This Week’s Top 5 TV Picks


There are scores of TV shows out there, with dozens of new episodes each week, not to mention everything you can find on Hulu Plus, Netflix streaming, and HBO Go. How’s a viewer to keep up? To help you sort through all that television has to offer, Flavorwire is compiling the five best bets for the coming week. It’s December, which means one-off specials galore. This week, the long-running musical showcase Showtime at the Apollo returns for a two-hour special on Fox, and Hairspray Live! shimmies onto NBC. There are also two exciting if very different season finales airing this week, and the first HBO special from the extremely amiable Pete Holmes.

Saturday: Pete Holmes: Faces and Sounds

Pete Holmes might just be the nicest guy in comedy, which makes his rising success genuinely moving. (No? Just me? Anyone else feeling a little emotional these days?) Best known for his podcast, You Made it Weird, Holmes is set to star in the upcoming HBO series Crashing, which he created and which boasts comedy godfather Judd Apatow as an executive producer (Apatow will also direct the pilot). On Saturday, HBO gives Holmes a test run with his first stand-up special for the cable giant, Pete Holmes: Faces and Sounds. “I mostly do faces and sounds,” he explains in the trailer. The hour-long special airs at 10 p.m. on HBO this Saturday.

Sunday: Westworld

Has your mind been sufficiently blown yet? On Sunday, Westworld wraps things up with a special 90-minute episode that promises to answer at least some of the questions the show has raised in this fascinating, confusing, and frustrating first season. Creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan have vowed to tie up loose ends, and star Evan Rachel Wood has also dutifully given interviews plugging the finale, telling IndieWire, “The only thing I can say about Episode 10 is I feel like a lot of people are going to get up on their seats and clap.” The finale better be satisfying, because we won’t see the second season of Westworld until 2018. The madness begins at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Monday: Showtime at the Apollo

From 1987 to 2008, the syndicated series Showtime at the Apollo shone a spotlight on R&B, soul, and hip-hop musicians, not to mention the comedians who hosted the show. On Monday, Showtime returns for a special two-hour event, hosted by Steve Harvey and featuring performances by a gaggle of high-wattage acts, including comedians Tracy Morgan, Jay Pharoah, and Mike Epps, and musical acts Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, Bell Biv DeVoe, John Legend, and Flo Rida. Showtime starts at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Wednesday: Hairspray Live!

Move over, The Wiz, there’s a new NBC musical in town. Hairspray Live! airs on NBC this Wednesday at 8 p.m., starring 20-year-old newcomer Maddie Baillio (who, incidentally, is a terrific jazz singer.) The choice is a bit of a safe bet, considering Hairspray will already be familiar to many viewers, whether through the original 1988 John Waters film, the 2002 Broadway musical, or the 2007 movie remake. Baillio stars as Tracy Turnblad, a Baltimore teen circa 1962 who has two dreams: To shake and shimmy on the American Bandstand-like Corny Collins Show, and to mend the city’s racial divide. Good luck, Tracy!

Wednesday: South Park

On Wednesday, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrap up South Park‘s 20th season, which has presented a running commentary on both the election and online trolling. South Park works on a notoriously crunchy production schedule — episodes are written, drawn, and voiced in the week leading up to each new installment, which means the writers can take particular advantage of current events. When Trump won the election early on the morning of Wednesday, November 9, the South Park team scrambled to re-write that night’s episode, which ended up with the revised title, “Oh, Jeez,” and featured the Trump-like Mr. Garrison gloating in the wake of his own presidential election, demanding that all his foes suck his dick. The finale airs this Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.