“One Christmas Eve,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark.
TV can be proud of
“Hallmark Hall of Fame.” It started in 1951 with an original
opera (“Amahl and the Night Visitors”) and followed with three
Shakespearean plays and “Alice in Wonderland.” It switched to
movies – great ones, from “Promise” to “What the Deaf Man
Heard” – and has won 81 Emmys.
And TV can be
ashamed of this: After 63 great years on NBC, CBS and ABC, “Hall”
is confined to cable. As it happens, the first cable-only film is a
dandy. It starts with a puppy on a doorstep, then adds a frantic mom
(Anne Heche), her kids, strangers, pratfalls, laughs, warmth and
“Hall of Fame” quality.
“The Mentalist” season-opener, 9:30 p.m. (barring football
The good news is
that CBS avoids reruns. “The Good Wife” and (after tonight)
“Madam Secretary” will rest until Jan. 4; “Mentalist” starts
its 13-week final season here, then slides to Wednesdays.
Also good is a mild
overhaul: The two lead characters are a couple now; Robin Tunney and
Simon Baker actually get to smile. And Josie Loren – who was good
as a gymnast in “Make It or Break It” -- arrives as a new FBI
agent. The bad news: This opening case is a weak one, straining
ALTERNATIVE: “Sleepless in America,” 8-10 p.m., National
Our ancestors simply
went to bed when the daylight faded, this compelling documentary
says. Then came lights, TV, Internet and more; Americans average two
hours less sleep than they did 50 years ago.
The impact is
immense. Lack of sleep has been considered a factor in disasters –
from Chernobyl to Exxon Valdez to bus and truck crashes; cancer,
diabetes and heart disease thrive on sleeplessness. Hardest hit are
shift-workers and high school students. “Sleepless” offers
possible solutions, both institutional (school start times, workplace
medical programs) and individual.
“Big Cat Week,”
noon to 3 a.m., National Geographic. Amid lots of
reruns, the intriguing “Future Cat” debuts at 9 p.m., rerunning
Computer animation shows lions and tigers
evolving into sleeker creatures that could converge
when the continents merge anew.
Dead,” 2 p.m. to midnight, AMC. First is a seven-hour rerun
marathon, to get us ready; then the season finale sees Rick trying to
make peace with a new enemy. That's at 9 p.m. and reruns at 11, after
fans ponder it all in the “Talking Dead” hour at 10:01.
Secretary,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. This ratings success will take December
off, to avoid reruns. First, Elizabeth tries to find the
secret bank account of Vincent Marsh, who preceded her as secretary
of state, before dying in a suspicious
plane crash. She's soon surprised by who
has access to the account.
Newsroom,” 9 p.m., HBO. Much of this hour is Shakespearean –
meaning we know it's good, but can't always comprehend it. Then comes
an amazing shift. With virtually no words (except some gorgeous
singing by newcomer Katie Boeck) the final minutes are strong,
surprising and moving.
(2013), 9-11 p.m., Fox News Channel. With one exception – the lame
John-and-Jackie scenes – this is a well-crafted film, sharply
outlining Lee Harvey Oswald (Will Rothaar). It aired last year on
cable, but now Bill O'Reilly (who co-wrote the book) also anchors a
preview hour at 8.
p.m., ABC. Desperate to salvage his reputation, Nolan offers new