Worth Watching: A New 'Christmas Carol,' Democratic Debate on PBS, iHeartRadio Jingle Ball
A selective critical checklist of notable Thursday TV:
A Christmas Carol (7:30/6:30c, FX): What would a Christmas season be without a new take on that old miser Scrooge? In one of the darker and grittier adaptations of the Dickens classic, Peaky Blinders' Steven Knight presents a younger, more robust but no less miserable Ebenezer in Guy Pearce (Memento). Once again, Scrooge must face a reckoning with his inner demons when haunted by Ghosts of Christmas Past (Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes veteran Andy Serkis), Present (Charlotte Riley) and Future (Jason Flemyng). The Irishman's Stephen Graham co-stars as Scrooge's ill-fated business partner, Jacob Marley, in this existential journey to a yuletide awakening of the spirit.
PBS NewsHour & Politico Democratic Debate (8/7c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): Because it's been such a quiet week politically… One last round of debate among the top-qualifying candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination before things kick into high gear in the New Year. (Yes, the primaries are finally coming!) It's a smaller field than in previous debates, for which some (but not all) are grateful, and taking the stage at L.A.'s Loyola Marymount University will be the usual suspects: former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer. PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff moderates with colleagues Amna Nawaz and Yamiche Alcindor and Politico's Tim Alberta. The debate will be simulcast on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español.
iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2019 (8/7c, The CW): It's a very starry and musical night at Madison Square Garden, as the annual holiday concert also finds time to celebrate Taylor Swift's 30th birthday during her set. Other headliners include Lizzo, Jonas Brothers, Camila Cabello, Niall Horan, 5 Seconds of Summer and Halsey.
Inside Thursday TV: Here she is… NBC presents The 2020 Miss America Competition (8/7c) from Connecticut's Mohegan Sun. Remember when this used to be a fall tradition from Atlantic City?… ABC repeats two of its popular Disney Prep & Landing animated specials (8/7c) about the elite unit of elves who help guide The Big Guy's route each Christmas. Voices include Dave Foley, Sarah Chalke, Derek Richardson and Rob Riggle… A holiday-themed episode of Bravo's Project Runway (9:30/8:30c) tasks the designers to make the perfect party dress, though only using unconventional materials.