December will be an especially TV-packed month, while Netflix alone seeks to command and conquer all remaining viewers. Here are 11 worth watching:
1. "Garth Live at Notre Dame" (CBS/2, Sunday, 8 p.m.) Didn't a Garth Brooks CBS special once originate from an aircraft carrier? (Yes indeed -- the USS Enterprise, back in 2001.) Now for something a little different, but just about as big -- his Oct. 20 stop at the historic Notre Dame Stadium, seating capacity 78,000, where Brooks staged the first concert ever at that venue. The spectacle is mainly for Garth fans, but there are a few of them: He is the best-selling solo artist in the U.S., ahead of (yes) Elvis,
2. "Nightflyers" (Syfy, Sunday, 10 p.m.) This is based on George R.R. Martin's 1985 short story collection of the same name, also made into the 1987 Robert Jaffe-produced film. It's about a spaceship, the Nightflyer, that makes contact with some alien life forms, including a particularly malevolent one. GRRM has nothing to do with this 10-episode series because he's tied to HBO, but from what I've seen, it's still looks grrreat.
3. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Season 2 starts streaming Wednesday on Amazon Prime) The Emmy-winning breakout of the 2017 season is about to break out all over again with a few minor adjustments — or shall we call them enhancements? Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) will visit Paris, then that Valhalla for all aspiring or established comics of the '50s, the Catskills. Meanwhile, Zachary Levi ("Chuck") joins in a recurring role.
4. "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle" (Netflix, Dec. 7) Andy Serkis' ("Lord of the Rings") motion-capture take on the Rudyard Kipling classic has quite the cast (Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale) but it's also a continuation of Netflix's ongoing efforts to break standard (read: well-worn) industry practices. The movie will be released (on a limited basis) to theaters on Nov. 29 and will be on TV days later.
5. "Icebox" (HBO, Dec. 7, 8 p.m.) From Gracie Films, this mostly-in-Spanish (with subtitles) movie follows 12-year-old Honduran Óscar (Anthony Gonzalez), as he seeks asylum in the United States. HBO calls this "timely." Indeed.
6. "Sacred" (WNET/13, Dec. 10, 10 p.m.) From Oscar-winner Thomas Lennon ("The Blood of Yingzhou District") comes this film that promises to trace "religious ritual at birth, adolescence, marriage, death" in communities across the globe.
7. "Springsteen on Broadway" (Netflix, Dec. 16) Bruce Springsteen's smash residency at the Walter Kerr ends on Dec. 15; The Boss is in your living room the next day.
8. "Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable" (Netflix, Dec. 18) DeGeneres' first stand-up special in 15 years; this was taped over the summer at Seattle's Benaroya Hall.
9. "Timeless: The Miracle of Christmas" (NBC/4, Dec. 20, 8 p.m.) You (or some of you) asked for it, now you got it — the finale of NBC's good under-the-radar time travel series, in two parts.
10. "Vanity Fair" (Amazon Prime, Dec. 21). Would it be redundant to call this seven-part Gwyneth Hughes ("Remember Me") adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel "lavish?" With a cast that includes Olivia Cooke ("Ready Player One") as Becky Sharp, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Bateman and Michael Palin? Is there a more lavish word than lavish?
11. "The Orville" (Fox/5, Dec. 30, 8 p.m.) Seth MacFarlane's intergalactic space dramedy returns with this two-hour, post-football season 2 opener.