The final month of the year is traditionally a time of endless repeats and festive specials.
And, even in 2020, you will still be able to find some of that televisual comfort food, especially on the free-to-air channels.
TVNZ1’s line-up is scheduled to include new Christmas versions of The Chase and Gordon, Gino & Fred’s Road Trip, as well as cookery specials from Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry, while TVNZ2 will be serving up a holiday edition of Police Ten 7. Also in keeping with the festive spirit, Apple TV+ are playing host to Maria Carey’s Magical Christmas Special (December 4), while Disney+ has High School Musical The Musical: Holiday Special (December 11) and Netflix boasts the short documentary series The Holiday Movies That Made Us (December 1).
But there’s also a plethora of non-seasonal content heading our way over the next few weeks. TVNZ1 is celebrating Coronation Street’s 60th anniversary with a “diamond jubilee week” of special programming from December 6, while TVNZ2 is promising to finally debut long-running UK gameshow Would I Lie to You?
Amazon Prime Video’s line-up is scheduled to include the fifth season of sci-fi series The Expanse (December 16), Disney+ has ballet doco show On Pointe (December 14) and Netflix’s options include a second season of music documentary series Song Exploder (December 15) and the debut of the long-awaited biopic Selena: The Series (December 4).
Finally, fans of outrageous British actress Miriam Margolyes should check out Acorn TV’s Bucket (December 14), while Neon’s treats include new series of Vikings (December 22), Euphoria and Shameless (both December 7).
However, after looking at the schedules, Stuff has picked out the nine shows we’re most excited to check out next month.
* Netflix delivers 2020’s most devastating, heartwrenching 12-minutes of drama
* A Teacher: How a forgettable movie became Neon’s compelling new TV drama
* Mank: Oscar looms large for Netflix and David Fincher’s monochrome masterpiece
* Lego Star Wars Holiday Special: Disney+ take the mickey out of same old Sith
BRIDGERTON (December 25, Netflix)
After tackling medical, legal and political tales in Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal, Shonda Rhimes has a go at period drama with this new, eight-part series.
Dame Julie Andrews is the voice of Lady Whistledown, the narrator of this show, which is based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling novels that follow the competitive world of Regency London high society.
EARTH AT NIGHT IN COLOR (December 4, Apple TV+)
The Night Manager and Thor star Tom Hiddleston narrates this six-part nature documentary series that promises to reveal what animals get up to after the sun goes down in detail we’ve never seen before.
Filmed on six continents, from the Arctic circle to the African grasslands, it was shot using groundbreaking camera technology, only when the light of the full moon could be utilised. Lions, cheetahs and bears all feature, as well as eagle owls and peregrine falcons.
THE GRAND TOUR PRESENTS: A MASSIVE HUNT (December 18, Amazon Prime Video)
Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond are back for this 90-minute adventure set on the exotic islands of Reunion and Madagascar.
What starts as a sports car race on one of the world’s most expensive pieces of tarmac, turns into a test of endurance on one of the toughest roads the globe has to offer, all while driving a trio of the most modified vehicles they have ever attempted.
LITTLE BIRDS (December 1, TVNZ OnDemand)
Inspired by Anaïs Nin’s posthumously published 1979 collection of erotic short stories, this six-part series is set in 1955 Tangiers – then one of the last outposts of colonial decadence. Into this exotic world steps Lucy Savage (Juno Temple) an American debutant desirous of an unconventional life, yet under-prepared for what she is about to encounter.
“It’s sultry and seductive, and a feast for the eyes,” wrote Radio Times’ Gill Crawford.
ON BECOMING A GOD IN CENTRAL FLORIDA (December 1, TVNZ OnDemand)
Kirsten Dunst was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in this 10-part, 1990s set black comedy. She plays aquatic park employee Krystal Stubbs, whose life is turned upside down when her husband’s obsession with a multi-level marketing scheme leads to his unfortunate demise. Determined to avoid ruin, she becomes hell-bent on revenge by scheming her way up the company pyramid.
“A clever, compelling and thorough evisceration of American capitalism,” wrote IndieWire’s Ben Travers. “Dunst is the story here, bringing a captivating vitality and unflinching veracity to her lead character.”
THE RIPPER (December 16, Netflix)
For five years, between 1975 to 1980, the Yorkshire Ripper murders cast a dark shadow over the lives of women in the North of England. Thirteen women were dead and the police seemed incapable of catching the killer. No one felt safe – and every man was a suspect.
This four-part, true crime documentary features interviews with investigators and witnesses, as well as examining the impact of the Ripper’s crimes on his victims, their families, the survivors – and the reaction in Britain at the time.
TINY PRETTY THINGS (December 14, Netflix)
Former Picket Fences and NCIS star Lauren Holly returns to TV with this 10-part adaptation of the popular young adult book series of the same name by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton.
Billed as Black Swan-meets-Pretty Little Liars, the tale revolves around an elite Chicago ballet academy where teens will seemingly stop at nothing in their rivalry to secure the top roles. When an attack brings down the star student, her replacement enters a world of lies, betrayal – and cut-throat competition.
THE WILDS (December 11, Amazon Prime TV)
Part-survival drama, part-dystopian slumber party, this New Zealand-shot, 10-part drama follows a group of teen girls from different backgrounds who must fight for survival after a plane crash strands them on a deserted island. The castaways both clash and bond as they learn more about each other, the secrets they keep and the traumas they’ve all endured. Naturally, there’s a twist – these girls did not end up on this island by accident.
Veteran Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, New Zealand’s own Erana James (The Changeover) and former Grey’s Anatomy star Sophia Ali headline the female ensemble.
YOUR HONOR (December 15, Neon/SoHo)
Bryan Cranston plays a judge in this 10-part US drama adapted from the Israeli TV series Kvodo. His Michael Desiato finds himself facing an impossible choice when his son is involved in a hit-and-run. An attempt to cover it up only leads to more lies and deceit, as it transpires the person he killed is a member of New Orleans’ most dangerous crime family.
Michael Stuhlbarg, Carmen Ejogo, Hope Davis, Margot Martindale and Maura Tierney also feature.