Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, December 13. All times are Eastern.
Getting On (HBO, 10:15 p.m.): We haven’t written about Getting On regularly at The A.V. Club for some time, but it’s a show that we respect and appreciate a lot. While they keep canceling them when we’d rather they didn’t, it’s a good thing that HBO is always willing to give unconventional and low-key niche comedies a chance, and it’s another nod in their favor that they’ve allowed Getting On a chance to end on its own terms with this third season. Tonight marks the final shift for the doctors and nurses of the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit, and we’re hopeful that it ties up all loose ends and allows its characters to reach, if not happiness, a moment where it seems like everything will get better.
The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): Few television shows have done homages to classic films as lovingly as The Simpsons at their prime, and now a new classic gets the treatment. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is the subject as the show tracks Bart’s journey “from a 6-year-old… into an accomplished young man.” It’s an ambitious move, and even more ambitious given it will now have to be judged by Dennis Perkins, who thought Boyhood was “as heartbreakingly, mysteriously beautiful as life itself.” Anything that wants to stand in its shadow has its work cut out for it.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): Speaking of homages: It’s well established that Die Hard is the model that Jake Peralta’s based his entire law enforcement career on (and his entire life, if we’re being honest). And it’s also well established that Die Hard is one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made (largely because as our own Zack Handlen reminds us, it’s only Christmas-adjacent). So it feels right that all of those elements are converging on tonight’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as “Jake, Charles and Gina find themselves in a real-life Die Hard situation on Christmas Eve.” LaToya Ferguson is ready to to come out to the coast, get together, and have a few laughs.
The Good Wife (CBS, 9 p.m.): Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is sad about how consistently inconsistent The Good Wife is with its characters, racial conversation, and memory of disastrous campaign plotlines, and is close to just adopting Cary Agos so she can help him figure out if he has any motivations at all. Hopefully tonight, where Alicia defends a surgeon and Character Actress Margo Martindale tries to get Jason out of the picture, will draw something into more focus.
The Last Man On Earth (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): Because one holiday episode wasn’t enough for The Last Man On Earth, they’re following “Secret Santa” with an episode titled “Silent Night,” where the lives of two of the survivors are potentially in jeopardy after last week’s events. All Vikram Murthi wants this Christmas is for Jason Sudekis’s Mike to find his way down to Earth and join up with the rest of the Malibu crew. Phil 2.0’s survival, he’s ambivalent about.
Quantico (ABC, 10 p.m.): Can anyone succinctly explain to us what the plot of this show is anymore? Secret twins, fake scars, suicide, patricide, a superlatively incompetent FBI, a terrorist attack that’s eclipsed by the threat of an even bigger terrorist attack, and convoluted explanations for all of it that don’t make a damn bit of sense. The entire experience has transformed Joshua Alston into Carrie Mathison off her meds, desperately stringing together photos and documents on the wall trying to make it all come together. But don’t worry about him, as the beauty of Quantico as once it’s gone for a while, he’ll entirely forget that it existed and be doubly confused when it comes back.
Flesh And Bone (Starz, 8 p.m.): All the network shows are getting ready for Christmas, but Flesh And Bone is stuck in the past as Thanksgiving’s getting closer, which brings Claire closer to her ailing father and menacing brother. Molly Eichel just hopes that she’s brought the diamond-collared leopard with her and feeds it turkey under the table for the whole meal.
Homeland (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Speaking of Carrie Mathison, the penultimate episode of Homeland is reaching new levels of obscurity in its episode descriptions, with tonight only described as “Carrie follows a lead.” A lead to what, Joshua Alston wants to know? To a terrorist attack? To a new ginger-haired lover? To a reliable brunch location? The ambiguity, it is strangling him.
Into The Badlands (AMC, 10 p.m.)
The Affair (Showtime, 10 p.m.)
The Simpsons (3 p.m.): It’s hard to believe, but The A.V. Club’s coverage of classic The Simpsons has reached the show’s 200th episode! We asked Alex McCown to commemorate the occasion with a review of “Trash Of The Titans,” and his response was “Can’t someone else do it?” We all had a good laugh, and then he said “Seriously, can’t someone else do it?” and then we reminded him we can fire him if he doesn’t do his job, and then he said yes. Don’t worry, he’s being compensated with a Springfield spoon for his spoon collection.
All the shows may be preparing to hibernate, but there’s still plenty of content coming your way. Idris Elba, everyone’s favorite tortured tweed coat-clad detective (and potential future gunslinger) is back on the beat in a new Luther miniseries, and Emily L. Stephens is his latest fresh-faced partner who has to come to terms with his rough, over-the-top, frequently ludicrous way of pursuing justice.
And Noel Murray takes a look at Very Semi-Serious, the new HBO documentary about the thought process that goes into what makes a New Yorker cartoon. Finally, all that time he’s spent submitting to the cartoon caption contest is going to pay off!
Behind The Magic: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (ABC, 8 p.m.): Once Upon A Time had its midseason finale last week, so this week its timeslot is filled with a look back at one of the iconic animated films that makes up its particular madcap collage of stories, narrated by the show’s own Snow White (and terrible wig victim) Ginnifer Goodwin. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to corporate synergy we go!
Great Houses With Julian Fellowes (PBS, 8 p.m.): Downton Abbey’s return is still a month away, but PBS wants you ready for all the class structure, intrigue, and occasionally awful plotting that goes along with it. The march continues with the first of a two-part series where Downton creator Julian Fellowes “explores the histories of Britain’s great manors.” Tonight’s estate is Burghley House, which is billed as “England’s greatest Elizabethan house” and is owned by the Marquess and Marchioness of Exeter. Oh, to be born English and have the chance of one day being named a Marchioness.
