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Movie Week:

It’s The Journey, Not The Return

By Paul Hall
The holidays are a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate. However, many families don’t have that luxury for a plethora of reasons. In the new film Ben Is Back, one such family has been reunited for the holidays, but there is more to the reunion than meets the eye.

Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) has come home for the holidays. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) had earlier told him there is nothing she would rather have this Christmas than her son back with the rest of the family. So when that happens, the excitement Holly feels is off the charts. But then she immediately proceeds to hide her pills and jewelry.

Ben has been away in rehab to deal with the effects of his addiction. He claims that his sponsor thought it was a good idea to come home for the holidays. But was it?

The return of her son blinds Holly to the obvious change in behavior of everyone in the family. The other kids and her husband try to temper the excitement, but Holly is all in for the time with her son. It quickly turns difficult for Ben, as his past has not totally abandoned him. Although Ben is back home, is he really back?

As Ben’s mother Holly, Roberts delivers a performance that jumps off the screen like little she has done before, embodying a loving mother who is dealing with the hand she has been dealt. Roberts is able to deftly walk the line between the classic matriarch and one who is continuously punched in the gut by the one child who seems to be getting away from her.

The real star here, though, is Hedges. He is invested in his role as a young man who is trying to move beyond his former struggles but still knows how to push buttons. Hedges switches between capturing the troubled, secretive addict and the loving, truly motivated brother and son with ease.

But as with any case of addiction, the family unit gets beaten down by the chaos surrounding them, and the story, told as it is in this film, is heartbreaking yet real. I found myself enjoying the dynamic displayed on the screen between Hedges and Roberts. Both great actors in their own right, they get the film past some of the hurdles that prevent it from being great.

Ben has returned to his family. His road home is a heartbreaking journey that won’t answer your questions but will show viewers who have similar struggles that they are not alone. There are Bens everywhere, and before they reunite with their loved ones, just make sure that you are ready for the consequences surrounding their return. The road is filled with potholes; it’s the journey to get back and not the actual return that makes it meaningful.
Paul’s Grade: B
Ben Is Back
Rated R
Stars: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance
Director: Peter Hedges
If Beale Street Could Talk
Rated R
Stars: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Director: Barry Jenkins
A woman in Harlem races to prove her fiancé’s innocence of a crime while carrying the couple’s first child.
Mortal Engines
Rated PG-13
Stars: Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Jihae
Director: Christian Rivers
Hundreds of years after civilization was destroyed by a catastrophic event, Hester Shaw joins forces with rebel leader Anna Fang to fight against mobile predator cities that devour everything in their path.
The Mule
Rated R
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña
Director: Clint Eastwood
At 90 years old, most individuals are just happy to be alive. One horticulturist and World War II veteran, however, is hauling cocaine for a drug cartel — but why?
Once Upon a Deadpool
Rated PG-13
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin
Director: David Leitch
A “warmer” and “more accessible” Deadpool 2 comes to theaters everywhere.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Rated PG
Voices Of: Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Shameik Moore
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Versions of Spider-Man from different dimensions all must come together to stop a threat of massive destruction.

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Programming News

By Rick Gables

This holiday season, renowned chef, author and food ambassador Lidia Bastianich travels to rural communities across the U.S. to explore the patchwork of traditions that make up America’s diverse cuisine, in a holiday celebration of big meals from small towns when PBS airs Lidia Celebrates America: A Heartland Holiday Feast on Tuesday, December 18 at 9 PM ET (check your local listings). Lidia journeys across the country to visit towns in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Minnesota to explore how tiny towns and charming hamlets in America’s rural regions celebrate diverse culinary traditions and how the food itself helps to shape and preserve the identities of the people and places. Inspired by her travels, Lidia then prepares a sumptuous holiday meal for a gathering of friends, family and people she has met along the way. “Small towns are the heart of our nation – rich in traditions that are brought here and then handed down generation after generation,” says Bastianich. In the U.S. nearly three-quarters of the land is rural, with over 50 million Americans living in small towns and farmlands.

