TV column for Thursday, Dec. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 8 p.m., ABC.

One of the TV's
all-time masterpieces remains an endorsement of benign neglect and
less-is-more.

CBS and Coca-Cola
were rushing to get this ready for the 1965 Christmas seasons.That
gave them little time to meddle, so the writer (Charles Schulz) and
director (Bill Melendez) broke all the rules.

There's a spareness
to the animation style and to the jazzy score. Kids – not adults
pretending to be kids – provide the voices. There's humor, heart
and a bit of scripture; it's an understated classic.

TODAY'S MUST-SEE II:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

So far, this great
show has found ways to blend with its pretty-good prequel, “Young
Sheldon.” We've met the adult versions of Sheldon's brother and
sister and his friend Tam. (We'd previously met his nowadays mom and
learned that his dad had died.)

But now comes a
clever way to merge the shows. Just as Sheldon is discouraged, he
finds an old tape he made. It's a chance for Iain Armitage, Lance
Barber and Montana Jordan to be on the show as young Sheldon, his dad
and his brother. Also, Bernadette coaches Howard for his Magic Castle
audition.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: More Christmas classics, cable.

At one point,
another animated gem -- “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” -- was
listed for today on TBS. That would be too much of a great thing:
“Grinch” won't be tonight, but will be 8 p.m. Sunday on TBS, 7
and 9:45 p.m. Dec. 21 on TNT and 8 p.m. Dec. 25 on NBC.

Meanwhile, two other
classics appear today: “Mickey's Christmas Carol” -- with every
scene looking like a classic Christmas card – is 7 a.m. on
Freeform; “It's a Wonderful Life” (1946) is 8 p.m. on USA.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition, 9
p.m., ABC.

Everything about
this show -- its hosts, its judges, even its name – changes. Still,
the concept is strong.

The original show –
popular in England and on PBS – was a low-stress competition for
home bakers; tonight, they try cakes and pastry. Paul Hollywood, from
the British show, returns as a judge, now joined by Sherry Yard. The
hosts are a spicy pair -- Anthony “Spice” Adams, a former
football pro, and Emma Bunton, one of the Spice Girls.

Other choices
include:

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. After a skipping two weeks, this likable show is back with
a detour. Amy and Jonah have Glenn's tickets to a managers'
conference in Chicago, thinking of it as a vacation.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Tonight, people step far outside their comfort zones:
Dr. Sturgis tries to drive (with an exasperated Meemaw as his
teacher) and Sheldon tries to be a kid.

“Legacies,” 9
p.m., CW. It's time for the “sweet 16” party for Lizzie and
Josie, who are neither sweet nor 16. Their dad, Alaric, is distracted
by the latest arrival of a supernatural being.

“Will &
Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC. Matt Bomer guests as the gay news anchor Jack
covets. And for her divorce, Karen wants photos of her husband and
his stripper girlfriend (Minnie Driver).

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. This terrific show slips a bit when it leans on its only
overdone character, Tammy (Kristen Johnston). Now she prepares for
her first date since leaving prison.

“I Feel Bad,”
9:31 p.m., NBC. David is Jewish, Emet is Hindu and they treat both
religions quite casually. But now his parents are arriving for
Hanukkah; they must pretend it's a big thing for them ... without
hurting her parents' feelings. The result has some fairly funny
moments.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. After rescuing a girl from a
sex trafficker, Benson and Stone go to extremes to try to re-unite
her with her family.