“Monk” (8 p.m., USA) returns with an original holiday episode. The finicky detective recoils when Natalie (Traylor Howard) convinces him to investigate the death of a homeless man. The germ-phobic Monk simply finds it difficult to get too close to the victim’s three unwashed friends, who pool their deposit bottles to pay for his services.
A subplot concerning a miraculous fountain and Stottlemeyer’s (Ted Levine) leap of faith dovetails with Monk’s investigation. This one doesn’t top last year’s Christmas episode, in which Monk shot Santa Claus in front of a crowd of shoppers, but it maintains the right tone of whimsy and reflection.
• “Psych” (9 p.m., USA) also returns for Christmas when Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) spring a mall Santa from jail only to discover that they may have been conned. Phylicia Rashad and Keith David return as Gus’s mom and dad, who experience Christmas setbacks with echos of “The Gift of the Magi.”
• The new series “Brink” (9 p.m., Science) presents a roundup of the latest developments in science and technology with an emphasis on ways these can be applied to everyday life. Are you trying to determine how much to spend on Christmas gifts? Garth Sundem, mathematician and author of “Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life” (Workman, 2006) demonstrates an invaluable, fail-safe formula to help you arrive at your holiday budget.
• Tired of turkey? Take to the high seas for a “Deadliest Catch” (11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Discovery) marathon. If mere fishing is not enough, there’s the four-hour “Whale Wars” (3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Animal Planet) festival.
Need cautionary shopping advice? Consult a 16-hour helping of “What Not to Wear” (5 a.m., through 9 p.m., TLC). There are four hours of “Mork & Mindy” (7 p.m. through 11 p.m., Sci Fi), too.
Turner Classic Movies invites viewers to spend Black Friday with great actresses and legendary rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. TCM offers alternating movies of Bette and Joan, beginning with the documentary “Stardust: The Bette Davis Story” (5 a.m., Eastern) and culminating with Crawford’s Oscar-winning “Mildred Pierce” (5 p.m.).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Will Ferrell stars as an oversized North Pole resident in the 2003 comedy “Elf” (6 p.m., USA).
• Melinda’s efforts to save a stalking victim put her own life in danger on “Ghost Whisperer” (7 p.m., CBS).
• A crime fighter and his family return triumphantly from retirement in the 2004 animated comedy “The Incredibles” (7 p.m., NBC).
• A slacker (Jack Black) finds his calling in the 2003 comedy “School of Rock” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Tom Hanks stars in the 2004 computer-enhanced adaptation of the children’s book “Polar Express” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Back in the day (1977), people called “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (7 p.m., Spike) “Star Wars.”
• “Top 20 Celebrity Cash Couples: Crazy Double Incomes” (7 p.m., E!) obsesses about the joint incomes of Hollywood’s richest tandems.
• A selfish tycoon (Nicolas Cage) discovers that he could have had a wonderful life and a wonderful wife (Tea Leoni) in the 2000 holiday fantasy “The Family Man” (7 p.m., Family).
• The diet challenge concludes on “The Office” (9:30 p.m., NBC).