TV Best Bets

Saturday, Dec. 24: Every Time a Bell Rings, An Angel Gets His Wings


All Times Eastern.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Holiday TV Programming Calendar

Saturday, Dec. 24

It’s a Wonderful Life
NBC, 8pm
James Stewart and Donna Reed star in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic about a man on the brink of ending it all who gets a second chance after finding out what life would be like without him, thanks to the aid of a kindly guardian angel.

The Santa Clause 2
FX, 5pm
Tim Allen is back as Scott Calvin, who, in 1994’s The Santa Clause, accidentally offed the big guy and inherited his job. Eight years later, Bernard the Elf discovers the “Mrs. Clause,” and Scott has to act fast if he wants to save Christmas and ho-ho-hold on to his bowlful-of-jelly belly.

Stellar Tribute to the Holidays
Bounce TV, 7pm
In this musical holiday spectacular, enjoy holiday messages and music from gospel performers, including Beverly Crawford, Jonathan McReynolds, Erica Campbell, Smokie Norful, Yolanda Adams, Tasha Page-Lockhart, Byron Cage and Ricky Dillard.

College Football: Hawai’i Bowl
ESPN, 8pm Live
Mountain West Conference and Conference USA teams get to spend Christmas Eve at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu for the 2016 Hawai’i Bowl on ESPN.

NFL Football: Cincinnati at Houston
NFL Network, 8pm Live
With Christmas Day on Sunday this year, the NFL moved the bulk of its Week 16 games to Christmas Eve Saturday. Tonight on NFL Network, the Cincinnati Bengals visit Houston’s NRG Stadium to share season’s greetings with the Texans.

24 Hours of “A Christmas Story”
TBS, beginning at 8pm
Ralphie’s quest for that Red Ryder BB gun in this 1983 classic just never gets old.

A Fare to Remember
Bounce TV, 10pm
In this 1999 movie starring Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Challen Cates, Tracee Ellis Ross, Peter Birkenhead, John Ratzenberger and Joseph C. Phillips, a high-powered advertising executive in Seattle takes an assignment on Christmas Eve despite knowing she is to get married in Los Angeles immediately after the holiday.

Sunday, Dec. 25

Yule Log
Antenna TV, 2am & 5am
This is a national airing of the famous Yule Log that was originated by WPIX in New York. The calming sight of a crackling fire, accompanied by the sounds of the season, is the perfect way to put you into a Christmas mood.

The Disney Parks Magical Christmas Celebration
ABC, 10am
Hosts Julianne and Derek Hough take viewers on a magical ride down Main Street and beyond, as the Christmas Day celebration brings together the beloved Christmas Day parade, plus surprise celebrity guests, heartwarming family stories and musical performances from Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks and others.

NBA Basketball
ESPN & ABC, beginning at 12pm Live
The NBA’s Christmas Day showcase this year has the Boston Celtics at the N.Y. Knicks (ESPN), an NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors at the Cleveland Cavaliers (ABC), the Chicago Bulls at the San Antonio Spurs (ABC), the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Oklahoma City Thunder (ESPN) and the L.A. Clippers at the L.A. Lakers (ESPN).

NFL Football
NFL Network & NBC, beginning at 4:20pm Live
Christmas Day NFL action begins with the Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on NFL Network, followed by a primetime matchup on NBC with the Denver Broncos at the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

“Call the Midwife” Holiday Special
PBS, 7:30pm
The Nonnatus House family goes to South Africa after they receive an SOS call from a mission hospital that’s understaffed, underfunded and threatened with closure. Facing tough challenges, they dig deep to save Hope Clinic and make a difference.

When Calls the Heart Christmas
Hallmark Channel, 8pm
Original Film!
Hallmark Channel’s sweeping period series is back for a new holiday treat! An intriguing peddler comes to Hope Valley and teaches the townspeople valuable lessons about joy and giving. And when the residents realize that the recently displaced settlers in the area will not have a proper Christmas, they come together to create a special holiday celebration that will infuse everyone with the true spirit of Christmas. Stars Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Jack Wagner and Lori Loughlin.

“Doctor Who” Christmas Special: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”
BBC America, 9pm
This year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” was written by Steven Moffat and features the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) teaming up with a comic-book superhero and an investigative journalist (Charity Wakefield) to save New York from a deadly alien threat.

Great Performances: “The Hollow Crown: Richard III”
PBS, 9pm
In his quest for the crown, Richard plans the murder of his brother George. After the death of Edward IV, Richard’s path to the throne is clear, except for the princes in the tower. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Phoebe Fox.

Chill-Cation Week
Travel Channel, beginning at 9pm
From Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve, Travel Channel features several shows that visit the world’s coolest locations for fun, food, thrills and icy escapades. Things kick off tonight with Alaska — Water and Ice, a look at an adrenaline junkie’s extreme waterpark.

