TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m.,
This happened almost by accident, the key people say. With a
tight deadline, there was no time for advertisers or network minions to interfere.
Charles Schulz and friends made the cartoon their way.
That was a splendid way, a masterpiece with a jazzy score,
kid actors and a mix of humor and sentiment. Rounding out this hour is the
seven-minute “Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa.”
TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “CMA Country Christmas,” 9-11 p.m.,
In a show of efficiency, the Country Music Association tapes
this annual special when stars converge for its award show. Now Jennifer
Nettles has her fourth straight year as host.
She’ll have lots of country groups (Lady Antebellum, Rascal
Flatts) and individuals – Luke Bryan, Trace Adkins, Darius Rucker Kellie Pickler,
Jake Owens and Hunter Hayes. She’ll also have songs by people who are better
known for rock (Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige), contemporary Christian (Michael W.
Smith) and TV, with Lucy Hale of “Pretty Little Liars” and – really -- Willie
Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.”
TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Mom,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.
A comedy episode about cancer? That works fairly well here,
after a weak start.
Christy and her mom – both recovering alcoholics and former
teen moms – have befriended Marjorie (Mim Kennedy), a veteran of AA meetings.
When they learn of her cancer, they wedge into her life.
On its own, that’s humor-deficient. The fun is set off by
Marjorie’s cats and Christy’s allergies; the final half of “Mom” is about as funny
as a cancer comedy can be.
Other choices include:
“It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie” (2002), 8-10
p.m., CW. A banker has closed Muppet Theatre; now an angel tries to convince Kermit
that live is still fine.
“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The final six acts perform
and viewers vote.
“Almost Human,” 8 p.m., Fox. This futuristic views an
advanced drug that has a fierce effect.
“Sleepy Hollow,” 9 p.m., Fox. In a rerun of the second
episode, Ichabod Crane is still adjusting to this century; now he learns that
an ill-tempered witch from his time (the 18th century) is here.
“Major Crimes,” 9 p.m., TNT. A former teen rapist, now on
parole, has disappeared. Is he on a rampage … or has he been lured by vengeful
grown-ups. There are sharp plot twists, plus excellent work by guest stars Esai
Morales, Jeanine Mason (the former “So You Think You Can Dance” champ and – as Rusty’s
psychologist and chess partner – Bill Brochtrup of “NYPD Blue.”
“The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Here’s the second half of
a story that started with Red kidnapped. He tries to bargain with his captors,
while Liz has precariously slipped into the building where he’s held.
“The Story of Film,” 12:45 a.m., Turner Classic Movies. One
week from its finale, this documentary has its 14th chapter, viewing the impact
of the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino and other stylish writer-directors. The
Coens’ “Hudsucker Proxy” (1994) is at 8 p.m., with Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator”
(2000) at 10.