“Showtime at the Apollo,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.
For 82 years, the
Apollo Theatre in Harlem has been a centerpoint for black stars. It's
had the great bands (Ellington, Basie, Gillespie) and dancers (Bill
Robinson, Nicholas Brothers); it's had comics, from Stepin Fetchit to
Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Steve Harvey ... who hosts this
It's had Jimi
Hendrix and the top singers, from Billie Holliday to Ray Charles,
Mariah Carey and most of Motown. This special will have various
performers pop in ... and will also view the theater's “amateur
night,” when audiences might voice disapproval and the act is
abruptly whisked away.
“The Great Christmas Light Fight” season-opener, 8 and 9 p.m.,
In the wrong hands,
Christmas lights can be a lot of wasted wattage; in the right hands,
they bring awe and wonder. This show tends to find families who know
what they're doing – good-hearted folks who also have a sense of
artistry. We'll see four each hour, with one winning $50,000.
One family tonight
has 250,000 lights ; another has train rides through acres of
decorations. There are Christmas emojis, a 20-foot “Frozen”
castle and what ABC calls “America's tallest and brightest
Nativity” scene. We'll try it ...even though the original Nativity
was neither tall nor well-lit.
ALTERNATIVE: “Mars,” 9 p.m., National Geographic, and more.
Fact and fiction
blend beautifully in two outer-space projects from Ron Howard and
Brian Grazer. They produced (and Howard directed) “Apollo 13”
(1995), the Oscar-nominated film that's at 9 p.m. and midnight on WGN
America. And they produced “Mars,” a richly crafted, six-week
From 6-9 p.m. today,
you can catch the first half of the mini; it skillfully jumps between
current documentary footage (SpaceX, Scott Kelly, etc.) and a 2033
mission. At 9, the non-fiction includes a Mars-like facility in
Anarctica; the fiction finds a fierce storm heading toward the
Mysteries: The Black Widower” any time, www.acorn.tv.
New Zealand provided the splendid backdrop for the “Lord of the
Rings” movies; now the barkeep in this little town – far from the
real settings – offers a phony tour. This starts with humor, ends
with a clever mystery, sags some in between. It's the first of four
“Brokenwood” movies, one on each Monday in December.
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Last week was rough on the oft-victorious Blake
Shelton: Two of his three singers were ousted, while Miley Cyrus'
Aaron Gibson got his third straight instant-save. Now Shelton has
only Sundance Head (the former “American Idol” contestant),
compared to three people with Adam Levine and two apiece with Alicia
Keys and Cyrus.
and 9 p.m., CW. Here are reruns of the season's first two episodes.
Those are the ones with Kara visited by her cousin Superman (Tyler
Hoechlin) ... and getting a new boss. The terrific Calista Flockhart
steps aside and Ian Gomez (who also co-hosts ABC's baking show) takes
(1988), 9 p.m., Freeform. Bill Murray plays a soulless TV executive,
in this clever “Christmas Carol” take-off. Also at 9, Starz has
“The Rainmaker,” a strong convergence of talent – novelist John
Grisham, director-screenwriter Francis Coppola and then-newcomer Matt
“The Big Bang
Theory,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. For its 200th episode,
rerunning here, the show brought in lots of its people. That includes
Leonard's mom and ex-girlfriend (Christine Baranski, Sara Gilbert),
Wil Wheaton and – as a birthday surprise for Sheldon -- ex-Batman
Fashion Show,” 10 p.m., CBS. Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd
will perform. Also, slender women will display lingerie.
10:01 p.m., NBC. To learn what Flynn is up to in the 1930s South, the
team must get on the good side of Bonnie and Clyde ... while avoiding