Monday, December 10, 2012
The list of celebrity-driven holiday extravaganzas grows shorter every year. As both a critic and a viewer, I used to look forward to Kathie Lee Gifford’s over-the-top Christmas specials because I knew they would be groan-worthy displays of excess.
I like to think that Gifford knew her Christmas specials were horrendous, but she provided a kind of holiday service by upholding a tradition dating to the days when Mitzi Gaynor ruled the roost and Dinah Shore walked the earth. Time was, you didn’t even need Christmas for some of these tacky onslaughts. I seem to remember a “Perry Como’s Easter in Guadalajara,” back in the early 1980s. What’s Easter without Charo and Ann Jillian?
This year we have seen specials from two “Voice” judges, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. At least one involved singing to Muppets. Shelton also appears on “Michael Bublé: Home for the Holidays” (9 p.m., NBC). The Canadian pop star returns to his family in Vancouver to sing along with Rod Stewart and Carly Rae Jepsen. Will this all go over the top? Let’s certainly hope so.
• “Mel Brooks Strikes Back!” (8 p.m., HBO) features an interview with the ageless writer/actor/director/producer before a live and clearly affectionate audience. In an all-too-short hour, he reviews the arc of his career from Catskill hotels to television, Broadway and Hollywood. Brooks even recalls his service in World War II, when he taunted nearby German soldiers with his version of “Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye!” a performance met with gunfire instead of applause.
Look for clips from Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man” routine, “The Producers,” ‘‘High Anxiety” and other gems.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Live semifinal performances on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth host the American Country Awards (7 p.m., Fox).
• Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Barbara Stanwyck star in the 1983 miniseries “The Thorn Birds” (7 p.m., Encore).
• Narrated and directed by Oliver Stone, “Untold History of the United States” (7 p.m., Showtime) recalls the 1950s as a dark time of nuclear threats and deepening Cold War.
• The New England Patriots host the Houston Texans in “Monday Night Football” (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
Copyright 2012 United Feature Syndicate, distributed by Universal Uclick.