Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, December 25. All times are Eastern.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9 p.m.): While we here in the United States stop watching TV in such large proportions roundabouts December 15 that our major networks are terrified to program anything after that date, the British have no such concerns. Indeed, it seems like the entirety of that nation sits down on its collective couch on Dec. 15 and doesn’t stop watching TV until January 1, when all good Britons look up and stare in befuddlement at the arrival of a new year. Anyway, that means it’s time for the Doctor Who Christmas special, and Alasdair Wilkins is here to spread the good news of murderous snowmen. Tally ho!
Leverage (TNT, 10 p.m.): Okay, we don’t cover this regularly anymore, but we didn’t feel like rubbing salt in the wounds of a series that’s ending its run on Christmas night, because TNT is staffed entirely by dicks, apparently. Dean Devlin directs the series finale, and Phil Dyess-Nugent bids the team farewell.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
K-9 (Syfy, 10 a.m.): Why is Syfy running the entirety of this animated Australian series about The Doctor’s robot dog from Doctor Who? God only knows, but if you’ve just been dying to see it, you can watch the whole thing all day. Or park your kids in front of it once the presents high has worn off.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (ABC, 8 p.m.): The animated special—from the geniuses who were Boris Karloff, Chuck Jones, and Dr. Seuss—is entirely acceptable to watch, but if you somehow subject yourself to the Jim Carrey version airing immediately after—or, God help you, prefer it—we are through.
New Girl (Fox, 8 p.m.): For Christmas, Fox is giving you two hours of 2012’s most improved comedy, which will give you a chance to savor just how quickly the show’s talented ensemble gelled into a unit and admire Jake Johnson’s penchant for being really funny while being really loud at the same time.
Piers Morgan Tonight (CNN, 8 p.m.): Where Fox News is programming Bill O’Reilly all night, presumably so he can yell at us, CNN has Morgan interviewing Barbra Streisand for an hour, then choosing the Entertainers and Newsmakers of the year. Can we choose Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony for both?
Everybody Loves Raymond (TV Land, 9 p.m.): You guys got all cranky when we insisted this show was better than its reputation earlier this year, so now we’re urging you to check out two of the show’s classic Christmas episodes to prove our point. Fondly recall when getting a DVD player was a big deal.
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT, 9 p.m.): It’s not just the gang from Leverage that has to hold down the fort for TNT on Christmas night. Mmes. Rizzoli and Isles are also forced to wage war with the Baby Jesus in a desperate ploy for ratings points. Presumably, somebody will die, and the ladies will crack the case.
Superman (Cinemax, 7:30 p.m.): Since What’s On Tonight is the only staffer left around over the holidays, it’s just going to link you to things it wrote this year it thinks you should read, like this essay on Superman comics. Oh, and it would like to remind you Christopher Reeve is still the best Superman.
The Princess Bride (Sundance, 7:45 p.m.): Pretend you’re in youth group again by watching the one movie approved for viewing by teenagers by youth pastors everywhere! Go ahead and quote all your favorite lines in comments, like you’re at church camp all over again. We’ll be here when you’re done.
Avatar (Fox Movie Channel, 8 p.m.): What’s more Christmas-y than blue people waging a battle for their home world against the evil capitalist oppressors? We can’t think of much, which is why the world made this 2009 holiday release the biggest movie ever. Remember those heady days? We don’t either!
NBA Basketball: Rockets at Bulls (ESPN, 8 p.m.): There are better games on during the day, but What’s On Tonight likes to pretend you only watch primetime TV, unless it’s an Australian animated show about a robot dog, in which case, it’s an event. Anyway, What’s On Tonight likes the Bulls, so you should too.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Middle (October): Our “Best of TV Club” journey continues with a look back at this great Middle episode that might have been the top choice for an already terrific year for the show. Will Harris hopes you’ll give the show—and his reviews—a chance in 2013. Pretty please? He’s been so good this year!
AND NOW, AS THE ANCIENTS FORETOLD, IT’S TIME FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CHRISTMAS MEGA-HIT, “CHRISTMAS AT PANDA EXPRESS”:
Christmas Eve was quiet
A reg’lar silent night
The local cafes were all closed
The Arby’s locked up tight.
Then I looked across the parking lot
And what did I see?
But a glowing neon panda sign
Shining for all of God’s children, bright as could be.
Santa’s missin’ me.
I’m havin’ Christmas at the Panda.
The orange chicken’s fresh as can be.
The place was full of people,
hungry for Chinese food.
Drifters, loners, college students,
all longing for somethin’ good.
The cashiers were completely swamped.
The line went round and round.
They didn’t expect that this would be
the only open place we’d found.
Now, John’s a warrior poet,
clutchin’ a pack of Marlb’ro Lights.
His kids are up in Barstow.
He’ll be seein’ ‘em tonight.
And Archie drives the long haul.
He’s in from San Antone.
He’s got his truck; he’s got his dog.
He won’t spend this night alone.
Now I am just a fat man
who writes TV reviews.
This Christmas, I’m sure lonely
because I’m missing you.
I watch all the students.
Flirt and laugh and kiss.
I wonder if they’ll ever know
what it’s like to have somethin’ to miss.
And then the door swung open.
And in he walked upright.
His boots were black, his cheeks were red.
His beard was long and white.
The little toddler next to me.
Pointed at this man.
He said, “Momma… could it be?”
And she said, “Yes it can!”
I looked away from the guy
and opened my fortune.
It said “Goodness comes to those who look.
It’s just how it is done.”
The older man, he winked at me
And said, “Give her a call.”
I said, “Sir, how did you…”
He said, “I know it all.”
John and Archie, the college kids
The cashiers and the boy.
They all nodded to me and they said,
“Go and find your joy.”
So I drove away from Panda.
The glowing sign winking out.
I dialed your number, looked for you.
Didn’t want to leave a doubt.
Thought you should know I loved you.
Thought you should know you’re missed.
Thought you should know I met Santa Claus
while dining with chopsticks.
So I’ll leave you this message
and hope you’re safe and sound.
I’ll maybe see you next year.
I hope you are around.
Santa just found me.
at Christmas Eve at Panda.
I wish you were here with me.
(Repeat altered chorus 3X and fade out.)