Merry Christmas and welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.
Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Black Mirror” returns for Season 4 and Peter Capaldi makes his final appearance as The Doctor.
“Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time,” BBC America, Monday, 9 p.m.
Peter Capaldi will make his final appearance as The Doctor in the annual Christmas special before the role is taken over by Jodie Whittaker. The special will also feature an appearance by Pearl Mackie, reprising her role as Bill Potts, as well as Mark Gatiss in a guest role as a World War One soldier.
“Black Mirror,” Netflix, Friday (CRITICS’ PICK)
“Black Mirror” creator & writer Charlie Brooker has his particular paranoias, and that has never been more clear than Season 4 of the technological dystopia, which presents each story as a vignette in some part of our near future. By this point — for this viewer, anyway — the novelty of “Black Mirror’s” standalone episodes, like short stories in a pessimistic collection, has faded a bit. The production values are still generally fantastic, the name-brand performances are still heartbreaking, and the direction, like the writing, indicate a sophistication of thought and method. But either the world has caught up to “Black Mirror” or “Black Mirror” created the world, because now the tech dystopia is everywhere. (“The Waldo Moment,” a much-maligned episode from Season 2, has ended up being an upsettingly predictive episode for modern politics.) Perhaps that’s why the series’ concerns in Season 4 seem more pointedly topical, instead of mere speculation.
“Dave Chappelle: Equanimity” and “Dave Chappelle: The Bird Revelation,” Netflix, Sunday
Dave Chappelle fans got an early Christmas present when Netflix announced that the comedian would release not one but two new comedy specials on New Year’s Eve. They will mark Chappelle’s third and fourth Netflix specials to be released this year. Netflix has also released “The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits,” though both of those were filmed prior to his deal with Netflix.
“SMILF,” Showtime, Sunday, 10 p.m.
Frankie Shaw’s Golden Globe-nominated comedy series wraps up its first season this week. In addition to writing, directing, and producing, Shaw stars as Bridgette, a 20-something single mom struggling to raise her young son in South Boston. Rosie O’Donnell co-stars as Tutu, Brudgette’s mother, in O’Donnell’s first regular television role ever.