Seth MacFarlane’s hit space adventure series, The Orville, returns for more journeys into new worlds when FOX premieres the new season on Sunday, December 30, following the NFL On FOX doubleheader. Set 400 years in the future, the series follows The U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory spaceship. Its crew, both human and alien, face the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the problems of everyday life. The ensemble series stars MacFarlane as the ship’s Captain, Ed Mercer, and Adrianne Palicki as his ex-wife, who’s assigned as his First Officer. Additional cast members include Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, Chad L. Coleman and Jessica Szohr.

Photo credit: Courtesy of WGBH
Photo caption: Lidia Bastianich

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When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing

By Rick Gables

Hope Valley receives special holiday visitors when Hallmark Channel premieres its Christmas tale, When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing, a two-hour Christmas event premiering Tuesday, December 25 at 8 PM ET/PT. Erin Krakow, Lori Loughlin, Jack Wagner, Pascale Hutton, Kavan Smith and Paul Greene star in this holiday special. As Christmas approaches in Hope Valley, newly widowed Elizabeth (Krakow) prepares for the birth of her baby while Abigail (Loughlin) prepares for the town’s Christmas gathering.  Filled with the holiday spirit, the town welcomes orphans and their caretakers, who have been stranded on their journey to a new orphanage.

This Christmas, Disney Parks will celebrate the joy of the season when ABC airs Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade on Tuesday, December 25 from 10 AM to 12 PM ET. Hosts Jordan Fisher and Sarah Hyland share this magical holiday tradition with families around the globe. Co-hosted by Jesse Palmer, the Christmas Day celebration will be merrier than ever, bringing together the adored Christmas Day parade, special musical performances, surprise celebrity guests and heartwarming family stories to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Performers will include Gwen Stefani, Brett Eldredge, Andrea Bocelli and many more.

CBS will air the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors on Wednesday, December 26 from 8 to 10 PM ET/PT. The 2018 honorees are actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, country music entertainer Reba McEntire and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Additionally, the co-creators of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” – writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire – will receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.

Smithsonian Channel is set to revisit the life of one of the silver screen’s most iconic legends, through her personal belongings, when it airs the one-hour special, Marilyn Monroe For Sale on Sunday, December 23 at 9 PM ET/PT. At Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles, more than 1,000 lots sold for a total of over $11 million at a show-stopping auction of Marilyn Monroe belongings.

Photo credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC

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Countdown To Christmas

By Rick Gables

Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Duane Henry combine sugar, spice and a love story so nice in A Gingerbread Romance, a new, original movie premiering Sunday, December 16 at 8 PM ET/PT on Hallmark Channel. This charming holiday love story is part of the network’s annual programming event, Countdown to Christmas. Successful architect Taylor Scott (Mowry-Hardrict) is poised for a promotion and a move to Paris, but her boss has an unusual request before making a decision about her career: Taylor must partner with a baker to create a life-sized gingerbread house.  Though this task is festive, it is also high stakes as she will represent her firm against their rivals in a competition judged by the mayor. Taylor partners with pastry chef Adam Dale (Henry), and though their styles are very different, the two connect and build chemistry while working together. She even starts to feel a sense of home for the first time in her life with Adam and his daughter, while at the same time inspiring Adam to follow his own career dreams.  After hearing news from her boss about the Paris promotion, Taylor is torn about the decision.  As the competition and Christmas Eve near, Taylor must choose between making a move to Paris and building a life and home with Adam.

The 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors will air Wednesday, December 26 from 8 to 10 PM ET/PT on CBS. The honorees for 2018 will be actress Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, country music entertainer Reba McEntire and jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Additionally, the co-creators of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” – writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire – will receive a unique Kennedy Center Honors as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.

Photo credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman
Photo caption: Duane Henry and Tia Mowry-Hardrict in A Gingerbread Romance

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Catching Up With ...
TV Pioneer Marty Krofft

By Kellie Freeze, ReMIND Magazine
In the world of children’s television, few have amassed careers as prolific as producers Sid and Marty Krofft. The dynamic duo took their out-of-the-box imaginations as puppeteers and transformed kids TV with live-action series including H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and Land of the Lost. During April’s Daytime Emmy Awards, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored the brothers with Lifetime Achievement Awards. But the awards don’t mean that the Kroffts are even considering retirement; when we chatted with Marty about their legendary career and unforgettable characters, he revealed that at the ages of 81 and 88, he and Sid are as busy as ever.

