Worth Watching: Kennedy Center Honors, 'Watchmen' Finale, Stewie Meets Santa on 'Family Guy,' a Bushel of Christmas Movies
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
The 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS): Always one of the classiest entertainments of the year, this year's Kennedy Center ceremony (filmed Dec. 8) has an undercurrent of poignance in honoring Sesame Street, the first TV series to be so acknowledged, on the same day that beloved puppeteer Caroll Spinney died, having created the indelible characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. The Sesame Street segment features tributes by Lucy Liu, Cedric the Entertainer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a performance by Thomas Rhett, with appearances by iconic Muppets including Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie. Other honorees include Linda Ronstadt (with performances by Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood and Aaron Neville), Sally Field (with tributes from Steven Spielberg, Maura Tierney, Pierce Brosnan and Tom Hanks), conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (with performances by the New World Symphony Alumni Orchestra, pianist Yuja Wang and Audra McDonald) and Earth, Wind & Fire (with performances by John Legend, Cynthia Erivo, Ne-Yo and Jonas Brothers).
Watchmen (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): The end is nigh. And an explosive end it promises to be for Damon Lindelof's visionary take on the cult comic, as multiple storylines and timelines finally converge in the season finale, with the omnipotent Doctor Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his crime-fighting wife Angela Abar (Regina King) at the center of the action. Will underground racist leader Sen. Joe Keene (James Wolk) fulfill the Seventh Kavalry mission to destroy Doctor Manhattan and usurp his powers? And how about all of the other characters — we're looking at you, Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) — with their own God complexes? If you've been enjoying the wild, mind-bending ride so far, the final act will not disappoint.
Family Guy (Sunday, 9:30/8:30c, Fox): The "Animation Domination" lineup goes all in on holiday episodes this week, including Sideshow Bob filling in as mall Santa on The Simpsons (8/7c), but the big event promises to be Stewie's reaction to meeting Santa when sister Meg takes the opinionated babe to the mall. The tyke is so scarred by the encounter, it will take all of Brian's wisdom to help the kid deal with it.
Ho-Ho-Holiday Movies: Hallmark Channel gets ecumenical in Holiday Date (Saturday, 8/7c), in which newly dumped Brooke (Brittany Bristow) enlists an actor named Joel (Matt Cohen) to pretend to be her boyfriend when she takes him home to the family for Christmas, only to discover that her friend is Jewish… The more traditional Christmas in Montana (Saturday, 9/8c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) stars fan fave Kellie Martin as an L.A. financial advisor who heads to small-town Montana to turn around the fortunes of a cattle ranch. Guess who falls for the laid-back rancher (Eureka's Colin Ferguson)?… Lifetime chimes in with A Christmas Winter Song (Saturday, 8/7c), starring Ashanti as a Christmas shop owner who befriends a jazz singer (Stan Shaw) and helps him reconnect with his family… The fun continues with Hallmark's royal-themed A Cheerful Christmas (Sunday, 8/7c) and Hallmark Movie & Mysteries' Angel Falls: A Novel Holiday (Sunday, 9/8c).
Inside Weekend TV: The Oscar-winning Green Book premieres on Showtime (Saturday, 9/8c)… Scarlett Johansson, riding some serious Oscar buzz with Marriage Story, returns for a sixth appearance as guest host of NBC's Saturday Night Live (11:30/10:30c), with Niall Horan making his solo debut as musical guest… More insights into the craft of acting in the season finale of Ovation's Inside the Actors Studio, when Orange Is the New Black's Uzo Aduba interviews Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave, Us).