1) “A Christmas Story” (1983) marathon, 8 p,m. (TBS) and 9 p.m. (TNT) Thursday. At first glance, this is just a modest-budgeted film by the guy who directed “Porky’s.” But it manages a rare feat – mixing warm nostalgia with dark humor. This is the 1940s and Ralphie (shown here) has one desire — to have a Red Ryder BB gun. Cleverly written by Jean Shepherd and others, “Story” keeps surprising us. Here’s the annual, 24-hour marathon, rerunning every two hours. With two networks, you can start it at the top of any hour.
2) More Christmas Eve shows, Thursday. NBC has its own Eve tradition: From 8-11 p.m. is “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946); this Frank Capra classic puts a good man (James Stewart) in tough times. At 11:30, NBC goes to the Vatican, for Christmas Mass at St. Basilica. Alternatives? ABC hopes to start a new tradition with “The Greatest Showman” (2017) – rousing music, so-so story – at 8 p.m.; Sundance has Bing Crosby’s “A White Christmas: at 2 p.m., 4:45, 7:30 and more, continuing to noon on Friday.
3) The next morning. Each Christmas morning, ABC gives us bright-eyed singers in the Disney parks. This year, that’s 10 a.m. to noon Friday. Performers include hosts Julianne Hough and Tituss Burgess, plus Tori Kelly, Becky G, Jon Batiste, Trevor Jackson and a gospel choir. And then? The last day of the “25 Days of Christmas” on Freeform includes “Frosty” at 4:30, “Rudolph” at 5 and “Home Alone” at 6. NBC has the great “Grinch” cartoon at 8 p.m.; PBS has a “Call the Midwife” special at 9.
4) Bowl games, all week. With the college football season getting off to a late start, the bowl games are packed into a tighter stretch. That starts at 2:30 p.m. oday on ESPN, with Appalachian State and North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Other bowls (all on ESPN) are at 3:30 and 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 3:30 p.m. Thursday; and 2:30 p.m. Friday. Then comes Saturday’s cascade: ABC has two bowls, at noon and 3:30 p.m.; ESPN has four of them – noon and at 3:30, 7 and 10:15 p.m.
5) “The Bachelorette” finale, 8-10 p.m. today and Tuesday, ABC. This strange season started with a COVID delay, then sputtered when the first “bachelorette” made her choice early. Her replacement (Tayshia Adams, 30) recently dismissed Riley Christian, Blake Moyner, Noah Erb, Bennett Jordan (for the second time) and, last Tuesday, Ben Smith. That leaves three. There’s Ivan Hall, 28, an aeronautical engineer; Brendan Morris, 30, who does commercial roofing; and addiction specialist Zac Clark, 36.
6) “Next” finale, 8 p.m. today; 8 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox. Once planned for a spring/summer run, this smart mini-series boosted Fox’s schedule during a tough time. Now it wraps up. LeBlanc had started creating Next, a computer program that keeps evolving. He scuttled it, but his brother secretly kept it going. This week, Next creates power black-outs and targets a congresswoman and a cop’s family; it mocks LeBlanc and his degenerative disease. One solution – a difficult one – would be to plant a virus.
7) Pro basketball begins, 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, TNT. Didn’t the NBA just finish its season? Almost; the final game was Oct. 13. Ten weeks later, a new season begins, this time on home courts instead of in a Florida “bubble.” The opener has the Warriors at the Nets and then the Clippers at the champion Lakers. The other teams play Wednesday (including 7:30 p.m. on TNT and 10:30 on ESPN). Then comes the Friday marathon – noon and 10:30 p.m. on ESPN, 2:30, and 5 and 8 p.m. on ABC.
8) “Garth& Trisha Live! A Holiday Concert Event,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, CBS. Here’s a quick rerun of Sunday’s special; Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who are married, sing in their home studio. That wraps up a two-day stretch of CBS specials. Tuesday has new, primetime editions of “The Price is Right” at 8 p.m. and “Let’s Make a Deal” at 9; both will have holiday themes and “Price” will feature families. Then Wednesday starts at 8 p.m. with a rerun of Dolly Parton’s “A Holly Dolly Christmas.”
9) “The Masked Dancer” debut, 8 p.m. Sunday, Fox. January will bring a flood of season-openers and mid-season shows. Fox gets a jump on that, debuting two shows on football Sundays, then moving them. Next week is Mayim Bialik’s “Call Me Kat”; this week is a show that will borrow the “Masked Singer” spot on Wednesdays. (It’s harder to guess dancers, so there will be more clues.) Ken Jeong is a judge on both “Masked” shows; here, he’s with Paula Abdul, Ashley Tisdale and Brian Austin Green.
10) “Your Honor,” 10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime. Something special happens when a drama puts opposite forces at a table. That happens powerfully in this hour. Michael (Bryan Cranston) has been covering up his son’s accident, which killed the son of a mob boss. They’re at dinner with a detective (friendly, but suspicious), a politician (who knows that the cover-up fractured a Black family), a lawyer and the mother (Margo Martindale) of Michael’s late wife. She’s a fierce force, dislodging secrets and agony.