There are lots of old chestnuts on this week, including several airings of "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street." Among the new presentations is one featuring dancing raisins and harmonizing Claymation camels, one starring little Keshia Knight Pulliam as a homeless orphan, and several animated holiday specials. And a special gift for Washingtonians: two Redskins games, Sunday and Saturday.
SUNDAY REDSKINS vs. MIAMI at 8 on ESPN and 9
21 JUMP STREET at 7 on 5
CHRISTMAS COMES TO WILLOW CREEK at 9 on CBS WUSA plans to preempt the CBS evening schedule to carry the Redskins-Miami game at 8, but will show the episode -- it's a repeat -- at midnight. The game is the Sunday night ESPN cable network offering. At night you'll find both repeats and new episodes, some with Christmas themes: "Rags to Riches" (at 7, in the "Our House" time slot), "21 Jump Street" with the story of H.T. Ioki (Dustin Nguyen), "Family Ties" featuring Alex as a department-store Santa, "My Two Dads" (Nicole faces her first Christmas without Mom), "Married ... With Children" (Al Bundy fills in when a parachuting Santa Claus falls into his yard), and a holiday miracle for "Buck James." "The Tracey Ullman Show" finds the comedienne as a down-and-out disc jockey who has to clean up her act and as the nagging wife of a cryonics specialist who freezes himself to get away from her. CBS' new "Christmas Comes to Willow Creek" stars former "Dukes of Hazzard" cousins John Schneider and Tom Wopat as feuding brothers in a small Alaskan town. Kim Delaney plays Jessie, wife of one and former sweetheart of the other. The TV movie was filmed at Dawson City in the Yukon Territory and in Vancouver. Guests: Burl Ives, Mac Davis and the Peppercorn Players on "Dolly" (9 on ABC); Charlie Daniels, Constance Towers and Patrick Wayne on "Murder, She Wrote" (8 on 11, midnight on 9). SPORTS: plenty of afternoon football plus some golf (Mazda Champions at 2 on ABC). MOVIES: "Miracle on 34th Street" (noon on 5); "A Christmas Story" (4 on 5); "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized) at 6 on 20; "White Christmas" (11:30 on 5). MONDAY THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL at 8 on NBC
THE GARFIELD CHRISTMAS SPECIAL at 8 on CBS
A CLAYMATION CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION at 8:30 on CBS
A POPS CHRISTMAS at 9 on 22/67
NORTHANGER ABBEY at 9 on 26
CHRISTMAS IN WASHINGTON at 10 on NBC Keshia Knight Pulliam, Rue McClanahan and William Daniels star in a new special inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's story about a homeless orphan who brings about the reconciliation of the members of a rich and powerful New England family. Pulliam gets the title role in "The Little Match Girl"; McClanahan and Daniels play Frances and Haywood Dutton, whose newspaperman son hasn't spoken to them in years because Dad disapproved of his wife. At 8, Garfield the cat goes to the country with Jon and Odie for a family Christmas on the new, animated "Garfield Christmas Special." That's followed by another new one that's indeed different: "A Claymation Christmas Celebration," featuring the California Raisins making their prime-time singing and dancing debut. Along with the Raisins are an overweight triceratops in a Santa suit, a dapper tyrannosaurus named Rex, The Three Kings (bebopping, harmonizing Claymation camels), bell-ringer Quasimodo conducting "Carol of the Bells," skating penguins and walruses, leprechauns singing "Here We Come A-Wassailing," waffle-peddling dogs singing "Here We Come A-Waffling" and pigs singing "Here We Come A-Wallowing." Settings range from a Dickensian London square and side streets full of pubs to Santa's workshop and a reproduction of Notre Dame Cathedral. The special is a project of Oscar-winner Will Vinton, from whose workshop -- and imagination -- the clay figures emerged. MPT stations offer a Christmas edition of The Boston Pops Orchestra, featuring the Vienna Boys Choir and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, plus a visit from Santa and the traditional Pops audience sing-along. John Williams conducts. (WETA carries this program Wednesday.) At 10, Barbara Mandrell hosts "Christmas in Washington" with Marilyn McCoo, Jack Jones, 10-year-old violinist Stefan Milenkovic, the Vienna Boys Choir of Austria, the United States Naval Academy Glee Club and the Shiloh Baptist Church Choir. At 9, WETA offers an adaption of Jane Austen's novel "Northanger Abbey," a spoof on the Gothic novels of the 1800s, starring Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland, who falls in love but suspects her beloved of lurid deeds. TUESDAY MATLOCK at 8 on NBC