Marty, your brother Sid started as a puppeteer and opened for acts like Liberace and Frank Sinatra. How did you get involved and make the leap to TV?

Marty Krofft: We were the opening act for Judy Garland at the Flamingo in Vegas, the first time she ever went out live. That was really my brother, and I helped him at that point. When Sid and I became partners, we created Les Poupées de Paris, which was an adults-only puppet show with nude puppets and big elaborate numbers. We had stars recording the voices, from Mae West to Sinatra, and we performed at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The director and producer of The Dean Martin Show, which hadn’t been on NBC yet, were at the Fair and asked if we’d costar on that show with our puppets. We were on the first season.

And then, in 1967 Hanna-Barbera came to us, and they didn’t know how to do the live-action part of The Banana Splits so we built and created The Banana Splits with them. … One day, the head of NBC programming said, “Hey, why don’t you create your own show?” So we took a character from our World’s Fair show, and he wound up becoming H.R. Pufnstuf, and that was the beginning of how it all happened. … By 1975 we had four shows on the air.

What kinds of memorabilia have you and Sid kept?

We have, first of all, 400-500 puppets; we have 100 from Les Poupées de Paris that we’ve got. We’ve got a telegram from Michael Eisner saying, “I’m ordering 17 shows of Lidsville for ABC.” And we saved that. … I’m sitting in my office at CBS looking at my lunchboxes. I can’t think about all the stuff we have, but we’ve got 5,000 square feet in a warehouse, and it’s like a museum. Maybe one day we’ll open a museum.
Are you surprised by the longevity of your creations like Sigmund or H.R. Pufnstuf or the Sleestaks?
You know what? You don’t know it while you’re doing it. It’s like, who knew that all this stuff was gonna be unbelievably popular still, and it’s all classic and memorabilia? We threw out a lot of stuff from our warehouses not knowing!
Tell us about your lunchbox collection …
I have about eight of them. They originally sold for $10, and I’m sure they’re worth a lot more today. They’re brand-new, and we kept them. And I also have a Pufnstuf doll and a Witchiepoo doll from 1970. So I have a lot of that sort of fun stuff in the office.
Do any of the characters you’ve created hold a special place in your heart?
On H.R. Pufnstuf, I always loved Stupid Bat. And I loved Freddy the Flute. Freddy the Flute got stolen once, and then they brought it back to KTLA where we were shooting Donny & Marie. We put out a reward, but they dropped it off at the guard gate and ran, so I don’t even know who it was.

You and Sid are still creating. How do Mutt & Stuff or your reboot of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters differ from your earlier work?

With Sigmund we tried to stay close ... you gotta be careful when you do a reboot. You can piss off a lot of fans, and we got millions of them, so we didn’t want to do that.

We created Mutt & Stuff from scratch, and we have 73 episodes of it, starring Calvin Millan — the son of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. That show is successful, and we just did the two one-hour specials, and it’s gonna tie in to a Mutt & Stuff touring show that we’re gonna do early next year.

At the ages of 81 and 88, you and Sid aren’t slowing down. So, what’s next?

Well, if you want to give God a good laugh, tell him what your plans are. [Laughs]

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TV Best Bets
From TV Guide Magazine

