The offerings are a bit thin, as some network shows have new episodes this week, but just about as many have already started holiday break. Many of those gaps are filled with Christmas-themed programming, there’s also a Syfy miniseries, and two late-night shows conclude their runs this week.
Monday, December 15
Ascension (9-10:25 pm, Syfy)
This miniseries is about a spaceship launched in 1963 that is halfway through a hundred-year journey to populate a new world, with a murder mystery to keep you hooked for three nights. (Parts two and three air Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-11 pm.)
Tuesday, December 16
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (8-9 pm, NBC)
If you think we’ve reached an overload of Christmas specials, I won’t disagree; I’m just here to tell you that they’re on, and if there was a better option for tonight I’d mention it. This new one is in stop-motion animation (like Rudolph), is based on both the 2003 movie and the Broadway production it spawned, and features the voice of Jim Parsons as Buddy. If you prefer the classics, A Charile Brown Christmas is also on (8-9 pm, ABC, though the second half-hour is inferior material you can skip).
Wednesday, December 17
Michael Bublé’s Christmas in New York (8-9 pm, NBC)
Your mom would love it if you went over to her house and watched this with her. Barbra Streisand is Michael’s guest.
Thursday, December 18
The Colbert Report (11:30 pm-12 am, Comedy Central)
It’s Stephen’s last show, and his final guest will be none other than The Grim Reaper, though I would expect appearances from some other folks. (Larry Wilmore will be taking over this time slot with The Nightly Show on January 19th.)
Friday, December 19
Caught on Camera (8-9 pm, NBC)
NBC attempts to reinvent the Candid Camera concept for the 21st century by making use of footage from cell-phone and dashboard cameras, with Nick Cannon as host. Doesn’t this show already exist? Oh yeah, it’s called Tosh.0.
Also tonight: Craig Ferguson bids farewell to The Late Late Show (12:37-1:37 am, CBS) with guest Jay Leno. (The show will be using a series of guest hosts until James Corden takes over in late March.)
Saturday, December 20
Christmas Icetastrophe (9-11 pm, Syfy)
Sometimes you just need a Christmas-themed disaster movie with cheesy production values, and we knew Syfy wouldn’t let us down. This one involves a meteorite.
Also today/tonight: a couple of Saturday NFL games (not unusual in December, after the college football season has ended): the Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington _______s (4 pm, NFL Network) and the San Diego Chargers at the San Francisco 49ers (8:25 pm, CBS); a Pit Bulls and Parolees holiday special (9-10 pm, Animal Planet); and Amy Adams hosts the last new Saturday Night Live of 2014 (11:29 pm-1 am, NBC).
Sunday, December 21
The Running Man (8-10 pm, Sundance)
That rare thing: an ‘80s Arnold movie that isn’t The Terminator and isn’t completely ridiculous. Set in a dystopian 2019, the plot involves a wrongly convicted man forced to compete on a “game show” (foreshadowing the reality-show trend) where survival is achieved only by eluding pursuers. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser of Starsky & Hutch fame, and based on a book by Stephen King.
Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014)
Offerman, on my shortlist for the greatest human alive, combines standup with his trademark ribald songs in this new special.
(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.)