A television tradition for nine holiday seasons, "A Home for the Holidays" (7 p.m., CBS) combines performances from a diverse assembly of musical guests, including Sheryl Crow, James Blunt, Fergie, Karmina, Carole King, John Legend and Reba McEntire and anecdotes about adoption from celebrities David Krumholtz, George Lopez, Rene Russo and others.
The show makes room for profiles of adoptive parents and children who have escaped from abusive situations in foster homes or with their biological parents with the help of families who offered them a home. "Home" also emphasizes the needs of the more than half million children in foster care, many of whom need loving families to call their own.
¢ "Dateline" (8 p.m., NBC) looks at two of the most reported on murder cases in the United States and abroad. Suspect Drew Peterson discusses the disappearance of his younger wife, Stacy, two months ago as well as the death of his previous wife, Kathy.
A "Dateline" crew also travel to Perugia, Italy, the scene of a sensationalized murder case of a British college student. Seattle student Amanda Knox has been at the center of the story, a grim tale of drug abuse and alleged group sex that has set the Italian press ablaze. Knox has even been given her own tabloid nickname, "La Luciferina."
¢ The prospect of a four-day Christmas weekend has inspired some networks to offer marathon programming events.
The acclaimed Canadian high school series "DeGrassi: The Next Generation" (7 p.m., Noggin) will air for 10 consecutive hours, wrapping up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Discovery Times offers viewers 10 hourlong chances to catch the excellent five-part series "Rise of the Video Game" (7 p.m. to 5 a.m., Discovery Times).
Brace yourself for the long gloomy nights of the winter season with a minimarathon of movies from the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. If brooding introspection is your bag, then don't miss "Persona" (6 p.m., Sundance) and "Cries and Whispers" (7:30 p.m., Sundance). The 1955 comedy "Smiles of a Summer Night" (9 p.m., Sundance) follows as a kind of romantic chaser.
Christmas movies and other sentimental stuff
¢ Army pals reunite to put on a show in the 1954 musical "White Christmas" (7 p.m., MyNetwork).
¢ Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad star in the 1996 comedy "Jingle all the Way" (7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., TNT).
¢ The 1964 musical fantasy "Marry Poppins" (7 p.m., Family) has nothing to do with Christmas. But who cares?
¢ A radio contest brings unexpected results in the 2006 romance "Under the Mistletoe" (8 p.m., Lifetime).
¢ A harried editor (Ally Walker) gets a talking-to from her inner child in the 1999 fantasy "If You Believe" (7 p.m., Lifetime Movie Network).
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Contestants vie for $1.5 million on "Duel" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ A winner emerges on "The Next Great American Band" (8 p.m., Fox).
¢ Donald loses his get-up-and-go on "Orangutan Island" (7:30 p.m., Animal Planet).
¢ Mick investigates a series of vampire-related slayings on the pilot episode of "Moonlight" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ Lindsay goes on a date, begrudgingly, on "The Women's Murder Club" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ "Man vs. Wild" (8 p.m., Discovery) glances back at all of the exotic meals Bear has endured in order to survive, from live frogs to 3-inch-long beetles and raw goat's testicles.
¢ Dennis Hopper narrates "Seven Ages of Rock: Stadium Rock" (8 p.m., VH1 Classic).
¢ Murder stalks the paddocks on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): stories of hope.