1) Thanksgiving Day Parade, 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, NBC and CBS, Even if you’re not into parades, this represents something important: It’s the start of a packed day (see next item) and of the crowded Christmas-TV season. And the parade? It has 11 bands, 1,000 clowns, 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers and 26 floats, many bearing lip-syncing stars. Networks also add separate acts, especially early. CBS has Miranda Lambert; NBC opens with “Sesame Street” Muppets and has the casts of four musicals.
2) “Disney’s Magical Holiday,” 8-10 p.m. Thursday, ABC. Now the Christmas season goes full-throttle, with music by Pentatonix, Ally Brooke, Emma Bunton (that’s Baby Spice), Matthew Morrison, Lindsay Stirling and more. Or you could simply stick with NBC all day – the parade, the “National Dog Show” at noon, a parade rerun at 2 p.m. and football at 8:20 p.m. ET. Or make it all-football: It’s Bears-Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on Fox; Bills-Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. on CBS; then Saints-Falcons at 8:20 p.m. on NBC.
3) “Dancing With the Stars” finale, 8-10:01 p.m. today, ABC. Here are people who have almost (but not quite) won other competitions. Lauren Alaina, 25, was runner-up on “American Idol” … Ally Brooke, 26, was in a group (Fifth Harmony) that finished third on “X-Factor” … and Hannah Brown, 25, finished seventh on “Bachelor”; she then became the “Bachelorette” star. Now one of them might be a winner; they’re in the finals, alongside Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson’s former comedy colleague.
4) More reality competitions, NBC, CBS and Fox. As “Dancing” concludes, the others near their finales. At 8 p.m. today and Tuesday, it’s NBC’s “The Voice,” which will wrap on Dec. 17; it’s down to 11 people – two with Blake Shelton, three with each of the other judges. At 8 p.m. Wednesday is CBS’ “Survivor,” which ends Dec. 18; it’s down to nine. Also at 8 p.m. Wednesday is Fox’s “Masked Singer,” which ends Dec. 11. It’s down to seven, after dumping Patti LaBelle, Kelly Osbourne and more.
5) “College Behind Bars,” 9-11 p.m. today and Tuesday, PBS. Back in 2nd or 3rd grade, Jule Hall says, a teacher asked who planned to go to college. He shot his hand up … then noticed he was the only one. He soon adjusted to his peers; by 17, after a shoot-out, he was sentenced to at least 22 years in prison. What saved him was a privately funded Bard College program; he graduated, then tutored others. Hall is one of the key people in this film, which (like the classes) is slow and difficult, but also involving.
6) “Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry,” 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. This has clearly been Dolly Parton’s season. She was profiled on ABC and featured at the Country Music Association awards. Netflix made eight movies based on her songs; on Dec. 8, Hallmark has her “Christmas at Dollywood” movie. And here’s this special: Parton, 73, will perform, along with some famous friends, including Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Lady Antebellum, Margo Price, Hank Williams Jr. and many more.
7) “Empire,” 9 p.m. Tuesday., Fox. After semi-ignoring the music lately, “Empire” cranks it up this week. That ranges from vibrant hip hop to a moving ballad by Alexandra Grey, who has built a strong career (including playing Elizah in “Transparent”) after transitioning to female. Alongside the great music, however, we get acres of excess. This hour’s opening is sheer soap opera. Andre is still talking to his late half-brother; he also pulls off a scam similar to the one done on the senator in “Godfather II.”
8) “A Saturday Night Live Thanksgiving Special,” 9-11 p.m. Wednesday, NBC. Just before Christmas starts consuming our TV sets, Thanksgiving gets one final night of attention. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC has “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”; the hour is wrapped up with the Mayflower segment of “This Is America, Charlie Brown.” Then switch channels: “SNL” has had 45 years of Thanksgiving memories, from Paul Simon dressed as a turkey to a family fight being halted by an Adele song.
9) “Great Performances: Kinky Boots,” 9 p.m. Friday, PBS. This has been an impressive, five-Friday stretch of Broadway-style shows. That has included a drama, a Shakespearean comedy and three musicals – one silly, one heavy and now “Kinky,” with a shoe company switching to flashy footwear. There are flaws here – cardboard characters and a central guy who must temporarily go bad, for plot convenience. But then Cyndi Lauper’s music hits overdrive; “Kinky” has its epic, operatic moments.
10) “Robbie the Reindeer” and its sequel, 8 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS. Filled with droll, British wit, these cartoons lead a busy night. CBS follows at 9 with “The Story of Santa Claus.” Cable has four new holiday films – 8 p.m. on BET, Hallmark and Lifetime, 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries – plus zillions of old ones, It also has classics. There’s “Elf” (2003), 7 and 9 p.m., AMC; “Santa Clause” (1994), 7:45 p.m., Freeform; “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), 8, NBC; and “Scrooged” (1988), 9, VH1.