Worth Watching: ‘Agatha Raisin,’ ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and Other Christmas Eve Treats
A critical checklist of notable Monday TV:
Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (streaming on Acorn TV): Another movie-length chapter in the delightful mystery series, starring Ashley Jensen as amateur sleuth Amanda, who decamps to a remote idyllic village in hopes of escaping the return of an ex-lover. Pretending to write her “big novel,” Agatha once again finds herself embroiled in a deadly web of passion and jealousy. Not to worry. These yarns are played mostly for laughs.
Anglophiles can also delight in the BritBox import Click & Collect, a comedy starring Stephen Merchant (Extras) as a dad desperate to score a must-have toy for his daughter on Christmas Eve. The catch: his irritating neighbor (Asim Chaudhry) has tracked it down and purchased it on his credit card, necessitating a 300-mile drive to fetch Sparklehood the Unicorn Princess.
It’s a Wonderful Life (8/7c, NBC): Once upon a yuletime, you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing this Frank Capra 1946 classic. Now that NBC holds exclusive rights, it becomes more of an event during the annual holiday screening. There’s rarely a dry eye in the house when a despondent George Bailey (James Stewart) is schooled by kindly angel Clarence (Henry Travers) on just how much he means to the people of Bedford Falls. (The story is iconic enough to have been spoofed most recently on Saturday Night Live’s Christmas episode.)
More classic film options: Turner Classic Movies presents 1944’s musical masterpiece Meet Me in St. Louis (6/5c), starring Judy Garland and introducing one of the greatest holiday songs ever, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Followed by Cary Grant as an angel guiding David Niven and Loretta Young in 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife (8/7c) and Reginald Owen as one of the more definitive Scrooges in 1938’s A Christmas Carol (10/9c). And for those who can never get enough of 1983’s A Christmas Story, TBS begins its 24-hour marathon at 8/7c, while TNT’s kicks in at 9/8c.
Inside Monday TV: Not exactly Christmas-themed, but ABC presents another family option with 1991’s gorgeous animated version of Beauty and the Beast (8/7c), a tale as old as time… Sundance Now becomes the exclusive streamer for the acclaimed six-part adaptation of John Le Carré’s spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl, starring Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård, which aired on AMC in November… If you need to catch up before the fourth season begins on Jan. 23, Netflix begins streaming Season 3 of Syfy’s The Magicians.