It’s official: the Christmas countdown is upon us. But while we might be spending more time out on the town than we would normally (hello silly season) what better accompaniment for our sore, champagne-addled heads or endless present wrapping sessions could there be, than some excellent TV?
December does not disappoint on that front. There is the new Sky series Smothered, which plays like a joyous, elongated, British rom com, and the dark and witty black comedy Based on a True Story, which takes a sharp and satirical look at our fascination with true crime. On that theme, one of the most famous true-crime stories in history is dissected in never-before-seen depth in a new John Lennon documentary, while Slow Horses returns for a third season and we bid a final farewell to The Crown.
Here's what not to miss this month
From the brains of author and Schitt's Creek scribe, Monica Heisey, this is a playful and genuinely laugh-out-loud offering for any fan of the old-school, witty rom com. It stars Danielle Vitalis as Sammy, a young woman who embarks on a three-week, no-frills sex pact with a stranger she meets at a karaoke bar, with the understanding that, once their time is up, they will never speak to each other again. It shrewdly eschews as much predictability as possible, to serve some heartfelt giggles, wit and warmth, thanks to sharp writing and a strong supporting cast that includes Aisling Bea.
Smothered is streaming on Sky Comedy and NowTV from 7 December
Based on a True Story
This dark comedy, starring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina, is a brilliant skewering of our pop-culture obsessions. It tells the hilariously twisted story of a couple who hatch a truly bonkers scheme to capitalise on society’s preoccupation with true crime. Plot aside, this lives through its extremely compelling leads, who are on top form here and clearly having a ball with the material. Sardonic and hilarious, to give more away would be to ruin the twists of the tale, but this operates as a smart cross between Only Murders in the Building and a classic screwball romance.
Based on a True Story is streaming on Sky Comedy and NowTV in December
Based on the Slough House series of novels, Slow Horses follows a dysfunctional group of MI5 operatives – desk-based paper-pushers who end up invariably embroiled in far too many dangerous and highly important schemes – led by the rude, practically permanently inebriated Jackson Lamb. Brought to raucous, captivating life by Apple TV back in 2022, the show is now in its much-anticipated third season. Its success lies in the tight script and captivating cast, which showcases the brilliant range of national treasures Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Slow Horses season 3 is streaming now on Apple TV
And so, the time has come. The final episodes of The Crown are finally here. Netflix’s royal behemoth has done everything from courting national controversy to launching some fairly seismic careers (see Vanessa Kirby and Emma Corrin) and now its six-season, multi-decades-long arc is coming to an end. The first slice of season six dropped in November, with a four-episode farewell to Princess Diana, embodied eerily faultlessly by Elizabeth Debicki. Now, The Crown’s last collection of episodes will pick up years later and focus on a university-age Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as the wedding of Charles and Camilla. Love it or hate it, this show has never not been peerlessly stylish and perfectly performed. Monarchy has never been so entertaining.
The Crown Season 6 part 2 is streaming on Netflix from 14 December.
John Lennon, Murder Without a Trial
Despite being one of the most famous assassinations in history, the murder of music icon John Lennon has never been so fervently analysed, discussed or investigated as in this remarkable three-part documentary. Crucially, it brings together – for the first time – key figures from Lennon’s life, from long-time friends and colleagues to those doctors and investigators from the time of his death, who provide fascinating insight into the night of his killing. Landmark television at its finest.
John Lennon, Murder without a trial is streaming on Apple TV from 6 December
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