Archive for Friday, December 4, 2009

Departures, returns, familiar franchises

December 4, 2009

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The Walt Disney Corp. looks forward by glancing backward on “Dreams Come True: A Celebration of Disney Animation” (7 p.m., ABC). Vanessa Williams hosts this holiday clip-fest, a roundup of more than 75 years of filmmaking, from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” to the studio’s latest effort, “The Princess and the Frog.”

Made by some of the minds behind Disney’s musical animation heyday of the 1980s and 1990s, “Frog” is the first traditional two-dimensional cartoon feature from the Mouse factory since 2004.

• Disney animation isn’t the only long-running entertainment franchise on display. The repeat 2008 holiday special “Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa” (7 p.m., NBC) features guest appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”), Jesse L. Martin (“Law & Order”), Uma Thurman and “Sopranos” stars Steve Schirripa and Tony Sirico. New York’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg also appears, as himself.

• We’re only three nights into the Family Channel’s “25 Days of Christmas,” and the theme has become confused. The network devotes the weekend to the four “Harry Potter” films, beginning with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (6:30 p.m.) tonight. So much for Santa.

• “Monk” (8 p.m., USA) ends after eight seasons as the defective detective draws closer to the reasons for his beloved wife, Trudy’s, murder — the violent act that triggered his compulsive nature.

The departure of this series may not be a blow to longtime fans. After all, they’ll always have repeats and DVDs. But “Monk” supplied a parade of actors with great opportunities to guest star as villains, victims or sometimes — as in the case of Sarah Silverman — Adrian’s most obsessive fan.

• “Dollhouse” (7 p.m., Fox) returns after being exiled for November sweeps. The two-hour episode showcases new cast member Summer Glau (the cyborg from “The Sarah Connor Chronicles”), not as one of the pliable fembots, but as a programmer. Keith Carradine also guest stars.

• I’d be remiss to reveal the nice plot twist that arrives with the first-season finale of “White Collar” (9 p.m., USA). Things get a tad complicated when Neal (Matt Bomer) suspects that the FBI is the mysterious force holding his long-lost love hostage. It just so happens that forces inside the FBI are also growing impatient with the convicted criminal’s cozy arrangements with the Bureau. These threads of mutual distrust tangle as Neal and FBI agents begin digging up dirt on each other with a vengeance.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty star in “Heathers” (6:15 p.m., IFC), an influential high school satire from 1988.

• A specter accuses a living cop of fatal brutality on “Ghost Whisperer” (7 p.m., CBS).

• A missing medical vial portends disaster on “Medium” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Shakira and Christie Brinkley guest star on a Bahamas-themed episode of “Ugly Betty” (8 p.m., ABC)

• Elmo Shropshire narrates “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (8 p.m., CW), a 2000 animated holiday special based on the novelty Christmas song from the early 1980s.

• Money from a famous heist goes missing on “Numb3rs” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Scheduled on “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with Chris Brown.

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