What's Worth Watching: Doctor Who, Sense8: A Christmas Special, A Christmas Story Marathon, The Hollow Crown and More for Friday, Dec. 23 Thru Sunday, Dec. 25

Matt Roush
Simon Ridgway

Young Grant (Logan Hoffman) The Doctor (Peter Capaldi)

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio (Sunday, 9/8c, BBC America): An annual gift from across the pond, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special sends the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to New York to team with a masked superhero to take on brain-swapping aliens. What, the Grinch was busy? Expect the usual merry cocktail of frenzied action and holiday whimsy.

Sense8: A Christmas Special (Friday, Netflix): Now here's a holiday treat we didn't see coming. The trippy series that follows the intermingled fate of eight characters from around the world, all linked physically and psychically, returns for a two-hour special that promises to reveal deeper connections among the chosen few. A second season launches May 5, so there’s plenty of time for a catch-up binge refresher.

A Christmas Story 24-hour Marathon (starts Saturday, Dec. 24, 8/7c, TBS and TNT): A TV tradition now in its 20th year, the beloved 1983 family holiday classic, starring little Peter Billingsley as the adorably BB gun-obsessive Ralphie, will be shown back-to-back for 24 hours, simulcast on both Turner networks. Last year, 36 million tuned in for at least part of the marathon. Good luck not getting sucked in.

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): The second series of Shakespearean history plays concludes with Benedict Cumberbatch as the notorious Richard III, who plots bloody murder en route to an ill-fated reign. (A week later, Cumberbatch will be back as Masterpiece’s celebrated contemporary Sherlock. Talk about range.)

Inside Weekend TV: He died 400 years ago this April, but Shakespeare has never gone out of style, as PBS's Great Performances reminds us with the epic concert Shakespeare Live! (Friday, 9/8c, check local listings at pbs.org), in which the Bard's legacy is celebrated through dramatic excerpts—performed by such august talents as Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren and Rory Kinnear—and adaptations from Broadway musicals, opera, ballet and popular song. … If you enjoyed National Geographic Channel's sci-fi/documentary hybrid Mars (which concludes earlier this week), go inside the production with Behind the Scenes Mars: Making Mars (Friday, 10/9c), with insights from executive producer Ron Howard, director Everardo Gout and visual effects supervisor Russell Dodgeson. … Bells will ring again as NBC presents the 1946 Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life (Saturday, 8/7c). … In this year's Call the Midwife Holiday Special (Sunday, 7:30/6:30c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org), the nuns of Nonnatus House travel to South Africa to help save the struggling Hope Clinic. … Hallmark Channel's two-hour When Calls the Heart Christmas (Sunday, 8/7c) returns to Hope Valley—sense a trend here?—for an inspirational tale of resilience and generosity, after a train derailment keeps gifts, food and supplies from reaching the rural burg.

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