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Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Dec. 19, 2016

Variety logo Variety 12/19/2016 Elizabeth Wagmeister
© Provided by Variety

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter, offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s TV schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch it. This week, most of the major shows are on hiatus, but there’s still tons to watch leading up to the holidays.

The Wall,” NBC, Monday, 10 p.m.

If you miss Chris Hardwick now that “Talking Dead” is on hiatus, fear not: the host is back on TV for another show — NBC’s new reality competition series produced by LeBron James, which showcases teams answering trivia questions, while bouncing balls into slots with monetary values. What happens if they answer correctly? They get a ton of cash. (Monday night’s episode is a sneak preview of the show, which returns in its regular timeslot on Jan. 3.)

“First Lady Michelle Obama Says Farewell to the White House,” CBS, Monday, 8 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey sits down with First Lady Michelle Obama in this special, which was filmed on Dec. 14, after the election — so expect questions about President-elect Donald Trump. Winfrey will also talk to Mrs. Obama about her life during her husband’s eight-year term, her family’s legacy, and her plans for the future. The interview will mark the final one-on-one sit-down for the FLOTUS inside the White House. An encore airs later this week on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on OWN.

Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come,” NBC, Tuesday, 9 p.m.

Leave it to Tony Bennett to bring in a bevy of famous friends to help celebrate his 90th birthday. Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Billy Joel, Elton John, Diana Krall, k.d. lang, and Rufus Wainwright will perform for the legendary singer, while Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, and even Homer Simpson will make appearances. The special was filmed this summer when Bennett turned 90.

Project Runway” finale, Lifetime, Thursday, 8 p.m.

The Season 15 winner is crowned on the catwalk, as guest judge Zendaya joins the panel. Following the finale of the flagship show is the Season 2 premiere of the pint-sized spinoff “Project Runway: Junior.”

Sense8: A Christmas Special,” Netflix, Friday

Season 2 of “Sense8” doesn’t debut until May 5, but this Friday, fans can watch the first episode of the second season, which is being dubbed a Christmas special. Teasing the episode, co-creater Lana Wachowski said: “When I was a kid, I loved holiday specials in the shows I used to watch. Holidays can make you feel so connected, in the way holidays can make you feel so isolated and alone. I wanted to tell a story in the first episode that was kind of about time in the present and how the new lives these characters were experiencing made them feel empowered, like they could do anything as long as they’re together.” (Watch the trailer for the Christmas special right here.)

Doctor Who” Christmas Special, BBC America, Sunday, 9 p.m. (CRITICS PICK)

What could be better than a fresh episode of “Doctor Who” on Christmas Day? One that unites the Doctor with a man in tights, which is what happens in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio.” Of course, the argument could be made that the Doctor is the ultimate English superhero, a man who has spent hundreds of years fighting bad guys, often using nothing more than his time-defying TARDIS, jelly babies, ingenuity and a talent for quips. But this one-off adventure finds him teaming up with an actual masked hero in New York city. Odds are, it isn’t Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, but fans will get a return visit from Matt Lucas’ Nardole, a part-time companion seen in previous episodes of the BBC series. Charity Wakefield (“Wolf Hall”) and Justin Chatwin (“Shameless”) also guest star in the episode, which was written by showrunner/executive producer Steven Moffat.

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