All Times Eastern (may be an hour or two earlier in Mountain time zone, depending upon satellite feed
Tuesday, Dec. 18
Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable
Ellen DeGeneres takes a little break from her hit daytime talk show to go back to her roots with her first standup comedy special in 15 years, taped at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. “I just all of a sudden was like, ‘I miss standup, I want to do it,’” DeGeneres told her audience when she announced the special on the season premiere of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September. “So, I made a deal with Netflix. I was working on standup all summer.”
“Cops” Ho Ho Ho Marathon
WGN America, 7pm
Bad girls, bad girls, whatcha gonna do? To celebrate the holidays, WGN America gifts us 10 episodes of the law enforcement reality series, all of which focus on police interaction with ladies of the not-so-silent night. Arresting TV!
Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown 2018
The CW, 8pm
Kevin Frazier and Keltie Knight (Entertainment Tonight) host a countdown of the 12 best holiday commercials ever — one for each of the 12 days of Christmas. The special also features other great commercials from both the U.S. and abroad that capture the true spirit of the holiday season — from the heartfelt to the hilarious, the outstanding to the ridiculous.
We’ll Meet Again
PBS, 8pm
The emotional reunion docuseries hosted by Ann Curry brings together survivors of the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.
Legends of the Lost With Megan Fox: “America’s Lost Civilization”
Travel Channel, 8pm
Digging into some of Earth’s forgotten societies, Megan Fox has so far explored Viking warrior grave sites in Sweden, England’s Stonehenge and — for tonight’s episode — South Carolina’s Savannah River. That’s where scientists’ findings suggest giant humans roamed the area way back during the Ice Age.
Greatest Holiday Video Countdown
The CW, 9pm
This special is hosted by the Holderness family, the viral-video family who rose to internet fame with their hit “Christmas Jammies.” They will guide the audience through this showcase of video greeting cards from around the world, from agencies and companies to families and friends and everything in between.
The Voice: “Live Finale, Part 2”
NBC, 9pm Live
Season Finale!
Season 15 crowns its winner. This episode is preceded by an hourlong recap of the live finale performances.
Lidia Celebrates America: “A Heartland Holiday Feast”
PBS, 9pm
Join Emmy- and James Beard Award-winning chef Lidia Bastianich as she travels to the heartland of America, immersing herself in diverse cultures that provide inspiration for the holidays.
The Guest Book: “Someplace Other Than Here”
TBS, 10:30pm
Season Finale!
Dave is in an unhappy marriage and uses his family vacation as an excuse to finally stand up to his nagging wife, but the stress of the event sends him on an adventure he never could have dreamed of. This episode guest-stars Matt Walsh, Michael Kenneth Williams and Oliver Hudson.
Wednesday, Dec. 19
Survivor: David vs. Goliath
CBS, 8pm
Season Finale!
The winner of Survivor: David vs. Goliath is revealed in the two-hour Season 37 finale, immediately followed by the tell-all Survivor Reunion Special.
College Football: DXL Frisco Bowl
ESPN, 8pm Live
The San Diego State Aztecs clash with the Ohio Bobcats in the DXL Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
NHL Hockey: Pittsburgh at Washington
NBCSN, 8pm Live
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Alex Ovechkin and the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Hockey.
America’s Mississippi: “The Bayou”
Smithsonian Channel, 8pm
Miniseries Finale!
The final episode heads to the mouth of the Mississippi River as it winds through a maze of bayous to the Gulf of Mexico, where the water creates a constantly shifting landscape.
Schitt’s Creek Holiday Special
Pop TV, 10pm
Christmas comes to Schitt’s Creek for the first time ever! Well, as far as the Roses are concerned. Four years after losing their fortune and relocating to the tiny town, Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy), wife Moira (Catherine O’Hara) and their selfish kids David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) attempt to have a jolly holiday, spurred on by Johnny’s nostalgia for their lavish parties of the past. 
WWE SmackDown: “New Day’s WWE 2018 Pancake Powered Year End Super Spectacular”
USA Network, 10pm Live
New Day hosts a fun look back at all the historic, outrageous and unforgettable WWE moments of 2018. This WWE SmackDown special features Ronda Rousey, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, AJ Styles, John Cena and Becky Lynch, along with some surprise superstar sightings.
Thursday, Dec. 20
The 4th Annual Howie Mandel Stand-Up Extravaganza
The CW, 8pm
Hosted by Howie Mandel, this special was recorded at the biggest comedy event in the world, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. The event features stand-up performances from some of the hottest comedians today including Amanda Seales, Maz Jobrani, Lil Rel Howery, Laurie Kilmartin, Garfunkel and Oates, and many others.
College Football: Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
ESPN, 8pm Live
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., is the site of the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl between the Marshall Thundering Herd and the South Florida Bulls.
Timeless: “The Miracle of Christmas”
NBC, 8pm
Series Finale!
The two-hour series finale of NBC’s cult-favorite drama that was canceled, then revived, then canceled again, airs tonight. A release for the episode promises the usual thrill ride through history along with, fittingly, a “healthy dose of Christmas spirit.” The finale’s story is spread across three centuries and two continents, and will test Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and the whole Time Team as they try to save Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), preserve history and put a stop to Rittenhouse once and for all.
Ex on the Beach
MTV, 8pm
Season Premiere!
Rapper and actor Romeo Miller returns to Malibu Beach to host a new season of celebrities searching for love while being confronted by their past romances. This season, romantically embattled stars from SurvivorThe Bachelorette, Big Brother, Bad Girls Club, Teen Mom, The Challenge, Are You The One? and Fire Island arrive in paradise in search of love only to be blindsided by the arrival of their exes.
NBA Basketball
TNT, beginning at 8pm Live
TNT’s Thursday NBA doubleheader has the Houston Rockets at the Miami Heat, followed by the Dallas Mavericks at the L.A. Clippers.
The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition
ABC, 9pm
Season Finale!
Five finalists remain in the tent as they face their final three bakes, all hoping to make it to the final round. With their toughest challenges ahead, like French custards and cakes, the heat is on where only one baker will be named America’s Best Amateur Baker.
American Pickers: “Picks in Toyland”
History, 9pm
Professional dumpster-divers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz hit the road to hunt down classic toys that may be worth more than just fond memories.
Baroness von Sketch Show
IFC, 9pm
Season Finale!
The all-female sketch comedy series from Canada ends its third season with back-to-back episodes tonight. The series will return for Season 4 next year.
WWE Monday Night RAW: “WWE Tribute to the Troops”
USA Network, 9pm
In this annual patriotic holiday special, keeping with the long-standing tradition of the USO supporting and entertaining troops at home and abroad, WWE brings together sports, entertainment and pop culture.
Murphy Brown: “Happy New Year”
CBS, 9:30pm
Season Finale!
Murphy Brown is a workplace comedy, yet some of the best moments on the revival take place between curmudgeon TV news veteran Murphy (Candice Bergen), and her grown son, Avery (Jake McDorman, Limitless). Their mother-son bond takes center stage tonight for the conclusion of an emotional two-episode arc that began last week. Avery had traveled to the Middle East to help Murphy and her CNC news network team, and while searching the country for CNC’s valuable source who’s gone quiet, Avery suddenly stops communicating with his mom. The normally steely Murphy becomes unnerved at the thought of a tragedy befalling her only boy.
Watch What Happens Live
Bravo, 11pm
Season Finale!
Rejoice, Real Housewives fans! For a special holiday outing of his talk show, Andy Cohen hosts a handful of “OG Housewives” (original franchise stars). Stopping by: Teresa Giudice (New Jersey), NeNe Leakes (Atlanta), Vicki Gunvalson (Orange County) Bethenny Frankel (New York City) and more.
Friday, Dec. 21
Vanity Fair
New Series!
Amazon Studios and Brit TV network ITV present a star-studded, seven-part adaption of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 novel, which follows upstart heroine Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke, Ready Player One and Bates Motel) as she claws her way from poverty into the heights of English society. The series’ ensemble cast includes Tom Bateman, Suranne Jones, Martin Clunes, Johnny Flynn, Simon Russell Beale, Frances de la Tour and Michael Palin.
Bird Box
Original Film!
Sandra Bullock leads the cast in this thriller from Emmy- and Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager). When a mysterious force decimates the world’s population, Malorie (Bullock) must flee with her two children down a treacherous river to the one place left that may offer sanctuary. But to survive, they’ll have to undertake the perilous two-day journey blindfolded. Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich also star in this film based on Josh Malerman’s novel.
New Series!
In this supernatural thriller from Mexico, Father Ramiro Ventura finds himself seeking the aid of legendary “diablero,” or demon hunter, Elvis Infante. Joined by Nancy, a modern-day superhero, this improbable trio lives in a constant battle between two worlds and sets in motion a series of events that could determine the fate of humanity.
3Below: Tales of Arcadia
Season Premiere!
The second series in producer Guillermo del Toro’s animated Tales of Arcadia trilogy that began with Trollhunters, 3Below follows two royal teenage aliens and their bodyguard, who crash-land in Arcadia after their home world is taken over by a dictator. Now on the run from intergalactic bounty hunters, they struggle to blend in and adapt to the bizarre world of high school while trying to repair their ship so they can return to and reclaim their planet.
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
ABC, 8pm
Touched by the bond that Charlie Brown and Snoopy share, Linus and Lucy’s little brother ReRun puts a puppy at the top of his wish list on this 2003 animated favorite. Special guest star: Snoopy’s sibling from California, Spike!
A Home for the Holidays: The 20th Anniversary
CBS, 8pm
This star-studded holiday special features musical performances and uplifting stories of adoption from foster care to raise awareness of this important social issue.
Dynasty: “Crazy Lady”
The CW, 8pm
As the Carringtons track down a dangerous enemy on Christmas Eve, Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) and Blake (Grant Show) clash on how to best handle the situation. Meanwhile, Cristal (Ana Brenda Contreras) suspects Alexis (Nicollette Sheridan) may not be telling the whole truth to the authorities, and Kirby (Maddison Brown) is cast out by Anders (Alan Dale) for having an immature reaction to the grave situation at hand.
A Christmas Kiss
Lifetime, 8pm
Original Film!
It’s a battle over a boy when high-end interior designer Priscilla (Elizabeth Röhm) and her assistant Wendy (Laura Breckenridge) vie for the attention of Priscilla’s socialite boyfriend (Brendan Fehr) while decorating his home for the holidays.
Midnight, Texas: “Patience Is a Virtue”
NBC, 8pm
Manfred (François Arnaud) and Kai (Nestor Carbonell) team up against a common foe. Olivia (Arielle Kebbel) and Bobo (Dylan Bruce) search for a way to bring Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley) back to their side. Joe (Jason Lewis) gets a surprising visitor.
Christmas at Grand Valley
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, 9pm
Original Film!
Danica McKellar stars as Kelly, an artist who returns home to the picturesque Grand Valley for Christmas. While spending time in her favorite small town, she meets Leo (Brennan Elliott), a businessman and single dad who has brought his kids to Grand Valley to extend a work trip into a family vacation. When Kelly re-experiences her favorite Grand Valley traditions with Leo and his children, she begins to find her way back to her passion for art.
Craft in America: “California”
PBS, 9pm
Season Premiere!

