What's On: ‘Young Sheldon’ takes on NASA, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Matt Roush
© 1965 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

A critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:

Young Sheldon (8:30/7:30c, CBS): It’s never too young to question authority—especially when you’re a budding genius like 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper (the terrific Iain Armitage). In the latest chapter of this inspired prequel/spinoff, Sheldon’s precocious ego is bruised when a visiting NASA representative fails to take the savant’s science seriously. Sheldon decides to teach him a lesson, which means a family road trip to Houston. … In The Big Bang Theory (8/7c, CBS), the grown if not grown-up Sheldon (Jim Parsons) plots payback on his friends when he discovers he was shut out of a Bitcoin investment.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (8/7c, ABC): Now and forever, Charlie Brown rails against the commercialization of Christmas, while Linus takes the stage to remind us of the reason for the season. This Charles Schulz classic from 1965 never shows its age. To fill out an hour of airtime, ABC includes Peanuts vignettes titled “Charlie Brown Christmas Tales.” There’s no topping the original.

Mom (9/8c, CBS): Bonnie (the great Allison Janney) will see eye-to-eye with boyfriend Adam (William Fichtner), at least for a while, as long as she’s in a wheelchair recovering from an injury. Which means Christy (Anna Faris) must pick up the slack as building manager, which leads to a surprise discovery.

Inside Thursday TV: A classic match-up of NFL rivals on NBC’s Thursday Night Football (8:20/7:20c), when the Washington Redskins take on the Cowboys in Dallas. … In what amounts to a commercial for its parent company’s theme parks, ABC presents The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration (9/8c), a two-hour musical extravaganza issuing from Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California, with footage from parks around the globe. The highlight: a duet with original Frozen stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell. … The return of Bravo’s Top Chef is just one week away, and to whet the appetite, Padma Lakshmi appears as a glamorous food server on CBS’s Life in Pieces (9:30/8:30c), guiding Heather (Betsy Brandt) and Tim (Dan Bakkedahl) through a pricey 20-course anniversary dinner. … If the recent NBC Law & Order miniseries on the Menendez trial somehow left you wanting more, A&E goes straight to the source in a limited docu-series The Menendez Murders: Erik Tells All (10/9c). … Politics is the gift that just keeps giving to comedians, which explains Comedy Central’s I Came Up With Christmas: A President Show Christmas (10/9c), featuring presidential impersonator Anthony Atamanuik (and Peter Grosz as the fawning veep) in a special promising jingle bells and dog whistles.