20 shows to watch on Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+ in December

Including Emily in Paris, Slow Horses, Too Hot to Handle, If These Walls Could Sing, The Witcher, and Treason

Slow Horses

From Friday, December 2nd, Apple TV+

Gary Oldman returns as the anti-Smiley in season two of this spy thriller series based on the best-selling novels by Mick Herron. Unlike his character of spymaster George Smiley in John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Jackson Lamb is prone to bad judgment and rotten decisions, and finds himself stuck in a backwater of MI5, leading a team of losers who have been corralled here where they can do minimal harm to national security. But the brilliant if contrary Lamb is determined to whip these slow horses into shape and get them back into the spying race. When word of a reactivated Russian sleeper agent reaches the team, they must race against time to prevent the deaths of thousands of people.

My Unorthodox Life

From Friday, December 2nd, Netflix

Forget Keeping up with the Kardashians – here’s the real-life glamour story of Julia Haart, who fled her ultraorthodox Jewish faith to become a fashion mogul and business tycoon. Series one followed her meteoric rise in the fashion world and her power marriage to Italian businessman Silvio Scaglia. But behind the making of the first series there were dark rumblings of discord, and it seems as if Haart’s success is not so much a tale of women’s empowerment, but more a tale of a woman marrying into money and power. As the second series lands, Haart and Scaglia are getting divorced, and locked in a bitter legal battle over their financial empire, and Haart has been ousted as CEO of Scaglia’s company Elite World Group. Should at least make for interesting telly.


From Friday, December 2nd, Netflix

The world know Robert Downey Jr aka Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Dolittle. But how well do we know Robert Downey Sr, the maverick counterculture film-maker who made absurdist, anti-establishment movies such as Ball’s Bluff, Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace in the 1960s and 1970s? Documentarian Chris Smith looks affectionately and irreverently at the life and work of this contrarian cinematographer, who died in 2021 aged 85. The film will provide insights into Downey’s relationship with his megastar son, who appeared in eight of his dad’s movies, and will also follow the director as he embarks on his final film project.

Hot Skull

From Friday, December 2nd, Netflix

We’ve just come through a pandemic, so is there an appetite for dystopian disease drama? And can this Turkish series become the next Squid Game-type sensation? The premise is unusual: the world is in the grip of a deadly epidemic that causes madness, but this virus is transmitted through language and speech, so forget social distancing. Silence is the only way to combat the contagion, and so the authorities crack down on conversation. But one man, a reclusive former linguist, is mysteriously immune to the disease, and he finds himself being hunted by the evil Anti-Epidemic Institution.


Three Pines

From Friday, December 2nd, Prime Video

Fans of Louise Penny’s best-selling Chief Inspector Gamache series will be looking forward to this adaptation starring Alfred Molina as Gamache, who uses his empathy and astuteness to solve a raft of mysterious and perplexing murders in the village of Three Pines in Quebec. Despite the undercurrent of malice, Gamache finds himself beguiled by the village and its eccentric folk, and with help from his team – troubled sergeant Jean-Guy, sergeant and indigenous working mom Isabelle and accident-prone rookie Yvette – Gamache dives into the task, and the deeper he dives, the stranger the secrets he uncovers.

Our Only Chance

From Friday, December 2nd, Disney+

A series featuring beautiful young Spanish people snogging – what’s not to like? This is not some Love Island-style competition, though; it’s a teen drama following the relationship of Candela and Diego, which has more ups and downs than the Pyrenees, as they go through all the staged of love, friendship, falling out and making up again. Candela is played by Spanish pop sensation Aitana, making her acting debut, and Diego is played by rising Spanish actor Miguel Bernardeau.

Firefly Lane

From Friday, December 2nd, Netflix

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke return as best friends Tully and Kate in the second series of this time-jumping drama series. Tully is a successful TV talkshow host, while Kate is a divorcee trying to get back into the workforce. The series follows their teenage lives in the 1980s through to their adulthood in the 2000s, as they navigate family dynamics, relationships, work and all that other life stuff. Season two opens with the two friends falling out, their 30-year friendship seemingly in ruins. What happened to break these two besties up? All will be teased out over a split second season, with nine episodes airing on December 2nd and another seven episodes launching in 2023.

