Also: a historic standoff inspires a drama miniseries, ‘National Lampoon’ gets a biopic, and Alex Gibney presents a new docuseries.
This week, mysteries and high-stakes dramas abound: J.K Simmons stars in a dual role in a new sci-fi spy thriller, while Cary Fukunaga’s latest project has Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning hunting for serial killers in the 19th century. Steven Soderbergh weaves an intricate murder plot across different platforms, and Taylor Kitsch and Michael Shannon re-enact a historic standoff in 1990s Texas. Netflix brings an Alex Gibney documentary series, while PBS features the latest nonfiction feature by Peter Nicks. Bringing the comedy element to the mix, a guild awards ceremony debuts its first host – a very funny actress – and the director of Wet Hot American Summer honors the co-founder of National Lampoon with an off-the-rails biopic.
To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for January 21st – 27th (all times Eastern):
24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TBS/TNT, Sunday 8pm)
For the first time in its 24-year history, the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will have a host, and SAG has decided to mark the occasion with the debut of The Good Place’s Kristen Bell – who will liven up the evening with a comedic twist – and an array of all-female accompanying presenters. Awards season is at full throttle, as we scratch down another of the bellwethers for the Oscars. Will Three Billboards and The Shape of Water reign supreme here, too? Or will Lady Bird and Get Out stand a chance?
Counterpart (Starz, Sunday 8pm)
In Counterpart, you get two – yes, two! – J.K. Simmonses for the price of one. This spy thriller with a sci-fi twist stars the Oscar-winner as Howard Silk, an ordinary clerical worker in an obscure branch of the U.N., who finds himself in the middle of an intricate plot involving parallel dimensions. Upon meeting his confident and accomplished doppelgänger, they must work together to unravel the mystery of a dimension-jumping assassin. The cast also includes Olivia Williams, Nicholas Pinnock, and Harry Lloyd, while Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) directs the pilot. Now, this is definitely our tempo. Check out our review here.
Mosaic (HBO, Monday 8pm)
Originally, Mosaic was released back in November as an app that allowed users to experience a murder mystery from the perspectives of different characters – a digital choose-your-own-adventure of sorts. Now, director Steven Soderbergh and writer Ed Solomon (Men in Black) complete the puzzle of the untimely death of children’s book author Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) with this six-part miniseries, spread across five consecutive nights this week (ending with a double episode on Friday). Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, and James Ransone also join the mind-bending, crossmedia narrative experience.
The Alienist (TNT, Monday 9pm)
Despite what the name might lead you to think, Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Caleb Carr’s novel has nothing to do with close encounters of the third kind. In fact, ‘alienist’ was a term used in the 19th century to refer to a doctor who treated those alienated from their “true nature” – A.K.A the insane – like Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl). He uses his expertise to aid in special investigations, and his latest target is a serial killer preying on underage male prostitutes. He’s not alone, though: a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) and the first woman employed by the New York Police Department (Dakota Fanning) help him in his quest. If you enjoyed Mindhunter and Alias Grace, The Alienist is right up your alley.
The Force (PBS, Monday 9pm)
Documentarian Peter Nicks looks once again at some of the most pressing issues in modern America. A follow-up to his 2013 The Waiting Room – where he explored life in a hospital emergency room in Oakland and the underlying problems of healthcare – Nicks turns his gaze to another Oaklander institution that has often been in the hot seat in the past years: the police. The Sundance award winner examines a local police department as it struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following the events in Ferguson, and an unexpected scandal.
Waco (Paramount, Wednesday 10pm)
For those unfamiliar with this bit of recent history, it all started with a failed raid to the Mount Carmel Center ranch, 13 miles east-northeast of Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993. What followed was a historic 51-day standoff between FBI agents and the heavily armed sect the Branch Davidians, led by one David Koresh. This six-part limited series faithfully re-stages that explosive siege, with Taylor Kitsch playing the cult leader and Michael Shannon as the FBI’s negotiator Gary Noesner. John Leguizamo, Andrea Riseborough, Rory Culkin, Melissa Benoist, Paul Sparks, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim, and Julia Garner also star in this volatile showdown.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (Netflix, Friday)
By the end of the ’70s, National Lampoon was an established boundary-pushing institution. What could be wilder than the magazine itself? The story of how it came to be, of course. Fittingly, Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain directs this biopic about the life of its co-founder Doug Kenney (Will Forte) and how the Lampoon became a hub for comedy stars like Chevy Chase and John Belushi, as well as an empire that extended to radio and live theatre and even gave way to a raunch-com renaissance in film – while also covering all the havoc Kenney wrecked along the way. Domhnall Gleeson, Martin Mull, Joel McHale, Thomas Lennon, Jon Daly, and John Gemberling also join this wild ride.