Tonight, the Peabody Award-winning series about artisans and their handmade items features California creators, including a basket weaver reviving techniques used by the Pomo Native American tribe.
Z Nation: “At All Cost”
Syfy, 9pm
Warren (Kellita Smith) and the others must free the Talkers being held in Quarantine and prepare to attack Altura.
Van Helsing: “Christ Pose”
Syfy, 10pm
Scarlett (Missy Peregrym) is reunited with Axel (Jonathan Scarfe), but he is badly injured before they can find Vanessa (Kelly Overton). Later, a mysterious man helps them find their way.
Tales From the Tour Bus
Cinemax, 10pm
Season Finale!
The animated curiosity — an insidery oral history of music- (and headline-) makers ranging from George Jones to James Brown — ends its sophomore season of funk with the genre’s queen, Betty Davis. Her brief reign in the ’70s should provide Tales of raw performances and her symbiotic relationship with jazz legend (and, for a time, husband) Miles Davis.
Saturday, Dec. 22
Syfy Original Christmas Movie Marathon
Syfy, beginning at 10:15am
Kick off your holidays with this cheese platter of Yuletide-themed Syfy original movies, starting with Snowmageddon, and continuing with Santa Jaws, Christmas Icetastrophe, 12 Disasters of Christmas, and Santa’s Slay.
College Basketball
ESPN2 & CBS, beginning at 12pm Live
A big Saturday of college hoops tips off with Wake Forest at Tennessee on ESPN2. Connecticut takes on Villanova in the MSG Classic at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on CBS. Chicago’s United Center hosts the CBS Sports Classic doubleheader on CBS with UCLA vs. Ohio State and North Carolina vs. Kentucky.
College Football
ESPN, beginning at 12pm Live
Enjoy wall-to-wall college football postseason games on ESPN with Memphis vs. Wake Forest in the Birmingham Bowl, Army vs. Houston in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Buffalo vs. Troy in the Dollar General Bowl and Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech in the Hawaii Bowl.
NFL Football
NFL Network, beginning at 4:30pm Live
NFL Network’s Week 16 Saturday games have the Washington Redskins at the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens at the L.A. Chargers.
Jingle Around the Clock
Hallmark Channel, 8pm
Original Film!
Elle Bennet’s (Brooke Nevin) plans for a Christmas reunion with her college friends are thwarted by a promotion-promising work opportunity. And when she’s forced to team up with advertising campaign “fixer” Max (Michael Cassidy), who has a completely different take on the holidays, they unexpectedly find themselves falling for each other.
The Alec Baldwin Show
ABC, 10pm
First, multitalented performer RuPaul, who revels in using all of the colors in the crayon box to push back against the establishment, sits down with Alec. Celebrating 10 years of his uber-popular RuPaul’s Drag Race, he talks about how being gay was never really a driving force in his decision-making and why he is not defined by representing change. Then, Erna Solberg, the second female prime minister in the history of Norway, joins Alec to talk about the global environmental movement in her country, its strict immigration policy and generous social system, the differences between Norway and the United States, and her passion for education and mental health among the youth.

