1) “Madam Secretary” series finale, 10:30 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 8), CBS, but 10 p.m. PT. Back in 1974, Cicely Tyson won two Emmys for playing Jane Pittman. Tyson, then 49, portrayed the fictional Pittman, 110, recounting a life that went from slavery to civil rights. And now? Tyson, 94, plays someone who was born 99 years ago, when women got the right to vote; she watches a female president (Tea Leoni, shown here in the Dec. 1 episode) start a landmark initiative. The finale also has Tyne Daly, the U.S. women’s soccer team and music from Peter Frampton.
2) “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 5), ABC; and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, TNT. Two of TV’s all-time great moments came in consecutive years, more than a half-century ago. It was Charlie Brown in 1965 and the Grinch in ’66, linking brilliant writers and gifted producers. “Grinch” started with Dr. Seuss’ witty book, then added vibrant animation from Chuck Jones. “Charlie Brown” had spare animation, a jazzy score and a script that even had a bit of Scripture.
3) “Making It” season-opener, 10 p.m. today (Dec. 2) through Thursday, NBC. This was last year’s summer surprise, a cheerily frugal craft competition. Its hosts, Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, brought humor and human warmth, getting Emmy nominations. Now the second season runs in a quick, two-week spurt. The craftsmen range from a teen drop-out to a scientist, from a calligrapher to a software engineer for B-52 bombers. Working with noodles or clothes pins or whatever, they do gorgeous work.
4) “Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On,” 9 and 11:04 p.m. today and Tuesday, A&E. Garth Brooks was an Oklahoma kid who loved arena rock and downhome country. He merged them, ranging from the gentle “The Dance” to the rowdy “Friends in Low Places.” He became the top-selling individual in music history, trailing only the Beatles. (Seven of his albums have topped 10 million; the Beatles had six.) Now 57 and touring (after semi-retirement), Brooks is profiled. The opener reruns at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
5) “CMA Country Christmas,” 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, ABC. Evil forces have conspired to pit Brooks against this country special … which is hosted by his wife, Tricia Yearwood. She has lots of country people (Chris Janson, Brett Young, Chris Young) and groups (Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Runaway June). She also has stars from gospel (CeCe Winans, King & Country), pop (Tori Kelly) and Broadway (Kristin Chenoweth, who has a movie Saturday on Hallmark and a concert Dec. 16 on PBS).
6) “Brad Paisley Thinks He’s Special,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC. Here’s another special blending country and rock. It even has Darius Rucker in both modes – as a country solo act and with his pop group, Hootie & the Blowfish. The Jonas Brothers will perform, plus country stars Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Kelsea Ballerini … and Paisley, a skilled singer and songwriter, also known for his deft guitar-playing and offbeat humor. Other guests are Chris Harrison and football great Peyton Manning.
7) “The Moodys” debut 9 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Fox. This is a holiday surprise, a comedy mini-series (concluding Dec. 9-10) that’s intelligent, funny and … just different. It’s billed as a dysfunctional family — a couple (Denis Leary and Elizabeth Perkins) whose struggling kids return for the holidays; a flashforward even has her wielding a BB gun. We expected noisy anger, but get something better: Yes, the Moodys have bungled their lives and bear secrets. But they are also decent souls, worth rooting for.
8) Football, everywhere: This weekend brings a rush of conference championship games. That starts with the Pac 12 at 8 p.m. ET Friday on ABC, then adds 10 more – yes, 10 – on Saturday. The big one may be the SEC showdown at 4 p.m. ET on CBS, with powerhouses Georgia and Louisiana State. Others start at noon (including the Big 12, with Baylor and Oklahoma) and go into the evening. That wraps up with the Atlantic Coast Conference at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Big Ten at 8 on Fox.
9) “Supergirl,” 8 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 8), CW. It’s time for another CW crossover – spanning five shows, with the Earth in danger (again). That starts with “Supergirl,” as Harbinger assembles the greatest heroes – Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, The White Canary, even Superman. The story will sprawl across “Batwoman” and “”The Flash” on Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 9-10) … then will take a long break. It will wrap up Jan. 14 on “Arrow” and on “Legends of Tomorrow,” giving the latter a strong start for its new season.
10) And more. The classic “Wizard of Oz” (1939) is 8 p.m. Friday and 5:15 p.m. Saturday on TNT. Friday also has a newer delight, Amazon Prime’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Its first two seasons brought 16 Emmys, including best comedy; the third starts vibrantly, with Midge touring military bases. Also: ABC debuts a holiday film at 9 p.m. Thursday. At 8 p.m. Saturday, TNT has “A Christmas Story” (1983) and Hallmark has Chenoweth in a “Hall of Fame” film, “A Christmas Love Story.”