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The Best Shows and Movies to Watch This Week: Will Smith Welcomes You to Earth, Sex and the City Returns on HBO Max

Plus, The Expanse's final season

It must be a bit boring being an A-list Hollywood big shot, because Will Smith is spending his downtime traversing the planet and putting himself in danger in the new Disney+ adventure series Welcome to Earth, which premieres today. Perhaps on his journeys around the globe he'll run into Carrie Bradshaw on the streets of New York City for the Sex and the City revival And Just Like That... Thursday on HBO Max, or see the Roys in Italy for the Succession Season 3 finale on Sunday, or he'll drink some wine in Los Angeles with the gang of Grand Crew, which premieres Tuesday on NBC. Hey Will, you know you could do all that just by watching TV from your living room like the rest of us, right?

Our list of editors' picks for the week of Dec. 8-14 is below, but if that's not enough and you're looking for even more hand-picked recommendations, sign up for our free, spam-free Watch This Now newsletter that delivers the best TV show picks straight to your inbox. You can also look at our massive collection of recommendations, as well as our list of suggestions of what to watch next based on shows you already like.

THE BEST SHOW TO WATCH TONIGHT

Jeff Johnson, Will Smith, Erik Weihenmayer, Welcome to Earth

Jeff Johnson, Will Smith, Erik Weihenmayer, Welcome to Earth

National Geographic for Disney+/Kyle Christy

Welcome to Earth

Wednesday, Dec. 8 on Disney+
Remember when Zac Efron hosted a travel show? Will Smith is doing his version of that, but instead of learning about wellness and sustainability, he's scaling active volcanoes and going deep-sea diving. Action star stuff. The Disney+ National Geographic series Welcome to Earth follows the actor on globe-trotting adventures — guided by expert explorers, mountaineers, and scientists — that would make his daredevil movie characters proud. Smith admits in the trailer that he's never climbed a mountain before this, but he pretends for a living; he'll probably make it look easy. Do not try this at home. -Kelly Connolly [TRAILER]



THE BEST SHOWS AND MOVIES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kristin Davis, And Just Like That...

Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kristin Davis, And Just Like That...

HBO/HBO Max

And Just Like That...

Series premieres Thursday, Dec. 9 on HBO Max
The ladies of Sex and the City are back! Well, three of them are, anyway. Whether we like it or not, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are returning to TV with this revival series. The women are in their 50s now, and I don't exactly know what that will mean for them, but I expect we'll get a lot of jokes about the '90s, how much New York has changed, and plenty of voiceover musings from Carrie about the passing of time. I couldn't help but wonder... if this show will be any good, but I guess (I hope?) it can't get any worse than the monstrosity that was Sex and the City 2. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]

Lucian-River Chauhan, Riz Ahmed, and Aditya Geddada, Encounter

Lucian-River Chauhan, Riz Ahmed, and Aditya Geddada, Encounter

Amazon Studios

Encounter

Friday, Dec. 10 on Amazon Prime Video
Riz Ahmed follows up his Oscar-nominated turn in last year's The Sound of Metal with this paranoid sci-fi thriller that looks like a mix of Take Shelter and War of the Worlds. Ahmed plays Malik Khan, a decorated Marine who takes his two sons and goes AWOL to protect them from an alien threat and military operatives who are trying to make sure that secret doesn't get out. It comes from writer-director Michael Pearce, who made the excellent 2017 psychological thriller Beast, so you can bet there will be some gut-punching twists and some meaty material for Ahmed to work with. The supporting cast includes Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, and Rory Cochrane. -Liam Mathews [TRAILER]

Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Expanse

Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Expanse

Shane Mahood/Amazon Studios

The Expanse 

Season 6 premieres Friday, Dec. 10 on Amazon Prime Video
The ambitious sci-fi series returns to Prime Video for a six-episode final season that we're getting via a good old-fashioned weekly rollout. In Season 6, as Belter rebel leader Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) and his Free Navy continue their attacks on Earth and Mars, UN leader Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) sends former Martian Marine Bobbie Draper (Frankie Adams) on a secret mission that's the last-ditch effort to end the war. Meanwhile, on a distant planet way beyond the Rings, a new power is growing that may render all this factional fighting moot. The Expanse has been one of the best sci-fi shows on TV for years now, and it's probably going to stick the landing. -Liam Mathews [TRAILER]  

Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis, The Unforgivable

Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis, The Unforgivable

Netflix

The Unforgivable

Friday, Dec. 10 on Netflix
Sandra Bullock gets miserable in this heavyweight drama about a woman trying to figure out her life after serving a twenty-year prison sentence for killing a police officer. Returning to a town that will never forgive her for what she did, she just wants to find her younger sister, who was adopted by another family and moved on with her life. But the world – in the form of her parole officer, the attorney who lives in her old house, her sister's adoptive parents – wants her to stay away. She really needs this closure, though. The movie is flawed and unrelentingly bleak, but Bullock elevates the material. -Liam Mathews [TRAILER]

Jeremy Strong, Succession

Jeremy Strong, Succession

Graeme Hunter/HBO

Succession

Season 3 finale Sunday, Dec. 12 at 9/8c on HBO, HBO Max
It's been a wild, emotionally laborious season, and I can honestly say I have no idea what's going to happen in Succession's Season 3 finale. The Roy family is, to put it kindly, in shambles: With one mistaken text, Roman (Kieran Culkin) tarnished his status as Logan's (Brian Cox) favorite child, and Shiv (Sarah Snook) is trying to step right into the spot he left behind. (Whether she'll succeed remains to be seen — my guess is that it will end badly for her.) The ultimate question, though, is that of Kendall's (Jeremy Strong) fate, which hangs in uncertainty after the penultimate episode's harrowing last moments. All the major players have convened in Italy for Caroline's (Harriet Walker) wedding, but otherwise, there's no telling what's to come in the final hour. Succession is known for its dramatic season enders, and the stakes feel higher than ever, so I'll just be over here on the edge of my seat until Sunday. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]

Jim Henson, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Jim Henson, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Sesame Workshop/HBO

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

Monday, Dec. 13 at 10/9c on HBO, HBO Max
I can't think of a more wholesome time than watching a documentary about how Sesame Street came to be. Back in the '60s, a group of geniuses had the radical idea to make kids' programming educational, which of course ended up becoming one of the most successful and influential TV series of all time. It's fun to see people like Jim Henson and Frank Oz when they were young and totally uncertain about the gamble they were making on this show about friendly puppets. -Allison Picurro [TRAILER]

Justin Cunningham, Carl Tart, and Echo Kellum, Grand Crew

Justin Cunningham, Carl Tart, and Echo Kellum, Grand Crew

Justin Lubin/NBC

Grand Crew

Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 9/8c on NBC
Four out of five hangout comedies agree that six is the best number of characters, and NBC's new series Grand Crew upholds the tradition of Friends et al. as half a dozen twenty/thirtysomething Black friends chill out in a Los Angeles wine bar and discuss twenty/thirtysomething things (OK, they start out as a fivesome, but a sixth is coming!). The series comes from Insecure and Brooklyn Nine-Nine writer Phil Augusta Jackson and is executive produced by B99's Dan Goor, and it has that Happy Endings frenetic energy as they discuss toilet paper, breakups, Black republicans, and more. Things start off a bit pilot-y, but there's potential here thanks to a great cast that includes Nicole Byer, Echo Kellum, and Carl Tart. Two episodes air tonight as part of a preview, but the series officially launches in early January. [TRAILER]



RECENTLY RELEASED

Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary

Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary

ABC/Prashant Gupta

Abbott Elementary

Series premiered Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 9:30/8:30c on ABC, Wednesday on Hulu
There are plenty of shows about kids in school, but like our current society, we've somehow overlooked teachers and relegated them to bit parts. (IFC's very funny and very not-watched Teachers being an exception.) The country's most difficult and underpaid job gets the focus in this ABC workplace sitcom from A Black Lady Sketch Show's Quinta Brunson, who also stars as an idealistic teacher working in a Philadelphia public school where the children are puking and pissing monsters, funding is non-existent, and principals run power trips over the teachers. If it weren't for the barrage of funny jokes, this show might be a little depressing because it loves to find its humor in our broken education system! Vote to pay our teachers more, people. -Tim Surette [TRAILER]

Live in Front of a Studio Audience

Live in Front of a Studio Audience

ABC

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes

Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 8/7c on ABC
Look out, Annie Live, it's Tootie Live! A broadcast network live special that's actually pretty impressive, ABC's Emmy-winning Live in Front of a Studio Audience returns with a pair of classic sitcoms reenacted with big-name actors. ABC somehow got Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Gabrielle Union, and Allison Tolman to play the girls from The Facts of Life (along with Ann Dowd as Ms. Garrett), and Kevin Hart, John Lithgow, and Damon Wayans to play the big three from Diff'rent Strokes. Maybe the actors want to honor the classics, or maybe they see an opportunity to scoop up an Emmy in a less competitive category. -Tim Surette [TRAILER]