pple TV, Amazon Prime and Netflix have brought out the big guns for the yuletide season. Highlights include two titans of American comedy movies – Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd – teaming up for what looks like a deliciously awkward and unsettling dark comic tale, The Shrink Next Door, involving a therapist (Rudd) taking a very unhealthy interest in his patient (Ferrell).
Meanwhile, Amazon has invested heavily in a new fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time, based on a bestselling book series and starring a particularly intense Rosamund Pike, and Netflix is welcoming back some popular big-hitters in the shape of Tiger King, Hanna and The Witcher.
Here we highlight the top 10 new shows and returning series that demand your attention and some high-definition screen space.
The Shrink Next Door
“You are a grown man hiding behind a wall of curtains…” Will Ferrell’s Marty is that “grown man” in Apple TV’s dark comedy, based on Joe Nocera’s true story and podcast. Marty is a long-time patient of Dr Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf (played by a suitably unhinged Paul Rudd), a shrink who has started taking an unhealthy amount of interest in Marty’s life, even moving into his home. The always watchable Kathryn Hahn also stars. Apple TV
Tiger King (Season 2)
The first season of the thoroughly deranged Tiger King was the hit of Lockdown: Part One, and there will be a huge appetite for more unhealthy helpings of American dysfunction in the shape of former zookeeper and convicted felon Joe Exotic – who once claimed “I’m Joe Exotic, otherwise known as the Tiger King, the gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet” – and his nemesis, Carole Baskin, a big cat conservationist. Exotic pleads his innocence and even begs singer Cardi B for help in this guaranteed slice of insanity. Netflix
The Wheel of Time
Amazon has thrown the kitchen sink at this spectacular-looking fantasy adventure, which reeks of Game of Thrones and is based on Robert Jordan’s bestselling epic, The Wheel of Time series. Rosamund Pike leads the cast as Moraine, a member of the all-female magical organisation Aes Sedai, who goes on a perilous journey around the world with five young companions, one of whom will fulfil the prophecy of the Dragon Reborn. “The last battle is coming…” Amazon Prime
The Great (Season 2)
Elle Fanning is a revelation as a teenage Catherine the Great in Hulu’s satirical comedy-drama set in 18th-century Russia and focusing on the young queen’s marriage to the depraved and dim-witted Emperor III of Russia (Nicholas Hoult, terrific). The second season centres on the sovereign couple’s war for control over Russia, and this lavishly staged, exquisitely costumed period drama adds Gillian Anderson as Catherine’s stylish mother. Hulu
Florence Pugh, the droll highlight of Black Widow, returns as Russian assassin Yelena Belova, working for the Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in Marvel’s latest spin-off, centring on Jeremy Renner’s modern-day Robin Hood, Hawkeye (aka family man Clint Barton). It’s set post-Blip – you know, when that naughty Thanos wiped out half of the planet – and Hawkeye is in New York with young archer Kate Bishop – and the duo need to confront enemies from his murky past. Set at Christmas, expect wit and arrows, lots of arrows… Disney+
Hanna (Season 3)
More kick-bottom action focusing on Esme Creed-Miles’s lethal teenage assassin, Hanna, who has been trained by the sinister organization Utrax. But Hanna is secretly trying to wreck Utrax from the inside with the assistance of her former nemesis, Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos), a former CIA agent. However, fellow killers Jules (Gianna Kiehl) and Sandy (Aine Rose Daly) smell a rat and are primed to foil Hanna. Goodfellas legend Ray Liotta joins the cast as a respected intelligence officer. Amazon Prime
Oscar-winning actress and Peep Show star Olivia Colman plays convicted murderer Susan Edwards, who along with her mild-mannered husband, Christopher (played by David Thewlis), masterminded the killing of Susan’s parents (Patricia and William) and buried them in the back garden of their Mansfield home. They did it for the money and duly spent thousands on amassing Hollywood-related souvenirs. Scripted by Colman’s husband, Ed Sinclair, this true crime drama promises to be (very) darkly comic. Sky Atlantic/NOW TV from 7 December
The Witcher (Season 2)
“The world is acting strange these days,” claims the trailer for this returning fantasy series, starring Henry Cavill’s burly, steely (he did once play the Man of Steel, Superman, after all) monster-hunter – or “witcher”. Expect flying beasts, swords, firing popping out of people’s fingertips and a fair dollop of mysticism in this slick adaptation of the bestselling books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Netflix from 17 December
Emily in Paris (Season 2)
Lily Collins sparkles in this enjoyable slice of froth that recalls Sex and the City, but with markedly less sauciness. Collins plays a determined twentysomething from Chicago who moves to Paris for a job that involves bringing an American point to view to an esteemed marketing company. Inevitably there are culture clashes, beautiful locations and complicated love lives. Ashley Park and a spiky Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu also star in this big Netflix hit. Netflix from 22 December
Dexter: New Blood
It’s been eight years since the original Showtime series wrapped up after eight seasons, and now Michael C Hall’s psychopathic “vigilante” returns with a renewed appetite for slaying “bad” people. This relaunch promises to tackles contemporary issues such as school shootings, the opioid crisis and the treatment of Indigenous people in the United States. Expect bloodshed but also flashes of wit. Sky Atlantic/NOW TV
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