Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, December 26, and Saturday, December 27. All times are Eastern.
The Wire marathon (HBO, starting at noon Friday): Sure, all the grumbling about the recent transfer of this seminal HBO series to HD (the argument in doing so seemingly intended to placate those who demand full use of every pixel of every screen they paid for, dammit!), but do what creator David Simon says and ignore the ancillary nonsense (and an occasional wonky aspect ratio) and simply let one of the most stunning achievements in television history sweep over you for 60 straight hours. Like a great novel of an American city, The Wire remains as relevant, heartbreaking, and resonant as it was a dozen years ago. Or so said the AV Club when we reviewed the fifth season back in 2008. Wait, only the fifth season? What about the other four? Please make your angry demands to us in the comments.
Mozart In The Jungle (Amazon): Vikram Murthi, after the briefest of Christmas breaks, continues his daily reviews of this series (currently streaming for your bingeing pleasure through Amazon), about the tangled personal and artistic lives of a prestigious New York symphony orchestra. Created by Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and Alex Timbers, and starring the likes of Saffron Burrows, Gael Garcia Bernal, Bernadette Peters, and Malcolm McDowell, there’s certainly no shortage of talent involved, even if Vikram says the show’s still trying to find the right [insert musical pun here].
The crack members of the AV Club Q&A Year End Strike Team (not a real thing) give you their finest examples of older pop culture they finally got around to in 2014. Then Marah Eakin, David Anthony, and John Teti throw out some Staff Picks for, respectively: an amp, some headphones, and a party game party pack, including the snarky 90s fun of You Don’t Know Jack. And take a trip all the way back to Wednesday to check out Ben Kenigsberg’s thoughtful review of The Interview, which—shocker—Sony decided to release after all.
Now That’s Funny! On The Set Of TV’s Hottest Comedies (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): Ever wonder what it’s like behind the scenes of shows like Park And Recreation, Modern Family, or The Big Bang Theory? Well, then tune in to this hour-long DVD extra!
Saturday Night Live In The ‘90s: Pop Culture Nation (VH1, 8 p.m., Friday): This 2007 retrospective of the swing-for-the-fences belly yuks years of Sandler, Farley, Spade, and Schneider gives that generation’s fans their chance to use their favorites as contrast in the yearly, “It’s not as good as it used to be” chorus.
WWE Smackdown (Syfy, 8 p.m., Friday): In this barren heath that is the post-Christmas weekend, it seems only the brave men and women of the WWE are shaking off the turkey-belly to grapple with each other for our enjoyment. The least we can do is tune in—and see if anyone tosses his nog in the middle of a bout.
College Football: Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (ESPN, 1 p.m., Saturday): It’s a battle of 9-3 vs. 6-6, which might mean that this is not the most prestigious bowl game of the year. But Cincinnati does have a quarterback named Gunner Kiel, which means they win this game, the season, and possibly the earth on general principles.
College Football: Sun Bowl: Arizona vs Duke (CBS, 2 p.m., Saturday): Hey! Both of these teams are 9-3! And Arizona State is even ranked (#15). That’s like a real bowl game and stuff!
College Football: Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College vs. Penn State (ESPN, 3 p.m., Saturday): And then here’s another poor cousin bowl game, with a 7-5 vs. a another 6-6, but since this takes place in Yankee Stadium, there should be some entertaining regional skirmishes in the stands between absurdly accented New Yorkers and Bostonians to fill in the gaps.
College Football: Holiday Bowl: USC vs. Nebraska (ESPN, 8 p.m., Saturday): Cap off your afternoon of beery college football settling with this one, featuring another actually ranked team (USC’s #24) duking it out against a team with a better record but that is not ranked. Which is something that makes perfect sense, no doubt.
WWE Tribute To The Troops (NBC, 8 p.m., Saturday): Say what you want about ‘rasslin,’ but there’s no one else working as hard this weekend. So salute John Cena, the Hulkster, (and the cast of The Voice, for some reason), as they salute the wrestler-loving men and women of the armed forces with some good ol’ down-home fake fighting.
A Wife’s Nightmare (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): Jennifer Beals does Lifetime duty as a housewife who, upon her release from a mental institution, finds that a mysteriously sexy young woman has shown up claiming to be her husband’s long-lost, mysteriously sexy daughter—whose name, if there’s any sense in the world, is Tanya.
Transporter: The Series (TNT, 10 p.m., Saturday): Frank “The Transporter” Transporterson (possibly not his real name) is working, too, this time transporting something from Crimea alongside “the world’s second best transporter” Steve “The Transportster” O’Transportington. (His actual name.)
Vicious: While it ain’t subtle, watching old pros Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi camp it up as a pair of squabbling, elderly lovers in this Britcom is undeniably endearing. Brandon Nowalk drops by to evaluate their Christmas special, one hopes bringing an appropriate vintage for the occasion.
Doctor Who: Nick Frost may or may not be the actual Santa in Peter Capaldi’s first Doctor Who Christmas episode. Alasdair Wilkins may or may not believe that the Doctor is Santa—or that Santa has a Tardis. Either answer would clear up so many questions.
Black Mirror: In case you were wondering what this deeply unsettling British series’ take on the media-hyped holiday season would be, Zack Handlen reviews “White Christmas,” Black Mirror’s extra-long, extra-creepy Christmas episode, starring Jon Hamm. And here is a picture of Jon Hamm, presumably convincing an egg to do something ill-advised: