F Is for Family
Friday, Dec. 18 (Netflix)
Series Debut: Comedian Bill Burr was slinging (smarter) anti-PC rants long before a certain GOP presidential frontrunner hijacked the practice, and his new animated series is the most hilariously profane breakthrough since Netflix's own BoJack Horseman—he only had to set it in 1973 to pull it off. F Is for Family is a semi-autobiographical take on Burr's wonder years, wherein dad Frank (voiced by Burr) is a beer-swilling bullhorn of backward-thinking, Mom (Laura Dern) is too smart for the room and the time period and kids Kevin (Justin Long), Bill (Haley Reinhart) and Maureen (Debi Derryberry) somehow survive without excessive "helicopter" parenting. But, for all its R-rated laughs and detailed attention to '70s-isms, F Is for Family also touches on real-life drama and, yes, the occasional Heartfelt Moment. It won't attract Jessica Jones-level hype, but F Is for Family is the perfect closer for a killer year of Netflix originals.
Friday, Dec. 18 (E!)
Series Finale: Sure, now Joel McHale can finally pursue a career beyond hosting a basic-cable clip full-time, but what about us? How are we to stay current on the 24/7 garbage cannon that is reality TV? Most of which spews directly from E! itself? The conscience of the network will be silenced after tonight, so there's little reason to ever revisit E! again—scripted drama The Royals is still worthwhile, but you can catch that on-demand elsewhere—after Joel, Mankini and the rest of The Soup crew hang it up. All that's left now are the humanoid equivalents of turd emojis (Kardashians, Jenners, #RichKids, et al), so goodbye and good riddance, E!
A Christmas Melody
Saturday, Dec. 19 (Hallmark)
Movie: Divorcee clothing designer Kristin (Lacey Chabert) is forced to close her Manhattan boutique and move, with her young daughter, back into her parents' house in—gross!—Ohio. To make matters worse, Kristin's high-school rival (Mariah Carey, who's 15 years older than Chabert, but whatever) is now the head of the PTA and determined to make her life hell all over again. But, as the title implies, A Christmas Melody isn't just another Big City Gal Goes to Nowheresville, Learns the True Meaning of Christmas and Gets Her Jingle Bell Rung by the Town Hunk holiday movie: It's also a musical! With precocious singing kiddies! Meh. Why not end the season weird, Hallmark? Like Lifetime ...
The Spirit of Christmas
Saturday, Dec. 19 (Lifetime)
Movie: In a plot straight out of Mike Tyson Mysteries, young lawyer Kate (Jen Lilley) travels to Vermont—over Christmas, natch, because there's a promotion on the line and she's just a woman—to broker the sale of an old inn. Upon arrival, she not only learns that the inn is haunted, but the haunter is a handsome ghost (Bates Wilder) who takes living form for the 12 days of Christmas every year because the mystery of his death remains unsolved—so Kate falls in love with him, natch, because she's just a woman. It's especially convenient that Mr. Ghost has been "dead" for 95 years, because he looks and dresses like a modern-day hipster barista (nice suspenders, dude). Upside: No musical numbers.
I Love Lucy Christmas Special
Wednesday, Dec. 23 (CBS)
Special: Regardless of your feelings on vintage 4:3 versus modern 16:9 television aspect ratios (in non-tech terms: You know how you scream at your TV and renounce God when an old show appears as a square on your expensive rectangular set? That's 4:3), not to mention colorization, The Only TV Column That Matters™ thinks we can all agree that we don't need a pair of 60-year-old I Love Lucy episodes packaged together as a "special" for Christmas. Yes, they're two of Lucy's greatest hits (the rarely seen "The Christmas Episode" from 1956, and 1952's legitimately classic "Lucy Does a TV Commercial"), but why bother, CBS? Just rerun The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show from last week, or an old holiday-themed Criminal Minds ("The killer stabbed his victims repeatedly with a sharpened candy cane, covered the bodies in reindeer urine and disposed of them in a dumpster behind a Hobby Lobby. Wheels up in 20 ...")
Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio From Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.