Dirty Money (Netflix, Friday)
What do maple syrup, Volkswagen, Big Pharma, and payday money lenders have in common? They’re all examined under Alex Gibney’s critical lens in Netflix’s new documentary series Dirty Money. In a similar exposé-vein to Going Clear, the series examines six different instances of corruption and criminal scandals in the business world: from a major bank’s role in laundering drug money to the theft of $20 million worth of maple syrup. If Netflix’s Rotten left a bad taste on your mouth, Dirty Money might be the palette cleanser you need.
24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (TBS/TNT, 8pm) – live event
Counterpart S1E1 “The Crossing” (Starz, 8pm) – series premiere
Star Trek: Discovery S1E12 “Vaulting Ambition” (CBSAA, 8:30pm)
Divorce S2E2 “Happy Now?” (HBO, 10pm)
The Chi S1E3 “Ghosts” (Showtime, 10pm)
The Resident S1E1 (FOX, 10pm) – series premiere
Lucifer S3E12 “All About Her” (FOX, 8pm)
Mosaic S1E1 (HBO, 8pm) – series premiere
Supergirl S3E11 “Fort Rozz” (The CW, 8pm)
The Alienist S1E1 “The Boy on the Bridge” (TNT, 9pm) – series premiere
The Force (PBS, 9pm) – documentary premiere
Scorpion S4E14 “Lighthouse of the Rising Sun” (CBS, 10pm)
The Good Doctor S1E13 “Seven Reasons” (ABC, 10pm)
Todd Glass: Act Happy (Netflix) – standup special
Lethal Weapon S2E14 “Double Shot of Baileys” (FOX, 8pm)
NCIS S15E13 “Family Ties” (CBS, 8pm)
The Flash S4E11 “The Elongated Knight Rises” (The CW, 8pm)
Black Lightning S1E2 “Lawanda: The Book of Hope” (The CW, 9pm)
LA to Vegas S1E4 “The Affair” (Fox, 9pm)
This Is Us S2E13 “That’ll Be the Day” (NBC, 9pm)
Bellevue S1E1 (WGN, 10pm) – series American premiere
Drunk History S5E1 (Comedy Central, 10pm) – season premiere
The Detour S3E1 “The Run” (TBS, 10:30pm) – season premiere
Blockbuster (Netflix) – foreign movie premiere
David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef S1E1 (Smithsonian, 8pm) – documentary American premiere
The Librarians S4E10 “And Some Dude Named Jeff” (TNT, 8pm)
The X-Files S11E4 “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” (FOX, 8pm)
Riverdale S2E11 “Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wrestler” (The CW, 8pm)
Vikings S5E10 “A Simple Story” (History Channel, 8pm) – first half finale
Alone Together S1E3 “Fertility” (Freeform, 8:30pm)
9-1-1 S1E4 “Worst Day Ever” (Fox, 9pm)
Criminal Minds S13E13 “Cure” (CBS, 10pm)
Happy! S1E7 “Thus Thrust Zarathustra” (Syfy, 10pm)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story S2E2 “Manhunt” (FX, 10pm)
Waco S1E1 (Paramount, 10pm) – series premiere
Grey’s Anatomy S14E10 “Personal Jesus” (ABC, 8pm)
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars S3E1 (VH1, 8pm)
Supernatural S13E11 “Breakdown” (The CW, 8pm)
Arrow S6E11 “We Fall” (The CW, 9pm)
Superstore S3E11 “Angels and Mermaids” (NBC, 8pm)
The Good Place S2E12 “The Burrito” (NBC, 8:30pm)
Project Runway All-Stars S6E4 (Lifetime, 9pm)
Scandal S7E9 “Good People” (ABC, 9pm)
Great News S2E13 “Early Retirement” (NBC, 9:30pm) – season finale
How to Get Away With Murder S4E10 “Everything We Did Was For Nothing” (ABC, 10pm)
Portlandia S8E2 “Shared Workspace” (IFC, 10pm)
Britannia S1 (Amazon) – series premiere
Dirty Money S1 (Netflix) – documentary series premiere
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (Netflix) – movie premiere
One Day at a Time S2 (Netflix) – season premiere
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S3E10 “Oh, Nathaniel, It’s On!” (The CW, 8pm)
Jane The Virgin S4E8 “Chapter Seventy-Two” (The CW, 9pm)
The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm (HBO, 6pm) – documentary premiere
Elton John: The Nation’s Favorite Song (Reelz, 8pm) – documentary premiere
Planet Earth: Blue Planet II S1E2 “The Deep” (BBC America, 8pm)
Conan Without Borders: Haiti (TBS, 10pm) – special episode