1) “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, PBS. For a time, one of TV’s greatest half-hours (shown here) seemed to be out of reach for most viewers. The entire “Peanuts” collection had gone to Apple TV+; that’s fine for Apple’s 40 million subscribers, but what about everyone else? Fortunately, there are solutions: The show will be available to non-subscribers this weekend (Friday through Sunday, Dec. 11-13) online. And on Sunday, it gets this spot on PBS – which seems ideal for a show that satirizes commercialism.
2) Football overload, all week. As schedules keep being juggled by COVID, there’s an overload: Even without cable, we can watch games on five of the next seven nights. That starts at 8:15 p.m. ET today, with the Bills at the 49ers – sort of; the game was moved from San Francisco to Arizona. Then Fox has games at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday (Cowboys-Ravens) and 8:20 p.m. Thursday (Patriots-Rams). At 8:20 p.m. Sunday, it’s the Bills again, this time hosting the Steelers. In between, it’s college-football Saturday.
3) “Nurses” opener, 10 p.m. today, NBC. Imagine this for a start: Five nurses – young, diverse and (of course) telegenic – arrive for their first day of work; within minutes, there’s a crisis: A driver has crashed into students, killing and injuring. At times, this has the fast “ER” style, leaping between cases. But it also slows down long enough for personal glimpses of the people involved. Despite some contrived moments – including an argument about helping a villain – this is a solid-enough drama.
4) “Transplant” season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. As the pandemic slowed down its own productions, NBC wisely bought two medical shows that were made for Canadian TV. The night after “Nurses” begins its season, “Transplant” concludes. This began with Dr. Hamed, a Syrian refugee, performing emergency surgery on Dr. Bishop, drilling a hole in his skull. Bishop hired him; now come belated aftershocks. The second hour has about five endings – four powerful and one confusing.
5) “The Great Christmas Light Fight” season-opener, 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, ABC. This custom – decorating homes and yards to extremes – persists during a COVID slowdown. In each hour, a host (Carter Oosterhouse or Taniya Nayak) judges four homes. One has animatronic displays; another has more than 100 teddy bears. One has a Christmas village; another has a castle, a mountain and a train. And there’s more, including a drive-through, a giant storybook and a synchronized light show.
6) “The Grinch Musical,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, NBC. This stage show has existed in two-month, holiday spurts – on Broadway (2006 and 2007) and four times on tour. Now it’s been done in London for NBC, with Matthew Morrison starring. Oddly, FX has an animated “Grinch” movie (2018) at 8 and 10 p.m. the same day, then at 8 and 10 p.m. Satrurday and 9 and 11 p.m. Sunday. Freeform has the Jim Carrey film, at 8:20 p.m. Thursday and 4:05 p.m. Friday; TBS has the cartoon classic at 8 p.m. Sunday.
7) “The Masked Singer,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Fox. This season has been stuffed with strong singers and interesting wannabes. Last week, top pros (Tori Kelly and Taylor Dane) were unmasked, alongside snowboarder Chloe Kim; earlier, it was Paul Anka and Dr. Elvis Francois, (the internet’s “singing surgeon”), plus basketball’s Lonzo Ball. Now the show has its final three, but delays the two-hour finale until Dec. 16. This week, it has a holiday celebration, possibly with judges and past contestants.
8) “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway,” 8-10 p.m. Thursday, NBC. Broadway has been shuttered for nine months, and will stay closed at least through May 30; two of its key openings will wait until September and December. Now comes a fundraiser from the streets of New York. Tina Fey hosts; the cast of her “Mean Girls” will perform, as will the casts of “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Rent,” “Jersey Boys,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Diana: The Musical,” plus Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge and Patti LaBelle.
9) “Silent Night – A Song For the World,” 8-10 p.m. Thursday, CW. In 1818 Austria, a young priest performed “Stille Nacht.” In the two centuries since then, his song has been done in 140 languages; Bing Crosby’s 1935 “Silent Night” is the fourth-best-selling single of all time. This documentary is flawed, but has gorgeous renditions by Joss Stone, Kelly Clarkson, Shelea Frazier, Katharine McPhee and Lina Makhoul, plus other Christmas classics sung by Gavin Rossdale, Anggun and The Tenors.
10) “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS. For more than a half-century, these have boosted CBS’ December ratings. “Rudolph” goes back to 1964, “Frosty” to ‘69. Now each has its second run this season on the network; afterward, they’ll both go to Freeform on Dec. 19, 20, 24 and 25. And if you’ve hit your holiday limit for the week? After “Rudolph” on Sunday, CBS has new episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans.”