Too Hot to Handle

From Sunday, December 4th, Netflix

The dating series in which wannabe celebrities are forced into celibacy is back, and now that everyone knows the score (basically, if you score, you’re eliminated), the show is in danger of losing the element of surprise. So this time the producers have come up with an elaborate hoax show, Wild Love, to lure the unsuspecting daters in. The poor little horndogs and sex kittens don’t realise they are walking into a chastity trap, but it’s too late, and now they will have to abide by the no-nookie rules if they want to win that grand prize. Which is stronger, their libido or their lust for lucre?

The Bad Guy

From Thursday, December 8th, Prime Video

Nico Scotellaro is a hotshot public prosecutor in Sicily with a talent for putting away Mafia gangsters. He’s on a mission to clear the streets of mob scumbags, but his crusade is cruelly cut short when he finds himself accused of being a mafioso himself. So he hatches a daring plan to get revenge on those who framed him: he decides to actually become the bad guy and take on the Mafia bosses at their own game in this Italian-made crime series. What’s the bet that once Nico goes down the mob rabbit hole, he finds it harder and harder to find his way back.

Puppy Place

From Friday, December 9th, Apple TV+

Never work with kids or dogs, you say? You haven’t met these cute kids and the even cuter dogs they’re charged with looking after in the second season of this family drama. Brother and sister Charles and Lizzie have found their calling – fostering abandoned and lost puppy dogs and finding them new home with loving, caring owners. Not as easy a task as you might think, but these kids have plenty of moxie, and a love of all things canine, which helps them through the ruff and the smooth on their mission to make the world a better place for pooches. Sentimental? Just think of it as the telly equivalent of rolling over and having your tummy rubbed.

Little America

From Friday, December 9th, Apple TV+

No, not a US spin-off of David Walliams and Matt Lucas’s Little Britain, this anthology series is inspired by the real-life stories of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the so-called land of the free and home of the brave. Casual racism, lack of career opportunities, police harassment and right-wing anti-woke aggression are just some of the obstacles young Americans of colour face every day, and these “funny, romantic, heartfelt and inspiring” stories promise to get to the heart of issues ripping the country apart in these fraught times.

Dr Seuss Baking Challenge

From Tuesday, December 13th, Prime Video

So, you wanna know how to make green eggs and ham? You won’t find the recipe here, but if you want to see some amazing confectionery creations based on the works of Dr Seuss, then step right up for a bake-off with a difference, as a bunch of bakers compete to make the wackiest, most wonderful cakes inspired by such characters as the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat. Why stop there? Let’s have a Spongbob sponge cake challenge, a Roald Dahl chocolate treat contest and maybe even a Paddington marmalade marathon.

National Treasure: Edge of History

From Wednesday, December 14th, Disney+

Not content with all the Marvel and Star Wars spin-offs, Disney+ are looking for more film franchises to hang a series on, and National Treasure is ripe for plundering. Stick a colon on, add a meaningless phrase such as Legacy of Mortals, and you’ve got a streaming hit. Jerry Bruckheimer is at the helm for this series, in which young and resourceful treasure hunter Jess (Lisette Olivera) searches for clues about her own family in order to save a lost relic – with help from the viewers, apparently. But of course evil forces are also ready to stop at nothing to get the treasure for themselves. Harvey Keitel reprises his role as Agent Sadusky in the films, and Catherine Zeta-Jones plays black-market antiquities dealer Billie Pearce.

The Recruit

From Friday, December 16th, Netflix

Rookie CIA lawyer Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is only a wet weekend in the job, but he’s determined to make his mark in the agency, and that’ll take more than just pulling a few late nights in the office. But his chance to earn his stripes comes more quickly than expected when a former asset accused of a serious crime threatens to exposé the agency unless they get her off the hook. Before he knows it, Owen is caught up in a deadly game of international power politics, but at least he gets to travel – although it seems that everywhere he goes, someone’s trying to kill him.

