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“The Stand” (CBS All Access streaming anytime) CBS’ streaming service offers up a “limited event series” of Steven King’s apocalyptic fantasy about the forces of good and evil fighting over the dwindling survivors of post-plague America. James Marsden, Amber Heard, Greg Kinnear, Whoopi Goldberg (as Mother Abigail) and Alexander Skarsgard (Randall Flagg, of course) star. Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, The New Mutants) directs and executive produces.
“Total Control” (Sundance Now streaming anytime) A Sundance Now premiere? Must be another political/psychological thriller from outside the U.S. Sure enough, this six-part drama tracks a troubled Australian prime minister (Rachel Griffiths from “Six Feet Under”) besieged by political infighting. Impulsively, she drafts into her Senate an Indigenous woman who became a national hero after facing down a deadly domestic abuser—only to find out the woman’s politics might be a bit more radical than expected. This one comes from the creator of the Australian neo-Western crime series “Mystery Road” (which aired here in the states on Acorn TV).
“El Cid” (Amazon Prime streaming anytime) The blockbuster Spanish series comes to Amazon in all its historical glory. Jaime Lorente (“Money Heist”) stars as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a Castilian nobleman and war hero in medieval Spain. The show traces his journey as he tries to find his place within a complex monarchy that tries to control him. If you’re burned out on the backstabbing antics of the same old English royals, this one’s for you.
“A Creepshow Holiday Special” (Shudder streaming anytime) What would Christmas be without a murderous Santa or two? “Creepshow” delivers with an hourlong anthology episode starring Anna Camp (“True Blood”) and Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”).
“Arendelle Castle Yule Log” (Disney+ streaming anytime) Disney+ takes the easy way out with its newest animated holiday special. It’s just a loop of a burning log, allegedly inside Elsa and Anna’s castle from Frozen. “Dory’s Reef Cam,” also premiering today, is similarly low-effort: an animated screensaver of fish you can leave on in the background of your holiday celebrations.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix streaming anytime) August Wilson’s seminal play about a tension-filled recording session among Chicago jazz musicians in the 1920s comes to Netflix. Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman head the impressive cast. Branford Marsalis supplies the tunes.
“Sweet Home” (Netflix streaming anytime) Netflix rounds up some more K-horror with this live-action series about a troubled teen and his apartment-dwelling neighbors fighting to survive as the humans around them transform into savage monsters. It’s based on the popular WEBTOON series of the same name.
“Make It Count” (VICE 9:30pm) Vice’s newest docu-reality show asks people what they’ve always dreamed of doing (skydiving? Quitting your job?) and then follows along as they do it for real-reals.
“Global Citizen Prize” (KOB-4 7pm) Intimate conversations celebrate activists all over the world for their inspirational achievement in working to end extreme poverty and fight for change. Sure, sounds dry. But John Legend hosts, so there’s that.
Letters to Satan Claus (Syfy 7pm) Syfy spoofs Lifetime holiday rom-coms with this horror flick about an overworked, holiday-hating journalist who returns to her bucolic hometown, only to fall in love with … well, I won’t spoil it.
“22nd Annual A Home For the Holidays” (KRQE-13 8pm) Josh Groban, Miranda Lambert, Meghan Trainor, Leslie Odom Jr. and Andrea Bocelli try to guilt you into adopting a kid for the holidays. Honestly, though, you should probably put a little more thought into this life-changing decision. “Josh Groban told me to” is a poor reason for doing anything—up to and including buying a Josh Groban CD.
“Dr. Pimple Popper: Season’s Squeezings” (TLC 7pm) First of all: No. Second of all: Hell, no.
“Christmas with the Moonshiners” (Discovery 8pm) Somehow, Discovery ekes out a holiday episode using its illegal booze distilling docu-reality show. So what do backwoods moonshiners do for Christmas? … Same thing I do, I’m guessing: Get drunk around relatives.
“Buddy Valestro: Road to Recovery” (TLC 7pm) “Cake Boss” baker/star Buddy Valestro severely injured his dominant right hand in September, while “attempting to fix a pinsetter at his home bowling alley.” (White people problems, amiright?) TLC follows the limb-mangling event and its aftermath using “footage captured immediately after the incident.”
The Midnight Sky (Netflix streaming anytime) George Clooney stars in this icy sci-fi thriller about a lone scientist trapped in the Arctic racing to save a crew of astronauts returning to Earth in the wake of a mysterious apocalyptic event.