NBC (Mon., Dec. 12, 9 p.m. ET)
I never thought I’d say it—let alone scream it—but I will: BRING BACK ANDY WILLIAMS AND HIS WHOLE FAMILY! They knew what Christmas specials were supposed to be: singing carols in a fake living room while fake snow falls outside. These days, what we get instead are Christmas specials filled with fake pathos—Christmas and slavery in the sequel to the sequel to Roots, then Christmas and loneliness in The Christmas Wife and now this: Christmas and death. Deck the halls with black bunting. In this one, Hal Holbrook and Eva Marie Saint step out of what seems to be a Norman Rockwell painting of a New England town during World War II. Their two sons are in the Army and their daughter brings home a soldier boy. I don’t want to give away any endings, but it’s war, so it won’t come as a surprise that somebody dies and happens to do so on Christmas Eve. So this fine cast—Holbrook, Saint, Peter Gallagher as a soldier and Courteney Cox Arquette as a soldier’s pregnant wife—all get to act with a capital A. It’s snowing tears. Then they get to act tough. A parent opens a present from a dead son, and Mom, determined that life should go on, says only: “Well, that turkey needs basting.” I’ll take fake living rooms and fake snow over fake emotions any day. BRING BACK PERRY COMO TOO!