'Wonderful Life' imitation simply scary

Pale imitations of "It's a Wonderful Life" only serve to point up the superiority of the original film. Nancy McKeon ("The Division") stars in the cable fantasy "Comfort and Joy" (7 p.m., Lifetime) as Jane Berry, an ambitious advertising executive. She's a harried, unmarried corporate workaholic, attached to a vain Peter Pan boyfriend who conducts business on his cell phone headset during their Christmas Eve lunch. Suddenly, on the way to an office Christmas party that she's really dreading, she crashes her Jaguar.

Dazed and bloodied, Jane sees a handsome man, Sam (Steven Ekholdt), who helps her out of the car and suggests that she come "home." To her surprise, and no little horror, the Tom Hanks-like stranger insists that he is her husband and that they have two children and have been married for 10 years. She also learns that she's given up her career to help her husband in his low-paying charity work and devote herself to the children as a full-time mom. This uncomfortable postfeminist fantasy unfolds like a psychotic episode.

  • Ashley Judd is host of the one-hour documentary "AIDS: A Pop Culture History" (8 p.m., VH1). The film traces the ways that the disease has been depicted in popular entertainment, and how the illness and deaths of film, television and music industry stars have influenced the way the public has learned about AIDS. The film recalls the films, songs and personalities that put a human face on the epidemic, and those -- including Greg Louganis and Magic Johnson -- who have become spokesmen and role models for those living with HIV.

Other programming observing World AIDS Day includes "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee" (8 p.m., Nickelodeon), with a report on the disease's effect on South Africa, where upwards of 1,000 infected people die every day, leaving thousands of children without parents.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore star in the 1998 comedy "The Wedding Singer" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • Debra invades Ray's golf sanctuary on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • An assassin targets a rich client on "Las Vegas" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • The New York Jets play the Tennessee Titans on "Monday Night Football" (8 p.m., ABC).
  • The house grows less crowded on "Average Joe" (9 p.m., NBC).

Late night

Howard Stern visits "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Tom Cruise, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Tori Amos on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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