Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Uneasy lies the head that wears The Hollow Crown

Benedict Cumberbatch (Image: BBC)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, December 18. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

The Hollow Crown: Henry VI, Part II (PBS, 9 p.m.): It’s a busy time of year for all of us, between the holiday planning and the generation of best/worst of 2016 lists. So some things will fall through the cracks, such as your What’s On Tonight correspondent forgetting to mention last week that The Hollow Crown returned for its second cycle with The War Of The Roses trilogy. Tonight, however, is the winter of your discontent, as the second part of Henry VI premieres and Benedict Cumberbatch makes his debut as Richard III. Having already ascended the Marvel superhero pantheon this year, Cumberbatch now joins the august company of Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, and Tom Hiddleston in Hollow Crown’s roster of British monarchs, an impressive hand of four kings if ever there was one. A horse! A horse! His kingdom for a horse!


Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Most of television has already wrapped up in preparation for the holiday season, but a few finales are still knocking the snow off their boots before going into hibernation. Shameless wraps up its seventh season tonight with “Requiem For A Slut,” as the Gallaghers deal with the passing of their corrosive matriarch. Myles McNutt will be there for the wake because, as with all Gallagher functions, it’s a safe bet there’ll be plenty of booze and at least one meltdown worth watching.

Elementary (CBS, 10:30 p.m.): Elementary’s winter finale finds Joan Watson at the center of the case, as it turns out someone’s using her medical license to prescribe drugs. Genevieve Valentine has her suspicions about Clyde, given that we have no way of knowing what’s really going on inside that shell.


Premieres and finales

Rob & Chyna: Baby Special (E!, 8 p.m.): This Kardashian spinoff has a one-hour special tonight as Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna welcome the birth of their daughter. Plus, Scott Disick is going to be there, so you know it’s great!


Sleigh Bells Ring (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): We were about due for some insane magic to enter the Christmas movie spirit, and tonight’s Hallmark original film gives us just that with a magical sleigh that keeps nudging a prospective city manager (Lauren Cahill) back to her high school sweetheart (David Alpay). Oh, you sleigh us with your whimsy, Hallmark! (Not sorry.)

NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS, 8:30 p.m.): The team investigates the disappearance of a Navy lieutenant commander who was looking into cyber threats. Don’t you miss the days when cyber terrorism was the purview of fiction and not the tool by which American democracy was stripped of its legitimacy?


Also, because we’re mentioning an LL Cool J project, you know what that means:

Berlin Station (Epix, 9 p.m.): Season one concludes with “Oratorio Berlin,” wherein “the Shaw mantle is passed.” Considering the last time the Shaw mantle was passed we went from Luke Evans to Jason Statham, sounds like an upgrade is coming.


Holiday Baking Championship (Food Network, 9 p.m.): Our three finalists are in the truest Christmas spirit this year, as they “make delicious snacks for North Pole characters other than St. Nick” and a “North Pole-inspired cake.” Whichever finalist chooses to make an ice cream cake and then leave out to melt for three hours before presenting it to the judges likely won’t win the competition, but they will win our respect for a brazen political stand.

Madam Secretary (CBS, 9:30 p.m.): Elizabeth attempts to broker a peace accord between Israel and Iran, as a looming war between the two countries threatens to throw Congress’s vote on U.S. presidential election into disarray. The sad thing is this still feels like a preferable set of circumstances to our reality.


Graves (Epix, 10 p.m.): Also in the world of fictional presidential chaos, Nick Nolte’s first term draws to a close tonight. This is your reminder that if you haven’t read Will Harris’ Random Roles with Nolte, you need to, as it contains everything from his opinions on Lucks cancellation to having lunch with William S. Burroughs.

Eyewitness (USA, 10 p.m.): “Helen reels from her discovery that Ryan is the killer.” Spoiler alert, Eyewitness press release!


Regular coverage

Like we said, it’s all in hibernation now.

Streaming pick

The Crown, “Wolferton Splash” (Netflix): Those of you who prefer your English monarchy drama with a more contemporary tilt and queens to kings can still visit Claire Foy’s acclaimed turn as Elizabeth II.


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