What to Watch

‘Borgen,’ ‘The Thick of It,’ Bond: What to Watch During the Thanksgiving Weekend

Clear the table, do the dishes, hit the couch—TV is ready for you, with a slew of marathons, miniseries and specials, from Borgen to Bond, from Sherlock to Louie. Jace Lacob on what to watch on TV and online.

Clockwise from top left: Mike Kollöffel / Courtesy of DR TV; FX; Courtesy of Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE; BBC

Thanksgiving isn’t just about gorging yourself on turkey and pumpkin pie--it’s also about getting prostrate on the couch after stuffing yourself … or getting away from your family for a few hours in front of the television.

Fortunately, the television networks have realized that everyone during the long Thanksgiving weekend is in search of escape of some kind, and have gone out of their way to offer a number of marathons during the next few days, from the classic—all Gone With the Wind all the time on AMC!—and the gripping (Borgen) to the tragic (a Here Comes Honey Boo Boo marathon) and the suave (Bond).

But whatever your tastes, The Daily Beast has you covered with a round-up of some of the more interesting, unusual, or compelling programming hitting the airwaves, the Internet, and your Netflix queue over the next few days to sate whatever appetite still remains after the big feast.

Borgen (LinkTV and online at LinkTV.org)

If you haven’t yet fallen under the spell of Danish political thriller Borgen, here is the perfect opportunity to watch a marathon of Seasons 1 and 2 as LinkTV will air all 20 episodes of this penetrating and intelligent series over the holiday weekend, from Thursday to Sunday. Revolving around the political, moral, and ideological struggles of Denmark’s first female prime minister, Borgen is hands down the best television show of 2012, and the women at the show’s center—Sidse Babett Knudsen’s sympathetic statsminister Birgitte Nyborg and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen’s ambitious journalist Katrine Fønsmark—deliver two of television’s strongest and most nuanced performances in a show that holds up a microscope to the political and media spheres in Denmark. The result is an unforgettable and insightful drama that will have you forgetting that you’re reading subtitles.

Bonus tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have DirecTV or Dish or if you’re away from your television this weekend: you can watch the episodes online at LinkTV.org for two weeks after the on-air marathon.

The Thick of It (Hulu)

If you’re looking for more laughs than tears from your political television series, look no further than the caustically witty (and often brutally cringe inducing) British politics satire The Thick of It, four seasons of which—including the most recently concluded—are available on Hulu. Watch as Peter Capaldi’s foulmouthed Malcolm Tucker, the prime minister’s rabid enforcer, corrals the hapless civil servants and ministerial aides! Marvel at the insanely precise and knife-sharp tirades delivered by Capaldi! Hope that no innocent children can overhear his swearword-laden verbal floods that push the boundaries of the English language! Finally, revel in your knowledge of what the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year, “omnishambles,” truly means!

Bonus viewing: Once you’ve devoured all of The Thick of It, stick around for fellow British import Rev., which revolves around a country vicar (Tom Holland) who is promoted to an inner-city parish in East London.

Bond Movie Marathon (Syfy)

Syfy will once again offer their annual James Bond movie marathon, which this year will take place between Wednesday, Nov. 21, at midnight to Friday, Nov. 24, at 5:30 a.m. (with a brief break along the way for WWE Smackdown). On the 007 flick lineup this year: Dr. No, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, License to Kill, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Die Another Day, The World Is Not Enough, Goldeneye, Live And Let Die, Thunderball, and the first two Daniel Craig Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Pour yourself a martini—shaken, not stirred, of course—and enjoy.

Bonus viewing: If you fell for the charms of Bond’s new quartermaster, Q (Ben Whishaw), in Skyfall, you need to check out the British actor (currently starring in BBC America’s The Hour, returning Nov. 28) in Season 1 of the 2008 legal drama miniseries Criminal Justice, streaming on Netflix.

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Sherlock (Netflix)

Before CBS’s Elementary, there was Sherlock, the BBC/PBS modern-day update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, from creators Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss. Set in contemporary London and directed with visual flair, Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson, who here is an Afghanistan vet and army doctor. Together, this unlikely duo solves impossible crimes with style, wit, and genius recklessness. To date, six feature-length episodes have aired, each taking inspiration from one of Conan Doyle’s Holmesian mysteries. If you have yet to fall under Sherlock’s spell, now is the perfect time to catch up.

Line of Duty (Hulu)

For those looking for more serialized mystery fare, Hulu has the deliciously bleak Line of Duty, a five-episode British police thriller that revolves around the cat-and-mouse game between highly respected and potentially crooked career copper, Detective Chief Inspector Tony Gates (Lenny James), and the young, disgraced anti-corruption cop (Martin Compston) determined to bring him down. Betrayals, double agents, and grisly gangland murders are all in the mix in this stellar and electric mini from writer Jed Mercurio. Line of Duty, which aired earlier this year on BBC Two in the U.K., is fast-paced, bloody, and tense … and you’ll likely want to speed through all five episodes in one sitting. Fear not: there is a second season on tap.

Bonus viewing: The first two gripping seasons of British police thriller Luther—starring Idris Elba (The Wire)—are on Netflix. You’ll need to watch with the lights on.

Fringe (Science Channel)

Observe this: Science Channel, which recently acquired the syndication rights to Fox’s science fiction drama Fringe, is offering a marathon of the show’s entire first season over two days. On Friday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. and the same hours the following day, you can relive the first meeting between Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), the food cravings of mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble), and the truly weird as the Fringe Division investigates unique and extraordinary happenings.

Fresh Meat and Misfits (Hulu)

Two of Britain’s smartest and quirkiest teen dramedies have headed here, thanks to Hulu. Fresh Meat—created by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (Peep Show)—revolves around six sex-crazed students at the fictional Manchester Medlock University who live together in the same house and attempt to navigate the uncertain waters of college life. (And, yes, that is Joe Thomas from The Inbetweeners.) Misfits offers a different take on the teen experience, fusing together teen drama with science fiction: five teenage delinquents are forced into community service, but their day takes a turn for the weird when a freak electrical storm imbues them with extraordinary abilities … and leads one of them to kill their probation officer in self-defense.

Bonus viewing: Also worth noting for teens (and those who are still teens at heart), MTV will offer a marathon of its acclaimed dramedy Awkward on Friday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Louie (Netflix)

The first two seasons of FX’s painfully funny comedy Louie, which stars Louis C.K. as himself, will undoubtedly make you feel better about yourself and your family, even during the sometimes-stressful holiday season. Over the course of 26 episodes (Season 3, sadly, isn’t yet available), Louie tries to keep his wits about him as he’s faced with pressures from home, work, and the truly insane people he encounters on his quest for personal happiness. Laugh, cry, and delight in some of the most absurd, unpredictable, and oddball New York adventures ever to air on television, along with some of the most profound and beautiful. (Yes, “Duckling,” I am looking at you.)

Alternate viewing: If you want to imagine how your family operated if they were as closely knit as the Bravermans, check out NBC’s Parenthood. The first three seasons of the emotional (but never overly sentimental) Parenthood are available for streaming on Netflix … and if that’s not enough, episodes from the current fourth season are available on Hulu and for purchase on iTunes.