Monday, Dec. 26

College Football
ESPN & ESPN2, beginning at 11am Live
The St. Petersburg Bowl at Florida’s Tropicana Field and the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit air on ESPN, while ESPN2 has coverage of the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown
ABC, 8pm
With Christmas vacation waning and 1,131 pages of War and Peace to go, Charlie Brown tries to attend Peppermint Patty’s New Year’s bash and finish his homework, too. Disappointed that the little red-haired girl isn’t at the party, Charlie curls up with Tolstoy and snoozes through the night’s biggest surprise. She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown follows.

Hairspray Live!
NBC, 8pm
If you missed the original live airing on Dec. 7, you can catch the rebroadcast tonight! Harvey Fierstein, Ephraim Sykes, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Derek Hough, Ariana Grande and delightful newcomer Maddie Baillio headline NBC’s newest live-theater spectacle. Broadway icon Fierstein adapted the stage production of avant-garde auteur John Waters’ quirky 1988 film — a playground for Waters’ equally avant-garde troupe of favored actors — into a lively, family-friendly evening that celebrates self-esteem, racial equality and the power of a good set of dance moves.

NFL Football: Detroit at Dallas
ESPN, 8:15pm Live
It’s the 2016 season finale of ESPN’s Monday Night Football as the Detroit Lions head to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for a Week 16 battle against the NFC playoff-contending Dallas Cowboys.

Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
ABC, 9pm
The beloved red-nosed reindeer must track down Happy the Baby New Year before the clock strikes midnight in this Rankin/Bass animated classic.

Ice Hotels … Not Impossible
Travel Channel, 9pm
Part of Chill-Cation Week, this special follows hotel expert Anthony Melchiorri on his quest to explore the most amazing ice hotels in the world, from Finland to Quebec City.

Booze Traveler: On the Rocks
Travel Channel, 10pm
Global nomad Jack Maxwell travels across Siberia on a hunt for a mysterious cocktail that he once heard about in a Russian man’s story about the greatest drink ever. Part of Chill-Cation Week.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Chasing Cameron
New Series!
This show centers on social media star and entrepreneur Cameron Dallas as he looks to take his career to the next level. Together with close friends Taylor Caniff, Aaron Carpenter, Blake Gray, Willie Jones and Trey Schafer, they all set out on the first international tour of MAGCON, a group of social media celebrities.

College Football
ESPN, beginning at 12pm Live

Four college football bowl games are on ESPN’s slate today: the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl, the Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., the National Funding Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix.

American Masters: Eero Saarinen
PBS, 8pm
Explore the life of the modernist architect behind visionary buildings like St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. Travel with his son, director of photography Eric Saarinen, as he visits his father’s work on a cathartic journey, shot in 6K.

The 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors
CBS, 9pm
The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes outstanding career achievements in the arts and culture, and CBS airs this star-studded celebration from the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. Honorees for 2016 are Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, rock band the Eagles, screen and stage actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples, and musician James Taylor.

Bizarre Foods: “Frozen”
Travel Channel, 9pm
Culinary explorer Andrew Zimmern travels to some of the coldest, most inhospitable places on earth in search of the most bizarre foods eaten by those who live in conditions below freezing.

Shooter: “Danger Close”
USA Network, 10pm
Bob Lee (Ryan Phillippe) crosses the country to find the shooter while Julie (Shantel VanSanten) deals with a family betrayal. Nadine (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) contacts a Ukrainian reporter who can explain the conspiracy. Isaac (Omar Epps) questions his allegiance.

Wednesday, Dec. 28

College Football
ESPN & FOX, beginning at 2pm Live
College football bowl games on ESPN today are the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., the Russell Athletic Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., and the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston. FOX airs the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

This Is 40
FX, 8pm
Writer/director Judd Apatow catches up with Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), characters first seen in Knocked Up, as they navigate growing older and trying to maintain the spark in their marriage.

Undercover Boss: “New York & Company”
CBS, 8pm
This new Undercover Boss episode features women’s fashion retailer New York & Company CEO Greg Scott.

Vikings: “All His Angels”
History, 9pm
Ragnar and Ivar plot against the Saxons and reach a new level of understanding.

Expedition Unknown: Cloning the Woolly Mammoth
Travel Channel, 9pm
Josh Gates joins a team of international scientists on a global expedition spanning Siberia, the North Pole and a lab in South Korea, with a goal of finding enough DNA to clone an extinct woolly mammoth and bring the beasts back.

Egypt’s Treasure Guardians
PBS, 10pm
Follow a select group of archaeologists determined to bring Egypt back from the brink to discover more of the country’s history, keep its heritage safe and persuade tourists to visit the country again.

Incorporated: “Profit and Loss”
Syfy, 10pm
Ben (Sean Teale) improvises when Roger (Douglas Nyback) closes in on the truth about Elena (Denyse Tontz). Laura (Allison Miller) takes her therapy to the next level. Elizabeth (Julia Ormond) pressures Ben to finish a vital project. Julian (Dennis Haysbert) aids a friend in need.

