Worth Watching: 'Call the Midwife,' 'When Calls the Heart,' a Christmas Carol (Burnett)
A critical checklist of notable Tuesday TV:
Call the Midwife (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): In what has become a yearly Christmas tradition, the nostalgic drama (now set in the 1960s) set at Nonnatus House in London’s East End offers a holiday special. The splendid character actor Miriam Margoyles guests as indefatigable Sister Mildred, bringing four Chinese orphaned refugees into the midwives’ care. There could soon be a change in the holy chain of command, with Mother Superior taken ill, and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) is all aflutter at the thought that she could be asked to inhabit that formidable habit. (The eighth season premieres March 31.)
When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing (8/7c, Hallmark): Here’s another good excuse to bring out the hankies on Christmas night for a good heartwarming cry. Fans of the 1900s period piece were crestfallen last season when Mountie Jack (Daniel Lessing) perished in a training accident, leaving his bride Elizabeth Thornton (Erin Krakow) widowed — and pregnant. In this two-hour Christmas special, a snowstorm and an overflow of visiting orphans — it’s a theme! — complicate matters in Hope Valley, Alberta. Time flies when your heart is healing, and before it’s all over, we’ll meet baby Thornton! Be still our you-know-what.
A Christmas 'Carol' (starts at 9 am/8c, Decades): The nostalgia channel turns over Christmas Day to the legendary Carol Burnett, who on Sunday will receive the Golden Globes’ first career achievement award for TV. Quite the gift to be reminded of her comic genius through 27 episodes of Carol Burnett and Friends (highlights from The Carol Burnett Show) airing through the day, including such unforgettable sketches as “Went With the Wind.” The tribute includes four episodes of The Lucy Show (starting at 1 pm/12c) in which Burnett appeared alongside her mentor, Lucille Ball, and her hosting gig for The Very Best of The Ed Sullivan Show (11 am/10c and 9/8c).
Inside Tuesday TV: The 24-hour marathons of A Christmas Story continue through 8 pm/7c on TBS and 9/8c on TNT… On a holiday filled with high-profile NBA basketball matches, the marquee event pits LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers against Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors, so big a match it’s airing on both ABC and ESPN (8/7c)… NBC doubles down on How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starting with the beloved 1966 animated classic (1966) and the unforgettable narration of Boris Karloff, followed by the somewhat less loved feature-film version from 2000 (8:30/7:30c), starring Jim Carrey… PBS’s poignant docuseries We’ll Meet Again (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org) revisits the Korean War, with host Ann Curry introducing us to two veterans seeking to reconnect with compatriots lost to time. Jim wants to thank two lieutenants who bolstered his courage during combat, and Tony hopes to thank a friend who saw him through an ordeal on a hospital ship. Where are they now?