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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: Dec. 21

A select viewing guide for Wednesday, Dec. 21

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BIOGRAPHY Private Screenings: Jane Fonda TCM, 7 p.m. ET; 4 p.m. PT Happy birthday to Jane Fonda, who turns 74 today and still holds the unique distinction of being a celebrity triple threat. Beyond her longstanding reputation as a political activist, she also kick-started the fitness revolution in the eighties with her best-selling workout videos. Along the way, Fonda also won two Academy Awards for acting. In this in-depth interview with TCM host Robert Osborne, she discusses the challenges of growing up the daughter of movie icon Henry Fonda and the film roles that she wants to be remembered by.

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REALITY Geek Love TLC, 8 p.m. ET/PT These are good days for nerds. Besides the success of The Big Bang Theory, there’s this new TV concept, which TLC is airing in a two-episode tryout to determine whether it warrants a regular series. The premise focuses on self-admitted geek Ryan Giltch, founder of Sci-Fi Speed Dating, which specializes in helping pocket-protector guys find true love. In tonight’s first outing, he takes his service to the Comic-Con event in New York, where the lovelorn include the Star Wars-obsessed Gerald (his friends call him “Chewie”) and Sal, who is wearing an Iron Man costume. In the second show, Giltch realizes his client list includes hundreds of lonely guys, but only a few young women. Until that dynamic changes, don’t expect to see this concept become a series.

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SCIENCE NOVA PBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT Sure, Charles Darwin was the first person to propose the scientific theories of evolution and natural selection, but he didn’t have all the answers. In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s groundbreaking tome On the Origin of Species, this special follows a team of scientists working to provide answers to the species questions that the great naturalist couldn’t explain. Their journey takes them to all points of the globe, including the Arctic Circle and the Galapagos Islands, to concentrate on a brand-new evolution discipline – nicknamed “evo-devo” – that is linking the longstanding enigma of origins to the actual physical development of a living embryo. Fear not: It’s all explained in layman’s terms.

Cici Clark/WGBH

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DRAMA Revenge ABC, CITY-TV, 10 p.m. ET/PT Have you bought into the Dynasty-style drama of this new series? Ooh, it’s delicious. One of the few hits of the new TV season, the premise casts Canadian actress Emily Van Camp as Emily Thorne, a scheming minx who returns to her childhood home in the Hamptons to exact revenge upon the highbrows that caused her family’s downfall years before. Tonight, Emily has to deal with a plan for counter-revenge by the scheming Lydia (Amber Valletta), while the imperious Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) tries to mend a rift with her daughter. It’s serialized, so be sure to catch the recap at the beginning.

ABC

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MOVIE Born Yesterday TCM, midnight ET; 9 p.m. PT Required viewing for any serious cineaste, this 1950 comedy marked the career peak of the late, great Judy Holliday. The blonde comic actress earned an Oscar for her portrayal of Billie, the shrill ex-chorus girl mistress of crooked junk tycoon Harry Buck (Broderick Crawford). While in Washington to bribe some politicians, Harry tries to improve Billie’s crass manners by hiring the impoverished journalist Paul (William Holden) to school her in the social graces. The results are positively Pygmalionesque.

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