Stuck for something good to watch this Christmas? We’ve picked the television highlights (and lowlights, depending on your love of talking dogs) for everyone this festive period.
Nothing says ‘summer’ and ‘Christmas’ like barricading yourself in a dark room and watching a bunch of strangers do made-up things on a screen. But what are the must-see shows these holidays, and what isn’t must-see, but will keep everyone happy during the festive season? I’ve stuck my hand deep into New Zealand’s telly stocking and pulled out some of the best TV treats, and like a fresh tray of Sampler biscuits, there’s something for everyone, even you. You! You deserve it the most.
For your cousins who think bootleg jeans should have never gone out of fashion: Gavin and Stacey: A Christmas Special (Boxing Day, TVNZ2 7pm)
Oh my Christ, as Three Steaks Pam would say. It’s been ten long years since British comedy Gavin and Stacey ended, but the stars have finally aligned and James Corden and Ruth Jones have reunited the Wests and the Shipmans for a special Christmas dinner. Make yourself an cheese omelette and settle in, this is going to be lush.
For anyone named Carol: A Christmas Carol (Neon, 23/12 – 25/12)
Listen up, Carols. Neon have a new three-part costume drama starring Mike from Neighbours and the bloke who played Gollum, and they’ve named it after you. Yes, you, Carol! You’re special to us. We’d wrap you in tinsel if we could.
For your drunk aunt who already finished the box wine: Corries of Christmas Past (Christmas Eve, TVNZ1, 9.25pm)
Yes, I might be that drunk aunt, and yes, I might spend my nights trawling through vintage episodes of Coronation Street in the dark corners of the interweb, because Coro is ageless, timeless, eternal and everlasting. They love Christmas in Weatherfield, and those cobbles have seen some shit go down in the past 60 years. Remember when Les drove over the Christmas turkey? I’m feeling teary already.
For everyone who burned the fucking pavlova, again: Celebrity Bake Off NZ (23 December, TVNZ2, 7pm)
If you’re going to watch one episode of a reality TV show this decade, please, please make it this one. Six Kiwi identities (Toni Street, Dave Fane, Bree Tomasel, Art Green, Paula Bennett and Jackie van Beek) enter the Great Kiwi Bake Off tent to raise money for charity, and it’s bloody chaos. Anarchy in the kitchen, mayhem in the streets, funnier than a cow cake made of jelly teats.
For anyone who missed it the first time around: Succession (Neon)
One of the sharpest shows on television, Succession is a dark comedy-drama about the Roys, a dysfunctional family of power hungry spoiled brats who each want control of their global media empire. Who knew watching people behave so badly could be so entertaining?
For people who like animals more than people: A Dog’s Purpose (22 December, Choice, 8:30pm)
This movie stars KJ Apa and a talking dog who keeps being reincarnated until he finds his purpose. I’m sorry, what? WHAT?!
For the surly teenager who hates everyone and everything: John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch (Christmas Eve, Netflix)
Even the hottest pocket of hormonal angst should be won over by this wacky Netflix variety special, which sees comedian John Mulaney team up with a bunch of kids (the Sack Lunch Bunch) to “tackle existential topics” through annoyingly catchy songs and comedy sketches, with guest stars like Natasha Lyonne and Jake Gyllenhaal.
For the Christmas grinch: Go South (Christmas Day, Prime, from 5:30am)
Wave goodbye to all the Christmas bullshit and jump aboard Go South, an epic 12 hour journey from Auckland to Milford Sound by rail, ferry and car. It’s a bit weird and hypnotic but you get to travel the length and breadth of this fine country without putting your pants on, and that, my friends, is a gift.
For the friend who wants to lie on the couch on Christmas Eve and not get up again until Boxing Day: Friends (TVNZ OnDemand)
236 episodes across 10 seasons equals over 5000 minutes of classic comedy hijinks which gives you three and a half days of non-stop television to get you through the silly season. You’re welcome.
For anyone who loves a miserable Christmas: Chernobyl (Neon)
Yes, it’s bleak, dour, and depressing, but Chernobyl is a masterpiece, which is a lot more than I can say about the bleak, dour and depressing chicken I undercooked for Christmas last year. Chernobyl will break your heart and stay with you for days, which is also what raw chicken will do, but not in the same way. Look, I’m not allowed to cook Christmas dinner this year and I’m fine about it, honestly.
For your great-uncle who thinks the weather’s fine, summer’s supposed to be this hot: The Castle (22 December, TVNZ1, 9.25pm)
Because sometimes you just need to laugh like a drain about a nice family with a lot of holes in their back yard.
For your fun neighbour who writes letters to the TV Guide complaining that there’s nothing good on the telly and could Hilary Barry please cover her boobs up: Kylie’s Secret Night (Boxing Day, TVNZ1, 7pm)
Yes, you should be so lucky. Pop goddess Kylie Minogue and comedian Alan Carr team up in this celebration of all things Kylie, with performances of her greatest hits and surprises for some of her biggest fans. Now we know what happens, maybe they should call it Kylie’s Not So Secret Night. Just a suggestion.
For someone who wants to watch the perfect episode of television: Fleabag (Amazon Prime Video)
FYI it’s season two, episode one. Just watch it, I beg of thee.
For everybody: The Chase Christmas Special (23/12, TVNZ1, 8pm)
We saved the best ’til last, so get amongst it, you filthy animals. Merry Christmas, one and all.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.