“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 9 p.m., NBC.
In a splendid start
to the Christmas season, we've had the two greatest specials in three
days. It was Charlie Brown on Monday on ABC (it will return on
Christmas Eve) and the Grinch now.
Each has the perfect
mix of sentiment and humor, with dandy music sprinkled in. “Grinch”
started with the witty Dr. Seuss tale, then added great work from
animator Chuck Jones, narrator Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscroft
(the voice of Tony the Tiger) singing that he's a mean one, Mr.
II: “Empire” mid-season finale, 9 p.m., Fox.
To pull off its
ambitious blend of music and drama, “Empire” only has 18 episodes
a season. Now it's already to No. 10; after this, we'll have to wait
pushes his risky effort to buy a streaming service and Cookie
organizes a concert at the prison where she spent 17 years. Then,
Fox promises, there will be a big closing jolt.
ALTERNATIVE: “Top Chef” season-opener, 10-11:15 p.m., Bravo;
repeats at 11:45.
One of TV's best
reality shows gets off to a zesty start, with three quick challenges.
The second requires three people to work consecutively ... without
knowing what the previous one did; one person never notices that
there's a chicken in the oven.
Then comes the big
one – 17 chefs, each preparing a dish for an outdoor event with 200
food writers. These are likable and varied contestants. Angelina
Bastides is the youngest, a Miami chef at 25; Grayson Schmitz, 32, is
a veteran who competed four years ago. Frances Tariga-Weshnak, 33, is
a Philippines native, hesitant with English; Garrett Fleming uses
phrases like “culinary manifestation.”
ALTERNATIVE II: “Racing Extinction,” 9 p.m., Discovery, Animal
Planet, Science and Discovery Life; repeats at 10:36 on all but
scientists say, for some species to go extinct; now, however, that's
happening at 1,000 times the natural rate. Humans are to blame,
directly (poaching) or indirectly (upsetting the eco-balance).
This richly detailed
documentary – nominated for the Sundance Film Festival's grand jury
prize – tackles both problems. The ecology questions are tough,
including the immense impact of beef production; the poaching is
tackled with a bold combination of hidden cameras and protests.
Rockefeller Center,” 8 p.m., NBC. The tree-lighting is preceded by
the Rockettes and lots of music. That includes James Taylor (backed
by trumpeter Chris Botti), Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli, Carly Rae
Jepson and Andy Grammer, plus The Band Perry and The Band of
“Frank Sinatra: A
Man and His Music,” 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This 1965
special is followed by three Sinatra musicals -- “Guys and Dolls”
(1955) at 9 p.m. ET, “Pal Joey” (1957) at 11:45 p.m. and
“Can-Can” (1960) at 1:45 a.m.
9 p.m., ABC. When Gloria wins a free seminar on “cleaning out the
junk drawer” of emotions, reactions vary: Phil and Claire get
competitive; Cam and Mitchell try for a low profile.
“A Saturday Night
Live Christmas,” 9:30-11 p.m., NBC. An all-Christmas prime time
concludes with this collection of past sketches.
“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. One key character is Jesse (Luis Guzman), the nurse who –
with Dr. Leanne Rorish – seems to run the place. Now he has a major
heart attack and she's shattered.
Worst,” 10:30 p.m., FXX. With two episodes left this season,
“Worst” has taken a dark turn. Gretchen sinks into despondency
while sometimes-lover Jimmy is with someone she calls a guy's ideal –
a beautiful ski champion who owns a bar. There are funny moments
early ... and key changes ahead.