“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 8 p.m., ABC.
Sure, some bland
holiday shows have been thrown at us this month. But this one
(alongside “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) is the top of the field,
a true triumph.
The delightful Dr.
Seuss book offered warmth and wit. Chuck Jones, the genius behind
many Bugs Bunny and Road Runner gems, added vibrant animation. Boris
Karloff did the narration and Thurl Ravenscroft (also the voice of
Tony the Tiger) sang the booming theme song. The result is a gem.
II: “How Murray Saved Christmas,” 8-9 p.m., NBC.
Clearly, life isn't
fair: “Murray” -- possibly the best Christmas special since
“Grinch” -- runs tonight against “Grinch.” Watch one, record
the other and enjoy.
Mike Reiss, one of
the “Simpsons” wits, wrote this book about a town where all the
holiday people – from Santa to St. Patrick – mingle. Most are
jolly; still, it's Murray (Jerry Stiller), the crabby deli owner, who
must save the day. Reiss also co-wrote songs that ripple with clever
ALTERNATIVE: “Call the Midwife,” 8-9:30 p.m., PBS (check local
listings) or “Doctor Who,” 9-10:30 p.m., BBC America.
British TV has special episodes of some of its best shows. Now
Americans get two of those; one is a new “Who,” encased by reruns
in a marathon that continues through latenight Sunday.
The other catches
“Midwife” in 1959, with all the '60s changes still far away. The
treatment of unwed mothers and of the mentally disabled seems grim
and Victorian. Profoundly decent people – midwives, nuns and
staffers – face immense problems, including a snowstorm. There's
great work from Miranda Hart (as Chummy) and others; even narrator
Vanessa Redgrave has brief moments on-camera.
Disney parade, 10
a.m. to noon, ABC. In its 31st year, this special gets a
makeover, with a “Frozen” emphasis. “Let It Go” will be sung
by 12-year-old YouTube star Lexi Walker, with other songs from the
movie by Laura Marano and the Alex-and-Sierra duo. Performing
non-Frozen songs are Ariana Grande, Trisha Yearwood, GavinDeGraw,
Lucy Hale, Trey Songz, Prince Royce and Train.
“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of last year's Christmas episode,
people imagine what their lives would be like without Sheldon.
p.m., CBS. In a rerun from last spring, Violet is wary about going to
her prom while very pregnant. Meanwhile, Bonnie battles with her
ex-husband, with Christy caught in the middle.
Musical Christmas,” 9-10 p.m., NBC. The “Elf” movie and
Broadway musical had Buddy leaving the North Pole, after learning
he's not really an elf. Then the musical's songs were compacted into
this special. The animation style is neatly off-kilter, but the scipt
is so-so and the songs (after the zesty opener) are bland.
“Two and a Half
Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Walden and Alan dating
beauties ... until a jealous Lyndsey intervenes.
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Ash is supposed to make Christmas
dinner and Freddie (Ian McKellen) is supposed to make polite
conversation; neither is good at it, of course. In the “Vicious”
style, this is broad, blunt, heavy-handed but randomly quite funny.
Rockefeller Center,” 10 p.m., NBC. Here's one last burst of holiday
music, in a rerun with Trisha Yearwood, Idina Menzel and even a duet
with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Also, many PBS stations (check local
listings) have soprano Deborah Voight with the Mormon Tabernacle