1) “Kennedy Center Honors,” 8:30-10:30 p.m. in most time zones, 8-10 p.m. PT, CBS. This is an annual gem, filled with great music and smart little films and tributes. And now it’s more pop than ever. Two great singers, Trisha Yearwood and Carrie Underwood, tackle Linda Ronstadt songs. John Legend, Ne-Yo, Cynthia Erivo and the Jonas Brothers all do the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. There’s classical music (honoring Michael Tilson Thomas), a Sally Field tribute … and even a “Sesame Street” tribute (shown here), with music from Thomas Rhett.
2) “The Sound of Music” (1965), 7-11 p.m., ABC. People keep redoing this: NBC did a live production with Underwood; PBS had a taped one from England. Still, nothing matches the Oscar-winning movie. It has the right settings – including mountaintop beauty – and the right star, Julie Andrews. The story is so-so, but the music – Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein at their peak – soars.
3) “The Christmas Caroler Challenge,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW. Well, why not? We already have competitions for Christmas cooking, baking, gift-wrapping, lawn-decorating and Santa-assisting; now we get one for caroling. It includees a dozen groups, CW says, from traditional to revisionist. It’s a six-hour competition that continues next Sunday, then concludes the next night.
4) Christmas movies, cable. TV movies fill our screens tonight; there are reruns everywhere, plus five new ones – 7 p.m. ET on Uptv, 7 p.m. on Ion, 8 p.m. on Lifetime and Hallmark, 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Joining that crowd are films that reached movie theaters – a romance (“Holiday Affair,” 1949, at 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies) and two terrific comedies: “The Santa Clause” (1994) is 7:45 p.m. on Freeform; “Christmas Vacation” (1989) is 7 and 9:15 p.m. on AMC.
5) “Work in Progress,” 11 p.m., Showtime. At one extreme, there’s HBO’s high-budget, high-concept “Watchmen”; its season-finale is 9 p.m., rerunning at 10:10. At the other is the second episode of this smartly crafted low-budgeter. At 45, Abby considered herself unattractive. In the opener, her therapist died mid-session, a fact that keeps bringing humor and drama. Now Abby’s dormant love life has been revived; she goes to a funeral and then samples the wild world of a younger generation.