1. Watch Sherlock
Of course you should, you fool.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return as sneering Holmes and goofy Watson in the premiere of the hit import’s third season. The plot of this one finds Holmes’s brother, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), summoning Sherlock back to London to investigate a shadowy underground terrorist organization. Cumberbatch and Freeman’s prickly rapport hasn’t dimmed, though you might want to turn down the bass on your home-theater system so the once-and-future Smaug doesn’t blow the subwoofer. —Matt Zoller Seitz
PBS, January 19, 10 p.m.
2. Attend The Meeting*
If Bette Davis ran the Rotary Club.
Justin Sayre is the chairman of the board of the fictional International Order of Sodomites, whose three monthly gatherings will feature skits, guest quasi-stars, and outrageously hyper-gay reports on all that’s wrong with us today. The January agenda: David Bowie. (February 16: Bernadette Peters. March 16: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) —Jesse Green
Joe’s Pub, January 16, 9:30 p.m.
3. Read The Meadow
Selections for the indoor season.
I’m a fan of weather-based reading: Wordsworth, say, in sunshine; snowy stuff in snow. I’m also a fan of place-based reading, and so, over the holidays, which I spent in middle of nowhere, Wyoming, I picked up The Meadow, a 1992 novelish sort of thing (it is genre-defiant) by the poet James Galvin. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you find yourself figuratively or literally somewhere desolate. “Each year,” Galvin writes, “the snow tries to memorize, blindly, the landscape, as if it were the landscape that was going to melt in spring.” —Kathryn Schulz
4. Hear Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, and Cole Swindell
Particularly for the undercard.
For better and, often, worse, Luke Bryan is the biggest thing in country music. The worse is obvious: His dopey but amiable songs are the essence of bro-country, the party-hearty trucks-and-chicks-obsessed style that has bulldozed virtually everything else off commercial country radio. Bryan’s a nice enough guy, though, and he can put on an arena show. Arrive early for Lee Brice, a bruiser whose songs, and voice, are capable of blowing Bryan’s ball cap clear out to 34th Street. —Jody Rosen
Madison Square Garden, January 25.
5. See T.J. Wilcox: In the Air
One of the more mesmerizing temporary sights in town is this 360-degree “cinema in the round” film, depicting one day’s view from the rooftop of Wilcox’s Union Square studio. The panorama is interspliced with biographical snippets about New York legends like Andy Warhol and Gloria Vanderbilt, as well as a recounting of the dreamy notion of having transatlantic zeppelins tie up at the mooring mast atop the Empire State Building. An homage to our town’s creativity and the Manhattanhenge sunset, not to be missed and maybe never to be forgotten. —Jerry Saltz
Whitney Museum of American Art, through February 9.
6. Read Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything
Maira Kalman illuminates his life, for kids.
The latest in the whimsical author-illustrator’s series for children, this book is devoted to the wide-ranging, complex—and, yes, flawed—worldview of our most complex Founding Father. (It’s appropriate for ages 5 through 8.)
Nancy Paulsen Books.
7. Hear Neutral Milk Hotel
Some of us don’t quite get the religiosity surrounding the nineties indie quartet led by self-styled pop weirdo Jeff Mangum. As for everyone else: They’ll be out in force for the band’s long-prayed-for reunion shows, genuflecting. —J.R.
Capitol Theatre (Port Chester, N.Y.), January 22; BAM, January 23–25; Webster Hall, January 27–28.
8. Hear Kyra Miller
Where ambition meets electrolysis.
What’s a smart Jewish girl with a fabulous voice to do when casting agents only want Kelli O’Hara? The Russian aestheticians of New York know. Part cabaret act, part ethno-autobiography, Miller’s Chosen is a Philip Roth short story come to life (if Philip Roth were a stunning woman). —J.G.
Joe’s Pub, January 21, 7:30 p.m.
9. See Carol Channing
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
Your eyes do not deceive you: The original Dolly Gallagher Levi is coming in from Palm Springs for one night onstage, a week before her 93rd birthday, with Justin Vivian Bond. Wish her hello.
Town Hall, January 20.
10. Hear Jonathan Biss
Teacher at the keyboard.
Having patiently illuminated the Beethoven sonatas in his online Coursera classes, Biss is making his way through all 32, a couple at a time. This time he serves up two of the biggies—including the Waldstein—with an eclectic array of miniatures. —Justin Davidson
Carnegie Hall, January 17.
11. See 20 Feet From Stardom
Backup at home.
Now that its obscure singers have taken the Rose Bowl by storm, it’s time to see the documentary, on DVD or streamed. Packed with period footage, it goes from bliss to bliss, with pauses to consider why these women didn’t achieve full-on fame—at least till this film came along to make us identify with that most American of disappointments. —David Edelstein
On Amazon and Netflix.