Alaska: The Last Frontier Exposed (Discovery, 8 p.m.): Tonight’s episode is evidently an “enhanced episode” as the Kilchers prep for winter by working on cabins and scaling “treacherous peaks” to build up their food supplies. For one person, “one fateful step leads to catastrophe,” which presumably means he was the guy who got to stay home and wound up binging Catastrophe on Amazon Prime.
Explorer: The Cult Of Mary (National Geographic, 8 p.m.): The worship of the Virgin Mary is examined from Alabama to Mexico, with millions of followers and billions of dollars involved. We tried to get in on that action once when we realized we had a tortilla chip that was shaped exactly like her, but unfortunately it was the last one left and we still had some guacamole and, well, you know how the story ends.
Jill And Jessa: Counting On (TLC, 8 p.m.): Well, it turns out that the horrorshow that is the Duggar family can’t be kept off TV in perpetuity, even after TLC finally got around to canceling 19 Kids And Counting and lost $24 million in the process. Now there’s a three-part series about Duggar sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald focusing on marriage, pregnancy, parenthood, and almost certainly saying nothing whatsoever about their brother’s proclivities.
The Librarians (TNT, 8 p.m.): The Librarians go to investigate an odd power source at a research facility, which sucks them into “a bizarre time loop.” You know how to deal with those circumstances, right Librarians? It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right.
Ax Men (History, 9 p.m.): A double-barreled log is pulled from the river, which is evidently the rarest of logs. The only barrels your What’s On Tonight correspondent is interested in are the ones used to age the finest of spirits.
Blood And Oil (ABC, 9 p.m.): Also having its winter finale tonight is Blood And Oil, which is allegedly a season finale but there’s no one who believes this show has a snowball’s chance in an oil fire of coming back for another season. Please let the last shot be Hap standing over Wick’s body, smoking gun in hand, and say “Sorry son, but it turns out the only thing thicker than blood… [whips off sunglasses] is oil.”
Agent X (TNT, 9 p.m.): “John is imprisoned in a basement by an unexpected captor.” Hopefully that captor is considerate enough to provide a bucket.
The Royals (E!, 10 p.m.): This week, “Queen Helena learns of betrayal.” She’s only learning about it now? This royal family has so much of it that it should the only word on their family crest.
Family For Christmas (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): “A journalist ponders her life choices, and she gets to glimpse another path she could have chosen thanks to some Christmas magic, which allows her to wake up as a stay-at-home mom who’s married to the love of her life.” This raises three questions right away:
- What is it with Christmas movies that center around journalists? This is the third one this year by our count.
- Didn’t Nicolas Cage make this exact same movie some years back?
- What do we have to do to get Nicolas Cage in a Hallmark movie?
Wish Upon A Christmas (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): “A woman returns to her hometown to help a family-run ornament company from going out of business.” Her first business tactic is to tactfully break to the owners that people don’t buy Christmas ornaments in August and they should stop concentrating their full marketing outreach on the summer months.
A Christmas Reunion (ION, 9 p.m.): “A New York City executive inherits her aunt’s bakery and must return to her hometown in order to co-manage the store with her ex-boyfriend.” Looks like there’s a lot of opportunities for her to be cross with him… or should we say croissant! Be careful, it could trigger a blintz-krieg! Dough or doughnut, there is no try! (We apologize for nothing.)
Cutthroat Kitchen (Food Network, 10 p.m.): Alton Brown took the hated “unitasker” to task last week, even though he had praise for the iPerfect Meat Handling and Shredding Claws as Wolverine cosplay implements. We’ll have to see if contestants need to brave those in addition to tonight’s giant spits and pi pans.
It’s A Wonderful Life (USA, 8 p.m.): There are umpteen ways that this film’s conceit have been emulated in media—22, the last time we took count—and the original is a reminder of how durable that conceit is.
The Patriot (BBC America, 8 p.m.): Ah, to return to those innocent halcyon days of 2000, when the idea of Mel Gibson fighting for our nation’s freedom seemed like a good idea and not a terrifying one. Then again, Roger Ebert said at the time “there isn’t an idea in it that will stand up to thoughtful scrutiny,” so maybe even then we should have known better.
Let’s Be Cops (Cinemax, 8:10 p.m): Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. essentially take their New Girl characters to the big screen as a pair of screw-ups who realize that dressing up as cops has its own perks. An opportunity was sadly missed for Lamorne Morris, whose Winston actually is a cop in New Girl’s universe, to show up in a “Don’t I know you?” cameo.
Turbo (FX, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.): Dreamworks wants to be an animated film powerhouse so badly, but has yet to find success with anything that isn’t labeled Shrek or Madagascar. Case in point, this film that feels like it’s wearing a Buffalo Bill-type skin suit stitched together from half a dozen different Pixar films.
New Year’s Eve (TBS, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.): This season on BoJack Horseman, BoJack’s gritty biopic on the life of Secretariat turned into a piece of schmaltzy crap thanks to catfish director Abe. This story was made even funnier by the fact that Abe was voiced by Garry Marshall, a director with an epic amount of schmaltzy crap under his belt. Look no further than his most recent film, which (as Nathan Rabin put it) “offers a happy ending to everyone but a paying audience.”
Sunday Night Football, Patriots at Texans (NBC, 8:20 p.m.)
College Basketball, Alabama at Clemson (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
College Basketball, LSU at Houston (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)
Women’s International Friendly Soccer, U.S. vs. China (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.)
Please Like Me: This delightfully constructed and smartly emotional show ended its third season on Friday. Brandon Nowalk already misses it and encourages you to check it out if you haven’t already.