target audience, not this. It’s whip-smart, surprisingly funny and clearly written by people who have actually spoken to people aged under 20 before – perfect family viewing.
Season two launched a few weeks ago so now is the time to catch up.
Season 1 is also available free on All4, but be warned – once you’ve got through that you’ll be signing up to an Amazon Prime trial to find out what happens next.
Wheel of Time
Based on Robert Jordan’s 14-novel fantasy series, Rosamund Pike is Moiraine, a member of a powerful group of women who can channel magic and goes on an epic quest to track down five young villagers, one of whom it is prophesied will either save the world or destroy it forever.
It’s too soon to say for sure whether this will end up being the next Game of Thrones but the parallels are there and if fantasy is your genre of choice this is unmissable.
Before Alfred Pennyworth was Batman’s butler he was an East End boy who left the SAS in the late 1950s and went into private security on his return to Civvie Street.
For some the alternate universe (lots of swearing, a British civil war and a random predilection for semi-naked people clad in leather) and the fact Bruce Wayne barely makes an appearance to start with (and is mightily annoying when he does) might be too off-putting to give this a chance.
But as an unusual origin story packed with great storylines and characters – including the brilliant Paloma Faith’s psychopathic fascist Bet Sykes, one of the best female characters in current TV – this is well worthy of a place on this list and with 20 episodes across two seasons will keep you busy until New Year.
Superheroes don’t just exist but are owned by the powerful Vought corporation which handles their PR, merchandising, clean up and all the other troublesome elements of fighting crime.
But while The Seven are heroes on paper, the eponymous group of boys of the title know that actually they are corrupt, egotistical and unstable so doing everything they can to expose them.
Another Marmite TV option, and definitely not for the kids, The Boys is based on a blackly comedic comic book.
It’s gory, sweary and incredibly dark and, generally speaking, you’ll know whether it’s your sort of thing within the first ten minutes depending on your reaction when electronics shop salesman Hughie and his girlfriend bump into speedster superhero A-Train with disastrous consequences.
What to watch on Apple TV
Our moustachioed hero started life in a series of TV adverts for US channel NBC Sports promoting their UK Premier League coverage.
But he’s come a long way since then – literally and figuratively.
American Ted is recruited as manager of AFC Richmond with club chairwoman Rebecca Welton deliberately setting him up to fail, hoping he will inadvertently destroy the club she got in her divorce from her cheating ex-husband.
On paper it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special but it’s laugh-out-loud funny and packed with great characters and wonderful moments with jaw-dropping cameos and in-jokes for football fans including the glorious moment AFC Richmond hard-man Roy Kent gets a role as a Sky Soccer Saturday pundit. In the words of Chris Kamara, it’s unbelievable Jeff.
You’ve never seen a TV show both so utterly sweary and incredibly wholesome at the same time, but it is worthy of every award it’s had thrown its way.
And it’s had a lot.
The Shrink Next Door
This show started life as a fascinating podcast telling the story of stressed New York fabric seller Marty and his therapist Dr Isaac ‘Ike’ Herschkopf.
Veteran journalist Joe Nocera had gone to glittering parties at his neighbour Ike’s house for years.
But then one summer he realised Ike was gone and actually the house was owned by the man who he’d assumed for years was the groundskeeper, who had been manipulated by his therapist into giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars, access to his summer house and much more.
Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell and Kathryn Hahn star in this fascinating story that proves the adage that sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of those actors who you imagine could have gone stratospheric if he’d taken the large cheques instead of picking quirkier and more interesting roles like his ones in Brick, Looper and 500 Days of Summer.
If Mr Corman, courtesy of Apple TV, is his big payday then it is well-earned and a long time coming.
The eponymous character is a fifth-grade teacher struggling with millennial concerns of anxiety, loneliness and needing to face the reality that he isn’t going to be in a successful band and so just needs to get on with adulting.
A slow burn show with the sensibility of an indie movie, this isn’t something that will grab you from the first episode but it has a lovely quirkiness about it by the end.
It does see Josh coping with life during covid though – so if you’d rather your pop culture was a bit less realistic it might be one to swerve for now.
The Long Way Up
Part travelogue, part love letter to friendships, The Long Way Up sees buddies Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman reunited on screen for the first time since the 1990s to ride motorbikes across South and Central America.
To add a frisson of danger to the whole thing – and make it even more modern – they’ve decided to do it all on prototype electric Harley-Davidsons.
The first few episodes are mainly Charley Boorman sucking air in through his teeth and asking how on earth they’re going to get across South America on electric bikes when there are no charging stations anywhere while Ewan McGregor cheerily says he thinks everything will turn out ok, but this stunning and fascinating documentary is much more than just that and after a while the electric bikes aren’t the gimmick they first seem to be.
Apple TV+ also has the first two BBC series from the 1990s (The Long Way Down and The Long Way Round) available to stream.
Sign up for Apple TV here. If you were lucky enough to get an Apple device for Christmas you are likely to have been given a free trial as part of the welcome bundle so make sure to check your account.
What to watch on Netflix
More than 30 years after the infamous 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, deadbeat Johnny Lawrence reopens the Cobra Kai dojo looking for some new purpose after a series of setbacks and reignites his rivalry with the now-successful Daniel LaRusso.
Focused as much on the two men dealing with middle age as the young people learning karate in the new dojo, series four hits Netflix on New Year’s Eve, so if this has passed you by now is the time to get stuck in.
If you grew up watching the original film then you might find the kids a little annoying – in our house Miguel was nicknamed Scrappy Doo early on for being a bit of an irksome Johnny-come-lately.
But there is much to enjoy here for fans of the original franchise who wondered what happened to Daniel-San and his nemesis Johnny.
Based on the books and computer games of the same name, Witcher focuses on Geralt of Rivia (an unusually muddy Henry Cavill), a monster hunter who travels around fighting beasts and political intrigues alike alongside a changing cast of companions including sorceress Yennefer, princess warrior Ciri and the scene-stealing minstrel Jaskier.
More tongue-in-cheek than a lot of similar fantasy drama, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is all the better for it.
Series two dropped just before Christmas so you’ve currently got a total of 16 episodes to enjoy.
The period crime drama tells the story of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his Brummie gang the Peaky Blinders and their turf wars and attempts to hide from the police.
Boasting a phenomenal cast including Tom Hardy, Helen McCrory, Anya Taylor-Joy and Sam Neill it is at times hilariously funny and at other points incredibly bleak.
Just don’t talk about Adrien Brody and his atrocious accent.
There are 30 episodes so far and a long-delayed series six coming soon.
Before Disney+ was making Marvel TV series Netflix started it all with this comic book classic.
Now feels like a good time to be reminded of the exploits of blind lawyer Matt Murdock and his archenemy Kingpin.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance in particular is simply stunning – bringing to life a villain who is utterly convinced he is actually the hero.
Series two also sees the addition of Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, another unmissable character.
Narin Flanders is one of The Review Club’s expert reviewers.
The Reviews Club brings together the UK’s biggest experts to review products and services in an honest and in-depth manner.
She specialises in toys, books and all things geeky – from tech and gaming (both board games and consoles) to comics, TV and film.
You can find her over on @nkflanders where she’s likely to be up for a chat about any of her reviews – in between discussing whatever she’s streaming this week.