If These Walls Could Sing

From Friday, December 16th, Disney+

Abbey Road studios is most closely associated with The Beatles, the place where Sgt Pepper, Revolver and other classic Fab Four albums were recorded, and also the site of the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing. But it’s open to all pop stars, and albums such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Radiohead’s The Bends and the soundtrack for Return of the Jedi were also recorded there. Mary McCartney, who practically grew up in Abbey Road, directs this documentary charting the studios’ history, with contributions from dad Paul (he also supplied the title) and many others who laid down tracks there, including Elton John, Cliff Richard and Noel Gallagher. If Peter Jackson’s Get Back seemed like a bit of a slog, this should barrel along at a nice clip.

A Storm for Christmas

From Friday, December 16th, Netflix

There are any number of movies in which the protagonist has to find their way home for the holidays, braving blizzards, earthquakes and asteroid impacts just so they can get to snuggle by the fire with the family and a mulled wine. But here’s a whole six-part series about a group of people stranded at Oslo airport while travelling to meet loved ones, greet loved ones or simply escape the annual tinsel torment. With only 24 hours to Christmas, these strangers are going to have to find a way to connect and help each other celebrate the season. Swedish actor Valter Skarsgard, son of Stellan and brother of Alexander and Bill, is one of the stars.

Emily in Paris

From Wednesday, December 21st, Netflix

Lily Collins is back as the American girl who has moved to Paris to take up her dream job, but soon discovers that the city is filled with hidden crossroads – and she has to make the right decision which direction to take. So far, Emily seems to be negotiating the Parisian perils – language, love, ordering food – pretty well, making it to a third season, and surviving her first year in the French capital. But now she faces more difficult choices, both in her work and in her romantic life. Will her love affair with Paris prevail? And will viewers still love tuning in to Emily’s adventures? We’ll find out soon enough

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

From Wednesday, December 21st, Prime Video

Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine and Ben Affleck have all portrayed CIA agent Jack Ryan in movies based on Tom Clancy’s best-selling thrillers, but John Krazinski is the man with the plan in the TV series, now beginning its third season. Jack is now working as a CIA case officer in Rome, when he learns about the Sokol Project, a secret plan to restore the Soviet Empire – and not by diplomatic means. Nice and topical, then. Jack sets off to confirm if this nefarious scheme is really on the cards, and soon he finds himself on the run in hostile territory, with no backup, and everyone including his own government gunning for him. He’s got to survive long enough to prevent global catastrophe – all in a day’s work, really.

The Witcher: Blood Origin

From Christmas Day, Netflix

There’s a lot going on in Witcher world. Henry Cavill has passed the sword (and the other deadly weaponry) on to Liam Hemsworth, who will be taking over the title role in season four of the fantasy adventure. But meanwhile, here’s the obligatory “origin” series, telling the story of the prototype Witcher’s creation, and following the cataclysmic events that caused monsters, men and elves to share the same space and time. Michelle Yeoh plays sword master Scían, with Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain as two warriors without a tribe. Lenny Henry, fresh from his turn as a Harfoot in Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, plays Chief Sage Balor and Minnie Driver is there too as someone named Seanchaí. The showrunner is Waterford man Declan de Barra, so I’m fully expecting there to be a tribe called the Déise.


From St Stephen’s Day, Netflix

It’s a rule of telly that no matter how good a spy you are, your past will eventually catch up with you. And so it is with MI6 agent Adam Lawrence (Charlie Cox from Daredevil), who finds himself tangled up once again with an old flame, Russian spy Kara (Olga Kurylenko from Quantum of Solace), which complicates things with his wife, Maddy (Oona Chaplin, also from Quantum). But soon this love triangle turns into a Mexican stand-off as all three set out to destroy each other. Irish actor Ciaran Hinds also stars in this six-part series created by Matt Charman, who wrote the Tom Hanks thriller Bridge of Spies.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist