This first week of December is packed full of specials, holiday-themed programs, miniseries, and a couple of new shows making their debuts.
Monday, December 1
The Last One (8:30-10 pm, Showtime)
On World AIDS Day, this documentary looks at the history of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Tuesday, December 2
Toy Story That Time Forgot (8-8:30 pm, ABC)
Last year’s Toy Story of Terror was quite enjoyable so I’m looking forward to this new special, even though I don’t know anything about it beyond the logline: “a post-Christmas play date turns scary when a set of action figures becomes delusional.” (A Charlie Brown Christmas follows at 8:30.)
Also tonight: the premiere of Bravo’s first scripted series, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (10-11:01 pm) starring Lisa Edelstein, who played Dr. Cuddy on House; and part one of The Flash-Arrow crossover (8-9 pm, CW).
Wednesday, December 3
Tonight’s a bit of a void in the midst of this busy week. If your taste runs traditional and a bit sentimental there’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center (8-9 pm, NBC); American Horror Story resumes its sluggish and not very scary (aside from Twisty the Clown) fourth season (10-11:06 pm, FX); Penn Jillettte goes looking for outstanding street performers in a new series on the Travel Channel (9-10 pm); the Flash-Arrow crossover concludes (8-9 pm, CW); and Kevin Smith’s brash and wickedly funny Clerks is on Flix (8-9:35 pm).
Thursday, December 4
Peter Pan Live (8-11 pm, NBC)
I don’t care for most musicals, but the early days of television broadcasting had many live performances including theatrical productions, and I’d like to see the networks do more of this. Live events give people something to talk about the next day, and despite the three-hour running time this is a program families can enjoy together.
Friday, December 5
How Murray Saved Christmas (8-9 pm, NBC)
Based on a children’s book by Simpsons writer/producer Mike Reiss, this animated holiday special tells the story of how grumpy deli owner Murray Weiner ends up filling in for Santa. Actors lending their voices include Jerry Stiller as Murray, Jason Alexander, Sean Hayes, Dennis Haysbert, John Ratzenberger, and Kevin Michael Richardson.
Also tonight: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen (9 pm-12 am, PBS), hosted by Jon Stewart and featuring Elton John, Emmylou Harris, John Legend, Patti Smith, Neil Young, Mavis Staples, and many others.
Saturday, December 6
One Child (7-11 pm, Sundance)
Four-hour miniseries about a Chinese woman, adopted as a baby and raised in England, who returns to China to help the brother she’s never met fight a murder charge.
Sunday, December 7
The Red Tent (9-11:02 pm, Lifetime)
The History Channel’s The Bible has spawned its share of imitators, including this miniseries based on the book by Anita Diamant that imagined the life of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and a woman barely mentioned in the Old Testament. The cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Minnie Driver, Morena Baccarin, Iain Glen, and Debra Winger. (Part two airs tomorrow, also at 9 pm)
Also tonight: the two-episode series premiere of The Librarians (8-10:04 pm, TNT), based on the made-for-TV movies starring Noah Wyle (who will make a few guest appearances here). It’s a light-hearted riff on the Indiana Jones stories, but in this instance structured around a secret organization tasked with saving and protecting the world’s mystical artifacts from being used for evil purposes. The series stars John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, and John Kim; expect to see Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart show up a couple of times to reprise their roles from the movies as well.
Steven Van Zandt followed his role as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos with another mob guy, Frank Tagliano. Frank agrees to testify against his organized crime family in exchange for witness protection and relocation to Norway, where he finds the adjustment to a very different lifestyle more difficult than he’d expected. (Three seasons, 24 episodes so far.)
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)