Thursday, Dec. 29

“Star Trek: The Original Series” Marathon
BBC America, beginning at 2:15am
Enjoy a two-day marathon of the original 1960s Star Trek TV series beginning Thursday morning with “The Return of the Archons” from Season 1 and including favorites like “Space Seed,” “The City on the Edge of Forever,” “Mirror, Mirror” and “The Trouble With Tribbles.”

College Football
ESPN, beginning at 2pm Live
College football bowl action on ESPN today features the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., and the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

NBA Basketball
TNT, beginning at 8pm Live
TNT’s NBA doubleheader has Al Horford leading the Boston Celtics against LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Cleveland, followed by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles to face Luol Deng and the Lakers.

“America’s Got Talent” Holiday Spectacular
NBC, 9pm
If you were too caught up in holiday shopping to catch this on Dec. 19, tonight you can watch this festive, star-studded special, featuring this season’s America’s Got Talent winner, Grace VanderWaal, along with fan favorites The Clairvoyants, Brian Justin Crum, Olate Dogs and crooner Sal Valentinetti, who performs “Santa Baby” with Heidi Klum. Additional performances include Season 9 winner Mat Franco, special guests Penn & Teller, The Regurgitator and daredevil Professor Splash, who will perform a dive into a pool of eggnog.

Titanic: Mysteries at the Museum
Travel Channel, 9pm
Don Wildman dives into the Atlantic and explores ship artifacts to uncover key elements that sank the legendary ocean liner Titanic.

The Selection: Special Operations Experiment: “Weeding Out the Weak”
History, 10pm
In a stealth and concealment exercise, the participants go out on the ultimate game of hide-and-seek, where they are tasked with camouflaging themselves in a hide-site to evade detection by the instructors. If “capture,” they will suffer unimaginable consequences as they experience the mental rigors of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training.

Friday, Dec. 30

Gold Rush Marathon
Discovery Channel, beginning at 9am
Enjoy over 12 hours of episodes from Gold Rush, Discovery’s top-rated series, which follows gold miners hoping to strike it rich.

College Football
ESPN & CBS, beginning at 12pm Live
ESPN airs the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., and the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami. The Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, airs on CBS.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
TCM, 4pm
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and a teenage Shirley Temple star in this Oscar-winning 1947 film about playboy Dickie Nugent (Grant), who charms beautiful judge Margaret Turner (Loy) out of convicting him for brawling at a nightclub. But the artist and the judge get more than they bargained for when Dickie gives a lecture at a high-school later that day and promptly becomes the object of Margaret’s teen sister’s affection.

MacGyver: “Can Opener”
CBS, 8pm
In a rebroadcast of the episode “Can Opener,” MacGyver (Lucas Till) is tasked to go undercover as an inmate in a maximum security prison to break out drug kingpin “El Noche” (guest star Raoul Trujillo) and track him to his cartel’s secret location.

Sherlock on Masterpiece: “The Abominable Bride”
PBS, 9pm
While you wait for the next month’s return of Sherlock, revisit last year’s holiday special, which found Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) in 1890s London, investigating a murderous bride, who herself is (supposedly) dead.

Mysteries at the Museum: “North Pole Expedition, Iceberg Fleet and the Minnesota Iceman”
Travel Channel, 9pm
History explorer Don Wildman examines the icy stories behind an eccentric expedition to the North Pole, a frozen feat of nautical engineering and the cosmic conundrum surrounding an incredible icicle.

Saturday, Dec. 31

College Football
ESPN & ABC, beginning at 11am Live
New Year’s Eve college football action begins with the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on ESPN and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on ABC. Then the only bowl games with any real significance take place on ESPN with the College Football Playoff Semifinals: the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The semifinal winners play in the National Championship game in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 9.

Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2017
ABC, beginning at 8pm ET/7pm CT Live; 7pm MT/8pm PT Tape-delayed
Music’s biggest stars join host Ryan Seacrest and his guests to celebrate the arrival of 2017.

Live From Lincoln Center: “New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve”
PBS, 8pm Live
Ring in the new year with a night of American classics, including beloved works by Rodgers & Hammerstein, featuring Joyce DiDonato with the New York Philharmonic.

Ghost Adventures: “Dakota’s Sanatorium of Death”
Travel Channel, 9pm
San Haven Sanatorium offered care to countless North Dakotans since 1912, but for thousands, this place was the last stop. There are entities lurking here one cannot even imagine, and the Ghost Adventures crew has come to investigate.

Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution
FOX, 11pm ET Live; 11pm CT/MT/PT Tape-delayed
Queen Latifah — currently appearing in the new FOX series Star — and entertainment icon Snoop Dogg host the third installment of Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution. The special will be broadcast live from Miami’s Bayfront Park as Pitbull and his special guests start the new year with a bash that highlights the city’s hip and hot style.

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve
PBS, 11pm
Celebrate New Year’s Eve as Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Kris Kristofferson are inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame. Performers include Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and more. Hosted by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally.

NBC’s New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly
NBC, 11:30pm ET Live; 11:30pm CT/MT/PT Tape-delayed
Carson Daly returns to his annual post in this special that rings in the new year with performances from top stars.