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What to Watch and Play in January: Our Staff Picks

It’s a new year, and that means plenty of new entertainment for you to consume — particularly if you’re a TV junkie. Tons of new shows and season premieres are picking up the slack for the dearth of new movies and games. But which releases should be at the top of your list. Here’s what we recommend:

Watch Downton Abbey on January 3

Downton Abbey
It’s the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey, the series about the aristocratic Crawley family, the post-Edwardian era 1%, and their servants of the eponymous Yorkshire estate. Take one last look at the grand sets, lavish costumes, and outstanding cast that truly breathes life into the storylines and scandal that befall both upstairs and downstairs. If for nothing else, watch purely for the inimitable Dame Maggie Smith, whose Dowager Countess’ zingers pack more punch than a pre-dinner sherry. Some of the storylines may venture into soap opera territory (albeit a classy one with better accents and less fuzzy lighting), but the fact remains that Downton Abbey is not just an entertaining period drama, it’s an entertaining drama, period. — Lesley Chen

Watch The Revenant on January 8

The Revenant
Alejandro Iñárritu took home Best Director and Best Picture last year for the cerebral Birdman. The seemingly one-shot film was not to everyone’s liking, however. Now with The Revenant, he turns his skilled eye towards a gritty revenge story set in a terrifying vision of the American West. On top of all that, The Revenant is very likely to be the film that finally gets Leonardo Di Caprio a well-deserved Oscar. — Jorge Albor

Play Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam on January 22

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam
The Mario and Luigi RPG series has always been a highlight of Nintendo’s handheld lineup. Combining a unique timing-based battle system, surprising amounts of depth and customization, and a quirky sense of humor, the series has never been afraid to defy expectations and try something new. This time, the Mario Bros. are teaming up with Paper Mario, and the combination of these two game worlds should make for some devastating combo attacks and interesting puzzles requiring all of our heroes’ unique skills to solve. Oh, who am I kidding? They totally had me at Giant Papercraft Mario. — Matthew Allen

Watch The X-Files on Jan. 24

the-x-files
If you’re an old-school fan of this legendary sci-fi, conspiracy show who once followed closely the exploits of Scully, Mulder  and the Cigarette Smoking Man, you’re likely thrilled to see the old crew come back for the upcoming six-episode mini-series after a 13-year hiatus. And when we say the old crew, we mean all the greats: Creator Chris Carter; writers James Wong, Darin Morgan and Glen Morgan; and the original leads Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. It’s worth tuning in just to see the reunion. What do we know so far? Just that it’s a contemporary story set years later, playing out amid modern spying scandals and a new digital world. Definitely pretty psyched to “Trust no one” all over again. — Annette Cardwell

Play The Witness on January 26

The Witness
Jonathan Blow was crowned the geek king of indie games after the runaway success of his last game, Braid, and rightly so: Braid was a gorgeous game, seamlessly blending Mario-style platforming with time-bending puzzles. We’ve waited nearly eight years for his follow-up effort, a first-person, open-world game that strands you on an abandoned island filled with more than 650 puzzles. Blow promises minimal hand-holding, preferring that players discover the mysterious rules of the island for themselves, so if you’re looking to exercise your noggin during the cold winter months, this is your ticket. — Brett Bates

Watch Banshee on January 29

Banshee
The criminally underrated guilty pleasure Cinemax show makes its last eight-episode visit to living rooms after almost disappearing unceremoniously without saying goodbye. Fake cops vs. Amish warlords? Check. Beautiful women without nudity clauses? Check. Great, violent action? Check. This is a show that’s been an absolute blast and though it certainly leaves its brain at home in the nightstand, it’s just as vital in the television diet as Downton Abbey. It’ll be missed. Bonus fun: Watch the show and pretend male lead Anthony Starr is playing Wolverine incognito. Seriously, give him claws and a bad haircut and he’d be everyone’s favorite Canadian. You need junk food. This is it. — Nick Nunziata

Annette Cardwell
Annette Cardwell

Annette Cardwell is a Fan Contributor at Fandom. She's an old school Nintendo nerd, an FPS junkie, and a huge fan of young-adult and fantasy books and their screen adaptations. She loves dragons, great fight scenes, and love stories – not entirely in that order.

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