NOVA at 8 on PBS
AHIMSA: NON-VIOLENCE at 9 on 22/67
NBC NEWS SPECIAL at 10 On "Matlock," Ben defends a man accused of killing his ex-wife at a Christmas party full of Santas. "Who's the Boss?" and "Growing Pains" have holiday episode reruns, and "Monlighting" and "Houston Knights" both feature holiday searches for missing infants. Then CBS gives two hours to a repeat of the opener of "Jake and the Fatman," preempting "The Law & Harry McGraw." On PBS, a specialist in underwater archaeology uncovers the mysteries of a ship that set sail from a port in the eastern Mediterranean about 3,000 years ago, only to sink just off the coast of Turkey. Dr. George Bass' discovery of the oldest shipwreck ever excavated is carried on PBS' "Nova" at 8. At 9, Maryland Public Television stations present and unusual program by one of its own producers, Michael Tobias. It's "Ahimsa: Non-Violence," narrated by actress Lindsay Wagner, explaining the impact of Jainism -- which has no god and no formal worship -- on the civilization of India and its influence on Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Its practitioners, all vegetarians, view all living things as being equal, and are among the the country's most affluent and influential groups. Tobias filmed the program at more than 100 locations in India. The first documentary to examine this 3,000-year-old religion, "Ahimsa: Non-Violence" recently won the bronze medal for best religious film of 1987 from the CINDY Awards. At 10, NBC's news special reports on charges that undermanned control systems and outdated equipment contribute to dangerous conditions in the skies -- something to worry about when you're flying home for the holidays. Guests: Alan Rachins on "J.J. Starbuck" (9 on NBC). SPORTS: Capitals vs. Quebec Nordiques (7:30 on 20); All-American Bowl (Brigham Young vs. Virginia from Birmingham, Ala.) at 8 on 45 and 50. WEDNESDAY TOP OF THE POPS at 8 on CBS
HOOPERMAN at 9 on ABC
MOYERS: GOD AND POLITICS at 9 on 22/67, 10 on 22/67 and 26 On ABC, "Perfect Strangers" repeats its 1986 Christmas episode; "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" reruns its first chapter, and "Hooperman" features Christmas Eve at the station house and an unusually colorful collection of characters including a "reindeer" who wants to confess to murder. On NBC, "Highway to Heaven" finds Santa Claus on trial for protesting a store's promotion of toy weapons. CBS' "Top of the Pops" offers Christmas music from a collection of artists including the Irish rock group U2, Grammy Award-winner Sting, rap group Run-D.M.C., Stevie Nicks, the Bangles, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and John Cougar Mellencamp. At 9 and at 10, MPT stations carry the last two installments of "God and Politics," Bill Moyers' look at fundamentalist Christianity in this country. WETA joins in for the conclusion of the three-part series, then carries the Boston Pops' Christmas edition and a Leo Buscaglia special focusing on his Christmas memories. THURSDAY SANTABEAR'S HIGHFLYING ADVENTURE at 8:30 on CBS
THE HOMECOMING: A CHRISTMAS STORY at 9 on CBS Start the day with a musical celebration of the holiday season on an hour-long "Sesame Street" featuring the Muppets and the Holiday on Ice skaters. At night, PBS stations carry the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's performance of Handel's "Messiah" and carols from King's College in Cambridge, England. And since Santa is going to need help tonight delivering all those presents, who better than little Santabear? Voices in "Santabear's Highflying Adventure" (8:30 on CBS) are those of Kelly McGillis, John Malkovich, Bobby McFerrin and Glenne Headly. (Other animated specials include "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales," "Fat Albert Christmas Special" and "Pink Panther's Christmas," all