Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
Welcome to the week where we gather to give thanks for all that we have. It's all about the three F's — family, food and football — but this week includes a little bit extra for me.
I have detailed my Thanksgiving tradition before in this column. Parade, Dog Show, Family, Football and Food. But the added wrinkle this year is that I will turn 55 on Thanksgiving Day. My birthday just happens to land on Turkey Day every few years or so.
So, do the plans change? Not really. I'll still be with my family celebrating the festive holiday. A Carvel football birthday cake will be added to the dessert mix. And I'll appreciate a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" for the 55th time.
In honor of this special day which works on two levels this year, I've decided to switch up my picks this week. My TV program recommendations are listed below, but since I'm the birthday boy, I thought a gift guide for TV aficionados might make sense.
There are tons of great birthday gifts for the TV lovers in your family. I used to be big on the DVD box sets for all types of series, but streaming took care of that gift option. These days an actual TV is the same price of some of those box sets. Blu-Ray players still work, but technological times have changed.
The costs of streaming services add up, and no one will turn down a year of Netflix or Hulu as a birthday gift (I'm assuming they've already got an Amazon Prime account). Get exotic with Britbox or Acorn for lovers of overseas programming. Any streaming service with a Max or Plus on the end of it is a solid gift you don't even need to wrap. These subscriptions will be put to good use.
The right device is just as important as the right streaming service. I'm still a big fan of the Apple TV unit (their channel has a plus on it) which provides quality resolution, ease of use with the apps, and keeps things in the Cupertino family. Roku is an affordable option with an easy-to-use interface and plenty of streaming options. It's the best of the "sticks" currently out there.
Skip the mugs, board games, and other TV-themed memorabilia. A Downton Abbey cocktail book or Yellowstone Dutton Ranch t-shirt seems like a good idea, but you'll get a smile and then they'll never look at it again. Focus on what the birthday boys and girls love the most — the actual programs themselves.
It's always the thought that counts with any gift, and any TV lover will be appreciative of my suggestions above and know that you're truly thinking of them. As an added bonus, give them control of the remote on their special day. That's the icing on the birthday cake.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Here's what's worth watching on TV this week:
Wednesday, November 23 9:00 PM ET
You can't miss Shaq, and now he's got a 4-part documentary on HBO. The amazing journey of this larger-than-life basketball star is full of conflict, drama and a few championship rings. Shaq's personality forged a seemingly easy transition into the entertainment world well beyond the NBA. Movies, sports commentary, cheesy TV ads… it's all Shaq.
The Howard Stern Interview: Bruce Springsteen (HBO)
Sunday, November 27 10:00 PM ET
I'm a little close to this one, but I can't wait for you to see my boss do what he does best with a legendary musician in studio. Bruce was ready to chat and play, and Howard was armed with smart questions and never-ending curiosity. Enjoy two legends at the top of their game for an unforgettable two-hour conversation. Watch teaser.
Echo 3 (Apple TV+)
Wednesday, November 23
A scientist disappears close to the border of Venezuela and Colombia in this bilingual thriller, and her military experienced husband and brother attempt to track her down.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Welcome To Chippendale's (Hulu): Kumail Nanjiani stars as an immigrant from India who came up with a way to get the most out of male stripping. Tuesday.
Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin (Peacock): Adam Devine provided tons of laughs in the original film, and now he's off to Germany to revive his singing career. Fingers crossed for a Sockapellas cameo. Wednesday.
Wednesday (Netflix): Half of the episodes of this teenage gal of that creepy kooky Addams family were directed by Tim Burton. Wednesday.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Narcos (Netflix). Pablo Escobar's story is too much for a single movie or documentary to tell. This series shows all sides of the Colombian drug lord and the failed U.S. war on drugs during his tenure. Wagner Moura is fantastic as Pablo, and Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal play DEA agents with their own foibles trying to bring down the kingpin. There's dramatization, but you feel like you're watching history being made.
The Newsroom (HBO Max)
Warrior (HBO Max)
Oz (HBO Max)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe! Happy Thanksgiving.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.