2021 isn’t wasting time delivering new television shows to watch. The first full week of the new year is the result of networks and streamers itching to get new programs out, as if that winter break of holiday marathons and repeats was almost too much. The best new shows and movies to watch this week include a long overdue adaptation of a beloved fantasy book series, an important new season of ABC’s never-ending reality franchise, and the return of a pair of NBC comedy legends.
Our list of editors’ picks for the week of Jan. 3-Jan. 9 is below, but if this isn’t enough and you’re looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, sign up for our free, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox. You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, or our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.
Series premiere Sunday at 8/7c on BBC America
Fantasy author Terry Pratchett’s beloved Discworld novels get partially adapted, which is a good thing, because if you tried to adapt all of them and their contents, you’d be looking at about 100 different shows. The Watch keeps its focus on the city of Ankh-Morpork and its police force, known as The Watch, making the show a supernatural police procedural set inside Pratchett’s bizarre world that’s occupied by cretins, lowlives, monsters, and more. Expect lots of satirical takes on the fantasy genre as The Watch mixed with crime, adventure, and humor. Richard Dormer, Game of Thrones‘ Beric Dondarrion, stars.
Series premiere Monday at 9/8c on HBO
This Spanish horror series starts off with a bank robber somehow surviving a wave of bullets to snatch a mysterious coin and continues with a small Spanish town witnessing a baby being born out of a cow. Then things get weird. The town’s mayor (Sense8‘s Miguel Angel Silvestre) and local vet (Megan Montenar) team up to figure out what the heck is going on, and whether a local priest (Eduard Fernández), who spends his free time delivering haymakers on a punching bag and hiding guns, has anything to do with the unusual activity. It’s freaky, gory horror centered on biblical roots that cribs from the classics like The Omen and The Exorcist with just a touch of camp to keep things a wee bit fun.
Season 25 premieres Monday at 8/7c on ABC
ABC’s reality show that will never go away — not as long as romance and Instagram sponsored posts exist — makes history in its 25th season by introducing the franchise’s first Black bachelor, Matt James. James was supposed to be a contestant on this past season of The Bachelorette, but coronavirus turned everything upside-down and a new social climate forced ABC to make the call and give him a starring role in The Bachelor. Because the entire season was filmed while the pandemic was still raging, this season will once again take place in a single location, a resort in Pennsylvania. Let’s not kid ourselves: The Bachelor gets worse as the episodes go on, so tune in for the theatrics of the introductions and make your mind up about continuing later.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Season 2 premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on NBC.
After Season 1’s heartbreaking finale, the world needs a warm reunion with the Clarke family on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Zoey (Jane Levy) will still be processing her grief when the show returns in its new post-This Is Us time slot, but now that the young computer programmer has embraced her gift of seeing people performing the songs playing in their hearts at any given moment, we as fans are more than ready to see new dance numbers and of course pick up our mantles in the war for Zoey’s heart between Max (Skylar Astin) and Simon (John Clarence Stewart). If you are somehow still not convinced to watch this dazzling and enthralling show, Season 2 has also added What We Do in the Shadows MVP Harvey Guillen to the proceedings, officially warranting a delightful overload warning before every episode. –Megan Vick
History of Swear Words
Series premiere Tuesday on Netflix
Nicolas Cage hosting a docuseries about the roots of the most famous swear words? Well gosh golly dagnabbit gee willikers, pardon my French, but this sounds flippin’ wonderful! Seriously, listening to Cage unleash the F-word through reciting famous movie lines or just running the F-bomb gamut with different inflections to demonstrate its myriad meanings is great. In each 20-minute episode that’s focused around one swear word, Cage is joined by comedians discussing what they love about each curse, as well as lexicon experts who break down the etymology of the words we don’t say around our mothers.
Series premiere Thursday at 8/7c on NBC
In recent years, NBC’s must-see Thursday night sitcoms have been coming in bits and pieces rather than a full-fledged block, but two people who have been huge parts of NBC’s glory days of yore — Cheers‘ and The Good Place‘s Ted Danson and 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey — are hoping to build a foundation for a new one. Danson plays a rich dude who runs for mayor for a very sitcommy reason — to impress his teen daughter — and wins before he really knows what he stands for. Fey and her 30 Rock co-founder Robert Carlock have a knack for writing good workplace comedies with fun ensemble casts, and the subject of local government could make this the next Parks and Recreation, if Leslie Knope wasn’t so nice.
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