POPE JOHN PAUL II
9 p.m. on CBS
The life of Pope John Paul II is told in two parts in this miniseries. Cary Elwes portrays Karol Wojtyla as a young man in Nazi-occupied Poland, studying for the priesthood in an underground seminary. Jon Voight plays Wojtyla from his election as pope in 1978 until his death this year, including his pilgrimage to Poland and surviving an assassination attempt.
Part 2 of the miniseries airs Wednesday at 8 p.m.
into the lion's den
10 p.m. on Discovery
Zoologist Dave Salmoni, armed with a tiny camera and a stick, walked among lions in the wild for this two-hour documentary. "I made sure I did things that kept them comfortable," he said. "The most dangerous kind of cat is a cat that is scared. If I tell him from a long distance that I am coming, he is fine with that."
Salmoni shows how he communicated with lions and points out that the animals "are not instinctive killers -- there is no malice. They do not kill for any other reason than that they need to. If the lion had his way, he would live happily without coming into any contact with humans."
10 p.m. on Showtime
An FBI agent (Silver Spring native Michael Ealy) poses as a prisoner named Darwyn Al-Hakim to gain the credibility that helps him infiltrate a Los Angeles Islamic terrorist cell.
The cell's extremist leader (Oded Fehr) becomes suspicious of his new recruit, placing Al-Hakim's mission in jeopardy. Plotlines include contemporary themes such as anthrax and money laundering.
The series airs Sunday through Wednesday this week and next, concluding on Dec. 18.
KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX
8 p.m. on A&E
When English teacher David MacEnulty came to a dilapidated school in New York's gritty South Bronx area, he did more than instruct his students on the basics of reading and writing.
MacEnulty broadened their thinking skills by teaching them the game of chess, and he broadened their horizons by bringing them into the rarefied realm of world championship competition.
The youngsters' royal dreams were realized when they won the National Elementary School Chess Championship in 2000.
Ted Danson plays MacEnulty in this film based on those true events.
THE VICTORIA'S SECRET
10 p.m. on CBS
Ricky Martin, Seal and Chris Botti are among the musical performers for this annual fashion show, airing from New York's Lexington Avenue Armory.
daisy does america
10 p.m. on TBS
British actress Daisy Donovan wants to make it big in United States. But Donovan's game plan includes trying on different roles as she pursues the American dream.
As a bounty hunter, a psychic, a temporary dog owner or a country-western singer, Donovan samples a variety of lifestyles as she ponders America's scope.
The unscripted comic series is produced by Courteney Cox Arquette and her husband, David Arquette.
THE WHITE HOUSE
8 p.m. on HGTV
How the nation's most famous home is decorated for the holidays is revealed in a one-hour special hosted by Gail O'Neill ("Mission: Organization").
First lady Laura Bush discusses this year's "People's House" theme while decorators, staffers and volunteers show how they deck the halls (and rooms) of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
10 p.m. on Bravo
Sixteen wannabe designers bring their flair for fashion to the second season of this reality show. Their weekly work, all designed to bring three of them to New York's Fashion Week finale in February, will be judged by supermodel Heidi Klum, menswear designer Michael Kors and Nina Garcia of Elle magazine.
three wise guys
9 p.m. on USA
The original Christmas story gets a rewrite in this comic film, as three Vegas hoods pursue a pregnant woman named Mary (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) across a desert.
The three kings of crime, played by Judd Nelson, Nicholas Turturro and Eddie McClintock, are dispatched by their
casino-owner boss (Tom Arnold) to
permanently silence a nosy accountant and find a missing drummer
boy named Jake Marley. Despite their evil errand, the trio eventually turns heroic, just in time for Christmas.
Christmas with maya angelou
7 p.m. on Hallmark
Poet-author Maya Angelou brings together more than 150 "relatives" -- both blood relations and chosen friends -- to enjoy her annual holiday celebration. At her North Carolina home, Angelou is joined by singer-songwriters Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson; Angelou's son, Guy Johnson, and his family; and her great-grandchildren, Caylin and Brandon, who share in the seasonal joys.
8 p.m. on Animal Planet
Rudolph is arguably "the most famous reindeer of all," as his theme song says, but other animals also have become part of the holiday season's TV landscape. The warbling of those animated chipmunks, the Grinch's pet dog and the merrymaking Muppets are spotlighted in this special, featuring "Peanuts" animator Bill Melendez and others who talk about the critters who celebrate Christmas.