Worth Watching: 'A Suitable Boy,' 'Dark Materials' Finale, 'Kids Baking Championship,' a Prince Philip Biography
A selective critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
A Suitable Boy (streaming on Acorn TV): Thwarted passions lead to tragedy in the penultimate episode of this sweeping saga of post-colonial India, based on Vikram Seth's mammoth novel. While Lata (Tanya Maniktala) and her family are treated to a Christmas meal by her ardent suitor Haresh (Namit Das), bringing out the worst in her snobbish brother Arun (Vivek Gomber) — "She doesn't have to stoop as low as that," he scoffs — her lovesick friend Maan (Ishaan Khatter) spirals when forbidden to continue seeing the sultry siren Saeeda Bai (Tabu). Maan's friend Firoz (Shubham Saraf) is in for an even bigger shock as he pursues the elusive Tasneem (Joyeeta Dutta). I can't imagine a more satisfying binge during one of the few quiet weeks in the TV calendar.
His Dark Materials (9/8c, HBO): Recently renewed for a third season, the fantasy series adapted from Philip Pullman's trilogy wraps its second year with aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda) pledging to help young adventurer Lyra (Danfe Keen) on her quest — no matter what. In the fateful aftermath, Lyra and companion Will's (Amir Wilson) worlds are left suspended in cliffhanger mode, which makes the renewal news very welcome indeed.
Kids Baking Championship (9/8c, Food Network): Small hands, big talent as 12 young bakers compete for a $25,000 grand prize, which is an awful lot of dough. Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman return to host a new season of the competition, which for the first time lets the kids' parents hover backstage to sweat out the results of each round. In the two-hour opener, the fledgling chefs display their skills at brushstroke decorating with mini cheesecakes, and in the next round are tasked to create garden cakes with actual fruits, herbs and other garden items as decoration.
Prince Philip: An Extraordinary Life (streaming on True Royalty TV): For the most devoted of royal obsessives, the streaming service presents an hourlong documentary about the man behind the Queen: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who has lived in the global spotlight and the royal shadow since marrying Princess (soon to be Queen) Elizabeth in 1947. We've seen him played by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies in The Crown (with Jonathan Pryce yet to come), but this is the real Philip, about whom it is said in the film is perhaps the most popular royal among the staff at Buckingham Palace.
Inside Monday TV: Acorn TV's Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball, from 2013, recreates the sort of society shindig so famous in Jane Austen's novels, filmed on location at Chawton House, an estate once occupied by Austen's brother… ABC and ESPN simulcast Monday Night Football (8/7c), with the Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots… This Is Us star Justin Hartley pays it forward on HGTV's Celebrity IOU (9/8c) by transforming longtime friend Mat's backyard with a resurfaced pool and hot tub, an outdoor grill and pizza oven and a putting green… Investigation Discovery goes inside Atlanta Justice (10/9c) in a new series following homicide detectives and lawyers in the southern metropolis. Their first case involves a murder victim who left two fiancées behind, but which one is guilty?