12. Read Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn
Reality doesn’t have to bite.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Wait: Why are there two somethings rather than nothing? I mean: What a delightful surprise that, twice since taking this job, I’ve come across terrific books about why we have a universe. The first was Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist? The second, out this month, is Amanda Gefter’s Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, in which she tells her own life story and ghostwrites that of the universe. —K.S.
13. See The Night Alive
Conor McPherson’s latest heartbreaker came too late for last year’s praises and too early for this year’s prizes. So, quickly before it goes, catch Ciarán Hinds and a top-notch cast in this perfect (and perfectly Irish) look at the DMZ where crazy marginality and bone-deep kindness coexist. —J.G.
Atlantic Theater Company, through February 2.
14. Hear London Grammar
Nottingham trio in town.
Say “Brit trip-hop” three times fast. Then check out this new breed of brood and lead Hannah Reid’s transfixing vocals. (They’ll also be on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on January 13.)
Baby’s All Right, January 15.
15. Hear A Bartók Quartet Marathon
The string quartet is a composer’s confessional booth—it’s where the bombast and posing fall away. Bartók’s six quartets are almost painfully intimate, and hearing them all in two consecutive concerts is a full immersion into the composer’s rich, dark world. —J.D.
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, January 18 and 19.
16. Hear Disclosure
Settle, the debut by Guy and Howard Lawrence, from Reigate, Surrey, U.K., was last year’s most acclaimed dance album for good reason: It was the smartest and most seamless execution of a formula everyone tried, cannibalizing house and dubstep for beats and stirring in lush pop hooks. —J.R.
Terminal 5, January 17.
17. Hear Simone Dinnerstein
Matching Bach and Beethoven with recent music is the highbrow equivalent of steampunk retro-futurism: The new illuminates the old. Dinnerstein applies that principle with flair, using the classics to frame music by George Crumb and Nico Muhly. —J.D.
Miller Theatre, January 23.
18. Watch 30 for 30: The Price of Gold
Back with Tonya and Nancy, twenty years on.
Documentarian Nanette Burstein revisits the Olympics’ loopiest scandal, the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by Jeff Gillooly, ex-husband of her competitor Tonya Harding. Burstein interviews most of the players, including Harding and Kerrigan’s husband-manager Jerry Solomon, peeking behind the curtain of media frenzy to reveal the human frailty it concealed. —M.Z.S.
ESPN, January 16, 9 p.m.
19. See Vengeance Is Shohei Imamura
The work of the Japanese director Shohei Imamura (who died in 2006) is tough to come to terms with, and a good occasion to try is the Asia Society’s five-film festival. In such movies as Vengeance Is Mine and Black Rain, the tone is clinical, the subtext acid to the point of making you wince. But he’s not reductive, and his pitiless postwar universe is rendered with the kind of urgency that marks a true, vital auteur. —D.E.
Asia Society, January 17 through February 1.
20. And Then See Boy
A very different kind of Japanese movie.
Boy, from 1969, is at once the most contained and freakiest of Nagisa Oshima’s films, and its formal audacity induces gasps on the big screen. The movie centers on a 10-year-old who’s used by his parents in a scheme to fake traffic accidents—spiritually murdering a young innocent. While you’re studying his disintegration, you’re keenly aware of the artificial colors of his consumerist society. Like many kids, he’s the canary in the coal mine. —D.E.
Film Forum, January 17 through 23.
21. Hear Paul Auster
Auster (author of The New York Trilogy, Winter Journal, etc.) is coming to the Morgan Library, where he’ll discuss one of my pet topics: Edgar Allan Poe. Go. I will be under the floorboards, making that knocking sound. —K.S.
Morgan Library & Museum, January 16.
22. Hear Juilliard Focus! on Alfred Schnittke
A January visit to Russia.
Even before the Soviet Union crumbled, strange sounds, ancient and shocking, were emerging from the tundra. Juilliard’s annual themed festival revolves around Schnittke and other Russian composers like Giya Kancheli and Valentin Silvestrov, whose mystical music never quite fit in an atheistic state. —J.D.
Peter Jay Sharp Theater, January 24 through 31; schedule at events.juilliard.edu.
23. Hear Sondheim Unplugged
On a Sunday.
Come for the monthly evening of Stephen Sondheim’s songs, this time focused on his duets (“A Little Priest” and “Agony” for starters); stay for the special guests, who in the past have included Len Cariou, Donna McKechnie, and Chip Zien.
54 Below, January 26.
24. Hear Paul Appleby
A voice, and face, to watch.
The tenor’s ardent voice and youthful presence made him a convincing troubled teenager (he’s in his thirties) in Nico Muhly’s Two Boys; this recital will be a far more intimate—and cheaper—experience.
Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, January 26.
25. Hear Aretha Franklin
Bow down and pay … you know.
It’s Aretha Franklin, people. Enough said.
Radio City Music Hall, January 17 and 18.