repeats.) "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story," Earl Hamner's award-winning drama that inspired "The Waltons" series, stars Patricia Neal as the mother and Richard Thomas as the eldest son in a rural American family during the Christmas of 1933. The story comes from Hamner's memories of his boyhood in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains when he was the eldest in a large family. There's a new edition of "Beverly Hills Buntz" at 9:30. At 11:30, Johnny Carson, along with his "Tonight Show" sidekicks Doc Severinsen, Ed McMahon and Tommy Newsom, hosts a special at 11:30, just before WRC's telecast of Midnight Mass from St. Peter's Basilica. CBS carries services from Yale University Chapel and ABC telecasts from St. Louis Cathedral, both live. FRIDAY THE HOUSE WITHOUT A CHRISTMAS TREE at 10:30 a.m. on CBS
VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARADE at 10:30 a.m. on ABC
MANDRELL FAMILY REUNION at 8 on CBS
SWAN LAKE at 9 on PBS Celebrate Christmas with services from the Washington Cathedral (9 on 7 and 11) or with a program of music and messages of peace as observed around the world (10 on 4). At 10:30, ABC's Joan Lunden hosts the annual "Very Merry Christmas Parade" from Walt Disney World and CBS preempts its regular programming to offer a family drama, "The House Without a Christmas Tree," starring Jason Robards. At night, CBS repeats "Barbara Mandrell's Christmas: A Family Reunion" at 8, featuring her sisters Louise and Irlene, their parents, husbands and children. Another hoilday treat: PBS' "Great Performances" telecast of the Leningrad Kirov Ballet performing "Swan Lake" at Wolf Trap's Filene Center, one of three stops of the troupe's 16-day tour of the United States last year. Unlike many presentations of "Swan Lake," in which Odette the Swan Queen meets a tragic end, Russian versions traditionally unite the lovers to live happily ever after. The production, the first appearance by Soviet artists under a Reagan-Gorbachev cultural exchange agreement, won an Emmy for outstanding classical programming. And at 12:30 a.m., NBC's "Late Night" features a Letterman Family Christmas (remember, this is David Letterman we're dealing with). SPORTS: Detroit at New York (NBA basketball) at noon on CBS; Blue-Gray All-Star Football Classic, live from Montgomery, Ala. (noon on ABC); Sun Bowl, Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia (2:30 on CBS); Aloha Bowl (Florida vs. UCLA) live from Honolulu (3:30 on ABC). SATURDAY REDSKINS at MINNESOTA at 4 on CBS
PARADE OF STARS TELETHON MAMA'S BOY at 9:30 on NBC
THE ROOM at 10 on ABC The Redskins are back on the gridiron again this week, this time facing Minnesota (4 on CBS). At night, check out the "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars Telethon" at 6 on WDCA and 7:30 on 11 and on Black Entertainment Television and TBS. The fundraiser benefits colleges and universities represented by the United Negro College Fund. Rawls, Clint Holmes, Marilyn McCoo and Ed McMahon host. Expect to see Bill Cosby, Anita Baker, Pia Zadora, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Kenny Rogers, Al Jarreau, Sammy Davis Jr., Lionel Richie and plenty of other entertainers. At 9:30, NBC offers another of its "Mama's Boy" episodes, and at 10, Linda Hunt stars in ABC's "The Room," an early Harold Pinter play in which the home of a fightened woman is invaded by a young couple, a shaken landlord and a blind man. Also starring are Eurythmics' Annie Lennox, Julian Sands and Donald Pleasence. SPORTS: Calgary Olympic Holiday Special (4 on ABC). MOVIES: "High Noon" (2 on 7); "Little Women" (3 on 5); "Footloose" (8 on CBS).
HBO Powers Boothe, C. Thomas Howell and Paul LeMat star in a new HBO Pictures film, "Into the Homeland," on Saturday. Boothe plays a father whose search for his missing daughter leads to a confrontation with a white supremacist group. CNN
Harvard Law School Moot Court Trial (Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Sam Ervin Jr. of Richmond, Va., and Judge Dorothy Nelson preside) Friday at 8; the Frank E. Gannett Lecture, by Eugene Patterson the Congressional Quarterly and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, at 11 a.m. Saturday; Senate Finance Committee Hearing on nursing shortages, Saturday at 5:30.