Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Sherlock tries to solve the mystery of why he’s suddenly era-appropriate

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Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, January 1, and Saturday, January 2. All times are Eastern.


Top pick

Sherlock (PBS, 9 p.m., Friday): In this one-off special, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s Watson find themselves faced with a ghostly mystery back in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Victorian London. Why? No one’s talking, but the answer might seem to be—um, it’d be neat? Whatever handwave permits this lark to occur, Sherlock fans will no doubt be tickled by the prospect of Holmes being smart without the help of smartphones and wearing that deerstalker hat unironically. Our own Allison Shoemaker’s on the case to discover just how, or if, the show manages to pull this timey-wimey stunt off.

Also noted

Billions (Showtime, Friday): Showtime is dropping the premiere of this new series about shady dealings in the world of finance for free on New Year’s Day. (Look for it on YouTube, Facebook, Sho.com, and elsewhere.) As Will Hughes put it better than anyone every could in his Newswire about the unexpected premiere-drop, Billions is about “[Paul] Giamatti as a spit-fleck-lipped U.S. attorney attempting to bring down a billionaire lizardman played by Homelands Damian Lewis.”

Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 8:30 p.m., Saturday): In all of 2015’s shockingly good throwback entertainment (With Bob And David, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp, Mad Max: Fury Road, that little Star Wars situation), the gory, glorious return of Bruce Campbell’s Ash has been perhaps the most unexpected—if gloppily bloody—delights. Michael Roffman’s charted Ash’s blundering, boastful bootsteps all season, and says this season finale is his crowning glory.

Elsewhere in TV Club

With the world of entertainment taking its annual holiday nap time, we thought we’d follow suit and recharge the ol’ batteries for the coming onslaught of 2016’s pop culture avalanche. So enjoy a Staff Picks (from AV Clubber grindstone-noses Gwen Ihnat, Becca James, and Josh Modell), and then rest up yourselves, gang. Things are about to get crazy around here.

Oh, and if you want to rehash the glory that was 2015, we’ve collected all our Best Of lists in one convenient place. (And just wait ‘til you see our “best of 2016” lists this time next year—you’re gonna be so mad.)

What else is on

2016 Rose Parade (ABC, 11 a.m., Friday) & Tournament Of Roses Parade (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Friday): The battle of the parades begins, as these two almost identically named events are completely separate entities, apparently. The Rose Parade hopes to get a jump by starting out a half hour early, but Tournament Of Roses in quickly nipping at its heels, its polecats and guitar flamethrowers inching ever closer.

Hitchcock Marathon (BBC America, 3 p.m., Friday): Ring in the new year with Vertigo, The Birds, Psycho, and Rear Window, all in a row. Nothing like starting things out all exhilarated and jittery.

Great Performances: From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2016 (PBS, 7:30 p.m., Friday): Julie Andrews! The Vienna Boys Choir and the Vienna State Ballet and the Vienna Philhamonic?! And you like Strauss? Oh, they’ve got all the Strauss you need to rage into 2016! Straus!!!!

I Have Your Children (Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m., Friday): It’s a Lifetime movie, so the title can only mean it’s about parents receiving a considerate and helpful phone call from their kids’ school assuring them that the children have finished up play rehearsal and are having a juice box. What’s that? It’s actually about a creepy guy who kidnaps a school bus full of kids and is holding them for ransom? Sure, sure—that makes more sense.


Northmen: A Viking Saga (Starz, 9 p.m., Friday): It’s official—we love Vikings! At least that’s what Starz is hoping, having picked up this flick about a (literal and figurative) boatload of Norsemen running and hacking for their lives after running aground on the shore of Scotland. With The Last Kingdom done for the year and Vikings not coming back ‘til February 18, these Vikings are our only Vikings for the nonce.

Unforgettable (A&E, 8 p.m., Friday): Poppy Montgomery’s detective—who, remember, never forgets—investigates a Kwik-E-Mart robbery and the murder of a tabloid cameraman simultaneously. Do you doubt her ability to keep the details of both cases straight in her head? Have you read the title of the series? C’mon…


The Rap Game (Lifetime, 10 p.m., Friday): In the series premiere of this reality competition show, Jermaine Dupri mentors five aspiring rappers to see who wins a recording contract with So So Def Recordings. T.I. and Da Brat pop by to inspire hope and envy.

The Smartest Guy In The Room (History, 10 & 10:30 p.m., Friday): In the series premiere of what might be called “fully-clothed, smart person Survivor,” teams of braniacs attempt to solve mental challenges—for example, pile 100 pounds on top of an egg without crushing it. (And, no, they cannot use a rock made to look like an egg. We checked.)


