TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC.
Early on, the show throws all 11 people
into a scene around the pool. It's a dazzling reminder of how good
these characters are; it also sets up the concept.
Suddenly, they realize this is the only
time they'll be together for the holidays; “Express Christmas” is
developed. Great moments range from Haley's shopping prowess to her
sister bonding with Mitchell.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “From Here to
Eternity (1953) Turner Classic Movies, or “Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours
After,” History; both 8 p.m.
Today us the 70th
anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, For non-fiction, catch
History, focusing on Franklin Roosevelt's decisions. For fiction,
“Eternity” is a classic, set mostly before the attack.
The result won eight Oscars, including
best picture, director (Fred Zinnemann) and supporting actors (Frank
Sinatra, Donna Reed). It was nominated for five more, including star
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “State of
Play” opener, 10 p.m., BBC America.
Here is British drama at its best –
sharp writing, superb acting and sleek, energetic filmmaking.
David Morrisey plays a married
politician, overwhelmed when his aide is found dead. John Simm plays
a friend, a reporter who sympathizes with him … until finding a
link to another deat.
The result won a dozen international
awards, half off them for Paul Abbott's script or Bill Nighy as the
paper's editor A subsequent American movie was good; this start of a
six-week mini-series is great.
Other choices include:
– “The X Factor,” 8-9:30 p.m.,
Fox. Last week, the show dumped Astro and Drew. That leaves five
people: Simon Cowell has Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro, L.A. Reid has
Chris Rene and Marcus Canty; Nicole Scherzinger has only Josh
Krajcik, Paula Abdul has no one.
– “Up Al Night,” 8 and 8:30 p.m.,
NBC. Both episodes focus on Ava and her new love interest (Jason Lee
of “My Name is Earl”). In a fairly funny one, she spies on him at
Christmas time; then is a rerun of the episode in which they met.
– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a
giddy (and drunken) moment, Frankie decides to host a holiday party.
That starts a four-show run of Christmas comedies on ABC.
– “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.
Tessa feels she's ruined her dad's romance and schemes to revive it.
Actually, he wantes someone new; soon, there's an overcrowded
– “The Silent Witness,” 9-11
p.m., TNT. The odd thing about these mystery movies – each adapted
from a top novelist – is that they tend to have weak stories, but
strong execution. Tonight's tale (from a Richard North Patterson
novel) has a lawyer (Dermot Mulroney) return home to defend a friend.
Any plot flaws are overcome by great work from Michael Cudlitz
(“Southland”) and director Peter Markle.
– “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,”
9:30 p.m., Fox. Last week's debut was quite awful, but this episode
is very nearly adequate. The families' mandatory game night brings
– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS. A rancher who died was also an expert on ballistics.
Soon, the FBI is involved, with Matt Lauria (“Friday Night Lights”)
and Grant Show as agents.