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Question: Whatever happened to the live musicals over the holidays? —Gordon

Matt Roush: Live musicals are still a thing on NBC and other networks, but
the holiday angle has been shelved for the time being as the subject matter has moved away from family musicals. (The first disruption was when Jennifer Lopez’s busy schedule delayed NBC’s planned Bye Bye Birdiemusical.) NBC’s most recent December musical was the live Hairspray in 2016, and in lieu of a holiday musical in 2017, instead pegged its Emmy-winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert for Easter 2018. (Fox stepped in with a lackluster A Christmas Story Live musical last year.) Next year’s musicals are decidedly more edgy, Rent on Fox Jan. 27 and a live version of Hair on NBC in May.

Question: Why does Hallmark and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries have to overlap its Christmas movies by an hour? —Gloria

Matt Roush: I’ve wondered this same thing, although wouldn’t it make more sense for the Hallmark channels to air their movies two hours apart (one at 7/6c, the other at 9/8c) instead of at the same hour? Recording and time-shifting solves the problem, of course, but starting Hallmark’s weekend originals at 8/7c and Movies and Mysteries’ movies at 9/8c does create an odd overlap.

To submit questions to TV Critic Matt Roush, go to:

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by Damian Holbrook

Cheers to NBC
for earning a spot in The Good Place. The heavenly comedy starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson hasn’t even finished its third season yet, but that hasn’t stopped the network from renewing it for a fourth year. And that’s the best forking news we’ve heard in weeks!

Jeers to CBS
for not salvaging Salvation. The summer sci-fi drama starring Jennifer Finnigan ended Season 2 with a huge twist and tons of potential. Sadly, the plug has now officially been pulled, so we’ll probably never know what that Earth-threatening asteroid really was—or if the network can ever successfully launch a scripted summer show.

Jeers to The Flash
for making our flesh crawl. The Scarlet Speedster’s November 13 episode got pulses racing by introducing Rag Doll (Troy James), a super-bendy baddie whose nightmarish mask and monstrous movements were not OK with viewers who rely on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and his team to be the sunniest heroes in The CW’s Arrowverse.for returning to form.

Cheers to Dancing With The Stars
After a few clumsy seasons, ABC’s just-wrapped 27th edition popped with a stable of “stars” who actually moved us, including Juan Pablo Di Pace (Fuller House), The Bachelorette’s Grocery Store guy Joe Amabile and radio host—and champion—Bobby Bones (pictured, with Sharna Burgess). If only all Dancing cards could be this full of fan faves.

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