Judy Garland's favorite television appearance, "The Judy Garland Christmas Special" (Sunday at 9 p.m. on The Disney Channel), is the first of five classic 1960s television programs by the star to be featured by Disney this season.
The celebration features Garland's children, Lorna, Joey and 17-year-old Liza, as well as Mel Torme, Jack Jones and Liza's boyfriend, dancer Tracy Everitt. The set for the 27-year-old show is informal, attempting to duplicate the living room of Garland's Brentwood, Calif., home.
Lorna also recalls this special as "the best ... to watch Liza rehearse, Joe learning his numbers and learning to sing along with everybody else."
Liza recalls her song-and-dance version of "Steam Heat" with Everitt, an act her mother wanted them to do on the show because "you two dance so well together."
Garland opens with "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" and Lorna Luft does "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." There are other carols by family and guests, but the finale is a rare television performance of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" as a lullaby to Joey and Lorna in bedtime clothes.
"We couldn't get close enough to her," Lorna noted.
Repeats: Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. and 4 a.m., Saturday at 10 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 12:30 a.m.
Sunday on TBS at 9 p.m. "National Geographic Explorer" goes inside Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa for startling footage and interviews with the people who are making the difficult decisions that could save Africa's once-abundant wildlife. In "Africa: Playing God With Nature," Paul Winfield narrates the tale of wildlife beleaguered by poachers, habitat loss and human encroachment. Repeats: Monday at 11:35 p.m. and Saturday at 10:05 a.m.
Monday on The Discovery Channel at 9 p.m. "The Man Who Loved Birds" is this week's "Discovery Showcase" feature, the story of Belgian-born John Bax, who left a secure job in Canada to fulfill his life-long dream of filming birds of North and South America. Repeats: Friday at midnight and Saturday at 3 p.m.
All Week on MTV beginning on Monday and continuing through Sunday, Dec. 23, MTV preempts all scheduled programming to bring its viewers "MTV's Best of the Year Week," featuring the network's top shows of 1990.
Tuesday on Arts & Entertainment at 9:30 p.m. "The Vienna Boys Choir" presents 30 minutes of traditional Christmas carols by this famous group of boy sopranos. The choir has existed for more than 500 years and, since it began touring in 1930, has visited almost every country in the world.
Wednesday on The Nashville Network at 8 p.m. comes the Christmas edition of "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" with guests Bobby Vinton and Andrae Crouch singing some traditional carols, and a birthday bash at the end for Barbara, who was born on Christmas Day.
Friday on HBO at midnight, "The Kids in the Hall" returns with the first of 22 new episodes of seriously dangerous comedy featuring Scott Thompson, Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald and Bruce McCulloch.