Call me old-fashioned, but I get a tad nervous when beloved Christmas specials start popping up on the dial so soon after Thanksgiving. I don’t want to engage in some Andy Rooney-ish argument against rushing Christmas. I just like to savor my holiday specials and don’t want to gobble them down in a hurry and find myself stranded with weeks to go and only “Undercover Christmas” (Dec. 21, Lifetime) — starring Jamie Gertz and Tyne Daly, by the way — between me and the big day.
So it’s with mixed feelings that I note that “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (7:32 p.m., ABC) will air tonight. That’s a big one. As holiday favorites go, this 1966 cartoon has to be in my top three or four, right up there with “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” (Wednesday, CBS), “A Christmas Story” (Wednesday, TNT), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Dec. 8, ABC); .
Seriously, we’ve got 3-1/2 weeks to go! What’s the rush? We’ve already missed our chance to see Vanessa Williams play Scrooge in “A Diva’s Christmas Carol” (last Saturday, Lifetime, sorry). Now we’re going to have to wait ’til next year!
• “Steve Fossett: What Went Wrong?” (9 p.m., Discovery) recalls the yearlong search for the missing aviator and adventurer whose plane was reported missing in September 2007. Filled with interviews with Fossett’s confidants, including flying partner and billionaire Richard Branson, “Wrong” profiles a flier who broke more than 100 world records for planes, gliders and balloons. His crash site and remains were discovered Nov. 3.
• Madonna narrates “I Am Because We Are” (8 p.m., Sundance), a documentary look at the orphans of AIDS victims in Malawi.
• TCM salutes the career of director Alan J. Pakula, who died in a car accident in 1998. His 1970s films (including “Klute” and “All the President’s Men”) captured the paranoia of the time. Tonight’s offerings include two political assassination thrillers, “The Parallax View” (9 p.m., TCM) and “The Pelican Brief” (11 p.m.). The night begins with his first directing effort, “The Sterile Cuckoo” (7 p.m.) from 1969, a smash success for Liza Minnelli as the neurotic central character.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Chuck distracts himself with work on “Chuck” (8 p.m., NBC)
• Cameron’s nights prove revealing on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Characters and voices from the popular CGI franchise return for the 2007 holiday special “Shrek the Halls” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Daniel Radcliffe appears on “Inside The Actors Studio” (7 p.m., Bravo).
• Noah means business on “Heroes” (8 p.m., NBC).
• Michael fights to hold the team together on “Prison Break” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Edward looks into his parents’ demise on “My Own Worst Enemy” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Denny receives some bad news on “Boston Legal” (10 p.m., ABC).
• Anne Hathaway is scheduled on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (10 p.m., Comedy Central).
• Russell Brand and Charlie Haden are booked on “Late Show with David Letterman” (10:35 p.m., CBS) .
• Jay Leno hosts Debra Messing and Celine Dion on “The Tonight Show” (10:35 p.m., NBC).
Decades before mock documentaries became popular, Woody Allen sent up the genre in the 1969 comedy “Take the Money and Run” (1:30 p.m., TCM).