Best-bets for Dec.12: Christmas is an adventure and a bake-off

1) “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition” opener, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC. It’s a double-spice show, with Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton (shown here) and Anthony “Spice” Adams hosting. Paul Hollywood (from the British original) and Sherry Yard are the judges. This starts with 10 contestants, including Brother Andrew Corriende, who briefly managed a bakery and worked as a talent-agent assistant, before becoming a friar. They’ll face three challenges each hour, starting today with cakes and bread Read more…

Tiny star soars in a BIG hall

If we ever need to give all the Christmas jobs to one person, Kristin Chenoweth could try
.She has the voice of an angel, the height of an elf and, seemingly, the disposition of Santa Claus. If she can learn to make toys and pull a sleigh, she’ll be perfect.
This month, viewers have already seen her sing in Nashville and act in a Hallmark movie (which reruns often). Now a concert (shown here) – Dec. 16 on PBS, Dec. 19 streaming – has her on the big stage … literally. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 11: “Making It” ends; others are close

1) “Making It,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC. In a world of noisy reality competitions, this is a quiet delight. Its approach is as basic as its contestants – people who create beauty using anything from wood and paper to noodles and balloons. One host, Nick Offerman, is a master craftsman; the other, Amy Poehler, isn’t. Those two (shown here) produce the show and offer puns and droll humor. Still, the real stars have been the contestants – from a teen drop-out to an airplane engineer – who make things. Tonight, one will win $100,000. Read more…

Kennedy Center Honors can by funky and cute

One of TV’s annual gems returns Sunday (Dec. 15) – a little different than in its past.
Yes, “The Kennedy Center Honors” telecast again includes a classical-music figure. It always does; this time, it’s conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
But now it also has the funky fun of Earth, Wind & Fire … plus Elmo and Oscar and friends … and two eternal ingenues, Sally Field (shown here with Burt Reynolds) and Linda Ronstadt. That’s a big change from the start in 1978. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 10: Christmas comedies — but not always funny ones

1) “The Conners,” 8 p.m., ABC. A terrific show slides into its “winter break” with a moderately good episode that’s kind of morose. Things are hardest on Denise (Sara Gilberet), who really didn’t need any more bad news. But her dad (John Goodman) finds everyone forgetting his birthday; his new sorta-girlfriend (Katey Sagal) is being sniped at by his late wife’s sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). Metcalf (shown here with Goodman) is a skilled actress, but Jackie is written and played way too broadly, one reason this is only kinda good. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 9: fun with broken, bungled lives

1) “The Moodys,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox; concludes Tuesday. As the Moodys (shown here) gathered for the holidays, lives were askew. Sean has cancer. Sean Jr. has job woes; his sister Bridget has cheated on her husband. And their brother Dan? He’s a nice guy who keeps bumbling his life. He broke up with Amy, sent her some plaintive texts, then fell for his friend’s girlfriend. Now Amy has suddenly arrived, ready to join the family and its carolling party. It’s a fine (and sometimes quite funny) mess he’s in. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 8: Women rule U.S., save world

1) “Madame Secretary” series finale, 10:30 p.m., CBS, but 10 p.m. in western time zones. For the second time in a splendid career, Cicely Tyson represents a huge chunk of history. In 1974, she won awards for playing Jane Pittman, whose 110 years went from slavery to civil rights. Now Tyson, 94, plays someone born in 1920, when women got the vote. She’s there as Elizabeth (the first woman president) launches a major initiative. Tyne Daly — whose brother Tim plays Elizabeth’s husband — plays an opposing senator; Peter Frampton (shown here) performs. Read more…

Best-bets for Dec. 7: Love, Grinch and football

1) Football, everywhere. It’s time to settle the conference championships – and more. Three of these games could determine which four teams get shots at the national championship. At 4 p.m. ET on CBS, it’s Georgia (ranked No. 4) and Louisiana State (No. 2); Clemson (No. 3) faces Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on ABC and Ohio State (No. 1, shown in its 38-7 win over Wisconsin earlier this year) faces Wisconsin (No. 12) at 8 on Fox. There are three championship games at noon ET (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2), with others at 3:30 on ABC and 4 p.m. on ESPN. Read more…

That’s progress: Small cost, big quality

When it’s time to make a pilot film, TV people open up the bank vault.
The “Game of Thrones” pilot has been reported at $5-to-10 million. “Lost” was reportedly $10-to-14 million, including buying an old plane.
Now meet “Work in Progress,” which debuts at 11 p.m. Sunday. “We spent a little under $30,000 on the pilot,” said director-writer-producer Tim Mason.
That version, he said, is what will debut on Showtime. It has no dazzle and no airplane, but it does have the humor and drama of Abby McEnany (shown here), a Chicago comedian and actress. Read more…