Best TV to Watch in Jan.: Sexy Popes, Slenderman Docs & More - Rolling Stone
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Best TV to Watch in January: Sexy Popes, Slenderman Doc and More

From spooky-meme portraits and smokin’ pontiffs to dark ‘Wizard of Oz’/’Archie’ reboots, here’s what you’ll be tuning into next month

If last year was Peak TV, then 2017 may go down as Peak-ier TV: The Rise of Even More TV. In January alone, NBC launches a pricey Wizard of Oz fanfic, HBO appoints a sexy new Pope and glamor (or at least very drunk celebrities) returns with the Golden Globe Awards telecast. There’s plenty more to break you out of that post-holiday funk – here’s what you’ll be watching over the next month. (Check out our Best TV and Movies to Stream list tomorrow.)

Beware the Slenderman (HBO, Jan. 23rd)
A pair of 12-year-old girls lured a classmate into the woods of their Wisconsin suburb to stab her 19 times. Called on to explain themselves in court, they confessed to attacking their peer in order to appease a mysterious figure referred to as the Slenderman. This documentary feature examines the cloudy online origins of the Slenderman mythos, a viral horror story about a towering, faceless figure, usually seen wearing an immaculate suit. Through interviews with the families of the perpetrators, filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky (Hear and Now) attempts to make sense of a chilling act of inhumanity.

Emerald City (NBC, Jan. 6th)
The mass re-grit-ification of all extant pop culture continues as L. Frank Baum’s original Wizard of Oz series of novels gets the dark-revisionist treatment. Now Dorothy Gale’s journey down the Yellow Brick Road takes place in the present-day, where a massive and heavily CGI’d war is preparing to break out with our young heroine caught in the middle. Tarsem Singh draws on his past make-something-formerly-family-friendly-more-mall-goth–y experience (remember Mirror, Mirror?) for this contemporary perspective on the kids’-flick classic; the whole thing sounds like a missive from the notepad of whatever executive approved Alice Through the Looking Glass, down to the Cowardly Lion being an anthropomorphic furry warrior.

The 74th Golden Globe Awards (NBC, Jan. 8th)
Jimmy Fallon continues his now-lifelong campaign to save face after this year’s infamous hair-tousling by hosting the annual inebriated-celebrities event. As for the awards, viewers can look forward to a strong showing from La La Land as it dominates the Comedy/Musical categories and prepares for an Oscar faceoff against Moonlight. Over in the TV categories, American Crime Story leads the pack with five nominations, including four separate acting nods for its starry ensemble cast. But really, we all watch the Globes for one reason: to find out who’s going to make the inevitable boozy acceptance speech and drop an accidental F-bomb. Our money is on Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Meryl Streep.

Jeff and Some Aliens (Comedy Central, Jan. 11th)
Dead-end loser Jeff (voiced by Brett Gelman) is an average guy. That’s an exact distinction: A trio of aliens have determined, through rigorous scientific processes, that he is to the single most regular person on the planet. They have now taken up residence in his apartment while they determine whether the human race is worth exterminating or not. Bring on the animated slacker sci-fi hijinks.

The Mick (Fox, Jan. 1st)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia MVP Kaitlin Olson brings her talents for behaving badly to this sitcom about a self-involved, kleptomaniac deadbeat named Mackenzie, who goes to visit her well-off sister for some pity cash. Only the feds show up to put the Mick’s sibling and her corrupt husband in cuffs, and this flagrantly irresponsible women must care for her teenage niece and pint-sized nephews. Who thinks that comic antics, improbable lessons learned from one another and stirring monologues about the power of family are just around the corner? Yes, we are raising our hands.

My Kitchen Rules (Fox, Jan. 12th)
You’re cordially invited to a dinner party at the home of Andrew Dice Clay. In this American version of a reality program already hugely popular in Australia, celebrities and a partner of their choosing (the Diceman and his wife; Lance Bass and his mother; brother-sister pair Brandy and Ray J) compete against one another to throw the most tasteful soirée. Let’s repeat, in case that didn’t sink in the first time: Andrew Dice Clay’s idea of a classy get-together will soon grace network television. You have been warned.

Riverdale (CW, Jan. 26th)
Yes, you can now check the “Archie comics” box on your Gritty Reboot Bingo card. The CW has reimagined the noted cartoon redhead, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the gang as sexy teenagers balancing high school with roiling hormones and – surprise! – a body count that’s casting a dark pall over sophomore year. The new comic book series upon which the reboot is based has impressed even its most cynical skeptics; we’re hoping that bold take on the F.D.R.-era characters won’t turn into something like “Teen Wolf at a malt shop.”

Taboo (FX, Jan. 10th)
The year is 1814, and James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy, looking more shredded than taco pork) has returned to London after a transformative extended trip to Africa. This prodigal son has come home after his father’s death to take over the family business – a mostly-legal shipping company that runs afoul of the ruthless British East India Company. What follows is a grand, vaguely supernatural power struggle sure to please Game of Thrones fans looking for a fix of elaborate production design and merciless brutality. (They even share a cast member in Oona Chaplin, the former Talisa Stark.) The eight-episode miniseries comes to FX courtesy of Steven Knight, right in the same period wheelhouse as his other TV creation, Peaky Blinders. And remember, there’s no shame in putting on the closed captioning for the occasional unintelligible British brogue.

Victoria (PBS, Jan. 15th)
Doctor Who
‘s Jenna Coleman assumes the throne as the young Queen Victoria in this handsome PBS offering, with fate thrusting the crown onto the girl before she even leaves her teen years. The eight-part series stretching from the regent’s rise to her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, showing ordinary adolescent impulses colliding with scandal and royal obligations. Those in need of refined pearls-and-furs costume dramas and who’ve already blown through all of Netflix’s The Crown, it seems your prayers have been answered.

The Young Pope (HBO, Jan. 15th)
Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) brings his talents to the small screen with this opulent drama about a fictitious American Pope/handsome ideological radical named Lenny Belardo (Jude Law). After being appointed to lead the Vatican, His Hot Holiness immediately goes about instituting sweeping reform, hoping to drag the Catholic church back from liberalist progress into a more conservative strain of worship. Nice get for your winter schedule, HBO.


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