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The Globe and Mail

TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Dec. 20

A select viewing guide for Tuesday, Dec. 20

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FAMILY Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town YTV, 7 p.m. It’s probably testament to this program’s endurance that it was recently revisited by Justin Bieber. The Canadian-born pop star samples the 1970 holiday special and plays an animated version of himself in the music video for his latest single of the same name. The narrative features the late Fred Astaire as a postman telling the origins of one Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney), who is abandoned as an infant and taken in by a family of toymaker elves. Kids may find the rest of the story corny by today’s standards, but it obviously left an impression on The Biebs.

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DRAMA NCIS CBS, 8 p.m. Network television’s highest-rated crime-procedural series takes a slight format twist in this rebroadcast from last season. In lieu of the usual cloak-and-dagger plotline, the episode begins with the murder of a top-ranked naval commander aboard his own ship. Enter the psychological evaluator Dr. Rachel Cranston (Wendy Makkena), who methodically interviews each member of the NCIS team, one by one, to discover what really happened. Veteran character player Michael Nouri returns to his recurring role of former Mossad agent Eli David.

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COMEDY Saturday Night Live Presents: A Very Gilly Christmas NBC, Global, 9 p.m. First broadcast in 2009, this retro-special brings back the most memorable holiday moments culled from Saturday Night Live’s 36-year history. The confirmed sketches include Steve Martin’s heartfelt but hilarious Holiday Wish, the remake of It’s a Wonderful Life (in which Mr. Potter, played by Jon Lovitz, finally gets his comeuppance) and Adam Sandler’s rendition of The Hanukkah Song. And yes, Virginia, the program will include the saucy music-video classic D--k in a Box, as performed by Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg.

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REALITY My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas TLC, 10 p.m. Even gypsies love to come home for the holidays. Loosely adapted from the British-made reality series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, this special travels to a small town in Ireland where hordes of itinerant travellers faithfully return every December. The program focuses on MBFGW newlyweds Jose and Swanley, now expecting their first baby, and former bare-knuckle brawler Paddy and wife Roseanne, about to spend their first Christmas without their kids underfoot. But of course, most people watch this show for the spectacularly elaborate dresses and in this special there’s one frock that weighs more than 60 pounds.

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MOVIE A Christmas Carol AMC, 10:30 p.m. First shown on CBS in 1984, this TV-movie boasts a remarkable performance by George C. Scott as the man who hates Christmas. The Oscar-winning actor is completely in his element as the curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge, who takes out his rage at the world upon his only employee, the cringing Bob Cratchit (David Warner). British acting veteran Susannah York delivers a strong supporting turn as Cratchit’s long-suffering wife.

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