Don’t Wake Mommy (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): Another Lifetime movie! Let’s guess—the title refers to some adorable, well-adjusted tots planning to make their hard-working, devoted mother a well-deserved breakfast in bed for her birthday. [Clicks link to read synopsis.] Aaand, nope—new mom’s new best friend steals her baby. Happy New Year, Lifetime!

Mythbusters (Discovery, 8 p.m., Saturday): In this premiere of the 14th and final season of the myth-busting-est show out there, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman take you behind the scenes, decidedly not unveiling that one bulky invention in the corner labeled “The Revengenator.”

There’ll be no one around to bust the myth that you can destroy Discovery Channel HQ and get away with it
There’ll be no one around to bust the myth that you can destroy Discovery Channel HQ and get away with it

Love In Paradise (Hallmark, 9 p.m., Saturday): Luke Perry’s a phony of a Western movie star who falls for the calf-ropin’, truck-drivin’ ranch gal who owns the ranch where he’s filming. See, Lifetime? No kidnapped children, just dusty, crusty love.


Being Evel (History, 9 p.m., Saturday): Produced and presented by Evel Knievel superfan (with the scars to prove it) Johhny Knoxville, this documentary about the raucous, thoroughly disreputable life of self-aggrandizing daredevil Knievel is supposed to pretty great. Even so, it’ll never be as entertaining as the time Evel decided to star as himself in Viva Knievel, which is what you’d show aliens that really wanted to know what the 1970s were all about.

Spotless (Esquire, 10 p.m., Saturday): “Maureen suffers a personal tragedy.” The crime scene-cleaning brothers ask, “Have you tried putting a little lemon juice and club soda on it? Yes? Well, we’re out of ideas.”


Knuckleball! (ESPN Classic, 10 p.m., Saturday): The best part of this documentary about the practitioners—like Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey, and the Niekro brothers—of baseball’s most mysterious pitch is watching frustrated batters (cough, Derek Jeter, cough) whining about how the knucker’s no fair, just because they look like idiots trying to hit it.

Austin City Limits (PBS, 11 p.m., Saturday): Alabama Shakes performs, and the magnificent Brittany Howard prepares to wow you. Let’s watch:

And now… sport (aka: bowls, bowls, all types o’ bowls)

Outback Bowl: Northwestern Vs. Tennessee (ESPN2, noon, Friday)

Citrus Bowl: Michigan Vs. Florida (ABC, 1 p.m., Friday)

NHL Winter Classic: Canadiens At Bruins (NBC, 1 p.m., Friday)

Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame Vs. Ohio State (ESPN, 1 p.m., Friday)

Women’s College Basketball: Florida State At Louisville (ESPNU, 4 p.m., Friday)

Rose Bowl: Stanford Vs. Iowa (ESPN, 5 p.m., Friday)

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma State Vs. Mississippi (ESPN, 8 p.m., Friday)

Men’s College Basketball: Utah At Stanford (ESPNU, 9 p.m., Friday)

Women’s College Basketball: Ohio State At Maryland (CBS, noon, Saturday)

TaxSlayer Bowl: Penn State Vs. Georgia (ESPN, noon, Saturday)

High-School Football All-Star Game: Under Armour All-America Game (ESPN2, noon, Saturday)


Men’s College Basketball: West Virginia at Kansas State (ESPNU, noon, Saturday)

Barclays Premier League Soccer: Watford vs. Manchester City (NBC, 12:30 p.m., Saturday)


Men’s College Basketball: Tennessee At Auburn (CBS, 2 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Texas At Texas Tech (ESPNU, 2 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota (ESPN2, 3 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota (ESPN2, 3 p.m., Saturday)

Liberty Bowl: Kansas State Vs. Arkansas (ESPN, 3:20 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Baylor At Kansas (CBS, 4 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Tulsa At Cincinnati (ESPNU, 4 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Notre Dame At Virginia (ESPN2, 5 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Memphis At South Carolina (ESPNU, 6 p.m., Saturday)

Alamo Bowl: Oregon Vs. TCU (ESPN, 6:45 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Iowa State at Oklahoma (ESPN2, 7 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: Florida At Georgia (ESPNU, 8 p.m., Saturday)

Men’s College Basketball: LSU At Vanderbilt (ESPN2, 9 p.m., Saturday)

In case you missed it

Jessica Jones: Lucky for us, Oliver Sava is working while TV is sleeping, bringing us his review of the season finale of this eye-opening, promising, sort-of superhero series.